Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia

Birdoswald Roman Fort

Celtic: Banna | “Horn”
Latin: Camboglanna

Birdoswald is an archaeological site and former Roman fort located along Hadrian’s Wall in Cumbria, England, also known as Camboglanna, the Roman name.

This fort has been put forward as a possible site for the Battle of Camlann. Presumably it was in the north-western British kingdom of Rheged at the time of the battle, so the siting of Camlann here would owe much to the association between Arthur and Uriens. It has been suggested as the site of the battle of Camlann, though Arthur’s death, in both the chronicles and the romances, is almost always located in southern Britain.

Birdoswald | History

Construction of Hadrian’s Wall | 2nd century AD
Hadrian’s Wall was built by the Romans between 122 and 130 AD, during the reign of Emperor Hadrian. The wall was intended to serve as a defensive fortification marking the northern boundary of the Roman Empire in Britain. It extended across the width of the country from the east to the west coast.

Building Birdoswald Roman Fort
Birdoswald was one of the forts constructed on the western edge of Hadrian’s Wall to house and support Roman soldiers tasked with defending the wall. The fort was strategically located near the River Irthing, providing a crossing point for a major Roman road. The fort was likely established around AD 124. It was initially built as a small fort, but it was later expanded into a much larger fortification.

Roman Occupation
The fort housed a garrison of Roman soldiers, and its structures included barracks for troops, granaries for storing supplies, a commandant’s house, and the principia (headquarters building). Soldiers stationed at Birdoswald played a crucial role in maintaining the security of the wall and the northern frontier.

The exact purpose and function of Camboglanna are not entirely clear. Some theories suggest that it served as a supply base, a logistical center, or a command headquarters for the nearby section of Hadrian’s Wall.

Abandonment and Later Use
Like many Roman sites in Britain, Birdoswald was eventually abandoned as Roman control waned in the fifth century. The fort and the surrounding area saw various uses in subsequent centuries, including agricultural activities.

Rediscovery and Excavation
In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, interest in Roman archaeology led to the rediscovery of Birdoswald and the realization of its historical significance. Archaeological excavations were conducted at the site, uncovering the well-preserved remains of the fort and providing valuable insights into Roman military life. Archaeological excavations at the site have revealed evidence of buildings, defensive walls, storage areas, and other structural typical of a Roman fort. Artifacts such as coins, pottery, and military equipment have been discovered.

Preservation and Tourism
Today, Birdoswald Roman Fort is a popular tourist destination and a key component of the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site. The site is managed by English Heritage, and visitors can explore the fort’s remains, walk along sections of Hadrian’s Wall, and learn about the history of Roman Britain.

See also
King Arthur’s Twelve Battles | The Legend of King Arthur