List entry

List entry Summary

This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Rise How tower 25a, part of the Roman frontier defences along the Cumbrian coast including remains of prehistoric burial mound and early medieval kiln

List entry Number: 1014802


The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County District District Type Parish
CumbriaAllerdaleDistrict AuthorityMaryport

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 08-May-1978

Date of most recent amendment: 19-Nov-1996

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 27721

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Hadrian's Wall marks one of the frontiers of the Roman Empire. The international importance of the surviving remains has been recognised through designation as a World Heritage Site. The military importance of the Tyne-Solway route across the Pennines was recognised by the Romans in the second half of the first century AD when a military road, the Stanegate, was constructed along with a series of forts. There is evidence that the Tyne-Solway route was being recognised as a frontier by the start of the second century AD, but the line was consolidated in the early second century AD by the construction of a substantial frontier work, Hadrian's Wall, in c.120 AD. Subsequent attempts to establish the boundary further north, between Clyde and Forth, failed by c.160 AD. Hadrian's Wall then remained the frontier of the Roman Empire in Britain until c.400 AD when Roman armies withdrew from Britain. For most of its course, the 70 miles of Hadrian's Wall running from coast to coast comprised a continuous stone wall (which in places was first temporarily built of turf) with permanent structures sited at intervals of one Roman mile (milecastles) and at third of a mile intervals (turrets) between the milecastles. At a later date, the Wall was strengthened by 16 full-size garrison forts built either on, or close to, the Wall. To the north of the Wall, for most of its length, lay a substantial defensive ditch and to the south a complex of banks and ditches provided east-west communication and demarcated the frontier zone from the province. To the west of Bowness-on-Solway, where the Wall reached the sea, however, the frontier had a different character and served a slightly different purpose. At the western end of the Wall a system of milefortlets and towers, spaced similarly to the milecastles and turrets along the Wall, extended the frontier system for at least 27 miles down the Cumbrian coast and helped control movement across the estuary of the Solway Firth. In places these milefortlets and towers were supplemented by lengths of palisade fences. Throughout its long history the Wall was not always well maintained. It was often neglected and sometimes overrun, but it remained in use until the late fourth century when a weak and divided Roman Empire finally withdrew its armies from the Wall and Britain. The frontier works along the Cumbrian coast survive as earthworks or buried archaeological remains, the latter sometimes visible on aerial photographs. They survive in this form largely as a result of the more ephemeral materials of which they were built (timber and turf instead of the stone of Hadrian's Wall land frontier) rather than because of poor survival of archaeological remains. Components of the coastal frontier which have surviving archaeological remains, whether visible or not, will generally be considered of national importance.

Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating mainly from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC, although later examples are known. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds which covered single or multiple burials. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape and provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisations amongst prehistoric communities. Despite the lack of surface remains, limited excavations have proved that this prominent hilltop site was utilised on three separate occasions for widely differing purposes. The earliest use of the site was for a prehistoric burial monument. This is unusual in being Iron Age in date, thus post-dating the main period in which such barrows were built. The excavations have shown that buried remains of Rise How tower 25a survive reasonably well, thus the monument will contribute to any further study of the Roman frontier defences along the Cumbrian coast. Additionally the site was reused during the early medieval period.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the buried remains of Rise How tower, together with the buried remains of a pre-Roman burial mound or barrow and an early medieval grain drying kiln. Within the sequence of Roman towers along the Cumbrian coast this one has been identified as 25a. The tower was originally of sandstone construction and is located close to the cliff edge on the summit of Rise How from where there are excellent views in all directions. Limited excavations in the late 1960s and early 1980s found the tower to measure 6m square. The walls of the tower survive up to one course high, measure 0.96m wide, and stand on clay and cobble foundations 1.4m wide and 0.38m deep. In places the walls and foundations had been robbed during the early medieval period to provide stone for a grain drying kiln which was constructed on the site of the by then demolished tower. This kiln was aligned NNE-SSW and was built with splayed wings to catch the prevailing wind. The presence of this kiln indicates the existence of an early medieval settlement involved in arable cultivation in this area. Within the Roman tower two hearths were found together with a number of finds including a small amount of Roman pottery dated to the first half of the second century AD, a fragment of a gaming board marked out on a thin sandstone slab, two parts of a quern, and an assortment of animal bones and shellfish thought to be the remnants of food consumed by the tower's occupants. A small paved area outside the tower's north east corner suggested the entrance was at this point, while a second paved area associated with a pit close to the south east corner is thought to have been the site of a latrine. Evidence for a pre-Roman use of the site was provided when excavation located human bones close to the foundations of the tower's west wall. Of the skeleton only the leg bones remained, the rest having been disturbed by construction of the tower, and these lay in a shallow grave. A quantity of brown loam spread around the tower by the Roman builders was interpreted by the excavator to have come from the mound of earth which had been raised over the burial. Three pieces of hand-made course black pitted ware found close by the remains of the body are of Iron Age date. Laboratory testing to determine the age of the bones gave a date close to the end of the seventh century AD and indicated that the bone sample had been contaminated by the corn drying kiln. However, it did provide a date for the use of the kiln.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 10 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Bellhouse, R, 'CWAAS Research Series' in Roman Sites On The Cumb Coast: A New Schedule Of Coastal Sites, (1989), 56
Bellhouse, R, 'CWAAS Research Series' in Roman Sites On The Cumb Coast: A New Schedule Of Coastal Sites, (1989), 48-51
Bellhouse, R L, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Roman Sites On The Cumberland Coast, , Vol. LXX, (1970), 46-7
Bellhouse, R L, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Proceedings, , Vol. IXC, (1991), 266-7
Bellhouse, R L, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Roman Sites On The Cumberland Coast: The New Tower On Rise How, , Vol. LXXXIV, (1984), 43-54
Bellhouse, R L, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Roman Sites On The Cumberland Coast: The New Tower On Rise How, , Vol. LXXXIV, (1984), 43-4
Bellhouse, R L, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Roman Sites On The Cumberland Coast: The New Tower On Rise How, , Vol. LXXXIV, (1984), 41-59
Robinson, J, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. Old Ser.' in Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. Old Ser, , Vol. V, (1880), 124
RCHME, Cumberland Coast Events Record - Tower 23a, (1995)

National Grid Reference: NY 02680 35019


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This copy shows the entry on 31-Aug-2015 at 05:48:08.