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Pasture House (milefortlet 3), part of the Roman frontier defences along the Cumbrian coast

A Scheduled Monument in Bowness, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.9327 / 54°55'57"N

Longitude: -3.2716 / 3°16'17"W

OS Eastings: 318616.064256

OS Northings: 560522.678653

OS Grid: NY186605

Mapcode National: GBR 5CLD.HK

Mapcode Global: WH6YL.Q88V

Entry Name: Pasture House (milefortlet 3), part of the Roman frontier defences along the Cumbrian coast

Scheduled Date: 9 November 1961

Last Amended: 19 November 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014916

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27729

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Bowness

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Bowness-on-Solway St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes the buried remains of Pasture House milefortlet. Within
the sequence of milefortlets along the Cumbrian coast this one has been
identified as number 3. The milefortlet was originally of turf and timber
construction and is located to the east of Pasture House Farm where it is
visible as a slightly elevated platform flanked by the shallow depressions of
flanking ditches on the east and west sides. A Roman site was first identified
here in 1880 when limited antiquarian investigation found a quantity of
dressed freestone and Roman pottery. In 1945 the site was confirmed as a
milefortlet when limited excavation revealed evidence of a defensive turf
rampart. Aerial photographs taken in the late 1940s clearly show cropmarks of
the milefortlet's defensive ditch surviving on all sides except the south
where a roadside hedge obscures visibility. In 1993 the site was surveyed by
the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England and although past
ploughing had levelled the platform and ditch, particularly on the north side,
the milefortlet platform was found to measure approximately 45m north-south by
40m east-west while the ditch measured c.10m-12m wide.
All post and wire fences are excluded from the scheduling but the ground
beneath them 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.

Pasture House milefortlet 3 is a rare example of a milefortlet belonging to
the sequence of Roman frontier defences along the Cumbrian coast, which still
survives as a slight earthwork. Despite past ploughing which has contributed
to some levelling of the platform and infilling of the ditch, limited
excavation has shown that buried remains of the milefortlet survive reasonably
well. The monument will contribute to any further study of the Roman frontier
defences along the Cumbrian coast.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Thompson, F H (ed), Archaeology & Coastal Change, (1980), 90
Ferguson, R S, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. Old Ser.' in , , Vol. 5, (1881), 128
Jones, G D B, 'Britannia' in The Solway Frontier: Interim Report, , Vol. 13, (1982), 287
Simpson, F G, Hodgson, K S, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in The Coastal Milefortlet At Cardurnock, , Vol. XLVII, (1947), 82
AP No. DI 010, St Joseph,J.K., Pasture House milefortlet, (1949)
RCHME, Cumberland Coast Events Record, (1995)

Source: Historic England

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