windermere panoramic
Hardknott Pass
Hardknott Roman Fort
Cumbria CA19 1TH
English Heritage
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The best overall view of one of the most remote and dramatically sited Roman forts in Britain is from the summit of Hardknott Pass, looking down into the Eskdale valley.
 
Because the Wrynose and Hardknott Passes are so photogenic, many tourists fail to stop to take this stunning view of the fort, regretting the omission forever.  From this height you can clearly see the substantial wall encircling the large fort with gateways visible in the centre of each wall. The fort is strategically placed on a promontory, overlooking the old Roman road and commanding the route through the valley.
 
Fort Built about AD120
Hardknott Fort was known to the Romans as Mediobogdum.  It was built around AD 120 during Hadrian’s rule, to guard the route from the coastal port of Ravenglass Village to Ambleside Town and Brougham at Penrith.  It was one of the loneliest outposts in the Roman Empire, responsible for protecting Britain’s vital northern frontier supply route.
 
It had a garrison of 500 Balkan soldiers and it was a long way from their home on the Adriatic.   It was remote and cold, with nothing more than an occasional raven for company!
 
The sturdy walls with their central gateways, surround a 3-acre site containing the remains of granaries, a Principa or headquarters building, a temple for holding the legions standards and alters, armouries, and an unfinished Commander’s residence.  English Heritage information boards identify and describe each set of remains. 
 

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Remains of Roman Soldier's stone bathhouse
Off the track from the road to the fort lie the remains of a stone bathhouse, which provided facilities for the soldiers’ relaxation. It consisted of four ‘rooms’ – one containing the furnace (at the far end), and the others with hot, warm and cold baths. To the left, a circular room with its own furnace was used much like a modern sauna.
 
To the east of the fort, some way up the steep mountainside, is an artificially levelled area historians have identified as a parade ground.  The road which Hardknott guarded can be traced for some distance as an earthwork.
 
Children love this Fort
Our children loved this fort, marching along the walls pretending they were Roman soldiers watching for enemies.  A foreign tourist even joined in our game!
 
Opening Times & Admission Cost
Open any reasonable time and free.  Site is not attended.
 
Facilities
Plenty of information panels
Small amount of parking space
No other facilities
 
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Contact & Further Information
 
Getting There
200 yards (183 metres) off the road, halfway up the Eskdale side of Hardknott Pass.
 
Google Maps - Hardknott Roman Fort