90 AD, around fifty years after Claudius’s invasion of Britannia, and although campaigns were extended as far as Caledonia the northern Brigantes tribes were restless and hostile. To control the natives it is thought a chain of forts were built between Malton and the coast. The Roman camp at Cawthorne was a key part of this chain.
The Romans chose the fort’s location well. On the edge of the limestone plateau that is the Tabular Hills, it had clear views over the moors to the north with a gentle slope to the south. There were actually two separate forts at Cawthorne. An older enclosure in a polygonal plan and a newer following the more typical Roman rectangular pattern with rounded corners both protected by a rampart and one or more ditches. A wooden palisade would have topped the earthbank.
It is thought the camp was occupied for about forty years by which time the northern tribes had been subdued and the Roman efforts were directed at building Hadrian’s Wall as defence against raids by the Picts.