Low Borrowbridge Roman Fort

LOW BORROWBRIDGE RECTANGULAR ENCLOSURES

We now have the results of the second sample sent for C14 dating. The sample came from the big ditch on the north-east corner of the large rectangular enclosures in the fields south of the fort at Low Borrowbridge found through geophys and excavated last April. The sample came from the secondary fill. The dates are:
68% probability within the range 71-127 Cal AD
93% probability within the range 25-171 Cal AD
These dates do span the period immediately prior to the construction of the fort so could pre-date it. Most likely, however, is that they are contemporary with the initial timber construction (we think in the late 70s AD) or its probable rebuilding in stone at the time of Hadrian (120s AD). As the features lie under the current Howgill Lane this tends to suggest that the original road to the fort was further to the west.
We still don’t know what the features are, though there have been a number of suggestions:
1. Stock enclosures – possibly to keep cavalry horses related to the garrison at the fort, or for livestock such as cattle. The internal divisions could relate to different animals or different periods of use.
2. An early camp, possibly used during construction of the main fort to the north (though the shape does not look typical of marching or temporary camps)
3. Practice ditches for the garrison (as at the same period fort in Wales at Tomen y Mur) – and to keep them occupied.
4. A parade ground for the fort
5. Field boundaries to keep grazing animals out of crops grown for the garrison (though the ditches seem unnecessarily large and deep for this purpose).
If you have any other suggestions please let us know.
Finally, a big THANK YOU to Steve King who very generously funded this dating.

Excavation Report from Spring Dig 2016

The report from OAN from the Easter dig in the fields to the south of the fort is now available. Click below for the full text and the figures in separate PDF files.

report text

report figures

 

September 2016 Excavation Report

Click below for the report on the excavation of the Roman road in the South field by Graham Hooley and Jan Hicks

report lBB September 2016

 

CWAAS Visit

On 1st August LAS hosted an open evening at Low Borrowbridge, courtesy of the Wilson family, to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of CWAAS. Low Borrowbridge was the site of the first ever excavations by CWAAS in 1883 and they have been supporting our work there financially in recent years.
CWAAS
CWAAS visitors – a group photograph of the visitors in the farmyard, along with members of LAS
 Gambax
 Gambax the Centurion, also known as Joe Jackson of Cumbria Heritage, gave a talk on the fort platform about life on the frontier in the first and second centuries.
J & M
Jan Hicks and Michael Wilson share a cup of Roman tea at the display in the lounge at Lyon Equipment, Tebay Business Park. Thanks to Ben Lyon for allowing us to use the facilities there.
Display
Steven King put together a great montage of photos from our activities at Low Borrowbridge and elsewhere over the last few years. We were also able to display finds from various digs and the results of the geophysical surveys.
Rachel
Rachel Newman, President of CWAAS, gave a vote of thanks at the end, especially thanking Michael Wilson and wishing him a long and happy retirement.
Photos Bob Abram

 

 

Low Borrowbridge Roman Fort  2016 excavation Interim results

Mid-April saw a substantial amount of new work at Low Borrowbridge which we hope will add to our understanding of this important site. The results are now being analysed and full reports will be available shortly. Here is a brief update:

 

  1. Geophysical surveys

We completed both magnetometry and resistivity surveys of the southern quarter of the Big Meadow south of the fort down to the Lune, and across the river in the field owned by David and Christine Knipe of High Carlingill (thanks to both the Wilsons and the Knipes for their permission and support and Karl for yet again giving up his own time to help us). Our objective was to find any evidence of an earlier crossing point west of the current Salterwath Bridge. Nothing obvious was found, but the data continue to be analysed.

 

  1. Photogrammetric survey

Jamie Quartermaine and Pete Schofield of OAN flew their cameras in a UAV over the whole site. Below is the hillshade plot for Big Meadow (west of Howgill Lane) and Salter field (east of Howgill Lane) to the south of the fort. The level of detail is astonishing, and complements both the LiDAR and geophysical surveys. Traces of a possible holloway can be seen in the top right corner of Salter field, as well as evidence of quarrying in the centre of the Big Meadow. You may be able to spot a circular feature in the centre of the Big Meadow, which might be a kiln.

