Ancient Monuments

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Sea Brows (milefortlet 23), 500m south west of Bank End part of the Roman frontier defences along the Cumbrian coast

A Scheduled Monument in Maryport, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.7279 / 54°43'40"N

Longitude: -3.4848 / 3°29'5"W

OS Eastings: 304475.685118

OS Northings: 537998.251278

OS Grid: NY044379

Mapcode National: GBR 4F3R.BZ

Mapcode Global: WH5YB.FFSD

Entry Name: Sea Brows (milefortlet 23), 500m south west of Bank End part of the Roman frontier defences along the Cumbrian coast

Scheduled Date: 21 February 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014912

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27725

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Maryport

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Maryport St Mary with Christ Church

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes the buried remains of all but the western edge of Sea
Brows milefortlet. Within the sequence of milefortlets along the Cumbrian
coast this one has been identified as number 23. The milefortlet was
originally of turf and timber construction and is located on the top of a
prominent cliff north east of Maryport Roman fort. It was found by aerial
photography which showed the outline of the broad ditch of a milefortlet with
an entrance on the south east side. The north west side of the milefortlet has
been destroyed by erosion to the cliff edge. In 1994 geophysical survey
produced a clearer picture of the buried remains of the milefortlet; low
resistance readings confirmed the location of the main ditch on all sides
except the eroded north western side, with a break on the south east side
confirming the site of a causeway across the ditch giving access into the
milefortlet. Internally several high resistance readings are considered to be
associated with a turf rampart, building wall lines and areas of building
rubble. In addition to the main fortlet ditch the geophysical survey detected
other internal ditches which may reflect sub-divisions within the fortlet or,
alternatively, the existence of an earlier milefortlet which may have been
suffering from erosion and was subsequently rebuilt a short distance further
inland away from the cliff edge. Exact measurement of the milefortlet is
impossible to obtain because of the loss of the western edge of the monument,
but the geophysical survey indicates that the fortlet including its ditch
measures c.47m north east-south west.
A field dyke and 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.

A combination of aerial photographs and geophysical survey have shown that
buried remains of Sea Brows milefortlet 23 survive reasonably well. The
monument will retain undisturbed archaeological deposits and will contribute
to any further study of the Roman frontier defences along the Cumbrian coast.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Geophysical Surveys of Bradford, , Roman Defences of the Cumbrian Coast, (1994)
AP , Manchester University,
AP , Manchester University,
Cumbria SMR 16515 AP No 2007,15, Cumbria County Council, Maryport, (1979)
Cumbria SMR 16515 AP No 2007,16, Cumbria County Council, Maryport, (1979)
Cumbria SMR 16515 AP No 2007,28, Cumbria County Council, Maryport, (1979)
RCHME, Cumberland Coast Events Record, (1995)

Source: Historic England

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