New Roman fort uncovered in Lancashire after years of speculation

New Roman fort uncovered in Lancashire after years of speculation

New Roman fort uncovered in Lancashire after years of speculation

A fort of the 1st century unearthed on a Burscough farm may be the key to understanding Roman activities in Lancashire.

Ruins off Flax Lane have finally received recognition from Historic England, after a years of speculation about the presence of such a Fort.

A Roman fort lies underneath land off Flax Lane, Burscoug

The ruins include a 30,000 square meter fort, roads and a smaller fortlet and experts believe that unknown information on how the Romans settling and travelling in the region will be found. Considered alongside other forts in the region, including those in Wigan and Ribchester, Burscough’s will provide a great insight into Roman military strategy.

It is expected that the area has been occupied several times over the course of hundreds of years, a theory which is backed up by the variety of pottery found on the site.

Historic England says the lines of the fort’s defences are clearly identifiable on geophysical survey and aerial photos, but the north-west and south-west corners are also visible as slight earthworks on Lidar, which uses laser light reflections to produce 3D images.

The north-west corner of the fort is visible as the slight earthwork of a broad bank about 12m wide, with a regular, broad and shallow external ditch; the latter is interpreted as a shallow quarry ditch dug during the construction of the rampart.

Several large depressions visible in the wider landscape are considered to be post medieval extraction, probably marl pits: one of these pits sits within the angle of the north-west corner of the fort.

The number of ditches is considered to indicate more than one phase of occupation, and it is considered that a later, small fortlet overlies the eastern rampart of the earlier fort.

A number of internal features have been revealed by geophysical survey including a well-defined eastern gateway with double gate towers, and numerous stone buildings interpreted as granaries or barracks.

A Roman fort lies underneath land off Flax Lane, Burscough

Limited trial trenching of the latter has revealed the presence of a large stone, buttressed building typical of a Roman granary.

The geophysical survey has also revealed the buried remains of a broad section of Roman road approaching the fort on the east side. A similar feature is thought to be associated with the fort’s southern entrance.

For several years, a non-profit archaeology group has been managing the site and allowing people to help with excavation of the ruins but the location of the fort has largely been kept a secret.

Those interested in visiting were able to pay to take part in organised digs, while items of Roman pottery have been found on nearby fields by passing walkers.

The fort had survived regular ploughing through the years before the archaeology group took an interest in the site but concerned residents noticed diggers on the field in recent weeks and feared that the invaluable findings could be lost forever.

But, possibly partly as a result of those fears being raised with Historic England and then the Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the ruins have now been classified as a Scheduled Monument.

That means it is a criminal offence to destroy or damage it; do any works to remove, repair or alter it; use a metal detector without prior consent; or remove any historic or archaeological object from the site without prior consent.

A spokesman for Historic England said: “DCMS recently agreed with our advice that this site should be protected as a scheduled monument because it is a highly significant find of a Roman fort which has survived well.

‘‘We are actively in contact with the owners and local authority to offer advice and support on how best to manage this site to ensure its future.”

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