Blennerhasset Roman fort, 300m south west of Harbybrow


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019017

Date first listed: 07-Jun-2000


Ordnance survey map of Blennerhasset Roman fort, 300m south west of Harbybrow
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cumbria

District: Allerdale (District Authority)

Parish: Blennerhasset and Torpenhow

National Grid Reference: NY 19004 41310


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

Reasons for Designation

Roman forts served as permanent bases for auxiliary units of the Roman Army. In outline they were straight sided rectangular enclosures with rounded corners, defined by a single rampart of turf, puddled clay or earth with one or more outer ditches. Some forts had separately defended, subsidiary enclosures or annexes, allowing additional storage space or for the accommodation of troops and convoys in transit. Although built and used throughout the Roman period, the majority of forts were constructed between the mid first and mid second centuries AD. Some were only used for short periods of time but others were occupied for extended periods on a more or less permanent basis. In the earlier forts, timber was used for gateways, towers and breastworks. From the beginning of the second century AD there was a gradual replacement of timber with stone. Roman forts are rare nationally and are extremely rare south of the Severn Trent line. As one of a small group of Roman military monuments, which are important in representing army strategy and therefore government policy, forts are of particular significance to our understanding of the period. All Roman forts with surviving archaeological potential are considered to be nationally important.

Despite agricultural cultivation, a combination of aerial photography, geophysical survey and artefactual finds from the ploughsoil have shown that buried remains of Blennerhasset Roman fort survive reasonably well. The monument will contain considerable information about its origin and form and will contribute greatly to any further study of the Roman frontier defences.


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


The monument includes the buried remains of Blennerhasset Roman fort, a late first century fort located on a bluff to the south of the River Ellen. Although few surface remains are visible other than a shallow depression, which is waterlogged in wet weather, and marking the location of the defensive ditches on the fort's south side, aerial photography has revealed the crop marks of a fort having internal measurements of approximately 170m north west - south east by 200m north east - south west. The aerial photographs also show a defensive system of three ditches surrounding the fort on three sides whilst on the ESE side, where the crop was less responsive, there are at least two ditches visible. Gateways are visible in the centre of the NNE and SSW sides and a little to the north of centre on the NNW sides, suggesting that the fort faced NNE. Also visible on the aerial photographs are the crop marks of a rectangular building adjacent to the fort's rampart on the NNW side. The location of the defensive ditches at the fort's southern corner was established by resistivity survey. Fieldwalking undertaken after ploughing in 1988 produced an assemblage of pottery which, together with pottery found after ploughing during the previous winter, was of late Neronian to early Flavian date (about 65-75 AD). Also visible during this fieldwalking exercise was the location of the fort's east rampart which was seen as a dark soil mark, together with considerable amounts of burnt clay which were interpreted as remains of rampart-back ovens. Blennerhasset Roman fort is larger than any other known Cumbrian fort, suggesting that it was garrisoned by a unit larger than the standard quingenary garrison of about 500 troops. Dating from the pottery evidence alone suggests the fort was founded during the earliest Roman military campaigns in north west England during the governorships of Cerialis, Frontinus or Agricola (71-84 AD). The fort's function appears from its location to have been to control the Cumbrian plain and, with the chain of forts from Ribchester to Carlisle, to enclose the native population of the Cumbrian massif during the earliest years of the Roman occupation of north west England. A modern field boundary is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 5 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: 32849

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Evans, J, Scull, C, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Fieldwork on the Roman Fort Site at Blennerhasset, , Vol. XC, (1990), 127-37
Frere, S S, Hassall, M W C, Tomlin, R, 'Britannia' in Roman Britain in 1984, , Vol. 16, (1985), 272-4

End of official listing