Cawthorn Roman Camps - History and Facts | History Hit

Cawthorn Roman Camps

Pickering, England, United Kingdom

The Cawthorn Roman Camps are the remains of a 1st/2nd century Roman military enclosure situated in the south of the North York Moors.

Lily Johnson

06 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Alamy

About Cawthorn Roman Camps

The Cawthorn Roman Camps are the remains of a Roman military enclosure situated in the North York Moors. Today their well-preserved earthworks provide a look into some of the Roman Empire’s northernmost exploits.

Cawthorn Roman Camps history

The Cawthorn Roman Camps date from the 1st and 2nd centuries, and were likely built in stages owing to the various different structures found through archaeological research.

Though initially thought not to be permanently occupied and for practice rather than actual military use, recent re-evaluations have placed the Cawthorn camps amongst a long line of defences in the area used to assert Roman authority over the north of England. They were thus likely permanently occupied and garrisoned.

In its lifetime the site was occupied by a Roman camp and two forts, whose interesting remains may still be viewed today. The unusual polygonal camp was first constructed, before being overlain by a later 1st century fort. The second fort was built to the east, complete with an annexe.

The defences of the first fort included a double bank and external ditch surrounding the site, with ramparts measuring 20m wide and 1.5m tall. Entrances were featured on three sides of the fort – excluding the north side whose walls were precariously close to the cliff edge – and large wooden gates would have welcomed the troops back inside. The second fort follows a similar pattern, with steep defences too incorporating the slope of the site.

Cawthorn Roman Camps today

Today, little remains of the site apart from the earthworks which were constructed at the perimeter of the camps and are particularly well-preserved. Their pronounced banks and ditches provide an intriguing look into the Romans’ activity in Yorkshire, and the ingenuity they brought with them.

Situated atop a stunning vantage point overlooking the central moorlands of the North York Moors, the Roman remains also afford visitors a picturesque walk with fabulous views.

Getting to Cawthorn Roman Camps

Cawthorn Roman Camps is located near Pickering in the North York Moors, and can be accessed by exiting the A170 north towards Cawthorn. There is a car park at the site, from which a 1-mile circular walk is marked from the information panel, following signposts marked with a Roman soldier. The 173 bus service runs to the Home Farm stop, a 2 mile walk to the site, while the nearest train station is Pickering, a 5 mile walk or taxi ride to the site.

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