The edge of the Roman Empire is rescued!

If someone asked you if you knew of Alauna, chances are you’d say no. If someone asked you if you’d heard of Maryport, a few of you might say yes. Hadrian’s Wall on the other hand is a different matter. I suspect you’ve all heard of it. What’s in a name?

Well Alauna is the name of the fort at the western end of Hadrian’s Wall and therefore represents the very edge of the Roman occupation of Britain and hence the edge of empire. It lies under the turf of the modestly named Camp Farm near Maryport in Cumbria. As with almost every other Roman fort this one has an associated settlement or vicus where civilians would have lived out their daily lives, probably supplying and servicing the fort and its personnel. It has made the news again recently as it’s previous owner the Hadrian’s Wall Trust, which ran into trouble during the financial crisis which hit us all, has sold the farm on which the fort lies to the North of England Civic Trust (NECT). Did you know it costs £2,800 per year just to maintain one mile of Hadrian’s Wall? That’s over £218,000 a year!

The NECT plan to develop the site into an educational resource as it has international significance. The site is adjacent to the Senhouse Roman Museum which holds many of the finds from excavations (http://www.senhousemuseum.co.uk). Details of the excavations can be found on the Oxford Archaeology website (Oxford Archaeology). The NECT plans initially to focus on getting the story of the fort and its people out to local schoolchildren, so teachers keep your eyes peeled! We here at Enrichment have not been to the museum, but its on our very long list of things to do!

Navio -the Northwest wall
Navio -the Northwest wall

Of course, Alauna is just one of many Roman forts to be found in Britain. Here in the Peak District there are 2 fairly large ones – Melandra near Glossop and Navio near Brough. The picture on the left shows part of the remains of the Northwestern wall of the fort at Navio, and while its not much to look at, excavations over the years have revealed a great amount about the fort and it’s vicus. Its free to visit and many of the finds from both here and Melandra can be seen in Buxton Museum.

As we have so many Roman sites here in the Peak District we are going to have a mini-series of blogs devoted to them. So look out for more on Navio and Melandra soon!

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