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Ravenglass Roman fort bath-house, also known as Walls Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Muncaster, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.3507 / 54°21'2"N

Longitude: -3.4041 / 3°24'14"W

OS Eastings: 308832.571534

OS Northings: 495928.802075

OS Grid: SD088959

Mapcode National: GBR 4LN4.T4

Mapcode Global: WH717.PX51

Entry Name: Ravenglass Roman fort bath-house, also known as Walls Castle

Scheduled Date: 26 June 1924

Last Amended: 16 November 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009352

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13570

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Muncaster

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Muncaster St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes the extant and buried remains of Ravenglass Roman fort
bath-house, also known as Walls Castle. The stone-built structure survives
above ground as an irregular-shaped block up to 3.8m high consisting of two
rooms and various projecting fragments of wall. The walls are of regularly
coursed sandstone bonded with mortar and rendered internally with pink cement.
The southern room measures 4.8m by 4.4m internally and contains on its
southern side a culvert constructed of red tile mortared to form an arch of
0.15 - 0.20m diameter. The northern room measures 5.7m by 4.4m and contains
the remains of two semi-cylindrical niches facing each other. The better
preserved of these is built into the western wall, is cement rendered, and
measures 1.1m high by 0.8m broad and 0.45m deep. Throughout the upstanding
remains there are five arched doorways, four of the same rectangular type, the
other having a smaller arch 2.74m above floor level. One of the doorways has
a worn threshold and a broad groove to receive a timber doorframe. There are
the remains of five windows with sills 1.2m above floor level, only one of
which, in the northern room, has both sides remaining. It possesses inward
splays or chamfered surfaces cut into the walls and has been blocked.
Limited excavation in 1881 found foundations of a small room with solid floors
east of the northern room. Adjacent was an almost square room with a
hypocaust and beyond that again was another, larger room. The southern room
was found to have had a solid floor. To the east of the southern room was a
heated room apparently running the entire remaining length of the southern
Ravenglass Roman fort bath-house is in the guardianship of the Secretary of
State. All fences, signs and information boards are excluded from the
scheduling but the ground beneath these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The habit of bathing was an essential feature of Roman everyday life and every
community with pretensions to Roman civilisation possessed a bath-house which
acted as the centre of social life. The Roman military bath-house consisted
of a series of rooms raised to different degrees of heat. The simplest type
of bath-house consists of a single unheated room serving as a dressing room
(apodyterium) and cold room(frigidarium), with a plunge-bath of cold water,
then a moderately heated room (tepidarium), then the hot room (caldarium) with
a hot plunge-bath. A single furnace supplied all the required heat. This
heat was carefully channelled around the bath-house, first passing under a
metal boiler for heating the water, then under the raised hypercaust-floor of
the caldarium, and then under that of the tepidarium. This type of compact
bath-house is often located outside smaller forts. Most forts, however, had a
larger, more elaborate bath-house including a Spartan room (laconicum) where
sweating was promoted by dry heat usually heated from a separate furnace.
Excavation of bath-houses frequently produces items of personal ornamentation
such as rings, brooches, jewellery, hair grips and clothing fasteners,
together with objects such as dice and gaming counters indicative of other
social activities pursued in the baths complex.
Ravenglass Roman fort bath-house is the best preserved Roman military bath-
house building in the country. The structure still partly stands to the full
height of its walls and displays a number of architectural features including
doorways, windows, niches, arches and internal rendering. Limited excavation
to the east of the extant remains has revealed foundations of a number of
additional rooms, and further evidence of the internal arrangement of the
baths complex will exist.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Denton, J, Accompt, (1610)
Birley, E, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. New Ser.' in The Roman Fort at Ravenglass, , Vol. LVIII, (1952)
Collingwood, R G, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & ARch Soc. New Ser.' in Roman Ravenglass, , Vol. XXVIII, (1929)
Title: Walls Castle
Source Date: 1984
Copy at Lancaster Univ Arch Unit

Source: Historic England

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