NGRef: NY5035
OSMap: LR90
Type: Roman Camp
NNW (2.5) to Voreda (Old Penrith, Cumbria)
SSE (4.5) to Brocavvm

The Plumpton Head Marching Camp

NY499353 irregular 23½ acres
(9.5 ha)

This site was discovered on aerial photographs taken by Prof. St Joseph in 1951, and its complete circuit was determined by fieldwork and aerial reconnaissance conducted by the RCHME. The camp is sited in the Petteril Valley on undulating ground in open farmland immediately north-west of the hamlet of Plumpton Head. The camp is sited about 200 ft (60m) west of the old Roman road between Old Penrith and Brougham but was not aligned with it. In the Plumpton area this former military highway lies directly beneath the modern A6 road. The camp has an extemely irregular outline and encloses an area of about 23½ acres (9.5ha). Visible only as crop marks, the western defences are about 1,150 feet (c.350m) in length and pierced by two gateways, both protected by external embankments or tituli. The southern defences, about 1,080 ft (c.330m) long, have been preserved in a modern field boundary to the rear of Balmers Farm. The eastern defences of the camp were only 555 ft (c.170m) long and unaligned with those to the west but was pierced by three gateways, all of which were protected by external tituli and are still visible as soil marks when conditions permit. The northern side is the most irregular, joining the western side at an acute angle and the eastern side obtusely, and curving sinuously to avoid marshy ground in between; the eastern portion of this side is visible from ground-level as soil marks but the western part is only normally visible from the air. (JRS 1951 p.54; RCHME.)

This large temporary marching camp and other similarly-sized fortifications at Rey Cross and Crackenthorpe have all been attributed to the campaigns of governor Quintus Petilius Cerialis against the Brigantian dissident Venutius sometime around 72/73AD. It seems likely that another pre-Flavian camp dating to this particular campaign may be awaiting discovery at Carlisle.

See: Air Reconnaissance of North Britain by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. xli (1951) pp.52-65;
Roman Camps in England - The Field Archaeology by the R.C.H.M.E. (H.M.S.O, London, 1995);
Page Citation: Kevan White (2018) "Roman Britain: PLUMPTON HEAD"