Birdoswald Roman Fort - History and Facts | History Hit

Birdoswald Roman Fort

Cumbria, England, United Kingdom

Birdoswald Roman Fort is one of the best preserved of the wall forts of Hadrian’s Wall.

Lily Johnson

24 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Birdoswald Roman Fort

Birdoswald Roman Fort is one of the most well-preserved of the wall forts of the iconic Hadrian’s Wall, and is also located next to some of the best stretches of its 73-mile barrier.

Birdoswald Roman Fort history

Birdoswald Roman Fort was founded as a military base in around 112 AD, amongst the dramatic geography of Cumbria – the fort was surrounded by cliffs and overlooked a vast meander of the River Irthing.

At its peak, Birdoswald would have housed up to 1,000 soldiers trained to guard Hadrian’s Wall, and unusually featured an exercise building through which the men may have kept fit. This was perhaps due to difficulties in training the troops in the exposed landscape of the site.

In 400 AD, Birdoswald was abandoned by the Romans, yet following their retreat from Britain the site remained inhabited to the 5th century and beyond. Director of excavations Tony Wilmott has suggested that Birdoswald continued to serve a warband descended from the later Roman garrison, while evidence of a 16th century farmhouse on the site has also been found.

As of 2005, this makes Birdoswald the only site along Hadrian’s Wall with evidence of significant post-Roman inhabitation.

Birdoswald Roman Fort today

Today, visitors can enjoy the extensive remains found at Birdoswald Roman Fort, which include much of its defensive structures such as its walls and gateways, as well as buildings such as granaries and workshops.

The Birdoswald Roman Fort visitor centre offers a further glimpse into life in Roman Britain, with a model of Hadrian’s Wall as it would once have looked, and displays of artefacts found at the site. Uniquely, it is even possible to stay within the walls of Birdoswald Roman Fort as part of a holiday, with its current owners English Heritage offering group stays at the onsite bunkhouse.

For those interested in Roman Britain, Birdoswald provides a fascinating look into some the Empire’s northernmost exploits, and is also one of the best places to begin explorations of Hadrian’s Wall.

Getting to Birdoswald Roman Fort

Birdoswald Roman Fort is located 4 miles west of Greenhead in Cumbria, just off the B6318. Parking is located 200m from the site, which is free for members of English Heritage. The nearest train stations are Haltwhistle, 7 miles away, and Brampton, 8 miles away, while the Border Ramble Bus also passes the site.