Rey Cross (Bowes) Marching Camp

Roman Camp

The Rey Cross Marching Camp are the remains of a temporary camp of Roman date, situated at the highest point of the Stainmore Pass. The camp is also situated astride the main Roman road from York to Carlisle which, locally, linked the forts of Brough and Bowes.

“One of the most impressively defended camps in Britain”

The Roman marching camp at Rey Cross lies along the Vale of the River Greta at Buzzard Hill in Stainmore Forest. It is cut across its southern half by the Roman military road between the forts at Bowes in Durham and Brough Castle in Cumbria, and the position of camp and road prove that the former preceded the latter, which is here overlaid by the modern A66 trunk road. The south-western corner of the encampment has been damaged by quarrying, and the north-western corner by the encroachment of blanket-bog. A circle of stones lies in the north-east corner of the camp and is probably prehistoric in date.

This marching camp is trapezoid in outline, its northern and southern defences being roughly parallel, and encloses an area of about 20 acres (8.1ha). The north, east and west sides are all roughly equal in length at about 985 feet (300m), while the southern side measures only about 655 ft (200m). There are three visible gateways in the northern defences, and two in each of the other sides, all protected by external extensions of the rampart called tituli. The ramparts and gateways of this encampment may still be viewed and are in places almost six feet (1.8m) high. They were not constructed in the normal manner from the upcast out of the ditch, which is for the most part absent, but were instead formed from soil and turf scraped-up from the camps interior.

“a superb example of castra aestivalia (‘temporary encampment’), placed at the gate of Cumbria by an army intending to march deep into that territory the next day.”

This large temporary marching camp and other similarly-sized fortifications at Crackenthorpe and Plumpton Head have all been attributed to the campaigns of governor Quintus Petilius Cerialis against the Brigantian dissident Venutius sometime around 72/73AD. Another camp dating to this particular campaign may be awaiting discovery at Carlisle.

RIB2282 - Milestone of Carus

[...] CAR
PIO FEL E
INV AVG
For the Emperor ... Carus Pius Felix Invictus Augustus.
Carus, a.d. 282-3.

Map References for Rey Cross Marching Camp

OS National Grid Reference: NY900124
Dimensions: c.655 x c.985 ft (c.200 x c.300 m)
Area: 20 acres (8.1 ha)

References for Rey Cross

  • Roman Camps in England – The Field Archaeology by the R.C.H.M.E. (H.M.S.O, London, 1995);
  • Chronicle of the Roman Emperors by Chris Scarre (Thames & Hudson, London, 1995);
  • The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965); 

Roman Roads near Rey Cross

W (6.5) to Verteris (Brough-under-Stainmore, Cumbria) E (6.5) to Lavatris