Ancient Monuments

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Brownrigg milefortlet 22, 800m north east of the Cemetery Chapel, part of the Roman frontier defences along the Cumbrian coast

A Scheduled Monument in Maryport, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.7362 / 54°44'10"N

Longitude: -3.466 / 3°27'57"W

OS Eastings: 305704.930087

OS Northings: 538903.62035

OS Grid: NY057389

Mapcode National: GBR 4F7N.DZ

Mapcode Global: WH5YB.Q6QZ

Entry Name: Brownrigg milefortlet 22, 800m north east of the Cemetery Chapel, part of the Roman frontier defences along the Cumbrian coast

Scheduled Date: 26 November 1965

Last Amended: 14 February 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014804

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27723

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Maryport

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Cross Canonby St John the Evangelist

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes the buried remains of Brownrigg Roman milefortlet.
Within the sequence of milefortlets along the Cumbrian coast this one has been
identified as number 22. The milefortlet was originally of turf and timber
construction and is located on a low cliff towards the north end of Maryport
Golf Course where it now lies buried beneath a green and tee. It was
originally discovered in 1962 when rainwater lodged in the shallow depression
of the milefortlet's infilled defensive ditch was observed. Limited excavation
by Bellhouse in 1968 found the ditch to exist on all sides except the west and
to have originally measured approximately 6.5m wide by 1.5m deep. The turf
rampart survived well, measured up to 9.4m wide and 0.76m high, had a footpath
of flat stones on the top indicating a rampart walkway, and showed three
separate phases of construction. A gravelled road ran between the
milefortlet's western side and the cliff edge and gave access to an entrance
1.8m wide on this side. Within the interior the east-west axial
gravel-surfaced road was found and other finds from the excavation included
two hearths or ovens, Roman pottery dated to the first half of the second
century AD, the sole of a sandal, two cooking pot covers and a fragment of a
quernstone. Bellhouse's plan of the site indicates that it measures c.57m
north east-south west across the ditches by c.44m north west-south east
including the access road.
All post and wire fences 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

Hadrian's Wall marks one of the frontiers of the Roman Empire. The
international importance of the surviving remains has been recognised through
designation as a World Heritage Site.
The military importance of the Tyne-Solway route across the Pennines was
recognised by the Romans in the second half of the first century AD when a
military road, the Stanegate, was constructed along with a series of forts.
There is evidence that the Tyne-Solway route was being recognised as a
frontier by the start of the second century AD, but the line was consolidated
in the early second century AD by the construction of a substantial frontier
work, Hadrian's Wall, in c.120 AD. Subsequent attempts to establish the
boundary further north, between Clyde and Forth, failed by c.160 AD. Hadrian's
Wall then remained the frontier of the Roman Empire in Britain until c.400 AD
when Roman armies withdrew from Britain.
For most of its course, the 70 miles of Hadrian's Wall running from coast to
coast comprised a continuous stone wall (which in places was first temporarily
built of turf) with permanent structures sited at intervals of one Roman mile
(milecastles) and at third of a mile intervals (turrets) between the
milecastles. At a later date, the Wall was strengthened by 16 full-size
garrison forts built either on, or close to, the Wall. To the north of the
Wall, for most of its length, lay a substantial defensive ditch and to the
south a complex of banks and ditches provided east-west communication and
demarcated the frontier zone from the province.
To the west of Bowness-on-Solway, where the Wall reached the sea, however, the
frontier had a different character and served a slightly different purpose. At
the western end of the Wall a system of milefortlets and towers, spaced
similarly to the milecastles and turrets along the Wall, extended the frontier
system for at least 27 miles down the Cumbrian coast and helped control
movement across the estuary of the Solway Firth. In places these milefortlets
and towers were supplemented by lengths of palisade fences.
Throughout its long history the Wall was not always well maintained. It was
often neglected and sometimes overrun, but it remained in use until the late
fourth century when a weak and divided Roman Empire finally withdrew its
armies from the Wall and Britain.
The frontier works along the Cumbrian coast survive as earthworks or buried
archaeological remains, the latter sometimes visible on aerial photographs.
They survive in this form largely as a result of the more ephemeral materials
of which they were built (timber and turf instead of the stone of Hadrian's
Wall land frontier) rather than because of poor survival of archaeological
remains. Components of the coastal frontier which have surviving
archaeological remains, whether visible or not, will generally be considered
of national importance.

Despite now lying beneath a golf green and tee, limited excavation has shown
that buried remains of Brownrigg milefortlet 22 survive well. The monument
will contribute to further study of the Roman frontier defences along the
Cumbrian coast.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Bellhouse, R L, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Roman Sites On The Cumberland Coast, , Vol. LXXXI, (1981), 11
Bellhouse, R L, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Roman Sites On The Cumberland Coast, , Vol. LXX, (1970), 10-19
Bellhouse, R L, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Roman Sites On The Cumberland Coast, , Vol. LXIII, (1963), 141-7
RCHME, Cumberland Coast Events Record, (1995)

Source: Historic England

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