Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Cardurnock (tower 4b) and earlier ditch system and patrol road, part of the Roman frontier defences along the Cumbrian coast

A Scheduled Monument in Bowness, Cumbria

We don't have any photos of this monument yet. Why don't you be the first to send us one?

Upload Photo »

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »

If Google Street View is available, the image is from the best available vantage point looking, if possible, towards the location of the monument. Where it is not available, the satellite view is shown instead.


Latitude: 54.9172 / 54°55'1"N

Longitude: -3.2946 / 3°17'40"W

OS Eastings: 317115.127389

OS Northings: 558823.597414

OS Grid: NY171588

Mapcode National: GBR 5CFL.J3

Mapcode Global: WH6YL.CNDR

Entry Name: Cardurnock (tower 4b) and earlier ditch system and patrol road, part of the Roman frontier defences along the Cumbrian coast

Scheduled Date: 1 August 1961

Last Amended: 21 February 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016074

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27744

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 a Roman observation platform and a
later stone tower together with the buried remains of an associated linear
defensive system here comprising a series of ditches, some of which contained
palisade fences. The linear defensive system has been identified in part by a
combination of aerial photographs, excavation and geophysical survey elsewhere
along the Cumbrian coast, but in particular between Bowness-on-Solway and the
northern shore of Moricambe. Within the sequence of towers along the Cumbrian
coast Cardurnock has been identified as number 4b. The monument is located
immediately to the west of Cardurnock village and was revealed during the
1970s by a combination of limited excavation and aerial photography; the
latter clearly showed the crop mark of an infilled ditch running south from
the Roman tower for approximately 110m. The excavation found a series of three
periods of activity; the first period was attested by the presence of a clay
platform fronted by a palisade ditch which was interpreted by the excavator as
the remains of a low clay and turf mound which would have served as a point
where patrolling sentries could have observed over the top of the frontal
palisade towards the sea. This defensive arrangement was complemented by a
forward ditch which is visible on aerial photographs and located some 11m to
the seaward side of the palisade. The excavation revealed that the clay
platform and its adjacent palisade ditch were abandoned during the second
period of activity when a fresh palisade ditch was cut directly through the
clay platform. Behind this new ditch traces of a patrol road were found during
the excavation. The forward ditch remained in use during this second period
but no evidence for a new observation platform was found during the
excavation. The excavation showed that this second defensive arrangement
subsequently became redundant during the third period when the running
palisade and forward ditch was abandoned and replaced by a stone tower
constructed overlying the forward ditch some 11m to the west of the site of
the earlier clay platform.
All fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, although 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.

A combination of aerial photography and limited excavation have shown that
buried remains of three periods of the Roman frontier defences including an
observation platform, a series of ditches including some which held palisade
fences, and a Roman tower survive reasonably 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, 'CWAAS Research Series' in Roman Sites On The Cumb Coast: A New Schedule Of Coastal Sites, , Vol. III, (1989), 18-29
Jones, G D B, 'Britannia' in The Solway Frontier: Interim Report, , Vol. 13, (1982), 288-92
Located in /1 file, English Heritage,

Source: Historic England

Other nearby scheduled monuments is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact for any queries related to any individual ancient or schedued monument, planning permission related to scheduled monuments or the scheduling process itself. is a Good Stuff website.