Troutbeck Forts

Fort and Fortlet

A series of two forts and three temporary marching camps lie on the north bank of the Trout Beck in Cumbria. Although the exact date and relative chronology of the encampments in this complex is unproved, the resemblance between the Troutbeck I Fort and Marching Camp 2, and the similarly-sized Flavian encampments at Oakwood in Borders Region may mean that the two were contemporary, which would imply a Flavian foundation date for Troutbeck Fort I and Camp 2. Both Camp 1 and Camp 2 are seemingly aligned on the summit of Great Mell Fell, a 1,7662ft (537m) outcrop of Cambrian rock, the summit of which lies about 1½ miles (2.5 km) to the south-east of the complex.

The fort is square in shape which is standard with each side measuring approximately 120m on each side. It has been suggested that occupation here was only over a short period due to no evidence of a Vicus. Over a period of time when a fort was occupied, a Vicus would develop, housing locals, merchants and craftsmen for trading with the fort. There is an apparent lack here.

The later fortlet is located in the south east corner of the older fort using most of the original eastern defences and half of the south defences. Two entrances, one on each of the longer sides.

The Roman Road through the Area

The Roman road passes through the Troutbeck complex from east to west, encountering Camp 2 first, passing close by its southern defences. No inference can be drawn from the position of either, but it is very likely that the camp pre-dates the road, probably by many years. The road then curves sinuously between Camp 3 and the Fort, passing to the south of the former and north of the latter, probably indicating that these two encampments were contemporary, and that the road post-dates both of them. The Roman road then passed diagonally across the southern half of Camp 1, which proves that this camp pre-dates the road.

The Modern By-Pass

The old A66 originally cut through the centre of the Troutbeck complex, roughly following the course of the old Roman road, cutting across the northern half of the Period I fort and obliterating the north-west corner of the Period II fortlet, proceeding through the southern corner of Camp 1 and partly destroying its south-west gate. When this road was widened in 1974 the new carriageway was purposely diverted to the south of the entire complex, thus preserving whatever archaeology remains.

References for Troutbeck

  • Roman Camps in England – The Field Archaeology by the R.C.H.M.E.;
  • The Carvetii by Nicholas Higham and Barri Jones (Sutton, London, 1985)

Roman Roads near Troutbeck

NE (10) to Voreda (Old Penrith, Cumbria)