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WHITLEY CASTLE ROMAN FORT

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  EPIACVM, EPIACUM
DESCRIPTION + /

Whitley Castle Roman Fort is a lozenge-shaped fort of about four acres, with a well-defined multiple ditch system. It was known as EPIACUM. Evidence indicates that the earliest activity on the site may have been an Iron Age fortification and that there may have been an earlier Roman camp on the spur.

The Roman fort had three occupation phases. Built in the early 2nd century, it appears to have been partly or wholly demolished and rebuilt soon after, before it was largely altered or rebuilt once more in around AD 300. The purpose of the fort appears not only to have been a base for troops but due to its position it enabled the Romans to exert control over the local area and in particular, over local lead production.

The main elements of the fort visible in the earthworks include the principal roads which divided the interior, a central headquarters building, a commandant's house, barrack blocks and granaries. A bath-house, excavated in 1810 is situated in the line of the outer ditches and faint indications of small rectangular plots may belong to the vicus of the fort. A temple dedicated to the Emperor Caracalla is also known to have existed on the site, dating to the early third century. Pottery finds indicate that the site was occupied in the 3rd and 4th century. Later features on the site of Whitley Castle consist of agricultural features including ridge and furrow and post-medieval buildings.

While it follows the usual fort layout, Whitley Castle is considered to be an exceptional example of its kind. Not only was its design altered to suit the site's geographic location but it is thought to have had the most elaborate defences of any fort in the Roman Empire.

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Further information about monuments may be obtained by contacting Archive Services, through the Historic England website.