List entry

List entry Summary

This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Swarthy Hill North tower 20b, 460m south west of Blue Dial, part of the Roman frontier defences along the Cumbrian coast

List entry Number: 1014810

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County District District Type Parish
CumbriaAllerdaleDistrict AuthorityCrosscanonby

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 26-Nov-1965

Date of most recent amendment: 14-Feb-1997

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 27716

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

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.

Despite the lack of surface remains, limited excavation has shown that buried remains of Swarthy Hill North tower 20b survive reasonably well. The monument will contribute to further study of the Roman frontier defences along the Cumbrian coast.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details

The monument includes the buried remains of Swarthy Hill North tower. Within the sequence of Roman towers along the Cumbrian coast this one has been identified as 20b. The tower was originally of sandstone construction and is located on the shoulder of Swarthy Hill a short distance north of the summit, from where there are extensive views to the north and east, but particularly out to sea westwards. Limited excavation by Bellhouse in 1962 found the south wall of the tower to survive up to two courses high and stand on a foundation of clay and cobbles measuring 1.4m-1.5m wide and 0.3m deep. The foundations of the west wall were found to survive well but those of the other two walls showed signs of plough damage. A single sherd of Roman cooking pot was also found during the excavation. The tower is almost square and measures 6.7m by 6.4m externally. The Ordnance Survey map incorrectly locates the tower slightly to the north of its actual position.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 10 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Bellhouse, R L, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Roman Sites On The Cumberland Coast, , Vol. LXIII, (1963), 141-2
Other
RCHME Survey - Unique ID No. 9132, RCHME, Cumberland Coast Events Record - Tower 20b, (1995)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:10000 Source Date: 1971 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

National Grid Reference: NY 07024 40388

Map


© Crown Copyright and database right 2014. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 01-Nov-2014 at 01:17:25.