Tonight, I am staying in the relatively isolated village of Bowness-on-Solway in Cumbria, NW England. This is acommunity of fewer than 100 houses on the southern side of the Solway Firth estuary. In this region the Solway Firth acts as the boundary betwen England and Scotland.

Local signpost evidencing the Roman heritage. (Distances are in miles.)

More information

My visit here has three key drivers, viz:

  1. Weather prediction for tomorrow is sunny and dry.
  2. Photography opportunities, mainly around the Solway Firth, with landscapes and bird life.
  3. Connect with the Roman era as here was Maia, the second largest fort on Hadrian’s Wall.

Solway Firth

This is the third largest estuary in the UK and is a Special Area of Conservation. Here can be found coastal dunes, salt marshes, raised mires and agricultural land. 

There are beautiful beaches and bays on both the Scottish and English sides of the firth These include Rockcliffe, Southerness, Sandyhills and Balcary Bay. The stunning coastline also includes Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve and RSPB Merseheard reserve. The two reserves attract thousands of barnacle and pink-footed geese which arrive in autumn and stay until spring.

View across the Solway Firth towards Scotland

On the Scottish side are scenic coastal towns and villages, including Kippford, Kirkcudbright, Gatehouse of Fleet, Wigtown and Whithorn. The English side has the Hadrian’s Wall path which includes Burgh-by-Sands and Bowness-on-Solway.

English side of Solway Firth
Bog cotton growing on the Solway Firth,. This is a sedge, not true cotton

Roman connection at Bowness-on-Solway

Fictional soldier Gaius Ulpins Sabinus
Life story of the fictional Roman soldier, Gaius Ulpins Sabinus

Here was the second largest fort on Hadrian’s Wall known as Maia. This was also the western terminus of the famous Wall which stretched 73 miles from coast to coast. However, about 26 miles further to the west was another fort at Maryport. Although the Romans left in AD 410 many of the sites experienced continuity of occupation. However, after a couple of hundred years or so abandonment occurred although the masonry was recycled into new buildings. In the case of Bowness the local church is mainly constructed from Roman stonework.

St Michael’s Church, built from recycled Roman stone
Field at Bowness comprising unexcavated Roman era archaeology

In Bowness the street patterns follow those of the former Roman fort.

Inn at Bowness. This is named after the English King, Edward 1 (reigned  from 1272 to 1307) who failed to subdue the Scots.

More Information

The publication Visitors’ Guide to Scotland contains a wide range of information for the visitor including that relating to Roman times. ISBN is 978-1-9161332-0-4. This book is also available via Kindle.

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