Galava Roman Fort
National Trust & English Heritage
Cumbria LA22 0EN
In the middle of a field at the north end of Lake Windermere are the remains of Ambleside Roman Fort. Dating from the 1st or 2nd century AD this ancient fort now shares the field with gently grazing cows.
Galava was built to guard the southern fells from raids by the Picts and Scots, and the southern end of the Hardknott Pass through Eskdale. This was the route of the Roman road from Brougham to the Port of Ravenglass on the west coast of Cumbria. It is also thought that it was a regional store for provisioning the Roman troops protecting the Empire’s northern border.
Little is known about who built the fort or the identity of the troops. It is believed that 500 soldiers inhabited the fort which covered 3 acres (1.2 hectares). Apart from the visible excavated foundations, in very dry weather remains of other structures beneath the grass show up as crop-markings.
During excavations in the early 20th century artefacts including coins and a Roman tombstone were found. These are now on display the Museum of Natural History & Archaeology in Kendal.
A large civilian settlement (a vicus) grew up outside the fort walls and the location so close to Windermere suggests that grain and other supplies arrived by boat from farms surrounding the lake.
Visible now are the remains of the Commandant’s quarters, the entrance to the treasury where the garrison’s funds and the soldiers’ savings were kept and two large granaries. The granary’s floor consisted of flagstones, raised on the still visible supporting walls to allow air to circulate through the vents in the outer walls.
To the left of the headquarters building are the partly excavated remains of the commander’s residence, consisting of rooms grouped around an open courtyard. The large size of this building reflects the importance of the fort commander.
The areas to the front and rear of the central range of buildings would have been occupied largely by barracks and perhaps stables.
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This English Heritage monument is managed by the National Trust and information plaques explain the site.
Plan Your Visit
Any reasonable time
Contact & Further Information
A591 from Ambleside to Waterhead. Turn right on to Borrans Road (A5096). The fort site is on the left.
Google Maps - Galava Roman Fort