Bainbridge Roman Fort from the air MYD4272 (c) YDNPA, 2023
Near the centre of the Dales lies the Roman fort at Bainbridge. It has been excavated extensively but is as yet poorly published. It lies on a hog-backed glacial mound, truncated on the west by the River Bain. The fort probably began as an Agricolan guardpost. The defences of this phase have not been identified, but the oldest buildings so far discovered are obliquely aligned to the remains of the later fort, first built around AD 90-105. The fort remained occupied, except for perhaps a period between about AD 120 and 160, until the end of the Roman period in the early fifth century.
The fort measures approximately 91 by 111 metres between the tops of the ramparts and covers an area of about 1 hectare (2.5 acres). The rampart was built of clay, later strengthened by a sandstone face and revetment. The external ditches were typically v-shaped in section and were up to 5.2 metres wide originally. The number of ditches varies around the fort according to the lie of the land. There are two ditches on the north, one on the south and as many as five on the west.
Various internal buildings have been identified through excavation and aerial photography. These include the headquarters building, granaries and barrack blocks. The course of the main road through the fort, the ‘via principalis’ is still visible.
East of the fort is a small annexe defended by a stone wall. It has been identified as the ‘bracchium caementicium’ (stone built outwork) built when Alfenus Senecio was Governor of the Province of Britain (AD205-8). This was recorded on a dedication slab discovered at Bainbridge some time before AD 1600 but since lost. It seems likely that the annexe was for additional troops.
Hartley, B R & Fitts, R Leon (1988) The Brigantes. Gloucester: Alan Sutton
White, Robert (2002) The Yorkshire Dales. A Landscape Through Time. Ilkley: Great Northern Books