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Whitley Castle Roman fort and vicus, 280m south west of Castle Nook

A Scheduled Monument in Knaresdale with Kirkhaugh, Northumberland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.8322 / 54°49'55"N

Longitude: -2.4767 / 2°28'36"W

OS Eastings: 369476.878826

OS Northings: 548700.201431

OS Grid: NY694487

Mapcode National: GBR CD4K.LL

Mapcode Global: WH91M.XSTY

Entry Name: Whitley Castle Roman fort and vicus, 280m south west of Castle Nook

Scheduled Date: 30 November 1925

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1006621

English Heritage Legacy ID: ND 12

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Knaresdale with Kirkhaugh

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Alston Moor

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle

Details

The monument includes the remains of a Roman fort (Epiacum) and part of its civilian settlement or vicus, situated on an east facing slope overlooking the valley of the River South Tyne. The fort was sited along the Roman road known as the Maiden Way and more than one phase is represented by the remains. It is visible as a lozenge-shaped enclosure with maximum dimensions of about 140m by 115m within several parallel ramparts and ditches; on the south west side there are seven ditches, on the south east four and on the north west five. The angle towers survive as low earthworks. Within the interior of the monument there are the remains of internal buildings and features including the principia. Aerial photography indicates that the early phase of the fort was considerably smaller than the present remains, and that a bath-house lay outside its north west corner; this bath house was partially excavated in 1810. Aerial photography has also revealed the presence of part of the associated vicus surrounding the Roman fort.
The monument has undergone several partial excavations revealing extensive archaeological remains; an inscription (c. AD 213) and pottery indicate occupation during the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. The monument was subject to intensive survey and analysis in 2009.
The post-medieval dry-stone walls which cross the site are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

Sources:
Northumberland HER: 5934
NMR: NY64NE1
PastScape Monument No:- 13725
Hodgson, J. C, History of Northumberland, part 2, vol 3. pp74-7 (1840)

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Roman forts served as permanent bases for auxiliary units of the Roman Army. In outline they were straight sided enclosures with rounded corners, defined by a 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. 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.
Whitley Castle Roman Fort is one of the best examples of a Roman fort with multiple ditches in England. It survives exceptionally well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the complex developmental history of the monument, its surrounding landscape and the various military campaigns in Northern England. The importance of the monument is enhanced by the survival of its associated civilian settlement; taken together they will inform our knowledge and understanding of the complex relationships between Roman and native and commercial activity in the north during this period.

Source: Historic England

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