Whitley Castle is a large and uniquely shaped Roman fort north-west of Alston, Cumbria, England that was known to the Romans as Epiacum. The fort was built early in the 2nd century and at least partly demolished and rebuilt around 200. Whereas Roman forts are normally "playing-card shaped" (rectangular with rounded corners), Whitley Castle is lozenge-shaped to fit the available site. In addition, it has the most complex defensive earthworks of any known fort in the Roman Empire, with multiple banks and ditches outside the usual stone ramparts. The fort appears to have been sited to control and protect lead mining in the area as well as to support the border defences of Hadrian's Wall. The fort was surveyed by the geologist Thomas Sopwith in the 19th century and the historian R.G. Collingwood in the 20th, with a geophysics survey in the 21st, but it has not been fully excavated. Among finds at the fort are altars with inscriptions to Hercules by the 6th Legion of the Roman army (normally stationed at York) and to Apollo by the fort's garrison of auxiliaries, the 2nd Cohort of Nervians. Other finds include a midden containing shoes; coins, fragments of Samian pottery, beads, nails, and a bronze handle shaped like a dolphin.
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