Roman signal station 190m north west of Vale House Farm
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- County Durham (Unitary Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- NY 94710 12786
Reasons for Designation
Roman signal stations were rectangular towers of stone or wood situated within
ditched, embanked, palisaded or walled enclosures. They were built by the
Roman army for military observation and signalling by means of fire or smoke.
They normally formed an element of a wider system of defence and signalling
between military sites such as forts and camps and towns, generally as part of
a chain of stations to cover long distances. In northern England stations were
used in particular to augment the main frontier formed by Hadrian's Wall, but
elsewhere stations were constructed along the coast to keep lookout over the
sea and to signal information both along the coast and to inland sites.
Signal stations were constructed and used in Britain mainly during three
distinct periods. The earliest examples were built between AD 50 and AD 117
for use during the earliest military campaigns during the conquest period.
Signal stations at this period took the form of a wooden tower surrounded by a
ditch and bank and possibly a slight timber palisade. After AD 117 towers were
more usually built in stone, some on the same site as earlier timber towers.
The latest series, in the mid-4th century AD, were more substantial stone
signal stations built mainly along the Yorkshire coast. These had a tower up
to 30m high which was surrounded by a curtain wall and external ditch.
Signal stations survive as low earthworks, or their below ground remains may
be identified on aerial photographs. Fewer than 50 examples have been
identified in England. As one of a small group of Roman military monuments,
which are important in representing army strategy, government policy and the
pattern of military control, signal stations are of importance to our
understanding of the period. All Roman signal stations with surviving
archaeological remains are considered to be nationally important.
The signal station near Vale House Farm is reasonably well preserved and retains significant archaeological deposits. It is one of a group of towers thought to have been used for signalling purposes across Stainmore. Taken as a group, they will add to our knowledge and understanding of the Roman occupation of the area.
The monument includes the remains of a tower of Roman date, situated on the
top of a small spur above the Stainmore Pass adjacent and parallel to the
Roman road. The tower commands extensive views in all directions except to the
north where the ground rises. The tower is one of a chain of similar monuments
which cross Stainmoor between the Roman forts of Bowes and Brough thought to
have functioned as signal stations. It is visible as a roughly round mound of
earth which measures 10m across. It is bounded by a slight bank which, where
it is best defined on the western side, is 4m wide and stands to a maximum of
0.4m. There are gaps through the centre of the north and the south banks, and
the latter, which is 1.5m wide, is thought to have been the site of an
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 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
Vyner, et al, The Archaeology of the Stainmore Pass, (1998)
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