Blakehope Fort


Earthwork remains of a Roman Auxiliary fort; it is contained within a larger enclosure, possibly a temporary camp.

The earthworks were first described and surveyed by MacLauchlan. He noted that the inner earthwork could only be traced with difficulty. There were probably four gates, of which he could trace three: the west retained traces of a titulum. Part of an annex to this earthwork was marked on his plan. These earthworks lay within a larger enclosure of approx twelve acres, of which he surveyed remains on the north, east and west sides. A break marked by MacLaughlan in the northern rampart may be a possible entrance.

In 1938 Richmond and St Joseph rediscovered the inner earthwork and interpreted it as ‘a cohort fort with single ditch, massive rampart, at least two gates and an annex to south’. Their survey shows the fort to measure approx. 420 by 390 ft across the ramparts and to enclose an area of approx. 3 1/4 acres.

In 1955 St Joseph identified the outer earthwork described by MacLauchlan, as a large temporary camp measuring approx. 720 x 930 ft. Its relationship to Dere Street implied that the camp preceded the road.

A short trial excavation on the fort side found that the rampart was of turf and had been burnt down. There was pre-Hadrianic occupation material, although insufficient was found to show whether it was Flavian or Trajanic in date.

There are to the north and west of the earthworks of the scheduled Roman fort the remains of a larger enclosure recorded by MacLaunchlan. The remains consists of a low bank with internal and external ditches; and a rounded NW angle of Roman character. It has been interpreted as an earlier Roman camp, but the existing earthworks might in part be post-Roman on a Roman line. Rough pasture.

Air photographs clearly show the fort and its annex. The north and west ramparts of the outer enclosure (prob. temporary camp?), its north-west/north-east angles and part of the south-west angle can be seen. Faint traces of the east rampart are visible for about half its length, overlain and considerably mutilated by rig and furrow. The lane leading into Blakehope Farm appears to follow the line of the southern rampart for most of its length. Faint traces of this rampart may be visible along in south-west corner of the field alongside this lane. There are possible indications that some of the existing earthworks of the camp may be post-Roman possibly overlying Roman work.

Map References for Blakehope

NGRef: NY8594 OSMap: LR80

Roman Roads near Blakehope

NW (2) to Bagraw NNW (3) to Bremenivm (High Rochester, Northumberland) SSE (7) to Risingham (Risingham, Northumberland) Dere Street: SSE (2) to Dargves