When in Rome...Lake District History
Published: Thursday 31st Jan 2019
Written by: Leah Dacre
Julius Caesar came to Britain twice during the Roman invasions of 54 and 55 BC but the longest occupation began in AD 43. During the reign the North West region was a military region consisting of a complex of roads and defences. The Roman Fort was a key factor in command of the territory and forts were built at regular intervals along the main roads.
The Lake District is home to many Roman remnants. The Roman fort of Galava is located close to the Northern shore of Lake Windermere, in Ambleside, was built in AD79 and was built in a strategic position protected by 2 sides of water. During the Romans conquest of Northern Britain towards the end of the century a small timber fort housed a garrison of 200 men. The site was abandoned and redeveloped in the early second century AD the fort was demolished and a stone one was built on a platform which is still just visible today. Archaeologists have since revealed the forts defences and parts of the internal buildings which includes, a main gate, south gate, the commanding officers house, the headquarters and granaries which can still been seen at present. Artefacts from the site are held at Kendal museum, which includes a tombstone which tells of a record clerk killed by enemy action.
Hardknott Roman Fort, known to the Romans as Mediobogdum is near the Eskdale end of the Hard Knott pass, which with Wrynose pass connects Eskdale with the central lakes. One of the loneliest but spectacular outposts of the Roman Empire was built between AD120 and AD138 is on a breath taking location overlooking the pass which forms part of the roman road to Ravenglass to Ambleside and Brougham at Penrith. The walls surrounded granaries, barracks and a commander’s house. Today the baths with a sequence of 3 rooms can be seen outside the main walls and an area of flattened ground is believed to be the parade area. The drive is believed to be the most thrilling and challenging in the Lake District.
Both sites are owned by the National Trust and maintained by English heritage. They are great places to visit if you want to learn more about local history while you’re in the Lake District.
Take a look at our Langdale Cottages if you'd like to book a holiday and stay near Hardknott Roman Fort.