Snippets of the garden at Acorn Bank, Temple Sowerby

Cherub and dolphin

Cherub and dolphin

Here are a brief selection of images from the small formal gardens I have been out surveying on the National Trust property at Acorn Bank, near Penrith, Cumbria. Unfortunately the weather was seasonally gloomy and there was a distinct lack of exciting plants and foliage as the gardens are now closed for maintenance and sprucing up ready for the 2014 season. The photos are really just snippets of detail that caught my eye as I wandered around. I will have to revisit the property in Spring/Summer next year when the garden is back in bloom and the nearby restored corn mill is also open.

A wintery week surveying at Acorn Bank, Temple Sowerby

Expired parkland tree

Expired parkland tree

It truly felt like winter had arrived in earnest this last week. I have been out surveying the parkland and formal gardens at Acorn Bank, a National Trust property located on the outskirts of Temple Sowerby, near Penrith in Cumbria. The daylight has been limited with it being so close to the shortest day of the year, and the weather has mostly been cold, overcast and drizzly. Wednesday turned out to be a fine sunny day so I will post a selection of images from that day in the parkland below. You will notice that I was interested in the bare leafless winter trees and hedges in the parkland.

Gloomy light in the Pass of Llanberis

Pass of Llanberis - December 2007

Pass of Llanberis – December 2007

One of several half decent landscape shots taken that winter when we were out surveying in the mountains above Bethesda.

Exploring the Wery Wall and Roman bath house in Lancaster

General view looking east of the Wery Wall bastion and bath house

General view looking east of the Wery Wall bastion and bath house

The report produced for our assessment of the Wery Wall and Roman Bath House on Castle Hill, Lancaster is now available online. This understated and easily overlooked site is well worth a quick look around if you ever visit Lancaster. Back in the winter of 2010/11 we undertook a survey of the Wery Wall, a fragment of the late Roman coastal fort wall, and the adjacent Roman bath house remains located on Castle Hill. I seem to remember the weather being bitterly cold and snow lay on the ground for some of the time.  Festive cheer was also severely lacking at the time!

The surviving fabric on the west side of the Wery Wall bastion

The surviving fabric on the west side of the Wery Wall bastion

The Wery Wall is a surviving fragment of the late Roman coastal fort wall located on the eastern scarp of Castle Hill at the north-east corner of the Vicarage Fields, and is immediately adjacent to an earlier Roman bath house relating to an earlier fort, which it now partly overlies. The surviving remains of the Wery Wall are thought to represent the core of a polygonal external bastion on the north wall of the defences. Only the inner rubble core of the wall survives, its facing having been robbed for re-use in other buildings at some time before the early eighteenth century.

The 1970s excavations in the bath house caldarium (Lancaster Museum)

The 1970s excavations in the bath house caldarium (Lancaster Museum)

The wall and bath house were excavated in the 1950s and 1970s and the currently exposed archaeological features include at least three episodes of construction. Firstly there are walls associated with a courtyard building, secondly a bath house inserted into the courtyard building and, thirdly the surviving remnants of the Wery Wall bastion.

Detailed survey of the Wery Wall and Roman Bath House, Castle Hill, Lancaster

Detailed survey of the Wery Wall and Roman Bath House, Castle Hill, Lancaster

View looking west of the bath house caldarium and Wery Wall external ditch

View looking west of the bath house caldarium and Wery Wall external ditch

Surviving elements on site consist of extant walls on the north and west side of the caldarium, as well as one inserted through the tepidarium, are all associated with bath house inserted into the earliest courtyard building. These structures consist of the complete extents of the Caldarium and Tepidarium rooms and the partial survival of an annex room, the Praefurnium, on the south-west side.

View looking east of the bath house caldarium, Wery Wall bastion and external ditch

View looking east of the bath house caldarium, Wery Wall bastion and external ditch

The stump of bastion masonry called the Wery Wall, is the only visible evidence of the late Roman coastal fort, along with its external ditch which would have once surrounded the fort.  It was interpreted as being the inner core of a multi-angular bastion, being either a corner or interval tower set along the length of a thinner curtain wall. The external ditch was excavated and preserved where it had cut through either side of the caldarium room in the bath house.

The Wery Wall and bath house were subject to a robust scheme of consolidation works (and in some cases rebuilding) in the 1970s in order to improve their stability and to allow them to be left permanently exposed. The site has degenerated to a degree and is now in need of a phase of remedial repair works to stabilise the monuments and enable them to be subject to only minimal maintenance in the future.

Location of the Wery Wall and bath house in relation to previous excavations on Vicarage Field, Castle Hill, Lancaster

Location of the Wery Wall and bath house in relation to previous excavations on Vicarage Field, Castle Hill, Lancaster