Burrow Walls (Magis) Roman Fort

Western Sea Defences

The Burrow Walls fort forms a part of the ‘Western Sea Defences’, a line of forts and watch-towers strung along the north-western coastline of Cumbria from Bowness-on-Solway perhaps as far as Ravenglass, in effect a western extension of Hadrian’s Wall.

Only slight earthwork remains consisting of traces of spread ditch are visible on the south east side and at the east corner. Excavation revealed it to be a typical 2nd century AD fort with evidence for a possible smaller fort within the original banks. It was double ditched with inner bank, and a later ditch inside the latter giving evidence for a smaller fort within the original banks.

However, only 4th century AD pottery was found. Part of the fort circuit and inner ditch are also visible as earthworks on air photographs mapped as part of the North West Coast Rapid Coastal Zone

The Notitia Dignitatum Entry for Magis

Numerus Pacensium – The Company of Pacenses

Praefectus numeri Pacensium Magis

“The prefect of the Company of Pacenses [at] Magis

(Notitia Dignitatum xl.29; 4th/5th C.)

The sole reference for the name of the Burrow Walls Roman fort is the Notitia Dignitatum of the fourth/fifth centuries, wherein the entry Magis can be found, between the entries for Maglona (Old Carlisle, Cumbria) and Longovicium (Lanchester, Durham); as one can appreciate, the association is tentative, to say the least.

Pacensis was the southernmost region of the Roman province of Lusitania, the area now corresponding to south Portugal which includes the modern capital Lisboa or Lisbon, in Roman times named Olisipo. The numerus was an irregular auxiliary unit of fairly small size, often part-mounted and usually armed with the traditional weapons peculiar to the tribe from which the unit was levied. The prefect in charge of the unit would probably have been a Roman career soldier, and not a native of Lusitania.

Other Epigraphic Evidence for Magis

Only two inscriptions on stone have been uncovered from the Burrow Walls fort, the texts of both are shown here; for what good they are.

RIB 806 - Fragmentary dedication

… and for their children, Aurelius and Secundus ..

COII [...]
[...]DVS MISC[.]

From Bruce’s figure Huebner interprets as a line of lettering the decoration on the plinth below the die and on the right side.To judge by the height of the figures sculptured on either side, about three lines of text have been lost above extant l. 1 R.P.W.

RIB 807 - Inscription

No translation


No commentary.

References for Magis

  • The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965);
  • The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965);

Map References for Magis

NGRef: NY0030 OSMap: LR89

Roman Roads near Magis

military road: NNE (5) to Maryport (Maryport, Cumbria) Probable Military Road: S (6) to Gabrosentvm (Moresby, Cumbria)

Sites near Burrow Walls (Magis) Roman Fort