Aballava (with the modern name of
Burgh by Sands) was a Roman fort on Hadrian's Wall, between Petriana(Stanwix) to the east and Coggabata(Drumburgh) to the west. It is about one and a half miles south of the Solway Firth, and its purpose was to guard the south end of two important Solway fords, the Peat Wath and the Sandwath, favourite routes for medieval border raiders.
The fort is five and a half miles west of Stanwix. The word 'Abllava' means 'Orchard'. The fort was an oblong, straddling the Wall, and measured convert|500|ft|m north to south by convert|400|ft|m east to west, occupying an area of five acres. Only the location of the eastern wall is known for certain. It is believed that it was built over the site of turret 71b. There is a fortified border church on the site built almost entirely of Roman stones, and it is believed that this stands on the site of the
principiaof the fort.
There was a
vicusto the south-west of the fort, and it is believed that a cemetery existed to the south of the fort.
The second-century garrison was the First Ala of
Tungroram, followed by a mixed cavalry regiment called the First Cohort of Nerva’s Own Germans, one thousand strong. The third-century garrison was a mounted detachment (cuneus) of Frisians, followed by an infantry detachment ( numerus) of Aurelian Moors.
Excavations were carried out in 1922, during which it was established that the fort straddled the Wall.
Two other forts were found on the same site, by aerial photography, in 1976 and 1977. The second fort, discovered in 1976, and excavated 13 years earlier, is thought to pre-date Hadrian's Wall. It has been claimed that this fort was an extension to the
Stanegatesystem of forts, but this is largely conjecture.
* J. Collingwood Bruce, Roman Wall (1863), Harold Hill & Son, ISBN 0 90046 332 5
* Frank Graham, The Roman Wall, Comprehensive History and Guide (1979), Frank Graham, ISBN 0 85983 140 X
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