The Romans

The Romans in the Lake District

What we now call Cumbria was once a mountainous warfare area, which stood on the outer limits of the Roman Empire. Therefore, from evidence which is still seen today, the achievements of the period were significant. Agricola, the military commander and governor, from 79AD progressed through the Lune and Eden valleys towards Scotland and created a network of roads with forts to defend them at vital points.

These forts were established at Watercrook beside Kendal, north of Penrith and at Carlisle (Luguvalium), the latter became the headquarters for the administration of the region. The system was united across the county, for example, a road from York joined with the north south route at Brougham, Penrith and this was secured by the fort Brovacum. From there another road, High Street, was driven courageously over the mountains above Ullswater to the fort Galava at Ambleside which then continued over Wrynose Pass and Hardknott Pass to the port at Ravenglass which was secured by Glannoventa.

Ravenglass a small coastal village located just off the A595 was an important naval base called Glannaventa for the Romans which dates back to the 2nd century.

Ravenglass Roman Bath House or Walls Castle as it is now known, is all that remains of the large Roman fort called Glannaventa.

Roman Forts & Castles

Hardknott Roman Fort is situated on the Eskdale end of Hardknott Pass, a Roman fort known as Mediobogdum.

Glannoventa a Roman fort at Ravenglass, just off the A595 to Whitehaven, discovered in 1850 during the building of the Furness Railway.

Galava or, the Ambleside Roman Fort at Borrans Park as it is known locally, was built around 79 AD.

Muncaster Castle which overlooks the Esk River and approximately a mile south of the west coastal town of Ravenglass. This castle was originally chosen by the Romans as the place from which to guard the Esk River.

Maglona the Roman name for the Old Carlisle fort, located just south of Wigton off the A595 Carlisle to Cockermouth road in the Lake District.

Milefortlet 21 the only portion of Hadrian’s coastal defences of the north west frontier to have been completely excavated.

Mountain passes

Hardknott Pass The Romans called this road the Tenth Highway, originally built on a road over the pass in the 2nd century AD to link the coastal fort at Ravenglass with their garrisons at Ambleside and Kendal.

Wrynose Pass forms part of the old Roman road named the Tenth Highway.


The Senhouse Roman Museum, which is in Maryport, was started in 1570 by John Senhouse who was Lord of the Manor of Ellenborough.

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