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Blennerhasset Roman fort, 300m south west of Harbybrow

A Scheduled Monument in Allhallows, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.7602 / 54°45'36"N

Longitude: -3.2602 / 3°15'36"W

OS Eastings: 319001.343041

OS Northings: 541309.671236

OS Grid: NY190413

Mapcode National: GBR 5FND.ZD

Mapcode Global: WH6ZC.WMP4

Entry Name: Blennerhasset Roman fort, 300m south west of Harbybrow

Scheduled Date: 7 June 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019017

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32849

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Allhallows

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Binsey Team

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes the buried remains of Blennerhasset Roman fort, a late
first century fort located on a bluff to the south of the River Ellen.
Although few surface remains are visible other than a shallow depression,
which is waterlogged in wet weather, and marking the location of the defensive
ditches on the fort's south side, aerial photography has revealed the crop
marks of a fort having internal measurements of approximately 170m north west
- south east by 200m north east - south west. The aerial photographs also show
a defensive system of three ditches surrounding the fort on three sides whilst
on the ESE side, where the crop was less responsive, there are at least two
ditches visible. Gateways are visible in the centre of the NNE and SSW sides
and a little to the north of centre on the NNW sides, suggesting that the fort
faced NNE. Also visible on the aerial photographs are the crop marks of a
rectangular building adjacent to the fort's rampart on the NNW side. The
location of the defensive ditches at the fort's southern corner was
established by resistivity survey.
Fieldwalking undertaken after ploughing in 1988 produced an assemblage of
pottery which, together with pottery found after ploughing during the previous
winter, was of late Neronian to early Flavian date (about 65-75 AD). Also
visible during this fieldwalking exercise was the location of the fort's east
rampart which was seen as a dark soil mark, together with considerable amounts
of burnt clay which were interpreted as remains of rampart-back ovens.
Blennerhasset Roman fort is larger than any other known Cumbrian fort,
suggesting that it was garrisoned by a unit larger than the standard
quingenary garrison of about 500 troops. Dating from the pottery evidence
alone suggests the fort was founded during the earliest Roman military
campaigns in north west England during the governorships of Cerialis,
Frontinus or Agricola (71-84 AD). The fort's function appears from its
location to have been to control the Cumbrian plain and, with the chain of
forts from Ribchester to Carlisle, to enclose the native population of the
Cumbrian massif during the earliest years of the Roman occupation of north
west England.
A modern field boundary is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath it is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Roman forts served as permanent bases for auxiliary units of the Roman Army.
In outline they were straight sided rectangular enclosures with rounded
corners, defined by a single rampart of turf, puddled clay or earth with one
or more outer ditches. Some forts had separately defended, subsidiary
enclosures or annexes, allowing additional storage space or for the
accommodation of troops and convoys in transit. Although built and used
throughout the Roman period, the majority of forts were constructed between
the mid first and mid second centuries AD. Some were only used for short
periods of time but others were occupied for extended periods on a more or
less permanent basis. In the earlier forts, timber was used for gateways,
towers and breastworks. From the beginning of the second century AD there was
a gradual replacement of timber with stone.
Roman forts are rare nationally and are extremely rare south of the Severn
Trent line. As one of a small group of Roman military monuments, which are
important in representing army strategy and therefore government policy, forts
are of particular significance to our understanding of the period. All Roman
forts with surviving archaeological potential are considered to be nationally

Despite agricultural cultivation, a combination of aerial photography,
geophysical survey and artefactual finds from the ploughsoil have shown that
buried remains of Blennerhasset Roman fort survive reasonably well. The
monument will contain considerable information about its origin and form and
will contribute greatly to any further study of the Roman frontier defences.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Evans, J, Scull, C, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Fieldwork on the Roman Fort Site at Blennerhasset, , Vol. XC, (1990), 127-37
Frere, S S, Hassall, M W C, Tomlin, R, 'Britannia' in Roman Britain in 1984, , Vol. 16, (1985), 272-4

Source: Historic England

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