Low Borrowbridge Roman Aqueduct
Aqueduct dig 2014
Excavation of Possible Aqueduct to Low Borrowbridge Fort, 12-15th August 2014
After the heavy rain that truncated the dig in 2013, the weather was much kinder this year, though some rain fell on the final day thus reminding us all how unpleasant it could have been as we slid ever more frequently on the muddy grass whilst filling in the trench. Overall, it was very pleasing that fourteen members of LAS were involved in this dig spread over three days with nine helping on the first day and ten on the final day.
The excavation revealed an area of stones in the section across the line of the feature seen on the LIDAR image and on the ground.
A very large stone, some 0.4m across was exposed at the northwestern end and subsequently more large
stones were discovered along the feature for some 30 metres. Since the feature extends some 200 metres on the LIDAR image, it can be hypothesized that larges stones were present for the full length of the feature in the past. Their extent could be the subject of a future investigation.
As the excavation progressed, a yellowish brown subsoil was found beneath the stones in the trench with no indication of a cut in the section across the feature. It was concluded that the line of stones did not retain an aqueduct, but may have been a former track, or more likely, a wall aligned at an approximately constant angle down the fell. Evidently, a large amount of stone robbing has taken place in the past. The base tent was pitched to the northeast on a former charcoal platform. This overlies the line of the feature and thus almost certainly postdates it.
The purpose of the feature remains unknown and the presence of the shorter but similar feature to the
south that also originates close to the streams draining the fell adds to the conundrum.
I would like to thank all those involved in supporting this investigation and
acknowledge the continued support of the Wilson family for their permission to dig for the elusive aqueduct in Borrowdale Wood for a second year.
Photo diary: Photos by Andrew, Mark and Steve
The view from the Borrowdale hillside
Aqueduct dig 2013
The documented Roman aqueduct to Low Borrowbridge ends in the field below the fort and we had a visit earlier in the year led by Andrew to examine it on the fell above the fort. It has always been a puzzle that it didn’t flow into the fort, though it may have served the buildings we excavated to the South of the fort.
An examination of the LIDAR image of the southern side of Borrowdale indicated a narrow linear depression about 300 metres heading eastwards diagonally down the slope towards the north west corner of the Roman fort at Low Borrowbridge. A ditch was also discovered that continues along roughly the same alignment across the field to the east of Borrowdale Wood. We hypothesised that these features may be the traces of additional aqueducts.
With permission from the Wilson family, a small excavation was carried out by members in August,
2013 but this was inconclusive. Bad weather prevented any further digging. A few days later, an initial survey, plotting the direction and angle of fall of the feature, was carried out along its length. The photo above of the trench really doesn’t do it justice as it fails to show the water flowing in at the top and out at the bottom, or the diggers, covered from head to toe in thick mud!
It is hoped that further excavation will take place in the summer of 2014 (in better weather?).