Caermote Roman Fort includes two turf and timber constructed Roman forts; specifically a large early fort and a smaller later fort built within the earlier fort

This little-known site situated at the north end of Bassenthwaite lake is evidently sited to proctect the approaches to the northern lakes. The lack of an associated vicus or civil settlement indicate that the site was not occupied for any great length of time. The situation here so closely resembles that at Troutbeck, almost 20 miles to the south-east, that this site, like Troutbeck, may be assigned to the initial campaigns to bring north-west Britain under the aegis of Rome around the turn of the first century A.D. (Higham & Jones, pp.20 & 59).

The earlier larger fort is rectangular in plan with rounded corners and measures approximately 135m by 127m. Its defences consist of an earthen rampart and a double bank and ditch originally on all sides but now partially destroyed on the east by road building. The rampart measures up to 6m wide and 1m high and is best preserved on the south and south west sides. The ditches measure c.3m wide and are also best preserved on the south and west sides but particularly at the south west corner. The fort would originally have had an entrance on each side but only the north and south gateways remain visible. On the north eastern side of the fort limited excavation during the 1950’s located the presence of the rampart and ditch of an associated annexe which, although not yet identified in its entirety, would have flanked much of the north and east sides of the fort.

The later smaller Roman fort was built into the north west corner of the earlier fort. It is rectangular in plan with rounded corners and measures approximately 73m by 65m. Its defences consist of an earthen rampart and the double ditch system of the earlier fort on the west side, which has been extended along parts of the north and south sides. The remainder of the fort is defended by a rampart and single ditch. The rampart measures up to 3m wide by 1m high and the ditches up to 3m wide.

Three Roman roads issue from the fort; that from the south gate can be seen as an earthwork running for approximately 90m towards the modern road, that from the largely obliterated east gate can be seen as an earthwork running for approximately 90m before turning north eastwards and continuing as an earthwork for a further 50m, that from the north gate can be seen as a faint earthwork running for approximately 73m before branching into two, one to the north west, the other to the north east.

Dating of the pottery from these excavations indicates that the early fort was constructed during the late first/early second century AD. During this initial period of occupation it would have been garrisoned by a unit of auxiliary troops about 500 strong employed in policing the area, and in particular controlling access into the northern Lakes. The garrison appears to have been reduced in size after a short period of time hence the construction of a smaller fort within the defences of the earlier. The present lack of evidence for a vicus or civilian settlement outside the fort suggests that the length of occupation was limited.


References for Caermote

  • The Carvetii by Nicholas Higham and Barri Jones (Sutton, London, 1985).

Map References for Caermote

NGRef: NY2036 OSMap: LR89/90

Roman Roads near Caermote

None identified

Sites near Caermote Roman Fort