NGRef: NY 510 614
OSMap: LR86
Type: Fort
Stanegate: ENE (3) to Boothby
possible early road: NW (10) to Castra Exploratorvm (Netherby, Cumbria)
Stanegate: ENE (6) to Nether Denton
Stanegate: WSW (8) to Lvgvvalivm (Carlisle, Cumbria)
Stanegate: W (8) to Uxelodvnvm (Stanwix, Cumbria)

The Roman Fort at Brampton Old Church

N.G.Ref Dimensions Area
NY 5100 6146 410 x 396 feet
(125 x 121 m)
3¾ acres
(1.5 ha)

The fort at Brampton Old Church, like that at Newbrough, was likely founded during the Roman military withdrawal from Scotland in the early-Trajanic period, when the forts along the line of the Stanegate, originally established during the Agricolan Campaigns of 79/80AD, were being reoccupied and rebuilt. The Stanegate crossed the flood-plain of the River Irthing about 0.4 miles (0.6 km) NNW of the fort, the hollow-way of a presumed Roman trackway leading from the fort's northern gateway to join with this military highway. Also like Newbrough, the Brampton fort was found to have had only a short lifetime, being demolished when Hadrian's Wall was built only 1 mile (1.62 km) to the north-west c.125AD and replaced by the Wall fort at Castlesteads which lay only 1¼ miles (2km) to the NNE.

The fort was partially excavated in 1935 by the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society conducted by F.G. Simpson and I.A. Richmond, with the results being published in the Society Transactions the following year. These excavations established the entire defensive circuit and showed that the Old Church lay in the north-east corner, its east wall abutting onto the rampart. The foundations of several interior buildings were plotted, including the principia in the centre of the fort, two granaries close to the ramparts to the east and west, a barrack-block in the retentura or southern portion of the fort, also the remains of another building to the west of the principia which may have been a fabrica or workshop, or possibly the praetorium or commanding officer's house.

The defenses comprised a rampart constructed of layers of turf set upon a stone base 16 feet (4.9 m) wide, fronted by a single ditch 13 feet wide by 5 feet deep (c. 4 x 1.5 m). These defenses measure about 410 feet north-south by 396 feet east-west (125 x 121 m), giving an occupation area of about 3¾ acres (1.5 ha), of sufficient capacity to have housed an auxiliary infantry unit, a cohors peditata. The fort was deliberately dismantled and the post-holes of its internal buildings carefully back-filled after only a short period of occupation. Dating evidence consists of a quantity of coarse-ware pottery "strikingly like that obtained at Haltwhistle and Throp." Two Roman coins have been recovered from the site; a republican silver denarius of 88BC and a copper of Postumus (R.I.C. 325; 260-268AD), neither of which were stratified nor are they particularly helpful for dating purposes, both being classed as 'strays'.

Roman Industrial Compound at Irthing Valley School

An industrial compound containing tile and pottery kilns, also signs of metalworking was discovered in May 1963 in the grounds of William Howard School, about 0.9 mile (1.45 km) east of the fort to the south of Old Church Lane. Eight kilns were uncovered, four square tile kilns and four ovular pottery kilns, one of which contained a terracotta lamp stamped with the manufacturer's name, FORTIS. Over 800 sherds of coarse-ware pottery and fragments of tile were recovered during excavations, which showed activity between 100AD to 125. The site was apparently abandoned when the nearby fort was demolished so it is almost certain that it was operated by the Roman military. Further excavations on the site in July 1964 uncovered a Roman well, 10 feet (3 m) deep, containing sixty-one metalwork items including agricultural tools, artisan's equipment and various pieces of military armour and harness fittings; the date of deposition of these items being about 125AD, which again indicates abandonment of the site following the military withdrawal.

Roman Milestone from Oldwall

"For Imperator Diocletianus Pius Felix Augustus¹ always the elder.²"
(RIB 2311; milestone; dated: 305/306AD)
  1. Diocletian - (see milestone from Bridgend, Glamorgan; RIB 2256, note#2).
  2. I suppose in the sense that the emperor was considered to be the 'wisest of counsels'.

There is a temporary marching camp about 2½ miles to the west at Watchclose (NY4760) and another two at Moss Side (NY4560), all situated between the Stanegate and Hadrian's Wall. There is a Roman tile kiln a short way east of the fort at Brampton village (NY5261).

Brampton Bibliography and Lynx

See: The Roman Inscriptions of Britain - Vol.1 - Inscriptions on Stone by R.G. Collingwood & R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965);
Roman Coins from North-West England by David Shotter (Lancaster 1990) p.54.
All English translations, including any inherent mistakes, are my own. Togodumnus
Link to maps of the area from: StreetMap Old-Maps MultiMap
Page Citation: Kevan White (2018) "Roman Britain: OLD CHURCH BRAMPTON"