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Historic England Research Records

Bibra Roman Fort

Hob Uid: 9087
Location :
Cumbria
Allerdale
Holme St. Cuthbert
Grid Ref : NY0896048840
Summary : The site of the Roman fort at Beckfoot. The fort was seen as cropmarks and mapped from air photographs showing very clear internal details. Roads are seen leading out of the north and south gates for approximately 240 metres in both directions; a shorter length of road (19 metres), is also seen just beyond the expected position of the east gate. To either side of the northern road are the probable remains of the vicus. The fort is now probably identified as BIBRA. Excavation in 1879-80 indicated occupation of the site from the 2nd to the 4th century.
More information : (Record consolidated following RCHME Cumberland Coast Project. The original OS record card is held in the NMR Archive.)

(NY 0896 4884) BIBRA ROMAN FORT (R) (site of) (1)

(NY 0896 4884) ROMAN FORT (R) (site of) (2)

In 1879-80 this Roman fort was partially excavated by J. Robinson (the excavation was rapid, and his report, together with a plan, is a fairly brief summary of his findings). He was able to trace the entire circuit of the walls, which enclosed a somewhat irregular quadrilateral, measuring 405 ft E-W by 283 ft on the W tapering to 267 ft on the E, being 2.75 acres in extent. The walls were found to be 6 ft thick with angle towers at each rounded corner. Robinson discovered three entrances with guard chambers on the north, south, and east sides; no gate was found on the west, seaward side. The foundations of a building were seen within the fort, but were insufficiently explored for the plan to be intelligible. Finds include an uninscribed altar, 17" by 7", a figure of Diana as Luna Lucifera, a mutilated figure of Victory, three querns, two coins (Trajan and Constantius), two copper beads, several fragments of copper, iron etc., and a deal of pottery including Samain, Castor, Upchurch and Salopian ware. (3)

An inscribed stone to the Pannonians, found before 1880 and lost, was re-discovered by Robinson, re-used as a gate-post, and was deposited in the Netherhall Collection. (4)

Collingwood in 1936 summarized the results of Robinson's excavations and reproduces his plan. He noted that H Duff (unsourced) had revealed a block of masonry identified as the spina of the west gate which may have been blocked at a later date, hence Robinson's failure to see it; he suggested that the solid piece of masonry, 11ft by 7ft, close inside the west wall, may be the remains of a ballistarium, as opposed to the base of a lighthouse indicated by Robinson. Collingwood speculates that the unidentified building foundations within the fort may have been a granary or, more probably, the facade of the commandant's house. The fort is assessed as a standard construction of 2nd century date designed for an auxillary cohort 500 strong; the finds indicate occupation into the 4th century. (5)

Details of the defences of the fort and the internal layout are particularly well-defined on air-photographs. The defences consist of four ditches with the wall and a rampart behind, angle towers, interval towers and four gates. Within the fort the headquarters building, the commandmants house, two store buildings, a possible hospital, six centurial barracks and possible workshops and other buildings can be identified. (6-8)

Nothing seen of the fort and vicus; site under a wheat crop at the time of fieldwork. Much tile on the surface. (9)

Much of the basic rectangular outline of the fort can be traced as an unsurveyable lift in the plough, most notably in the W, but no building remains are evident. Published survey (25-inch) correct (shown as pecked rectangle). (10)

This fort has been identified, probably, as BIBRA. (11)

Little can be seen above ground of this fort. All that remains is an unsurveyable, ploughed-down platform roughly conforming to the shape and size of the fort as shown on Robinson's plan. It is situated in permanent pasture on a gentle dip-slope facing east, the highest part being along the west rampart on the low ridge summit overlooking the sea. (12)

The site of the Roman fort, seen as cropmarks and mapped from air photographs which show very clear internal details. Two probable granaries are seen lying just inside the south gate and to either side of the internal road. One of the internal roads, at NY 0897 4882, has an uncharacteristically curved corner; perhaps this might indicate the presence of an earlier enclosure at this position, pre-dating the fort? Outside the fort, roads are seen leading out of both the north and south gates for approximately 240 m in both directions and a section of road, 19 m in length, is also visible just beyond the supposed position of the eastern gate. To either side of the road leading northwards from the fort are cropmarks indicating a probable vicus, separately recorded as NY 04 NE 41. (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 : 6" 1957 (Provisional)
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Source Number : 2
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 25" 2nd edition
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Source Number : 11
Source : The place-names of Roman Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 268
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Source Number : 12
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : Keith Blood/15-FEB-1993/RCHME: Cumberland Coast Project.
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Source Number : 13
Source : Oblique aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR NY 0848/1 ( 7980/7) 07-JUL-1949
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Source Number : 14
Source : An Archaeological Map of Hadrian's Wall, 1:25,000 scale
Source details :
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Source : Beckfoot/field notes
Source details :
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Source : Beckfoot
Source details :
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Source Number : 3
Source : Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society
Source details : (Robinson, J.)
Page(s) : 136-48
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 5, 1881
Source Number : 4
Source : Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society
Source details : (Bailey, JB and Haverfield, F)
Page(s) : 143
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 15, 1915
Source Number : 5
Source : Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society
Source details : (Collingwood, RG)
Page(s) : 76-84
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 36, 1936
Source Number : 6
Source : The journal of Roman studies
Source details : (St Joseph, J K)
Page(s) : 56
Figs. :
Plates : IV.2
Vol(s) : 41, 1951
Source Number : 7
Source : Aerial photograph
Source details : (CUCAP DU027: 11-JUL-1949)
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Source Number : 8
Source : Roman Britain from the air
Source details :
Page(s) : 71-3
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Source Number : 9
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 GWR 01-JUN-1951
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Source Number : 10
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F2 FRH 02-MAR-1967
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date :
Monument End Date : 399
Monument Start Date : 100
Monument Type : Fort, Road, Altar
Evidence : Find, Sub Surface Deposit, Cropmark

Components and Objects:
Period : Roman
Component Monument Type : Fort, Road, Altar
Object Type : FIGURINE
Object Material :

Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : CU 255
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Cumbria)
External Cross Reference Number : 625
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : NY 04 NE 12
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 1012188
Relationship type : Identified as
Associated Monuments : 1326391
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 9062
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 9065
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1012188
Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : BECKFOOT (BIBRA)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1879-01-01
End Date : 1880-12-31
Associated Activities : BECKFOOT (BIBRA)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1935-01-01
End Date : 1935-12-31
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON NY 04 NE 12
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1951-06-01
End Date : 1951-06-01
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON NY 04 NE 12
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1967-03-02
End Date : 1967-03-02
Associated Activities : RCHME: CUMBERLAND COAST PROJECT
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1993-01-19
End Date : 1994-02-02
Associated Activities : BECKFOOT SOUTH
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1995-01-01
End Date : 1995-12-31
Associated Activities : ENGLISH HERITAGE: HADRIAN'S WALL WHS MAPPING PROJECT, NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2002-01-01
End Date : 2008-12-31
Associated Activities : BECKFOOT ROMAN FORT
Activity type : THEMATIC SURVEY
Start Date : 2010-01-01
End Date : 2010-12-31
Associated Activities : BECKFOOT BEACH
Activity type : THEMATIC SURVEY
Start Date : 2010-01-01
End Date : 2010-12-31
Associated Activities : LAND AT BECKFOOT FARM
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2013-01-01
End Date : 2013-12-31