NGRef: SD5190
OSMap: LR97
Type: Fort
Iter X: N (9) to Ambleside (Ambleside, Cumbria)
Iter X: SE (15) to Calacvm (Burrow in Lonsdale, Lancashire)
Probable road: NE (10) to Low Borrowbridge (Cumbria)

The name of this fort appears as Alone in Iter X of the Antonine Itinerary, 18 Roman miles from GALAVA (Ambleside, Cumbria) and 19 miles from CALACVM (Burrow in Lonsdale, Lancashire). The name also appears as Alunna in the Ravenna Cosmology (R&C#110), between the entries for MAMVCIVM (Manchester) and CAMBODVNVM (Slack, West Yorkshire).

Despite the evidence of Antonine Iter X the nearest known Roman road lies almost 8 miles (c.13km) east of the Watercrook fort near Sedburgh, running north-south between the forts at Low Borrowbridge in Cumbria and CALACVM (Burrow in Lonsdale) in Lancashire. It is possible, however, that there was a direct road link north-eastwards to the Low Borrowbridge fort.

The Watercrook fort is situated on the east bank of the River Kent just south of Kendal in the southern Lake District. It was thought that this fort, and others at Ambleside, Hardknott and elsewhere in the north, were all built just before the turn of the second century AD to police the Cambrian hill country. 'Scarcely stratified' excavation evidence from Watercrook has tentatively dated the construction of this turf and timber fort to 'shortly before AD 100' (Higham & Jones, p.20).


"Consecrated to the Gods and to the Goddesses ... Valens, of the Second Augustan Legion,
willingly and deservedly fulfilled his vow."

(RIB 752; altarstone)

There are only three entries for Watercrook in the R.I.B., and all are displayed on this page; one mentions Legio XX Valeria Victrix and Legio VI Victrix (vide RIB 754 infra), another identifies Legio II Augusta (vide RIB 752 supra), and the third may contain a further reference to Valeria Victrix (vide RIB 753 infra). The sparse epigraphic record contains no evidence of any auxiliary units, and in light of this, it seems likely that the Watercrook garrison was a Legionary Cohort.


"To the Goddesses the Nymphs. Titus Aelius of Valeria Victrix [dedicates this]."

(RIB 753; altarstone; translation uncertain)

The original garrison of the Alavana fort was possibly a cohort of the Twentieth Legion, who had been withdrawn from their unfinished legionary fortress at CASTRA ALATA (Inchtuthil, Tayside) by orders of the Emperor Domitian and stationed back in their original home at DEVA (Chester, Cheshire) sometime around 88AD.

Christian? Tombstone of Publius Aelius Sergius

D M S P AEL P F SERG BASSVS MVRSA QD > LEG XX V V VIX ANN ... ...S ET PRISCVS LIB ET HER PER AEL SVRINVM > LEG VI VIC F C SI QVIS IN HOC SEPVLC ALIVM MORTVVM INTVLERIT INFER F D N HS... INS AEL SVRINO Dis manibus sacrum, Publio Aelio Publii filii Sergio Bassus Mursa quondam Centurio Legio Vicesimae Valeria Victrix vixit annos ... ...s et Priscus liberti et heredes per Aelium Surinum Centurio Legio Sextae Victrix faciendum curavit si quis in hoc sepulcrum alium mortuum intulerit inferus [est] Filio Domini Nostri hic situs [est]... instante Aelio Surino.
"To the sacred spirits of the dead, and Publius Aelius Sergius Bassus Mursa, son of Publius, former centurion of the Twentieth Legion Valiant and Victorious, he lived for [...] years, [...]s and Priscus, his freedmen and heirs, with Aelius Surinus, centurion of the Sixth Victorious Legion, the executor of his will. If any deceased person in this grave proves worthy of consideration for another place, he has been buried for the Son of Our Lord. Here he lies [...] attended by Aelius Surinus."
(RIB 754; tombstone; translation uncertain)
See: Air Reconnaissance of North Britain by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. xli (1951) pp.52-65;
The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965).
The Carvetii by Nicholas Higham and Barri Jones (Sutton, London, 1985);
Chronicle of the Roman Emperors by Chris Scarre (Thames & Hudson, London, 1995);
Chronology of the Ancient World by E.J. Bickerman (Thames & Hudson, London, 1980);
All translations, including any inherent mistakes, are my own.

Alavana Related Lynx

Watercrook - Roman Fort from Cumbria Lancashire Education Online

Roman Name

Ravenna Cosmography: Alunna; Antonine itinerary: 10-2 ?Alone

Page Citation: Kevan White (2018) "Roman Britain: ALAVANA"