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Herd Hill (milefortlet 4) and associated parallel banks and ditches, part of the Roman frontier defences along the Cumbrian coast

A Scheduled Monument in Bowness, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.9262 / 54°55'34"N

Longitude: -3.2895 / 3°17'22"W

OS Eastings: 317457.108724

OS Northings: 559823.240696

OS Grid: NY174598

Mapcode National: GBR 5CGG.MW

Mapcode Global: WH6YL.FFST

Entry Name: Herd Hill (milefortlet 4) and associated parallel banks and ditches, part of the Roman frontier defences along the Cumbrian coast

Scheduled Date: 17 July 1961

Last Amended: 21 February 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014917

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27730

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 Herd Hill milefortlet together
with the buried remains of a short length of the linear defensive system, here
comprising parallel banks and ditches. The linear defensive system has been
identified in part by a combination of aerial photographs and excavation along
the Cumbrian coast, but in particular between Bowness-on-Solway and the
northern shore of Moricambe. Within the sequence of milefortlets along the
Cumbrian coast this one has been identified as number 4. It was originally of
turf and timber construction and is located approximately 1km north of
Cardurnock village on generally level ground with a break of slope on the
western side. The milefortlet was first identified here in 1945 when limited
excavation revealed evidence of a defensive turf rampart. In 1994 geophysical
survey produced a clearer picture of the buried remains of the milefortlet;
low resistance readings interpreted as the fortlet's defensive ditch were
recognised on the south and east sides with a break at the mid-point of the
east side consistent with a causeway giving access across the ditch and
through a gateway into the milefortlet. High resistance readings within the
milefortlet were interpreted as being associated with the collapsed defensive
turf rampart and the site of former buildings. For a short distance
immediately to the south of the milefortlet the geophysical survey also
identified two parallel narrow bands of high and low resistance readings
interpreted as a defensive bank and ditch system. These features are aligned
SSW-NNE, measure approximately 9m apart, and were traced by the geophysical
survey for approximately 16m to the southern limit of the survey area. Faint
traces of another possible ditch c.35m long, and running parallel to the banks
and ditches just described, were identified by the geophysical survey on the
eastern side of the milefortlet.
A post and wire 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.

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 limited excavation and geophysical survey have shown that
buried remains of Herd Hill milefortlet 4 and an associated defensive system
of parallel banks and ditches survive well. The monument will contribute to
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)
Bellhouse, R L, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Roman Sites On The Cumberland Coast, 1954, , Vol. LIV, (1954), 54-5
Simpson, F G, Hodgson, K S, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in The Coastal Milefortlet At Cardurnock, , Vol. XLIII, (1947), 82
RCHME, Cumberland Coast Events Record, (1995)

Source: Historic England

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