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Historic England Research Records

Maia

Hob Uid: 10116
Location :
Cumbria
Allerdale
Bowness
Grid Ref : NY2227062700
Summary : The site of the Roman fort of Maia at Bowness-on-Solway, part of the Roman defence supporting Hadrian's Wall along the Cumbrian coast. There are no visible remains. Excavation uncovered the remains of an early Hadrianic timber fort; it was replaced by a stone fort in the late Hadrianic period and underwent major rebuilding in the 3rd century AD. The fort had the unusual feature of having its east-west axis orientated along Hadrian's Wall like Housesteads and Great Chesters. It measured 128m north/south and 186m east/west, covering an area of 2.38 hectares, and is the second largest fort on Hadrian's Wall, but is closer in size to the forts known to have held military units: Housesteads and Birdoswald.
More information : [NY2227 6270] Roman Fort [GS] (Site of)
[NY2215 6267] Roman Ditch [GS] (1)
Maia. (2)
The Roman fort of Maia underlies the small town of Bowness-on-Solway, where Camden in 1599 notes traces of streets and walls, and mentions an ancient silted-up harbour. Excavations in May 1930 by Birley showed that the whole of the north wall of the fort had been destroyed by sea erosion, the position of the west and south walls were established, and part of the west gateway was uncovered. The size of the fort was calculated to be 710 ft E-W by 420 ft N-S, with an area of 7 acres. The south gateway appears to have been nearer the west end. The wide ditch at A is of Mediaeval date, the Roman ditch lying a short distance further east. An earlier turf wall fort must have existed here, but has not been located, and this in turn probably superseded Milecastle 80, probably also of turf, all traces of which would presumably have been lost by erosion. (3)
Bowness was the westernmost point at which the Solway could be forded; this would explain its choice as the terminal point of Hadrian's Wall. (4)
There are no visible remains of the fort, and the ditches referred to have been filled in. (5)
Due to building development a 'rescue' excavation was undertaken in 1967 in Mill Field in which the west wall and ditch of the fort are known to lie. It was found that of the west wall itself only the footings remained. Some 9' west of the wall was an inner ditch 20' wide which produced Roman and Medieval sherds. A space of only 1 foot separated this ditch from the outer one. Despite shortage of time the intervallum road was located 15' east of fort wall. Immediately to the east of the road were the foundations of 2 parallel walls some 7' apart and separated by a floor of large cobbles. (6)
NY 22176267: A rescue excavation on this site, prior to building operations, revealed the west gate, fort defences, intervallum road and barrack block. It was originally a timber built fort of Hadrianic date with turf and clay ramparts. This was replaced in stone, probably in the late Hadrianic period. Major rebuilding also took place in the third century. (7)
MAIA or MAIUM - The Roman fort at Bowness on Solway, Cumbria. (8)
(Maia NY 223 627) Excavations in 1988 showed that the east defences lie circa 33m west of where previously thought. The fort measures 188 x 128m, an area slightly larger than Housesteads or Birdoswald. The wall, 1.3-1.5m wide on a foundation of cobbles and clay, was inserted in front of a primary clay rampart; an interval tower 2m wide internally was later added between the gate and the angle. Later the berm, 3.5m wide, was cobbled for easier access to the external wall-face. The inner ditch, 4.5m wide by 2m deep, was V-shaped; it had silted heavily before the wall collapsed. The outer ditch, 2m wide by 1m deep, had been recut before being backfilled and capped with cobbles. The position of the north guard chamber of the east gate had been totally disturbed. It is suggested that, like Great Chesters and Housesteads which are similarly confined behind the Wall, the fort faced east, and that the modern road between the east and west gates skirts the north side of the principia. (9)
Sketch plan of pre-1985 excavations of fort and environs. (10)
'MAIA' accepted for Ordnance Survey 4th edition Roman Britain Map. (11)
No visible remains. (12)
The James Irwin Coates Archive: two depictions of a windmill in the north-west corner of the fort, together with the kiln and associated buildings (paintings dated 1879). Figs 172-3, page 49 in this publication. (13)
Excavation report on the 1988 investigations. At Church Lane a V-shaped ditch was identified approximately 30m from the conventional location of the south-east corner of the fort, and a further indicator that the fort was smaller than hitherto supposed. (13)
In the field immediately east of the Post Office excavations revealed the east fort wall and part of the ditch defences, including a sequence of phases that pre-dated the establishment of the fort. (13)
At 2.38 hectares Bowness is the second largest fort on Hadrian's Wall, but is closer in size to the forts known to have held military units: Housesteads and Birdoswald. The discovery of an old ground surface and other features with struck flints establishes that the Romans were not the first occupiers of the site. The fort's turf defences were probably converted into stone at some point in the 2nd century AD. The samian pottery strongly suggests the fort was not occupied while the Antonine Wall was in use in the middle of the second century. There was also evidence for continuity of settlement and post-Roman adaptation of the fort and structures. (13)
Located on the English Heritage map of Hadrian's Wall 2010. (14)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 25" 1925
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Ordnance Survey Map of Hadrian's Wall 1964
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 11
Source : Roman Britain : historical map and guide
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 12
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : Mark Bowden/08-SEP-1990/RCHME: Hadrian's Wall Project
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 13
Source : Hadrian's Wall: archaeological research by English Heritage 1976-2000
Source details : 'Excavations at the Hadrian's Wall fort of Bowness-on-Solway (Maia), Cumbria: 1988', chapter by P Austen
Page(s) : 396-408
Figs. : 426-435
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 13
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 19-Mar-98
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 14
Source : An Archaeological Map of Hadrian's Wall, 1:25,000 scale
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society
Source details : (Birley, E)
Page(s) : 140-45
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 31, 1931
Source Number : 4
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Collingwood-Bruce J 1957 Handbook to the Roman Wall
Page(s) : 222-5
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 BHP 05-JAN-1972
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : Council for British Archaeology Group 3: Archaeological newsbulletin for Northumberland, Cumberland and Westmorland
Source details : (Mohamed, JD)
Page(s) : 17
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 12, Sept 1971
Source Number : 7
Source : Excavations [of a Roman fort] at Bowness-on-Solway, 1973
Source details :
Page(s) : 29-57
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 75
Source Number : 8
Source : The place-names of Roman Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 408-9
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 9
Source : Britannia : a journal of Romano-British and kindred studies
Source details : (S S Frere)
Page(s) : 275-6
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 20, 1989
Source Number : 10
Source : British archaeology monthly
Source details : (Bellhouse, RL)
Page(s) : 08-Dec
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 6, Mar/Apr 1988

