|Scarborough Roman Signal Station|
The remains of signal stations have been found at Huntcliff, Goldsborough,
Ravenscar, Scarborough, and Filey. A sixth was likely at Flamborough Head
because four of the other signal stations could be viewed from that location.
In AD 383 these stations were built like smallforts. Each had for its defense a
ditch, stone wall complete with corner towers. The watch tower approximately
20 meters in hieght with a fire pit and beacon fire ready to light stood in the
center of the walled enclosure.
Note 1-- The Northeasternportion of the signal station (above) has been lost
to cliff erosion over the many years;
Note 2-- The Roman Inscription carved into a rock at the Ravenscar site reads;
One translation of this above text records that Justinianus, the Commander, and
Vindicianus, the Magister, constructed the tower (burgus).
How these forts and their beacon fires operated is a mystery. They may have
been used to send a signal inland to the cavalry fort at Derventio (Malton)
which might then dispatch a rapid reaction force. Alternatively, the
beacons may only have signalled a warning to local settlements inland.
One theory is that signals passed along the coast to warn ships of the Roman
Fleet docked along the Holderness coast or in the Humber estuary.
Perhaps all these theories are correct and the signal stations could serve
several purposes at once. The garrisons for these signal stations was small,
but seem to have been purely military. The fortifications were certainly
significant enough, and must have easily deterred Saxon raiders from besieging
and disabling them.
Reference: P. Elliott, "The Last Legionary,.....," Spellmount, Gloucester, G.B., 2007