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Ravenglass Roman fort

A Scheduled Monument in Muncaster, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.3496 / 54°20'58"N

Longitude: -3.4046 / 3°24'16"W

OS Eastings: 308798.033594

OS Northings: 495806.786321

OS Grid: SD087958

Mapcode National: GBR 4LN4.QK

Mapcode Global: WH717.NXYW

Entry Name: Ravenglass Roman fort

Scheduled Date: 9 October 1981

Last Amended: 16 November 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013013

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13569

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 Ravenglass Roman fort, identified as the site of
Glannaventa noted in classical sources. It is located in Walls Plantation,
700m south of Ravenglass, on a low flat eminence adjacent to the coast and
bordered to north and south by shallow ravines. The east rampart survives up
to 1.5m high and measures 128m long. The fort was defended on the east side
by a double ditch, the inner of which is faintly visible 5m wide and up to
0.3m deep, the outer having been virtually filled and obscured by vegetation.
The south side of the fort has a very clear and sharp rampart up to 1m high.
On the fort's north side, beyond the rampart, there is a single ditch, the two
eastern ditches having merged into one at the north-east corner. This ditch
becomes deeper towards its western end and develops into a ravine 6m deep.
The western edge of the fort has been subjected to coastal erosion that has
destroyed the wall and intervallum along this side. A railway runs north-
south through the fort in a cutting and the monument is therefore divided into
two areas: one lies to the east of the railway track bed and contains the
central and eastern parts of the fort together with the eastern ditches. The
other lies to the west of the railway track bed and contains the remains of
the western part of the fort.
Casual finds and limited excavations within the fort indicate an early
Hadrianic fortlet constructed c.AD 122. In size this fortlet is similar to
milefortlets associated with the Cumbrian coastal defence system and is
thought to indicate either an extension of this system down to Ravenglass, or
a separate localised defensive arrangement constructed to guard the estuaries
of the rivers Esk, Mite and Irt. A later Hadrianic fort was built on the same
site but on a different alignment c.AD 130 to consolidate the coastal
defences. This fort displays evidence of destruction by fire in c.AD 197, AD
296 and AD 367, dates that mirror known periods of widespread turmoil in
northern England. It was rebuilt after the latter destruction but no date of
final abandonment is known. The fort was garrisoned by the Cohort I
Morinorum, a unit 500 strong, at one time during its history. Glannaventa was
the terminus of the Tenth Iter of the Antonine Itinerary, an official route
list compiled in the early 3rd century.
A short distance to the north-east of the fort is the Roman bath-house known
as Walls Castle and scheduled as a separate monument. Casual finds north and
east of the fort suggest that an extensive civilian settlement existed around
the fort. The railway fence is excluded from the scheduling but the ground
beneath it is included.

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.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Around 150 Roman forts are known to have existed in England. Construction of
these forts began soon after the Roman invasion of AD 43 and continued into
the fourth century. The distribution of these forts reflects areas where a
military presence was necessary, and the north of England, acting as a buffer
zone between barbarian tribes of northern Britain and the heavily Romanised
southern half of the country, contained a large number of these military
bases. These sites provide considerable insight into the complexities of the
frequently changing Roman frontier military strategy and add important detail
to the historical account of the Roman subjugation of Britain.
Glannaventa is located on the west coast at the end of the Roman road crossing
the Lake District from Ambleside and Hardknott. The site's importance is
attested by inclusion in the Antonine Itinerary. It played a major role in
the defence of the northern frontier, being closely involved in coastal
defence, policing of the native population of the coastal plain and adjacent
mountainous area, and policing of the wider northern frontier region. Limited
excavation at Ravenglass confirms that archaeological deposits from the 2nd to
5th centuries survive well, and has added greatly to our understanding of the
Cumbrian coastal defence system. The site therefore retains considerable
information about its origin, form and function.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Parthay, , Pinder, , Itinerarium Antonini Augusti, (1848)
Potter, T W, Romans in North-West England, (1979)
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)
Fair, M, 'Trans Cumb And West Antiq And Arch Soc' in Trans Cumb And West Antiq And Arch Soc. New Ser. Volume XXV, , Vol. XXV, ()
Fair, M, 'JRS' in JRS, , Vol. XXXIV, ()
Fair, M, 'Trans Cumb And West Antiq And Arch Soc. New Ser. (No.XLVIII)' in Trans Cumb And West Antiq And Arch Soc. New Ser. Volume No.XLVIII, , Vol. XLVIII, (1949)

Source: Historic England

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