Ancient History

Roman History of Stanwix

It is believed that the City of Carlisle has its origins around the year AD 82, which makes it officially one of Britain’s oldest cities. The Cumbria Park Hotel is situated in the “village” of Stanwix, which although cannot claim to be quite as old as the 1st Century, there is no doubt that not many years later a Roman Fort was established in this area.

Many archaeological “digs” within our district have revealed foundations which extend to some 9 acres, roughly within a perimeter bounded by Mulcaster Crescent (the road at the side of the hotel), Kell’s Place, Well Lane to Brampton Road, and thence along to the tennis courts, with Church Street as the cross street of the Fort.

It is further indicated by the discovery of a lot of old horse bones, that the area was a depot of some thousand horse; the Gaulish Cavalry Regiment, called ALA PETRIANA. We are informed when Hadrian came to Britain in AD 120, he found it necessary to connect the line of Aricola’s forts between the Solway and the Tyne. Petriana was one such fort, and the Praetorium, the residence of the Roman Commandant may be a site the Church occupies. CONGAVATA was the Station of the COHORS SECUNDA LEGORUM, and is now called Stanwix, which is supposed to be a corruption of Staneweggers or Staynweges, signifying a place on the stones, or stony way. It is mentioned by historians, the Church dedicated to St. Michael’s is an ancient edifice which stands on the site and built on the ruins of CONGAVATA.

We are informed the Wall was begun in AD 122, and at the corner of Church terrace and Scotland Road, there is a wall plaque which states “Beneath this spot lie the remains of Hadrian’s Wall built circa AD 126.” It is reported the Romans abandoned this Wall and all their British interests in AD 338. From then onwards these shorted were invaded by the Saxons, Danes and the Norwegians, and with internal disorder at the time, continuous tradition was impossible.

Stanwix has an elevated position, commanding excellent views, and travellers (or invaders) from the North would easily see the town across the river and which historians tell us that LUGUVALLUM means forts on the water; this was abbreviated by the Saxons to LUELL, and added the word CAER (which means City) thus making it CAERLUELL and eventually CARLISLE.