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Later Prehistoric
Display Date : Neolithic to Bronze Age
Monument End Date : -700
Monument Start Date : -4000
Monument Type : Feature
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Built 117
Monument End Date : 117
Monument Start Date : 117
Monument Type : Fort
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Built 2nd half C2
Monument End Date : 200
Monument Start Date : 150
Monument Type : Fort
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Modified in C3
Monument End Date : 300
Monument Start Date : 201
Monument Type : Fort
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date :
Monument End Date : 410
Monument Start Date : 301
Monument Type : Fort
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : CU 28
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Hadrian's Wall Project Number
External Cross Reference Number : NY 2262/4
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 26126
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Cumbria)
External Cross Reference Number : 166
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : NY 26 SW 23
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 909672
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 10123
Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : BOWNESS ON SOLWAY (MAIA)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1930-01-01
End Date : 1930-12-31
Associated Activities : BOWNESS ON SOLWAY (MAIA)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1955-01-01
End Date : 1955-12-31
Associated Activities : MILL FIELD (MAIA)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1967-01-01
End Date : 1967-12-31
Associated Activities : BOWNESS ON SOLWAY (MAIA)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1973-01-01
End Date : 1973-12-31
Associated Activities : BOWNESS ON SOLWAY, (MAIA)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1976-01-01
End Date : 1976-12-31
Associated Activities : BOWNESS-ON-SOLWAY, BOWDERHEAD FARM
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1978-01-01
End Date : 1978-12-31
Associated Activities : BOWNESS-ON-SOLWAY (MAIA)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1988-01-01
End Date : 1988-12-31
Associated Activities : CHURCH LANE, BOWNESS-ON-SOLWAY (MAIA)
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1988-01-01
End Date : 1988-12-31
Associated Activities : RCHME: HADRIAN'S WALL PROJECT
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1988-01-01
End Date : 1993-08-01
Associated Activities : BOWNESS-ON-SOLWAY (MAIA)
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1996-01-01
End Date : 1996-12-31
Associated Activities : BOWNESS ON SOLWAY WATER MAINS
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1999-01-01
End Date : 1999-12-31
Associated Activities : LAND AT BOWNESS-ON-SOLWAY
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2000-01-01
End Date : 2000-12-31
Associated Activities : BOWNESS ON SOLWAY (MAIA)
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2001-01-01
End Date : 2001-12-31
Associated Activities : LAND AT BOWNESS HOUSE FARM
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2005-01-01
End Date : 2005-12-31
Associated Activities : WALLSEND SEWER LINK
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2011-01-01
End Date : 2011-12-31
Associated Activities : BT CABINET, BOWNESS
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2016-01-01
End Date : 2016-12-31