Jamie and Pete have sent the full version of the survey. The hillshade for the whole area is available as a pdf PhotogrammetryHillshade-All.

 

Photogrammetry from Drone survey

  1. Excavations

We opened three 5m x 2m trenches over the week, two in Salter field (east of Howgill Lane) and one in the Big Meadow across a possible platform found in the geophysics by Karl. The first trench in Salter field was across the northern edge of the large rectangular feature identified last year through geophysical surveys. This proved to be a very substantial ditch, approximately 3m wide and 2 m deep with the infill being used as a bank on the outside. It was so deep that we needed to bring in a mechanical digger to get to the bottom of it for safety reasons. Disappointingly there were no finds in the ditch to help date it (possibly suggesting that the ditch is very early, Roman even) but soil and other organic samples taken from the base of the ditch are now being analysed. The size of the ditch, and the extent of the feature, suggests a substantial effort to create it – whatever was on the inside the people responsible for its creation were keen to keep in rather than keep others out! The second ditch in Salter field was placed over a possible circular feature, but unfortunately nothing was found other than a few sherds of Roman pottery in the topsoil, along with the ubiquitous clay pipes. The excavation in Big Meadow was placed over an interesting looking feature from the geophysical survey. This appears to have been robbed out at some time and an early field drain cut across it.

Digger in Trench 1

Digger in Trench 1

The ditch

The big ditch

 

 

Trench 3

Trench 3

Pictures of the copter survey undertaken by Jamie and Pete.  Pictures were very difficult to capture as the copter zoomed out of range remarkably quickly. Steve managed to capture these lovely images.

Copter surveying above the fort field

Copter surveying above the fort field

Copter against the sky

Copter against the sky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some pictures of the trenches:

Deturfing trench 1 - the last sod.

Deturfing trench 1 – the last sod.

Trench 3

Trench 3

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Trench 2

Recording the old field drain in trench 3

Recording the old field drain in trench 3

Refilling trench 3 - an unorthodox but effective way of flattening it out

Refilling trench 3 – an unorthodox but effective way of flattening it out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan found a coin in a mole hill - perhaps we get moles to do the digging in future

Jan found a coin in a mole hill – perhaps we get moles to do the digging in future

Thanks again to OAN staff, Becky, Pete, Karl and Jamie, for all their help, expertise and enthusiasm, and to all the LAS volunteers who helped in one way or another.

 

 

Low Borrowbridge Roman Fort 2015 REPORT

Click Below for the final report from OAN on the geophysical surveys undertaken over 2014 and 2015. The text of the report is in the first file and the figures to accompany it are in the second. This is copyright of Lunesdale Archaeology Society. Please do not use it without our permission.
Some particularly important findings:
1. The interior of the fort looks remarkably well preserved despite 1500 years of farming and cattle fair activities. The outline of the major buildings we would expect in an Auxiliary fort of the late first/early second centuries are quite clear. These include the headquarters building in the centre, the commander’s house to its left/west, and granaries to its right/east
2. There appears to be the faint outline of an earlier fort within the current fort platform. If this is proven correct it could be a very significant find in working out the chronology of the site and its early purpose
3. The fields to the south of the fort show a large rectangular enclosure, or enclosures, that underlie Howgill Lane. The lane was thought to be Roman, suggesting that the enclosures are either pre-Roman, or that the road is more recent. The enclosures may have delineated a parade ground for the fort, pens for horses of a cavalry unit stationed there, or may relate to later periods when the site was on a major droving road, pack horse route and turnpike.

