Mar. 13th, 2012

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I'm going to be out on site for the rest of the week, so I doubt I'll be posting.  Today was hectic enough in itself - I was called out to the weir for one last day of recording, since the water levels have at last dropped low enough to make the repairs feasible.  I also managed to fit in the finishing touches to the Thomas Telford paper...

But in the calm before the storm, I thought I'd pay one last visit to the Roman fort at Hardknott.

A close-up of the rampart, first of all, which has a very peculiar feature.  There's a line of slates between the lower seven courses, and the two/three above.  Now, normally I'd assume this marked a line of restoration - conscientious restorers always leave some clue to those who follow on after them so that the next generation can differentiate the modern work from the original.  But the way in which this line of slates follows a logical pattern that matches the topography makes me wonder if it is indeed an original feature...





The levels of survival at this particular fort are so good that even the watchtowers, or angle turrets, survive to a height of six or seven courses.  Again, it has all the hallmarks of a Roman structure, with nicely squared ashlar used throughout:-





And it also bears another hallmark of Roman design and build in that the layout of the fort was obviously developed centrally, without any attempt to take nuances of location and topography into account.  Fans of Hadrian's Wall will recollect several fortlets and milecastles which feature Gateways to Oblivion, and Hardknott Fort is another of these sites.  The rear gate opens out onto a gentle slope:-



Which then leads on, if you venture too far, to a drop onto nothingness:-




It's not very apparent in this photograph, because I didn't want to go too close to the edge!  But it's a perfect way of getting rid of a troublesome local chieftain!  Invite him (or her!  Lets not forget Boudicca and Cartimandua...) to a party at the commendant's house, get him/her very drunk (Iron Age nobility are very fond of a good booze-up!) then cleverly show them out through the back door. 

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