Bank Mill tower 15a, 250m north west of Belmont House, part of the Roman frontier defences along the Cumbrian coast


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014808

Date first listed: 28-Jul-1961

Date of most recent amendment: 21-Feb-1997


Ordnance survey map of Bank Mill tower 15a, 250m north west of Belmont House, part of the Roman frontier defences along the Cumbrian coast
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 18-Dec-2018 at 19:49:45.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cumbria

District: Allerdale (District Authority)

Parish: Holme St. Cuthbert

National Grid Reference: NY 08502 47946


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Hadrian's Wall marks one of the frontiers of the Roman Empire. The international importance of the surviving remains has been recognised through designation as a World Heritage Site. The military importance of the Tyne-Solway route across the Pennines was recognised by the Romans in the second half of the first century AD when a military road, the Stanegate, was constructed along with a series of forts. There is evidence that the Tyne-Solway route was being recognised as a frontier by the start of the second century AD, but the line was consolidated in the early second century AD by the construction of a substantial frontier work, Hadrian's Wall, in c.120 AD. Subsequent attempts to establish the boundary further north, between Clyde and Forth, failed by c.160 AD. Hadrian's Wall then remained the frontier of the Roman Empire in Britain until c.400 AD when Roman armies withdrew from Britain. For most of its course, the 70 miles of Hadrian's Wall running from coast to coast comprised a continuous stone wall (which in places was first temporarily built of turf) with permanent structures sited at intervals of one Roman mile (milecastles) and at third of a mile intervals (turrets) between the milecastles. At a later date, the Wall was strengthened by 16 full-size garrison forts built either on, or close to, the Wall. To the north of the Wall, for most of its length, lay a substantial defensive ditch and to the south a complex of banks and ditches provided east-west communication and demarcated the frontier zone from the province. To the west of Bowness-on-Solway, where the Wall reached the sea, however, the frontier had a different character and served a slightly different purpose. At the western end of the Wall a system of milefortlets and towers, spaced similarly to the milecastles and turrets along the Wall, extended the frontier system for at least 27 miles down the Cumbrian coast and helped control movement across the estuary of the Solway Firth. In places these milefortlets and towers were supplemented by lengths of palisade fences. Throughout its long history the Wall was not always well maintained. It was often neglected and sometimes overrun, but it remained in use until the late fourth century when a weak and divided Roman Empire finally withdrew its armies from the Wall and Britain. The frontier works along the Cumbrian coast survive as earthworks or buried archaeological remains, the latter sometimes visible on aerial photographs. They survive in this form largely as a result of the more ephemeral materials of which they were built (timber and turf instead of the stone of Hadrian's Wall land frontier) rather than because of poor survival of archaeological remains. Components of the coastal frontier which have surviving archaeological remains, whether visible or not, will generally be considered of national importance.

Despite the lack of surface remains, limited excavation has shown that buried remains of Bank Mill tower 15a survive well. The monument will contribute to further study of the Roman frontier defences along the Cumbrian coast.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the buried remains of Bank Mill tower. Within the sequence of Roman towers along the Cumbrian coast this one has been identified as 15a. The tower was originally of sandstone construction and is located on the summit of the highest sand dune in an area of consolidated dunes. Limited excavation by Bellhouse in 1954 found the east wall of the tower to survive up to two courses high and c.0.9m wide. Elsewhere only the clay and cobble foundations of the other walls remained, each c.1.2m wide, showing that the tower originally measured c.6m externally. Internally two hearths were found set against the east and west walls and an assortment of Roman pottery was also recovered. Further limited excavation two years later located a doorway c.0.9m wide at the tower's north east corner. This doorway was of two periods with a second or later doorstep being built on top of the original step. Pottery associated with the earlier step was of Hadrianic date (AD 117-138) and traces of a gravel path on the outside of the step was also found. A mixture of earthy gravel, masonry debris and cobbles overlying the remains of the tower indicates deliberate demolition by the Romans after its short period of occupation. The Ordnance Survey map incorrectly locates the tower slightly north west of its actual position.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 10 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 27714

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Bellhouse, R L, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Roman Sites On The Cumberland Coast, 1954, , Vol. LIV, (1954), 36-40
Bellhouse, R L, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Roman Sites On The Cumberland Coast, 1956, , Vol. LVII, (1957), 18-21
RCHME Survey - Unique ID No. 9084, RCHME, Cumberland Coast Events Record - Tower 15a, (1995)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:10000 Source Date: 1972 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing