The Journal Of Antiquities

Ancient Sites In Great Britain & Southern Ireland


Malham Roman Camp, Low Stoney Bank, North Yorkshire

OS grid reference SD 9152 6542. On a high plateau of Malham Moor just above Low Stoney Bank, a few miles north of Malham and just east of the river Aire, are the large rectangular-shaped earthworks of Malham Roman Camp or Mastiles Roman Camp, dating from c71 AD. The earthworks cover 20 acres (96800 square yards). The camp was a temporary military camp built during the governorship of Quintus Petillius Cerialis (71-74 AD) in order to quell a rebellion by fearsome Brigantean warriors who inhabited that area and, whose leader had been Queen Cartamandua. She had earlier formed a rather ‘fragile’ alliance with the Romans in c52 AD – although this was only destined to last a short time.

The camp is quite well-defined and has an earthern bank 0.5 metres high and 5 metres wide with traces of an external ditch. There are four entrances, three of these at the north, east and south sides have an in-turned or curved inner bank, while the western entrance is damaged by a footpath and wall passing through the centre of the camp, left to right, which is known today by country walkers as Mastiles Lane.

English: Mastiles Lane Roman Marching Camp. Th...

Malham ‘Mastiles’ Roman Camp (Photo: John Illingworth – Geograph)

The camp was probably built by either the IX or XX legions who may have also had a hand in the building of the forts at Rey Cross beside the A66 at Stainmore Summit and, Stanwick, near Richmond. There are no traces of buildings inside the earthworks – it is presumed the soldiers lived in leather tents in the middle of the camp. Some 500 soldiers or more would have marched here at any one given time during the late 1st century AD, but the site was most likely abandoned when the tribal unrest subsided within a few years. We don’t know for sure whether the camp was ever re-occupied?