- MaryportAlauna

Alauna Fort Grounds showing ramparts
Alauna Fort Grounds showing Ramparts

Maryport Roman Fort lies at one edge of the Solway Estuary overlooking some spectacular scenery and was quite probably the western supply base for Hadrian’s Wall. Although there is no solid evidence for this thus far the fort itself is very large and has recently had the discovery of a substantial civilian settlement across several fields near the fort. It has also been afforded the view that this could well have been a major administrative centre for the Wall.

The importance of the site was outlined in 1870 when no less than 17 altar stones were found in nine pits by Humphrey Senhouse. The altars contained some revealing dedications and are now housed in the museum next to the second century fort grounds. This collection is the largest find of altars from one site in Britain.

Alauna Post Holes
Post holes discovered
during 2011 excavation
within civilian settlement
Alauna Round Ditch
Round Ditch (Roman?)
discovered during
2011 excavation
within civilian settlement

On 31st May 2011 excavations were started to reassess the original digs carried out when the discovery was made of the 17 altars. The dig lasted until July 20th and I went along to take some photographs of the excavation area on the 19th July. The dig revealed a round Roman ditch and some straight medieval drainage as well as several large postholes. The context of the latter is yet to be finally discovered as they are aligned rather strangely. From my own point of view I feel they may be from different constructions. Although that is only my view and site director, Tony Wilmott (English Heritage), may yet find their true significance and context. If the interpretation of the dig changes and these details need rectifying then I will do so as soon as I know of them. It is perfectly conceivable to expect changes at this stage as the dig is still so fresh and the site has to be properly understood.

Garrisons known at on StreetMap Streetmap Logo link to OS map

Hadriancohors I Hispanorum milliaria equitata (quingenaria during part of Hadrian’s reign) †
Marcus_Aureliuscohors I Baetasiorum civium Romanorum
Piuscohors I Delmatarum equitata
3rd_Centurycohors milliaria ?
1st_NoteThe suggestion of a milliary unit as a third century garrison rests on the dedication by a tribunus cohortis, RIB 812, which has a feature, a signum, commonly thought not to appear before the third century.