Galava Roman Fort – Ambleside

Galava Roman Fort

Location : Ambleside / Windermere (lake)
Grid Ref : SD 373035

Galava and Waterside, from Loughrigg. Photo by Tony Richards.

Owing to the current situation we recommend that you check the website of this business before travelling for up to date information on what restrictions are in operation at this venue. Most venues need to be pre-booked and some will have reduced hours and/or timed-ticketing.

The Roman Fort of GALAVA, built as one of a series of fortified structures to protect the vital trade routes through Cumbria, was built around AD79, and made use of a strategic position, protected on two sides by water.


During the Roman army’s conquest of Northern Britain towards the end of the first Century, a small timber fort was built here to house a garrison of 200 men. It was soon abandoned, but the site was redeveloped early in the 2nd Century AD. The fort was demolished and a second one built in stone on an artificial platform which is still just visible. It housed a cohort of 500 infantrymen.


Archaeological excavations by R.G. Collingwood between 1914 and 1920 revealed the remains of the fort’s defences, and parts of the internal building arrangement, including the main gate, the south gate, the commanding officer’s house, the headquarters building and the granaries, all of which may be seen today.


The granaries, looking towards Loughrigg.

Although the remains lack the majestic location of Hard Knott Fort and impressive structure of Ravenglass Roman Bath House, Galava has a pleasant situation, adjacent to the open area of Borrans Park, at Waterhead, the northern end of Windermere.


Artefacts from the fort are held at the Kendal Museum of Natural History and Archaeology, where there is a tombstone which tells of a record clerk killed by enemy action.


The fort is on land owned by the National Trust, and maintained by English Heritage.