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The Hadrianic Frontier - River Esk to River Ehen, Cumbria

Archaeological Research Study Outline

Directors of Research: Clifford Jones, J. Alan Biggins

Project Objectives

The study area is based around the West Cumbria coastal area, from Sellafield from the river Ehen, stretching to Ravenglass, at the mouth of the three rivers Irt, Mite and Esk. Its aim is to conduct a study of Roman the frontier system and associated centres and nucleated sites; such as, forts, frontier structures, roadside stations, villages and towns, as well as river and maritime ports arrangements. This research will be targeted using field walking, geophysical and surface survey to understand their topography and spatial organization. This approach will adopt an integrated systematic surface survey programme, geophysics and a GIS based study, with input from and participation of local members of the community within the research area.

Outline Detail

  1. The authors are undertaking archaeological research within the area Sellafield to Ravenglass, Cumbria along the coastal strip between the two points and inland to the A595 which roughly parallels the coast at a distance of approximately two miles to the East of the coast.
  2. The boundary of the research is from southern bank of the River Ehen, (National Grid Reference: 301348, 505794 100m Grid Reference: NY 013 057 Latitude, Longitude: 54.44, -3.52) to the northern bank of the river Esk, (Full Grid Reference: 311233, 496420 100m Grid Reference: SD 112 964 Latitude, Longitude: 54.36, -3.37. The eastern boundary being the A595 road to the western side with the northern most limit being the Blackbeck roundabout (Full Grid Reference: 302543, 507072 100m Grid Reference: NY 025 070 Latitude, Longitude: 54.45, -3.5).
  3. The purpose of the research is to identify if the Roman ‘Hadrianic’ frontier works, known from Bowness on Solway to Flimby, continue to Ravenglass. The reason for considering the stretch of coast for intensive study , Sellafield to Ravenglass, is that it has not suffered from industrial change to the extent other sections (Flimby to Whitehaven) and because very little consideration has been given to the hypothesis that there was a physical frontier at all, in the area specified. This research will attempt to meet the criteria of the Research Framework for North West England; in particular the Roman – British Agenda as outlined in The Archaeology of North West England: An Archaeological Framework for North West England: Volume 2 Research Agenda & Strategy; chapter 3: page 57 Brennand M., Chitty G, Nevell M.; ALGAO NW & CBA North West
  4. The research will combine desk top analysis of known factors and observations along the coast and its hinterlands. The majority of the research is a combination of field walking, general landscape archaeological investigation and geophysical; magnetic and resistivity research in association with TimeScape Surveys.
  5. Where considered appropriate, minor exploratory excavation of geophysical anomalies will be undertaken, with comprehensive co-operation with other bodies in respect of data thus discovered. Excavation work will not take place within the National Park boundary.
  6. The research timescale will be a period of nine years, commencing 1st January 2009 and reporting no later than 31st December 2018; note this revison in timesacle is caused by funding issues and other related works in the area. Summary interim progress reports will be produced annually.
  7. The research will be compiled as a report in electronic format, the primary point for accessing the material will be via the Archaeology Data Service. Copies in appropriate format will be made available to persons and organisations contributing to research funding. Wider publication will be sought in a recognised local or national archaeological journal.
  8. It is hoped that this research will go some way to assist the wider knowledge of the Western Frontier and meet the criteria contained within the Hadrian’s Wall Management Plan (2008–2012) and the Hadrian’s Wall Research Framework (final draft 2008).
  9. Address for correspondence

Clifford Jones BA (Hons)
Greatest Roman Frontiers
Great Gable
3 Links Crescent
CA20 1RB


Presented: 10th November 2008 Revised November 2012
Ref. WCCRF01/11/0200C

Recent Developments

LIDAR analysis Drigg and Ravenglass ongoing 2012
Report to EA regarding burnt mounds and iron production anomaly: Drigg

Major project at Ravenglass.

"Ravenglass Roman Fort & settlement, Project Design"
Alan Biggins 'Timsecape Surveys' and Clifford Jones

A major research project has been put together and has been presented to Nuclear Management Partnerships, Sellafield for funding. This bid is supported by Hadrian's Wall Heritage Limited. This project will provide CBA North with an opportunity to promote community archaeology, a continuation of the 2007 seasons successful training package.



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