Ancient Monuments

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Roman camp north west of Balmer's Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Penrith, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.7107 / 54°42'38"N

Longitude: -2.7796 / 2°46'46"W

OS Eastings: 349868.27801

OS Northings: 535356.256245

OS Grid: NY498353

Mapcode National: GBR 9F1Z.04

Mapcode Global: WH80Y.8VMK

Entry Name: Roman camp north west of Balmer's Farm

Scheduled Date: 6 May 1975

Last Amended: 24 March 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008233

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23666

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Penrith

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Plumpton Wall St John the Evangelist

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument is a large Roman camp located on gently undulating land
north west of Balmers Farm and immediately to the west of the A6 trunk road,
which here follows the course of the main Roman road that connected forts at
Brougham, (known to the Romans as Brocavum), and Old Penrith, (known to the
Romans as Voreda). Much of the camp is visible as cropmarks on aerial
photographs which highlight features such as infilled ditches. Whilst most of
the camp survives only beneath the present ground surface, the southern side
retains slight upstanding earthworks.
The aerial photographs show part of the east side of the camp, much of the
north and west sides, and the two northern angles. The northern side measures
about 390m and the western side measures about 360m. In the visible portion of
the eastern side there are three gateways each defended by a tutulus - an
earthen mound and ditch in front of the gate created to prevent a direct
approach and thus hinder an attacking force. A survey of the camp in 1972
focussed on the upstanding earthworks but also located two gateways defended
by tutuli on the camp's western side and two tutuli on the camp's northern
side. The large size of this camp and its multiplicity of gates link it with
similar camps at Reycross and Crackenthorpe located on the Roman road across
Stainmore between Yorkshire and the Eden valley. These camps are of a size
sufficient to have accommodated a legionary force on the march and are
considered to have been constructed by the Roman governor of Britain, Petilius
Cerialis, during his military campaigns against the indigenous northern tribes
between AD 71-74. They are evenly spaced at a distance of a one-day march from
Catterick to Carlisle and are relics of the earliest Roman infiltration of
northern England.
All modern field boundaries and gateposts are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath these features is included.

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.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Roman camps are rectangular or sub-rectangular enclosures which were
constructed and used by Roman soldiers either when out on campaign or as
practice camps; most campaign camps were only temporary overnight bases and
few were used for longer periods. They were bounded by a single earthen
rampart and outer ditch and in plan are always straight-sided with rounded
corners. Normally they have between one and four entrances, although as many
as eleven have been recorded. Such entrances were usually centrally placed in
the sides of the camp and were often protected by additional defensive
outworks. Roman camps are found throughout much of England, although most
known examples lie in the midlands and north. Around 140 examples have been
identified and, as one of the various types of defensive enclosure built by
the Roman Army, particularly in hostile upland and frontier areas, they
provide an important insight into Roman military strategy and organisation.
All well-preserved examples are identified as being of national importance.

Despite the absence of many upstanding earthworks, aerial photographs have
identified the below ground features of a Roman camp north west of Balmers
Farm. On typological grounds construction of this camp can be dated to the
military campaigns of the Roman governor of Britain, Petilius Cerialis,
undertaken against the indigenous northern tribes between AD 71-74. On present
evidence this is the most northerly of Cerialis' legionary marching camps.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Higham, N, The Northern Counties to AD 1000, (1986), 151-2
St Joseph, J K, 'Journal of Roman Studies' in Air Reconnaissance of North Britain, , Vol. 41, (1951), 54
AP No. BR C 006, Cambridge University Collection, Roman Temporary Camp NE of Balmers Farm,
Carleton, R.J., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Roman camps, (1988)
Possibly also known as Plumpton Head, RCHME, Roman Camp NW of Balmers Farm, (1972)

Source: Historic England

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