Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The Lunt Roman Fort

The Lunt Roman Fort is a reconstructed first century wooden Roman fort located just outside Coventry, in the village of Baginton, Warwickshire. The fort has more or less remained the same since I first visited the site when I was a child back into the sunny 70's. The fort is probably best know for its distinctive bulging outline, unlike any other known Roman fort.


The fort is unusual as it makes the best use of the landscape utilising a high plateau with a steep bank sloping down to the river Sowe rather than the traditional Roman method of building in straight lines creating the usual playing card shape regardless of the location.

The site was discovered in the 1930's, excavated in the 1960's and reconstructed in the early 1970's.
Approach to fort.
Eastern Gateway entrance.
View of collapsed wall section.
View of gate from inside fort. 
The Royal Engineers reconstructed the Porta Principalis Sinistra (eastern gate) in September 1970. The design was based on examples from Trajan's Column in Rome and was consistent with the archaeological evidence for a double gate with no guard chambers. It was discovered from reconstruction that it would take ten men using a single pole with pulleys and guidelines to easily haul the individual sections into place. The gateway took three days to reconstruct. I imagine that experienced Roman military engineers could complete the same task somewhat quicker.

Model of fort within the granary/museum
Full size Cavalry reconstruction
Note the horse harness double phallic hangers visible just below the lower tip of the shield. This a copy from an original found on the site.
Gyrus
The reconstruction of the Gyrus was completed in 1977. Eighteen men from 31 Base Squadron working six hours a day took ten days to complete it. The large circular feature is unique in the Roman Empire. It is 107ft (34.06m) in diameter and has a double-gated, funnelled entrance. The archaeological evidence suggests this was a cavalry training ring.

The Lunt may have been a centre for breaking and training horses seized from the Iceni – or Celtic horse people. Since horses were in constant demand by the army, they would be welcome spoils of war. A large wooden post in the centre of the Gyrus could be used for weapons practice, learning to cut and stab with the gladius (the short Roman sword) or throw and thrust with the pilum (spear).

I believe the fort earthworks have been left to fall into disrepair on purpose as local historians wanted to study the rate at which the walls collapsed.

Virtual Tour