Kendal is a vibrant town that boasts of a population of about 30,000 people and is located in South Lakeland. Additionally, it is 8 miles to the south-east of Windermere. It has been dubbed ‘Gateway to the Lakes’ because most times, it is the first destination that people encounter when they get into the Lake District. It is also home (and lends its name) to the famous Kendal Mint Cake. Oblivious to many, Kendal owes its establishment to the Romans. Working in and around the area for many years as a TV Aerial & Satellite Engineer for Digitec Aerials Kendal I have always been fascinated by the history of the place.

Romans in Kendal

Evidence of the Romans settlement in Kendal lies on Watercrook, which is found on a horseshoe bend on the River Kent and that is outside Kendal. It is a site that the Romans chose to build their first fort around AD95. It was initially a timber structure but was later rebuilt with stone circa 130 in the reign of Hadrian. The fort was then left for around 20 years when Antonine re-occupied Scotland.

Later it was rebuilt in the reign of Marcus Aurelius and was used by up to 270. It is not known what the Romans might have given for the name of the fort though the contenders for the title include Medibogodo and Concangium. This fort at Watercrook endured the Roman Empire but got brought down by later settlers. However, it was later rediscovered in the 16th century by scholars.

Excavations conducted at Watercrook have yielded various Roman items such as jewelry coins and even a bust of the god Bacchus. However, modern Kendal offers no proof to there being Roman forebears.

Roman Invasion into Britain

In 43 AD, the Romans conducted their initial conquest into Britain. However, the territory occupied by the Brigantes was free from Roman rule for a period of time (the initial inhabitants of Kendal were the Brigantes). The leader of the Brigantes at this time was queen Cartimandua and her husband was called Venutius. The Romans were provoked into conquering the area when Venutius revolted and the revolt threatened to turn the Brigantes anti-Roman, together with their allies, a dissent from their pro-Roman stand previously.

Nowadays, the Roman fort that was at Kendal is not only invisible, but it is also almost impossible to get to. The remains are buried in a loop of the River Kent. The fort has also been tremendously reduced in height as well as form by the many years of farming and ploughing. All that’s left is a faint square platform that can be seen in the field.