The remain of a Roman fort are visible as cropmarks captured on oblique aerial photographs. The fort dates probably to the late first or mid second century AD. The archaeological remains survive beneath the ploughsoil as buried features and deposits. The cropmarks identify the SE side of the fort and most of its interior, but fluvial erosion has destroyed part of the northern and western sectors. The fort measures approximately 180m on the NE side by at least 110m on the SW side, enclosing about 5 acres. A system of five ditches defines its perimeter, possibly suggesting two periods of use, and a series of buildings and thoroughfares are clearly visible in the interior. The camp is strategically located on the left bank of the Dryfe Water, approximately 300m above its confluence with the Annan.
Classical References to Ladyward Fort
It is possible that the Ladyward fort marks the location based of the Roman settlement recorded in the Ravenna Cosmography (R.C. 31.228) as [Locus] Maponi or “[the Place] of Maponus“. on the simple premise that the fort is located near the modern town of Lochmaben, the etymology of the modern name being derived from the name of the god, Maben (= Mapon). This ancient Gaelic root is also present in the name Clochmabenstane or ‘The Stone of Lochmaben’, which is sited on the Solway Estuary just south of Gretna.
The iron-age god Maponus is often conflated with the Roman god Apollo, which is generally taken to mean that the two gods from separate pantheons shared religious practices, were patrons of the same arts and were worshipped for similar reasons. Apollo was a Roman sun god, also patron of the fine arts, poetry, music and medicine, so it is reasonable to assume that Maponus shared similar attributes. Only two dedications to Maponus have been discovered in Britain, an inscribed silver lunula from Chesterholm/Vindolanda on the Stanegate frontier in northern England, and an altarstone from somewhere on Hadrian’s Wall, here conflated with the ‘Spirit of the Emperor’ and dedicated by four Germanic troopers; no inscriptions have been recovered from the environs of Ladyward.
There are two marching camps nearby, the nearest one of 35½ acres (14.7 ha) lies less than ½ mile to the south-east at Torwood and another, larger camp of about 63 acres (c.25ha) lies about 1¼ miles due west on the opposite side of the River Annan at Lochmaben. There is also a small fortlet about a mile to the south-east, sited at the northern end of a ridge beyond the Torwood camp at Fairholm.
References for Ladyward fort
- The Carvetii by Nicholas Higham and Barri Jones (Sutton, London, 1985) p.67.
Map References for Ladyward fort
NGRef: NY1182 OSMap: LR78
Roman Roads near Ladyward fort
N (3) to Applegarth SE (9) to Blatobvlgivm (Dumfries & Galloway) Military Road: ESE (6) to Bvrnswark WNW (13) to Dalswinton (Dumfries & Galloway) N (5) to Hangingshaw (Dumfries & Galloway) N (14) to Milton (Tassiesholm, Beattock, Dumfries & Galloway) possible road: NW (7) to Mvrder Loch