The Lost Roman Fort of Lancashire

Join us in the summer of 2021
and help us write a new chapter in the history of Roman Britain


Come and join us in August and September 2021

Subject to any prevailing Covid-19 restrictions, we plan to put on a small-scale archaeological investigation looking for the civilian settlement outside the fort gates. This will involve geophysics and trial-trenching. Hurry places are strictly limited. More details here...

About the Fort in the Wood project

"There are a number of recognised Roman forts scattered throughout the historic counties of Northern England, with the very notable exception of South West Lancashire, where none have been found… until Now! Discovered in 2013 and kept a closely guarded secret until 2018. Fort in the Wood’ is a crowdfunded excavation project managed and directed by Bluestone Archaeology CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise based in West Lancashire."

This newly discovered archaeological site is the most significant Roman discovery made in Lancashire for over 100 years. Its recognition as a Roman auxiliary fort brings the total of known Roman forts on the coastal south-west Lancashire Plain to only 1.

Until now there has been very little evidence of the Roman military occupation of this coastal district, on or near the coast there are only a handful of other known forts those being: Kirkham fort, Lancaster fort and further inland Ribchester fort. Fort in the Wood potentially fills a large gap in the knowledge of Roman military occupation of lowland NW England, and focuses attention onto the settlement and administration of the region, an area that as long been seen as poor in Roman period sites.

Photographs by Roy Forshaw

Discovery of the Roman Fort

The site was first discovered by Steve Baldwin in 2003 when large sandstone blocks were displaced during agricultural works in the field to the north-west of the survey area.

Since then fieldwalking, geophysics (resistivity) and limited trial trenching have demonstrated the presence of stratified archaeological deposits at the northern end of the present survey area and these are believed to relate to a Roman Fort occupied from the late 1st century into at least the 4th century AD. Aerial photographs show parts of what appears to be a roughly square ditched enclosure with rounded corners, characteristic of a Roman military site.

A narrow trench was cut to evaluate the site, to determine the character, preservation and dating of the site, in 2013. This was subsequently widened in one area at a concentration of masonry to expose a wider area of structural evidence. Within the boundaries of the fort there is excavated evidence for hearths, though their function is unclear, stone structures (including a possible granary), road surfaces and other structures.

Field School - Summer 2021

Time Team raised awareness of archaeology in the UK and around the world. Now that has gone, you may still have the passion to dig and learn. "The Fort in the Wood" research project can offer this opportunity. Whether you want just to dig and contribute to Britain's history or learn how to actually be an archaeologist is up to you.

If raised the target funding will help us to successfully excavate part of this important site; we need to cover supervisory staff costs, survey equipment hire, material costs, sample processing, artefact analysis, illustration and radiocarbon dating. Not to mention tea and sandwiches for our busy volunteers on site! Come and join the dig and help us break new ground and add a new chapter to the history of the Roman conquest of Brigantia.

You can help fund an archaeological dig to uncover a lost 1st/2nd century Roman Fort.
We are looking, with your help, to crowdfund a dig in the summer of 2021.

Card image cap

You can dig for 5 days - £280

Try your hand at archaeology! Join us on site for a unique and fun experience - we'll teach you everything you need to know to learn to participate in the excavation of this important site!

Card image cap

You can dig for a weekend - £180

Try your hand at archaeology! Join us on site for a unique and fun experience - we'll teach you everything you need to know to learn and contribute directly to the excavation of this site!


Support Our Project

In order to help fund and support our research and archaeological excavation we have established a ‘Friends of Fort in the Wood’ group that brings its members even closer to our work at this important site and supports our seasonal excavation and post-excavation activities.

To join us on our digs and educational projects, you must become a member of the friends group. Membership for an individual member costs £12 per year. A family membership offers good value at only £20 per year.

Membership gives you access to site insurance public liability and volunteer insurance, a discount of 10% off t-shirts and members will be the first to know important project updates.

Our Sponsors

If you've no archaeology experience but have always wanted to give it a try, we will teach you:

  • Health and safety.
  • Safe and appropriate tool use and maintenance.
  • How to identify and excavate archaeological features.
  • Basic recording techniques.
  • How to identify finds.

For people with previous excavation experience who either wish to further their skill base, or increase their professional work portfolio, this is also a great opportunity.

Depending on your level of experience, we will teach you all of the above and incept the use of The Skills Passport, if you wish to increase your skill base, and get accreditation.

  • What is Archaeology? Site formation processes.
  • Use of Stratigraphic excavation, theory and Practice.
  • Plan, section and elevation drawing.
  • Site photography techniques
  • Finds excavation and photography for conservation.
  • Finds packaging, immediate curation, conservation and recording.
  • Finds washing.
  • Finds quantification, cross referencing and identification.
  • Environmental Sampling: how, when, where and why? What can sampling tell you?

Archaeology Skills Passport

For those seeking a more formal training path the archaeological Skills Passport has been designed to provide you with a record of the practical training received during your time training at Fort in the Wood.

The passport contains a list of the practical skills and techniques that will benefit those of you wishing to pursue a career in field archaeology. These core skills include:

  • Site safety
  • Use of hand tools
  • Understanding site formation processes
  • Stratigraphic excavation
  • Site recording methods
  • How to lay out a site and trench grid
  • Site photography
  • How to use a dumpy level and staff
  • How to draw a site plan and section
  • Finds processing, recording and storage

The Skills Passport can be bought for £8.50 by clicking here.

Subscribe to our Mailing List

We'll be sending out updates via E-Mail. If you'd like to stay informed with everything we're doing, please click the link below and fill in the form.

Project team

Steve Baldwin

The 2021 research excavation will be directed by Steve Baldwin who is a professional heritage consultant and director of Bluestone Archaeology. Stephen has run his own independent practice since 2003. He has over 20 years’ experience in research and field archaeology. In 1997-2017 he directed a long-term archaeological research project at the regionally and nationally important Lathom House in Lancashire. In 2006 he supervised an international research excavation for Liverpool University at the Thracian emporion, Pistiros in Septemvri, Bulgaria. Steve is currently director of the Hapton Big Dig a heritage lottery funded community excavation near Burnley in Lancashire.

Dr Mark Adams

In 2021, Dr Mark Adams will be providing the project with specialist advice on historic metal-working.

Mark has worked as a professional archaeologist since graduating in geology and archaeology from the University of Liverpool in 1985. He has professional experience of fieldwork in the UK and beyond, gained in both the public sector and in consultancy. His early career was predominantly site based, including fieldwork in diverse environments across the UK and several seasons of excavation in Bulgaria. He completed his doctorate, a study of the corrosion of British Bronze Age Metalwork, in 1994 and has taught at University of Liverpool Continuing Education. Mark has published results of his work and presented findings to both academic audiences and the general public.

Dr Clea Paine, BA (Geology), Mphil (Archaeological Science), PhD

Dr Clea Paine is an associate of Bluestone Archaeology CIC and is providing geoarchaeological and geological advice to the Fort in the Wood Project.

Clea Paine is a geoarchaeologist and micromorphologist. She has assisted as a sedimentologist on projects in central Europe and Mongolia, and she has also worked as an excavator on commercial excavations in Britain. She received her BA (geology) from Smith College (USA), and she carried out her Mphil (Archaeological Science) and PhD research through the University of Cambridge. She is particularly interested in Quaternary environments and her current research investigates site formation processes, palaeoclimate and palaeoenvironment using stratigraphy, sedimentology, and soil micromorphology.


Office address:

Bluestone Archaeology CIC
1st Floor Offices, B1B,
Towngate Works,
Dark Lane,
L40 2QU

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