Habitancum Roman Fort and medieval settlement (Corsenside)
Risingham (Habitancum) Roman fort from the air. Copyright Reserved: Museum of Antiquities, Newcastle upon Tyne.
Coins etc found (NAT)
(NY 89098618) Wall (R) (Remains of) (NAT)
(NY 89108618) Baths (R) (Site of) Excavated AD 1840 (NAT). (1)
Habitancum, a Roman fort having four occupation phases (2).
Antonine (AD 138-192) Indicated by a layer of ashes and 2nd century sherds found under the west rampart of the existing fort.Probably destroyed about AD 197.
Severan (AD 193-211) Built on the same site as the Antonine fort in AD 205-8, but the defences, which formed a rectangle 402ft by 482ft with rounded corners, did not follow the same lines. The only known gateway of this period is in the S side (a) and the only building is the bath-house in the SE corner (b). Probably destroyed in the late 3rd century AD. Reconstructed by Constantius (AD 305-6); completed about AD 306.
A west gate was cut in the Severan wall and this led to the centre of the newly built principia (2). Destroyed by fire probably in AD 343 (a). Rebuilt and re-occupied for long enough to induce heavy wear on the floors and the thresholds.
Dating depends on camparative materials and no precise conclusion can be reached from the meagre finds, but it was probably finally destroyed in the raids of AD 367-9.(2).
Excavations were made on the bath-house by Shanks in 1839-42 (b). The principia was excavated in 1840 (c) and again in 1849 by Robson (2).
Eighteen altars and 7 dedication slabs were found in and around the fort. One of the altars (No 1225) contained a reference to the name of the fort as did one of the dedication slabs (No 1235) (3).
The large number of civilian inscribed stones found at Habitancum empasises the fact that outside the fort lay an extra-mural community (vicus) probably more numerous than the troops. (2-3)
At the junction of the causeway, leading from the west gate [of Habitancum], and Dere Street, there has been a building of some kind. (4)
[Photographs of Plans of Habitancum. See p5]. (5)
Scheduled Ancient Monument. (6)
The situation, as described in (?) is approximately 430ft above OD. With the exception of a fragment in the north east corner the walls of the fort have been completely robbed of facing stones, leaving the backing of earth and rubble. The interior of the fort is raised above outside
ground level giving the earth and rubble bank a height of from 0.5m to 1.2m internally and from 2.5m to 3.5m externally; the interval turrets are only visible as a slight thickening. The four ditches are visible on the west and south sides but have been mutilated by ridge and furrow ploughing.
The west and south gates are represented by gaps in the rampart, with associated causeways across the ditches. The enlarged terminals of the bank are the only visible traces of the flanking towers of these two entrances. There is no certain trace of a north gate but a narrow gap in the rampart and an adjoining rectangular steading may be indications of an entrance on this side.
The interior of the fort is very disturbed with depressions caused by surface quarrying, spoil heaps and fragments of stony banks. There are no surface traces of the baths in the south east corner of the fort. The only recognisable internal features remaining are those of the principia. These consist of a mutilated bank representing the north end of the cross hall, a depression on the site of the sacellum and a stone with a pivot hole. Lying near the central interval turret on the east side of the fort is a roughly dressed stone on one face of which are two small square recesses, possibly some form of pivot or dowel holes.
Lying immediately outside the west gate of the fort are several large stones, some with Roman broaching and one with a concave moulding.
The sites of angle and interval turrets are visible as a thickening of the earth and rubble rampart. No foundations are visible.
There is no trace of a building at the junction of the causeway from the west gate and Dere Street (13 refers), but 75m to the SSE and adjoining the probable course of the road is what is probably the steading of a small building. No evidence for dating but the proximity of the road suggests a possible Roman origin.
The fort, which is in generally good condition, is under pasture. It is situated on the farm called Broadgate.
There are no visible traces of the 2nd century fort mentioned in (2).
See cards 9 and 10 for ground photographs. (7)
Generally as described by F1, except that the remains of the principia are now unintelligible, while the sites of numerous other buildings can be discerned. The two pivot stones have apparently been removed from the site. Resurveyed at 1:2500.
The probable steading, noted by F1, adjoining the course of Dere Street consists of a fragmentary earthen bank, with no indications of stonework and must be considered very doubtful. (8)
Name 'HABITANCVM' accepted for 4th edition Roman Britain Map. (8)
Grade I. Risingham, or Habitancum (Roman Station). Well known Roman fort. Very little remains above ground but there are considerable foundations etc. NCH vol 15. Scheduled as an Ancient Monument. (9)
The interior of the fort has not been ploughed. An air photograph by St Joseph shows a dense cluster of features inside the fort, as shadow marks. Some are the result of old unfilled excavations, but the rest may reflect a less regular building plan of the fourth century or even a later settlement within the walls. (10)
Habitancum, identified with the Roman Fort at Risingham. The archaeological evidence at present available suggests that the fort was not built until Antonine times, in the governorship of Q Ldlius Urbicus (AD 139-42) so that a landowner with a Roman name is quite possible. (11)
NY 890862. Corsenside. Habitancum, Roman fort, West Woodburn. Listed under Roman remains. Scheduled No 21. (12)
Inscription set up over south gate recording restoration of the fort in AD205-7. The Severan fort was built of large blocks of fine grained sandstone with chamfered plinth. Gate had projecting seven-sided gatetowers each side of a single portal. A bath-house is the only known internal building, excavated 1841-2. (13)
Twenty sculptured stones described from Habitancum. (14)
Scheduling revised. (15)
General association with Dere Street (HER 12392) (16)
EXCAVATION, RISINGHAM (HABITANCUM) 1843; Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne
EXCAVATION, RISINGHAM (HABITANCUM) 1849; ROBSON, R
EXCAVATION, Low Cleughs bastle and High Rochester 1935; North of England Excavation Committee
FIELD OBSERVATION, Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Field Investigation 1956; E Geary
FIELD OBSERVATION, Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Field Investigation 1970; D Smith
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