Alauna Carvetiorum

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Coordinates: 54°43′15″N 3°29′38″W / 54.720936°N 3.493978°W / 54.720936; -3.493978

Senhouse Museum, Maryport - - 40522.jpg
Senhouse Museum with the replica tower in the background
Alauna is located in Cumbria
 Alauna shown within Cumbria
OS grid reference NY03863724
List of places

Alauna or Alauna Carvetiorum ("Alauna of the Carvetii") was a fort in the Roman province of Britannia. Today it is known as Maryport in the English county of Cumbria (formerly part of Cumberland).


The fort was first established in around AD 122 as a command and supply base for the coastal defences of Hadrian's Wall at its western extremity. There are substantial remains of the Roman fort, which was one of a series of forts on the Cumbrian coast which were intended to prevent Hadrian's Wall being outflanked by crossing the Solway Firth. Recent geo-magnetic surveys have revealed a large Roman town surrounding the fort. A recent archaeological dig discovered evidence of a second, earlier and larger fort next to, and partially under the present remains.

Geophysical survey[edit]

TimeScape Surveys (Biggins & Taylor), supported by a grant from the Maryport Heritage Trust, conducted a magnetometry geophysical survey of the Roman fort, vicus and their environs at Maryport. In addition, some targeted areas of resistivity survey were completed. The survey was conducted between May 2000 and September 2003 in several phases on land at Camp Farm, Maryport. At 72.5 hectares (170 acres), this represents the largest geophysical survey carried out on the northern Roman Frontier.

The survey has revealed multi-period activity, together with the possible location of a Roman port or causeway. The fort, as expected, had been robbed of stone to build the later town of Maryport. The vicus (civilian settlement) on the other hand was remarkably well-preserved, with a substantial road leading to a suspected Roman entrepôt. The field system surrounding the vicus was extensive and showed small 'market garden' plots, some containing buildings. In addition the survey detected a suspected Iron Age enclosure and elements of medieval buildings.


The Roman fort site was owned from the sixteenth century by successive generations of the Senhouse family. Their collections are housed in the Senhouse Roman Museum, a converted Victorian battery next to the site. The numerous Roman artefacts include altars from a series found on the site from Tudor times to the twenty-first century.


The altars are made of local sandstone. They were erected for ceremonies which took place annually. The inscriptions give information about the Roman fort and its inhabitants. For example, one of the best known (now in the British Museum) has an inscription that shows that it was dedicated by Gaius Cornelius Peregrinus, a decurion (town councillor) from Saldae (present-day Bejaia in Algeria), who was tribunus (military commander) of the auxiliary garrison.[1]

Where the altars originally stood in relation to the fort is not known, but they were designed to stand in rows. Excavations in 2011 revisited a site where seventeen altars were found in 1870 in pits. Following work by archaeologists such as Tony Wilmott (who won the Archaeologist of the Year award in 2012), the circumstances of the altars' deposition have been reinterpreted and it is accepted that they were re-used in the foundations of a late-Roman building.[2]

See also[edit]


  • Biggins, J. A. and Taylor, D. J. A., 2004b, The Roman Fort and Vicus at Maryport: Geophysical Survey, 2000 - 2004, in R. J. A. Wilson and I, Caruana (eds.), Romans on the Solway, CWAAS for the Trustees of the Senhouse Museum, Maryport, 102-133.
  1. ^ Altar. British Museum. Retrieved July 10, 2014
  2. ^ Robson, Ian. "I'm Digging the Dirt to Unearth the Roman Past". Sunday Sun - Newcastle-upon-Tyne. ncjMedia Ltd. 2012. Retrieved July 05, 2014 from HighBeam Research (subscription required)