Skinburness (milefortlet 9), part of the Roman frontier defences along the Cumbrian coast, and earlier Roman camp
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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This copy shows the entry on 18-Sep-2019 at 14:33:31.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Allerdale (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- NY 12919 56139
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.
Roman camps are rectangular or sub-rectangular enclosures constructed and used by Roman soldiers either when out on campaign or as practice camps. They were bounded by a single earthen rampart and outer ditch, in plan are straight-sided with rounded corners, and normally have between one and four entrances. Roman camps predominate in hostile upland and frontier areas and provide an important insight into Roman military strategy and organisation. Aerial photography has shown that buried remains of Skinburness milefortlet and an earlier Roman camp survive reasonably well. The monument will retain undisturbed archaeological deposits and will contribute to any further study of the Roman frontier defences along the Cumbrian coast.
The monument includes the buried remains of Skinburness Roman milefortlet
together with the buried remains of an earlier Roman camp which partly
underlies the milefortlet. Within the sequence of milefortlets along the
Cumbrian coast this one has been identified as number 9. It was originally of
turf and timber construction and is located on the crest of the gravel ridge
which runs along the centre of a narrow spit called Grune Point. The monument
was discovered during the late 1940s when aerial photographs clearly revealed
the crop marks of the milefortlet's rampart and ditch and, to the south west
of the milefortlet, the crop mark of much of the defensive ditch flanking the
south west and north west sides of a Roman camp. In 1954 several fragments of
Roman pottery were picked up from the surface of the field on the site of the
All fences posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath
these features is included.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Welfare, H, Swan, V, Roman Camps in England, (1994)
Bellhouse, R, 'CWAAS Research Series' in Roman Sites On The Cumb Coast: A New Schedule Of Coastal Sites, , Vol. III, (1989), 36
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
AP No. DM 070, St Joseph, Skinburness milefortlet 9, (1949)
AP No. MUCS 57,7, Skinburness milefortlet 9,
DOE (IAM) Record Form, Skinburness milefortlet 9, (1977)
SMR No. 9608, Cumbria SMR, Silloth, SW of Grune House, (1989)
St Joseph, (1949)
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