Alauna (Maryport)

Alauna (Maryport)

Alauna (denoted for academic convenience as "Alauna Carvetiorum", Alauna of the Carvetii, to distinguish it from other places with the same name), was a fort in the Roman province of Britannia. Today it is known as Maryport in the English county of Cumbria (formerly part of Cumberland).


The fort was first established in around AD 122 as a command and supply base for the coastal defences of Hadrian's Wall at its western extremity. There are substantial remains of the Roman fort, which was the last in a series of forts from Hadrian's Wall, intended to prevent the wall being outflanked by crossing the Solway Firth. Recent geo-magnetic surveys have revealed a large Roman town surrounding the fort. A recent archaeological dig discovered evidence of a second, earlier and larger fort next to, and partially under the present remains.

Geophysical survey

TimeScape Surveys (Biggins & Taylor), supported by a grant from the Maryport Heritage Trust, conducted a magnetometry geophysical survey of the Roman fort, "vicus" and their environs at Maryport. In addition, some targeted areas of resistivity survey were completed. The survey was conducted between May 2000 and September 2003 in several phases on land at Camp Farm, Maryport. At 72.5 hectares (170 acres), this represents the largest geophysical survey carried out on the northern Roman Frontier.

The survey has revealed multi-period activity, together with the possible location of a Roman port or causeway. The fort, as expected, had been robbed of stone to build the later town of Maryport. The "vicus" (civilian settlement) on the other hand was remarkably well-preserved, with a substantial road leading to a suspected Roman entrepôt. The field system surrounding the vicus was extensive and showed small 'market garden' plots, some containing buildings. In addition the survey detected a suspected Iron Age enclosure and elements of medieval buildings.


The Roman Museum at Maryport houses numerous Roman artefacts; most notably a series of altars to Jupiter Optimus Maximus which were excavated in the 18th century from the parade ground of the Roman fort.

Shortly before 1587 an altar, dated to the second or third century AD, was found in the north-west corner of the fort, where it had probably been re-used in a late-Roman building. The inscription showed that it had been dedicated to Gaius Cornelius Peregrinus, a "decurion" (town councillor) from "Saldae" (present-day Bejaia in Algeria), who was "tribunus" (military commander) of the auxiliary garrison at the fort ( [ source] ). The altar is now in the British Museum.


*Biggins, J. A. and Taylor, D. J. A., 2004b, The Roman Fort and Vicus at Maryport: Geophysical Survey, 2000 - 2004, in R. J. A. Wilson and I, Caruana (eds.), "Romans on the Solway", CWAAS for the Trustees of the Senhouse Museum, Maryport, 102-133.

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