Report

Figures

Low Borrowbridge Roman Fort 2015

In September, with scheduled ancient monument permission and generous grants from CWAAS and KHAS, we carried out a resistivity and magnetometry survey of the fort platform and selected areas around it. We did the resistivity, using the excellent equipment kindly loaned to us by the Hartleys and Karl Taylor of OAN supervised us, carried out the magnetometry and will analyse the data and produce the report. In the meantime here are the interim results: LBB geophys results . See what you can make of them.

Steve recorded the action:

And the sun shone

And the sun shone

It's raining again .....

It’s raining again …..

Jan works while the lads look on

Jan works while the lads look on

Roman stone hiding in the North wall

Roman stone hiding in the North wall

New railway fence vs wall vs Roman ditch: Compare and contrast effectiveness

New railway fence vs wall vs Roman ditch: Compare and contrast effectiveness

Shaun the sheep shearer's shorn sheep

Shaun the sheep shearer’s shorn sheep

Thursday night barbeque and all finished (or not)!

Thursday night barbeque and all finished (or not)!

 

 

 

Low Borrowbridge Roman Fort 2014

Earlier in the Summer of 2013 we were able to get, free of charge, LiDAR surveys covering both the Low Borrowbridge and Raisbeck areas. While at a fairly low level of resolution the surveys proved intriguing and opened up a number of avenues of further exploration (see notes above/below from Jan, Andrew and Judith).

The LIDAR image for the area around Low Borrowbridge is shown below, clearly showing the fort platform and the Brockholes site (see page below).

lbb lidar

 

In April 2014 we began the geophysical survey on the site of the probable vicus (the field south of the fort north of the river. Conditions were not ideal (!) as the ground was very wet. The experts at OAN advised use of magnetometry which is good at picking up areas of burning (possible hearths and industrial activity) as well as ditches, roads etc. The results are shown below:

Picture1

Interpreting the results is a real art (!) and takes an expert eye, so thanks to Karl Taylor of OAN who has annotated the plot. There seems to be a lot going on in the field, not all of it Roman of course. So much so that we are now planning a further two days of surveying using resistivity (better suited to finding walls, building foundations and such like) when the ground is drier in July.

Graham Hooley, June 2014

Resistivity July 2014

Following on from the magnetometry survey a full resistivity survey was undertaken over the same area. While magnetometry relies on changes in magnetic fields (typically produced by burning, as in hearths or industrial activity, or by ditch infill with material on different magnetic alignments), resistivity identifies changes in resistance to an electric current passed through the ground. This is particularly good at identifying stone structures and ditches. The former create high resistance to the current, the latter low resistance.

The resistivity survey was conducted over two days – 18th and 19th July 2014. Preliminary analysis produced the plot below.

Low Borrowbridge Resistivity Plot

Low Borrowbridge Resistivity Plot

 

As with magnetometry the plot requires expert analysis to interpret! Dark areas indicate high levels of resistance to the current, while light areas indicate low resistance. Of course, as well as stone features natural rock also produces high resistance, and natural channels will show up as low resistance. So the features identifiable above could be archaeology or natural – see what you can make out! Karl Taylor from OAN will be undertaking further digital refinement of the plot and providing an expert interpretation in due course.

Many thanks to all members who came along to help, and to Steve King who took the photos below and provided the captions! A very special thanks goes to Karl Taylor of OAN who led the work. We only had one day left in our budget, but Karl kindly came along on Saturday, his day off from working for OAN, to finish the job. That was above and beyond the call of duty and very much appreciated by all.

Silly Walks Sketch

Silly Walks Sketch

 

The Sentinel of Low Borrowbridge

The Sentinel of Low Borrowbridge

Herding Archaeologists

Herding Archaeologists

 

Graham Hooley  and Steve King (photos) July 2014

Resistivity plot Oxford Archaeology North

 

Geophysics Report November 2014

We now have the report from OAN. To download your own PDF copy click this link : Geophysical Survey Report

The surveys appear to show a lot of activity on the field as might be expected with an area that has had such an important position in the landscape for so long. The next step is to try to find out what it all means!

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