The Romans in the Lake District

The Lake District is celebrated for its dramatic landscape – a place where people can find relaxation, adventure and inspiration. But what is less well known is that 2,000 years ago, it was a frontier of the Roman Empire. Today, English Heritage cares for the remains of three forts – Ambleside, Hardknott and Ravenglass – that guarded a road connecting this area to the rest of the Roman world. 

You can find out more about these sites below, and follow the links to discover their history and how to visit them.

A hidden landscape

The three Roman sites that English Heritage cares for in the Lake District reveal much about life on the edge of empire. The bath house hidden in the woods near Ravenglass is an amazing survival, all that’s now visible of a Roman fort and town. Remote Hardknott Fort demonstrates the lengths the Romans went to to establish their control over Roman Britain. And Ambleside Fort, now lying half hidden beside Lake Windermere, was strategically located to connect the area with the rest of Britannia and the empire beyond.

Join English Heritage historian Andrew Roberts as he explores these sites and reveals what they tell us about the people who lived there 2,000 years ago.

Visit the sites

  • Visit Ambleside Roman Fort

    The well-marked remains of a 2nd-century fort with large granaries, built under Hadrian's rule to guard the Roman road from Brougham to Ravenglass and act as a supply base.

  • Visit Hardknott Roman Fort

    This remote and dramatically sited fort was founded under Hadrian's rule in the 2nd century. Well-marked remains include the headquarters building, commandant's house and bath house.

  • Visit Ravenglass Roman Bath House

    The remains of the bath house of Ravenglass Roman Fort, established around AD 130, are among the tallest Roman structures surviving in northern Britain: the walls stand almost 4 metres high.

Listen to our audio guides

Our audio guides to the three English Heritage Roman sites in the Lake District are designed to enjoy whether you are using them on site or listening elsewhere.

Listen to English Heritage properties historian Andrew Roberts in conversation with interpretation manager Jess Freeland as they explore the sites and try to reconstruct what life was like for the people who lived and worked here in the Roman period.

Follow the links below to pages where you can download the audio guides.

Find out more

Discover more historic landscapes

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    Discover the prehistoric and later sites that English Heritage looks after on Dartmoor, one of England’s greatest archaeological landscapes. 

  • Historic Sites of the Isles of Scilly

    The Isles of Scilly, off the south-west tip of Cornwall, are home to a remarkable range of historic sites, from prehistoric burial mounds to Civil War forts.

  • The Avebury World Heritage Site

    The area around Avebury contains an extraordinary cluster of prehistoric monuments. Find out more about this internationally important landscape.

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