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: Blitterlees (milefortlet 12), part of the Roman frontier defences along the Cumbrian coast

List entry Number: 1014913

Location

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

County District District Type Parish
CumbriaAllerdaleDistrict AuthoritySilloth-on-Solway

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 21-Feb-1997

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 27726

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 some damage to the milefortlet by a combination of wind erosion and quarrying, limited excavations have shown that buried remains of Blitterlees milefortlet 12 survive reasonably well. The monument will contribute to any 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 Blitterlees milefortlet. Within the sequence of milefortlets along the Cumbrian coast this one has been identified as number 12. The milefortlet was originally of turf and timber construction and is located on a high consolidated sand dune on Silloth Golf Course. The only surface evidence for the milefortlet are some shallow depressions indicating the site of limited excavations by Bellhouse in 1963 and 1967. These excavations found the milefortlet to have been partly damaged by a combination of wind erosion and quarrying, however, where no damage had occurred the turf rampart was found to survive up to 2.4m high and lie beneath a similar thickness of blown sand which had accumulated since the fortlet was abandoned. The base of the rampart measured 8.5m wide and stood on a combination of clean sand and made up ground which indicated that the area had been levelled prior to construction of the milefortlet. Other finds included a large corroded nail, Roman pottery of Hadrianic-Antonine date (AD 117-161), a sherd of Roman pottery dated c.AD 270-340, and a piece of slate considered to have come from the roof of one of the milefortlet's internal buildings. After examining the matrix of the rampart the excavator considered the milefortlet to have had two periods of occupation; the Period I rampart consisted of brown sandy turf containing lumps of grey clay; it was later rebuilt and it is the Period II rampart which survives up to 2.4m high in places.

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 1962-3, , Vol. LXVI, (1966), 38-40
Bellhouse, R L, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Roman Sites On The Cumberland Coast, , Vol. LXXXI, (1981), 11
Bellhouse, R L, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Roman Sites On The Cumberland Coast 1966-67, , Vol. LXIX, (1969), 60-4
Other
RCHME, Cumberland Coast Events Record, (1995)

National Grid Reference: NY 10415 52563

Map


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This copy shows the entry on 24-Oct-2014 at 10:19:53.