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BIRDOSWALD ROMAN FORT

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  BANNA
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Birdoswald Roman Fort, known to the Romans as 'Banna', was built from 117AD. It measures 204m by 162m and is located on a ridge with a steep scarp to the south. It has four main gates and two posterns. Its prime function was to guard the Irthing Bridge. Excavation dates from the early 19th century. The barracks have been found in the north, and a hoard of 30 denarii current under Hadrian recovered. A bronze wrist-purse containing 28 coins was found in 1949 north of the east gate. A building of three rooms near the east postern, one with a hypocaust, (probably the baths of the commandant's house) yielded a seated statue of Fortune. In the centre of the fort, the headquarters building stood on or near the former site of Turret 49a, and to the west of this lay one or more granaries. Excavations have uncovered the following sequence of events on the site: prior to the construction of the fort the Turf Wall and Turret 49a occupied the area; these were demolished and a fort, probably of turf and timber, was erected and the Vallum diverted around it; later the Vallum was probably levelled to make room for the larger stone fort. The garrison was the milliary, peditate cohors I Aelia Dacorum and occupied the site from the late 2nd to the 4th century AD; during the first half of the 3rd century AD there is evidence for rebuilding before the site was abandoned for a period from the end of the third century and reoccupied in the early 4th; during the late 4th/early 5th century, the south granary was converted for residential use. During the 5th century AD a sequence of timber buildings were built on the site of the north granary. The site was possibly abandoned altogether by about AD 520. In the 13th century, a tower house was built by the porta princpalis sinistra (the main left gate). In the 16th century, a bastle house replaced the tower house, which in its turn was replaced by a farmhouse in the 17th century.

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