A ROMAN milestone that faced an uncertain future after standing on a remote hillside for almost 2000 years has found a safe haven in a country churchyard.
The six-foot-tall sandstone column has been re-erected at the Holy Ghost, Middleton, in Cumbria, not far from where it once stood beside the Roman road linking Carlisle’s legionary base with the fort at Ribchester, in Lancashire.
Its rescue in a campaign whose supporters included the writer Alan Bennett, who has a home in the area, came after the Grade II* ancient monument was knocked over, prompting Historic England to put it on its At Risk register.
It was first discovered in 1836 when a farmer, Giles Moore, hit it with his plough. It is inscribed “M.P. LIII —Milia Passuum 53” (53 miles, probably to Carlisle). The farmer re-sited it at the top of a nearby hill, and added a second inscription: “SOLO ERVTVM RESTITVIT GVL MOORE AN MDCCCXXXVI” — “Dug from the earth, restored by Giles Moore, 1836”. It is thought to date from about AD 79, and is one of about Roman 50 milestones still in place around Britain.
The Team Rector of Kirkby Lonsdale, the Revd Richard Snow, said: “It had been knocked down by some cows. It’s part of the heritage of the community; so it felt appropriate to suggest it might be better to move it into the churchyard. It’s close to where it was originally, and it’s a little more protected. It’s brilliant to see it there.”