Hadrian’s Wall Exploration 3 – Ravenglass Roman Fort


April Fool’s Day – and a train ride to west Cumbria. In the real world the best April Fool is that the franchise for Northern Rail has been handed to Arriva Rail North Ltd from Serco/Abellio. They have spent thousands to remove all the Northern branding before they replace it with Northern branding. Bring back British Rail.

Northern_Rail_Logo oldNorthern logo crop

When the sun is shining it is a lovely ride down the coast on the line from Carlisle to Barrow in Furness. At Ravenglass you can change to the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway and have a narrow gauge ride up into the hills. It was a very wet day today. The locos are lovely.


The museum was interesting too. They also had some of the Roman finds excavated when the main line was taken across the fort.


So, it’s time for another Roman fort. I remember Dad walking down to this one when we visited the line many years ago. Alex and I went for a walk in the rain – I am becoming like my dad. This fort was called Glannaventa, an important Roman port and supply centre for the inland forts. A road ran inland and up to the fort at Hardknott (this delight is to come). Little remains of the fort, but you can see the walls of the bath house – they stand almost 4 metres high. It is an English Heritage property – website. There is more about the fort here and some good aerial photos and plans here.


There was probably a C1 fort, then Hadrian built a new one here. The EH site says “One infantry unit of the Roman army is associated with Ravenglass, the First Cohort Aelia Classica. ‘Aelius’ was Hadrian’s family name, while ‘Classica’ is derived from the Latin classis, meaning ‘fleet’, suggesting that the soldiers were recruited from the fleet in Hadrian’s time. The most significant evidence for the presence of this unit at Ravenglass was an inscribed bronze certificate of demobilisation belonging to one of the soldiers. That archaeological research is a fortuitous business is shown by the fact that this object was recovered by a dog.” It seems to have been continuous occupied until the C4, when there was a fire (deliberate or accidental?). It was then rebuilt, perhaps becoming the basis of a local warlord and his militia.


The bath-house was not very exciting as the rain came down, but I have been to wetter sites. And the next site will be even wetter …



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