Sunday, January 31, 2010

Watercrook Roman Fort, Kendal

Watercrook Roman Fort\Alauna

The Roman fort at Kendal, is both invisible these days, and almost impossible to get to. The buried remains are sited in a loop of the River Kent, to the South of Kendal on farm land adjoined to Watercrook Farm. The fort has been greatly reduced in height and form by years of ploughing and farming, and now consists of a faint almost indistinct square platform in the field. Even aerial photographs show very little of the fort's remain.

Above. A view of the fort looking North West.

The photo above, shows the most obvious remains of the fort. Just beyond the field wall, a dark green part of the field can be seen....this is the West end of the fort platform.

Excavations at the site in the early 1930's and in 1944, discovered the North West gate, and established that the fort was probably built between 90 and 95 AD. It's thought that the original fort was then built in stone between 120 and 130 AD. A drought that hit the area in 1887, gave archaeologists of the time, a great opportunity to plot the outline of the fort when the field was dried out sufficiently for the outlines of walls and ramparts to become visible. Further excavations were undertaken in 1974\75 when further buildings were discovered. It doesn't appear that the full excavation report has ever been published, so information is pretty hard to come by. Apparently the remains of a Roman bath house were visible as late as 1908 on the site of Watercrook Farm. The remains consisted of underground cavities and the tips of arches and the remains of other structures. As far as I'm aware, these remains are no longer in existence.

Above. Roman altar stone from Watercrook Farm.

Above. Another Roman altar stone from Watercrook Farm.

Above. Image in stone housed at Kendal Museum..again from Watercrook Farm.

Above. A stone tablet from Watercrook Farm.

Above. The Satury looking North West towards the Roman fort.

The Satury is a low mound of earth that can be found along the public footpath that runs South of the Roman fort at Watercrook. Local legend\tradition has it that this mound is related in some way to the Roman fort, but in all honesty there doesn't seem to be any archaeological evidence to support this. A document from 1774, tells us "On Sattury was found stones with mortar on them when it was ploughed." What this could possibly indicate though, I'm not sure. Other documents relate to the name, Sattury, as meaning the place of a Roman temple dedicated to the Roman god Saturn...though it's generally agreed now that the name Sattury could come from Old Norse, "saetrhaugr", meaning "the mound of the settlement".

Above. Map of the fort, showing its proximity to the River Kent. 

 Above. Map of the fort, showing the 1974 excavations.

Above. A plan of Watercrook Roman Fort, showing buildings and streets.

The fort, as mentioned above, is not accessible to the public, and though the field can be viewed from across the river, there really isn't much to see. As soon as I have more information regarding the items that were recovered from the fort, and that are now displayed in Kendal Museum, I'll post it here.

The Roman Britain web site entry for Watercrook fort.


Anonymous said...

There is also ford to the north side of the fort where my father was involved in a river engineering scheme. The fort is accessible from the other side of the river, and I hve been there often. There may have been some re-use of the stone at a Roman fort somewhere on castle hill, in Kendal, and there are lumpy ground shapes on the crest of that hill near the castle which may be buried buildings. The castle dairy in Wildman St is built over an old Roman road. There is also Paddy Lane, a Roman road that passes close to the old British settlement on Helm, later known as "coney beds" Supposedly there is a walled Roman graveyard up there. Helm is across the Road from the Station Inn, by Paddy Lane and the road to Sedbergh.

Unknown said...

I lived on Riverbank rd from 1967 to 1974 & was fascinated by the mound in the field but not knowing why it was there.It wasn't until the internet came about that I started to investigate the site. Being a fan of Time Team & the Roman military I was delighted to learn it was an auxillary fort. Even more pleased when we went on one of our many visits to Kendal & saw what they had found in the museum. I would like to walk the field but I believe this isn't possible, my contact email is for further correspondence.