Nether Denton Roman Fort

Stanegate Fort

The Stanegate fort at Nether Denton dates from the late first/ early second century.  The fort is located on a hilltop overlooking a bend in the River Irthing whilst the vicus, which remained in occupation after the fort had been abandoned, lies on lower ground to the south and south west.

Unexcavated but thought to be contemporary with the Trajanic forts on the Stanegate at Carlisle (Luguvalium), Corbridge (Corstopitum) and Chesterholm (i.e. c.103AD). Aerial photography has revealed a large camp lying beneath smaller two-period fortifications, the former perhaps dating to the campaigns of Agricola , the latter built during the early-Trajanic period. A similar situation is observed at the Carvoran fort on the Stanegate.

The First Fort  – The large fort is rectangular in form with rounded corners defined by a single ditch. Only the west and south sides are known, but the beginnings of the north-west corner angle are recorded which gives an indication of the north-south dimension of about 610 ft. (c.185 m). The east side is unrecorded but if the gateway in the south side was centrally placed then the east-west dimension may be estimated at about 510 ft. (c.155 m), thus the fort covered an area just under 7¼ acres (c. 2.9 ha).

The smaller fort – This lies in the northern half of the large one and was formed by contracting the earlier forts southern defences by about 260 ft. (c.80 m), thus retaining much of the older forts northern circuit and forming a camp with axial dimensions of about 350 ft. north-south by 510 ft. east-west (c.105 x 155 m), an area of around 4 acres (c.1.6 ha). It is very likely, judging from the aerial-traces, that the ditch around the entire perimeter was re-cut at this time.

It was abandoned, in circa AD 122, after the construction of Hadrian’s Wall.

An Earlier Camp? A single ditch lies outside the western and southern defences of the larger fort running parallel with it at a distance of about 82 ft. (c.25 m) on both these sides. The ditch appears to curve around the northern side at a distance of about 50 ft. (c.15 m) but the ground here slopes sharply down to the River Irthing and all traces have been lost, neither is there any trace of the ditch to the east. It is possible that this ditch represents the defences of an even earlier camp or fort which was demolished prior to the establishment of the Stanegate fort. If the distance of this camp’s eastern ditch outside the established fort’s eastern defences maintains the same gap as on the west, it is possible that it measured some 675 ft. east-west by 740 ft. north-south (c.205 x 225 m) thus enclosing an area of some 11½ acres (c.4.6 ha).

There is evidence of a vicus or civil settlement along the Stanegate outside the fort’s south-western defences, and there is a Roman Signal Station about a mile to the east at Mains Rigg (NY6165).

A Tentative History of the Site

It would appear from the lack of alignment between the large camp and the Stanegate that the camp occupied the site first and the road was built to accommodate it, entering the camp by its southern gateway and exiting through the eastern gate. At sometime after the Stanegate had been built, or perhaps contemporary with it, the original camp was demolished and the large fort built entirely within its levelled defences. This new fort retained the axial alignment of the earlier encampment. At some time after the establishment of the large fort the garrison was reduced and the fort rebuilt to accommodate it.

Map References for Nether Denton

NGRef: NY595645 OSMap: OL43, LR86

Roman Roads near Nether Denton

Stanegate: WSW (3.5) to Boothby Stanegate: ENE (4.5) to Magnis Carvetiorvm (Carvoran, Northumberland) Stanegate: E (1.25) to Mains Rigg Stanegate: WSW (6) to Old Chvrch (Cumbria) Stanegate: E (2.5) to Throp (Cumbria)

Sites near Nether Denton Roman Fort