Low Mire (milefortlet 20) 50m north of Heather Bank, part of the Roman frontier defences along the Cumbrian coast
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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This copy shows the entry on 18-Sep-2019 at 21:07:29.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Allerdale (District Authority)
- Oughterside and Allerby
- National Grid Reference:
- NY 07674 41123
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 excavations have shown that buried remains of Low Mire milefortlet 20 survive well. The monument will contribute to any further study of the Roman frontier defences along the Cumbrian coast.
The monument includes the buried remains of Low Mire milefortlet. Within the
sequence of milefortlets along the Cumbrian coast this one has been identified
as number 20. The milefortlet was originally of turf and timber construction
and is located on the end of a low ridge immediately north of the farm called
Heather Bank. The only surface evidence for the milefortlet are some shallow
depressions indicating the site of limited excavations by Bellhouse in 1969
and 1980. These excavations found the fortlet to be defended by a turf rampart
c.6.4m wide and that it measures approximately 32m north west-south east by
30m north east-south west externally. It has central gateways on each of the
shorter sides with a gravel-surfaced road connecting the gateways and dividing
the interior into two equal halves. To the north of this road finds of floor
timbers and nails indicate the milefortlet had internal buildings of wood.
Other finds included Roman pottery of Hadrianic date (AD 117-138), Roman
glass, an oven located in the south east corner, and a hearth located in the
north west corner with evidence of food preparation within the remains of a
timber lean-to shed. Evidence for the rebuilding of the fortlet's gates and
repairs to the rampart enabled the excavator to identify three periods of
second century AD occupation; Period I was dated c.AD 120 and saw both gates
of the milefortlet operational. Period II was dated c.AD 160 and saw repairs
to the rampart and construction of a new west gate, the east gate, however,
was not rebuilt. Period III was dated c.AD 180 and saw further repairs to the
rampart, the narrowing of the west gate and a reduction of the internal area.
Excavations indicate the milefortlet was dismantled and abandoned shortly
after the third period of occupation, however, up to ten sherds of fourth
century AD pottery point to later reuse, possibly as a watch post.
All post and wire fences are excluded from the scheduling but the ground
beneath them is included.
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:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Bellhouse, R L, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Roman Sites On The Cumberland Coast, , Vol. LXX, (1970), 23-30
Bellhouse, R L, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Roman Sites On The Cumberland Coast: Milefortlet 20 Low Mire, , Vol. LXXXI, (1981), 7-13
RCHME, Cumberland Coast Events Record, (1995)
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing