The Journal Of Antiquities

Ancient Sites In Great Britain & Southern Ireland

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Borrans Field Roman Fort, Ambleside, Cumbria

Roman fort of Galava

Roman fort of Galava (Photo credit: Ferrous Femur)

OS grid reference NY3724 0344. About ½ a mile to the south of Ambleside, south Cumbria, along Borrans Road which is the A5059 and close to the mouth of the river Brathay*, near the northern shoreline of Lake Windermere is Borrans Field Roman Fort or, the Roman name of Galava and, or perhaps Glanibanta, according to the Ordnance Surveys ‘Historical map and guide to Roman Britain’ 5th Edition, 2001. Although the former name is the one that is now generally accepted. Or could it be that the Roman fort at Ravenglass some 18 miles away to the west on the Cumbrian coast is the one called Glanibanta (Glannobanta), rather than the usual Roman name given to it: Itunocelum? Confusing, yes it is, but these Roman names for forts and towns are always “open” to question, are they not!

This small fort stands in the area known as Waterside, Eskdale. The earthworks and foundations of the fort can clearly be seen in what is locally called “Borrans Field’ where signboards mark out the fort’s features. There were two forts on the site – the first “Flavian” fort being built in the late 1st century AD at the time of the northern campaign of the Roman general Gnaeus Julius Agricola (79-85 AD) – the second one was built over this and probably staffed by an auxiliary cohort of soldiers in the early part of the 2nd century – that is if a piece of stone with an inscription to that effect found during excavations is to be believed.

The oblong-shaped enclosure of the fort covers about two-and-a-half acres roughly 300 feet by 420 feet though Prof R.G.Collingwood of Pembroke College, Oxford, who first excavated the site and wrote about it, gave the measurements as 270 feet by 395 feet. It was surrounded by a  stone wall 4 foot thick with a clay and turf rampart 10-12 feet across at the back of that and, a ditch to the front. Towers would have been positioned at each of the four corners with four gated entrances – three of these being fairly narrow though the fourth gate (the porta praetoria) at the east-side was double-gated and had guard rooms at either side.

Galava Roman Fort Plan (After Collingwood)

Galava Roman Fort Plan (After Collingwood)

All the main buildings were situated in the middle of the fort with four other large barrack block buildings, probably of timber, around the sides of these and, as yet, not excavated. As usual there were the granaries (two buildings) measuring 60 feet in length, three headquarters blocks known as ‘the principias’ or Praetoriums roughly all 70 feet by 80 feet; also a sacellum (cellar) for altars around 6 foot square, the commandant’s house 70 feet by 80 feet and two other unexcavated buildings. Also, inner and outer courtyards as well as a ditch which could be from the late 1st century fort. According to Prof Collingwood, the fort was abandoned sometime after 85 AD but rebuilt and enlarged during the time of the Emperor Hadrian in the early 2nd century AD. Collingwood believed it was destroyed twice during the 2nd-3rd centuries. The fort of Galava was finally abandoned soon after 365 AD. Today the site is in the care of English Heritage.

Galava Roman fort stands on the course of a Roman road which runs west from here linking up with the forts at Hardknott (Mediobogdum) and Ravenglass (Itunocelum) also known as Glannobanta or Clanoventa? At Ravenglass there is a well-preserved Roman bath-house attached to the fort called ‘White Walls’ standing to it’s original height and, is probably the best preserved Roman building in the north of England. The Roman forts at Watercrook (Alavana) and Brougham (Brocavum) to the east and south-east are “somewhat” in doubt with regard to being linked strategically with the fort of Galava, although this is still open to question.

There have been a number of archaeological finds and these can be seen in the Kendal Museum. A tombstone found in the 1960s at the eastern-side of the fort is inscribed with the epitaphs of two Roman soldiers: Flavius Romanus and Flavius Fuscinus, who may have been related; also a piece of stone inscribed with the word COHORT, and some coins from the late 1st century to the 2nd century. Pottery, glass, iron and bronze objects, as well as a lead basin were also found.


Collingwood, R.G. Prof., Roman Eskdale, Methuen, London, 1914.

Collingwood, R.G. Prof., The Archaeology Of Roman Britain, Methuen, London, 1930.

Fraser, Maxwell., Companion Into Lakeland, Methuen, London, 1939.

Ordnance Survery, ‘Historical map and guide Roman Britain’, 5th Edition, Southampton, 2001.

*Thanks to Mike Nield for his info on the location of the fort at Borrans Field.

The Nogworth and Beth Crosses, Briercliffe, Lancashire

The Nogworth Cross-base, Briercliffe, Lancs

The Nogworth Cross-base, Briercliffe, Lancashire.

OS grid reference SD 8833 3408. The Nogworth Cross also called ‘The Northwood Cross’ is located to the north of Extwistle between Extwistle Hall and Monk Hall about 2 miles south-east of Briercliffe. What remains of the cross stands at the side of a country lane close to Shay Lane and Todmorden Road – having been moved here in 1909. Today only the roughly-hewn base remains, which is a slightly tapered block of sandstone about 3 feet 3 inches across and 20 inches high with a socketed recess at the top for the stump or shaft of a medieval cross – the shaft and cross-head having long since disappeared. The thinking being that this was a former market cross from the 14th-15th century? Or could it have been set-up by the monks of Whalley Abbey to mark the boundary of the land that they owned from the 13th-16th centuries? The Cistercian abbey at Whalley was founded in 1172 and dissolved in 1537. Many people walking along the country lane at Extwistle would now not even notice the lump of stone lying forgotten in the grass beside the wall, which is quite sad really.

Beth Cross or perhaps ‘The Roggerham Cross’ remains largerly forgotten and lost to the mists of time. It was a flat piece of stone with a very faint incised Latin-style cross carved onto it. It’s location is not known, but it was said to have lain in the Holden Clough area about half a mile to the south-east of the Nogworth Cross. It was thought to mark the extent of the land, or the boundary, of the land owned by the small abbey of Newbo near Sedgebrook in Lincolnshire, which was a Premonstratensian foundation founded in 1198 but abandoned soon after 1401. But why did they hold land at Roggerham so far away from their religious house in Lincolnshire. This is something of a mystery. And to confuse things even more there was a ‘Dennis Cross’ and also a ‘Widdop Cross’ (site of) in the same area. Roggerham itself is a tiny hamlet along Todmorden road, Extwistle, to the east of Lee Green reservoir and is not even mentioned on the Os maps. The name ‘Beth Cross’ is a shortened form of Elizabeth’s Cross (maybe some association with St Elizabeth?).

English: Nogworth Cross Shay Lane Base and soc...

Nogworth Cross (Photo credit: Kevin Rushton – Wikimedia Commons)

These wayside crosses were all surveyed by Mr Clifford Byrne in the late 1960s though his work was never published – he also did a survey of Holy Wells and Mineral Springs of North-East Lancashire. [Any further information on the Beth Cross or The Roggerham Cross would be very much appreciated].



The Briercliffe Society (Newsletter archive number 92 May 2007).

Byrne, Clifford., A Survey of the Ancient Wayside Crosses of North-East Lancashire, unpublished manuscript, 1974.

Masham Churchyard Cross, Wensleydale, North Yorkshire

English: Anglo Saxon shaft at Masham church. T...

Masham Churchyard Cross (Photo credit:  Gordon Hatton for Wikipedia)

OS grid reference SE 2266 8066. In the Valley of the River Ure, Wensleydale, 8 miles to the north-west of Ripon and some 4 miles west of the A1 in north Yorkshire stands the picturesque market village of Masham on the A6108 and, close to the market square is the ancient church of St. Mary the Virgin. Just by the south porch there is a quite rare Anglo-Saxon cross-shaft Masham Churchyard Cross which originally had some of the best carvings in the Dales, but sadly these ancient carvings are now rather weather worn. St. Mary’s church also houses two pieces of a Saxon cross.

In front of the porch stands a 7 foot (2.1 metre) high rounded cross-shaft, or pillar cross, said to date back to the 8th or 9th century AD, and probably of Northumbrian craftsmanship. It stands upon a modern stepped base that, sadly, does not do the ancient cross any justice. The top is now protected by a lead cap. Despite being heavily weather-worn the richly carved shaft is quite splendid with much beautiful carving. The cross-head has long since gone. This is a four-sectioned shaft with carvings inside round-headed arcades. Just below the top damaged section Our Lord and the Apostles are depicted, while below that are what appear to be human figures awaiting baptism, or being baptised, and also the Adoration of the Magi. But the carvings are badly worn and are now difficult to make out.

It could be that the cross was set-up as a dedication to St Wilfrid, who was bishop of Ripon from 667-669, by his many followers who were converting large swathes of northern England to Christinanity at this particular time – the cross then being the central focus as a meeting place for local Christians to hear the word of God.

St. Mary’s Church, Masham, dates from the 12th-15th century (Norman and medieval). The tower dates from 1150, but an earlier Saxon foundation of the early 7th century from the reign of King Edwin of Deira and Bernicia (Northumbria) 616-633 stood near this site. King Edwin was baptised into the Christian faith in 627 and after his death in battle at Hatfield Chase he was venerated as a saint. There are still traces of Anglo-Saxon masonry in the fabric of the nave wall. Also in the church two pieces of a 9th century Anglian cross – notably part of the cross-head (looks like a small section of an arm) and a piece of the cross-shaft.


Carter, Robert A.,  A visitor’s guide to Yorkshire Churches, Watmoughs Limited, Idle, Bradford, West Yorks, 1976.,_Masham

Click on the link for more information on King Edwin of Northumbria


The Burnley, Colne And Nelson Upland Archaeology Project

A new web-based archaeological project has been started by the Barrowford author and archaeologist John A.Clayton to map with ‘LIDAR’ Technology the east Lancashire towns of Burnley, Nelson and Colne – taking in the surrounding upland areas of Thursden, Extwistle, Worsthorne and Mereclough – with a view to uncovering the ancient past of these places and, to map their prehistoric past from the many Mesolithic camps, Bronze Age barrows, Roman enclosures to Medieval water-mills with LIDAR mapping. Please take a look at this new and very exciting website by clicking on the following link

Hi – the new books relating to the BNC Archaeology Survey are now in print. They can be purchased online at  or by cheque directly from me. They are also available at The Pendle Heritage Centre, Barrowford.


John Clayton


The Map Stone, Fylingdales Moor, North Yorkshire

The Map Stone (Copyright English Heritage)

The Map Stone (Copyright English Heritage)

OS grid reference approx NZ 935 010. In the late summer of 2003 during the the devastating fires that destroyed up to two-and-a-half kilometers of Fylingdales Moor to the south-west of Ravesnscar, north Yorkshire Moors, a round-shaped flat piece of stone was uncovered by archaeologists from English Heritage bearing strange shapes and lines. This stone has been referred to as The Map Stone or The Fire Stone for obvious reasons. Today a cast of this curious stone can be seen in Whitby Museum. The actual site of the find is ‘protected’ and now covered over again with heather and grass, but it is ‘roughly’ just north of the A171 near Flask Inn which is 6 miles north-west of Ravenscar. [Please keep to the designated footpaths across the moor]. At the time of the moorland excavations many other artefacts were uncovered including a smaller stone that has tiny hollows or cup-marks carved onto it.

The carved stone with its strange map-like patterns, zig-zags or chevrons and linear lines is now considered to date back to the Neolithic period some 4,000-5,000 years ago, according to English Heritage archaeologists, though some historians place it in the Bronze-Age? It was found underneath the burnt heather and turf set within a low ring of boulders forming a cairn, and next to it was a smaller piece of stone with cup-marks. The thinking at the time was that the stone, which was originally larger, was a sort of map of the area showing tribal settlements, mountains and other features, but it is now thought by archaeologists to be a funery grave-cover with depictions of the after-life. The stones were recorded and photographed in situ and then the turf and heather re-laid to protect the artefacts from further erosion. In all some 2,400 artefacts and other sites were found exposed in the area of devastation (up from a previously-known 150) – ranging from Mesolithic flints, 185 carved stones, ancient trackways, watercourses from the local alum industry, to slit trenches from World War II.


Fletcher, Terry., Dalesman, February 2005 Volume 66 No 11, Dalesman Publishing, Skipton, North Yorkshire.

Click on the link



Brimham Rocks, Summerbridge, North Yorkshire

Brimham Rocks, near Summerbridge, North Yorkshire.

Os grid reference SE 2085 6458. About 2 miles to the north of Summerbridge in Nidderdale, north Yorkshire, is Brimham Moor on which can be found the millstone grit outcrops known as Brimham Rocks, with many weird and grotesque-shaped rocks that have been eroded by the elements over many thousands of years. The rock outcrops here cover between 50-60 acres of the moorland. These weathered rocks, boulders and tors have, probably since the Victorian Age, been given strange names – many looking like animals – others like the devil, druids and even Mother Shipton. A carpark is provided for visitors near to Brimham House (now The National Trust visitors Centre) with numerous paths weaving in and out around the rocks, which are surrounded and partly hidden by birch trees, bracken and heather. The site is now owned by The National Trust Estate. Brimham Rocks are 3 miles to the east of Pateley Bridge on the B6265 road.

The millstone grit outcrops on Brimham Moor were first laid down in geological terms some 400 million years ago, but the erosion and weathering only actually began in somewhat more recent times – to be precise some 18,000 years ago during one of the Ice-Ages. Glaciation and sedimentation first played its part, then the elements like rain wind and frosts began to slowly weather the rocks into the strange grotesque shapes that we see today, and this has been going on since that time. The huge rocks have gradually formed themselves into pinnacles, buttreses, tors and crags – some of them being 50 feet high and weighing up to 200 tonnes.

English: Idol Rock - Brimham Rocks

Idol Rock – Brimham Rocks (Photo credit: Penny Mayes – Wikipedia)

Here we can see some of the most odd-shaped rock formations in the north of England. The most famous being the 15 foot high Idol Rock, also called ‘The Druids Idol’ or ‘The Druid’s Writing Desk’ which sits or pivots on a lump of rock only 1 foot in circumference, looking like it could fall over at any moment! But it dosen’t. The Turtle Rock or ‘Eagle Rock’ is also quite a distinctive shape as are The Leaning Tower Rock and Elephant Rock, but so too are the so-called ‘Sphinx Rock’ (Dancing Bear), ‘Crown Rock and Kissing Chair’, ‘The Knob’ and ‘Anvil Rock’. There are also rock formations that resemble the devil and Mother Shipton, a 17th century prophetess who lived in a cave beside the river Nidd at Knaresborough. So did she ever visit Brimham Rocks? And one of the rocking stones apparently has some prehistoric cup-marks near its base, which would suggest that Neolithic tribes inhabited the area and probably recognised it has being a sacred place.

Rock climbers used to be able to climb the rocks and tors but I don’t know whether they are still allowed to do that today? But people do still attempt to stand or sit on top of some of the more accessible outcrops and rocks in order to get a good view of Nidderdale and the surrounding areas.


Hammond, Reginald J. W., Ward Lock’s Red Guide — The Yorkshire Dales, Ward Lock & Co. London, 1965.

Poucher, W.A., The Peaks & Pennines, Constable, London, 1973.

Rawson, Jerry., Hidden Gems – Dalesman (Vol 66 No.11), Dalesman Publishing, Skipton, North Yorkshire, 2005.

Copyright © Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2013 (up-dated 2022).