At 330m (1050ft) above sea level, Whitley Castle "Epiacum" is the highest stone built Roman fort in Britain. It housed a garrison for about 500 men and was probably built to control lead and silver mining. Pottery found at a small scale excavation in the 1950s suggests that the fort was built about the same time as Hadrian's Wall, in the year 122, although it was rebuilt on at least two occasions, before being abandoned in the latter part of the 4th century.
Little archaelogical research has taken place at Epiacum, but many artefacts including altars, inscribed stones, coins, pottery and glass and jet objects have been found here over the centuries.
A recent archaelogical survey in 2009 revealed the fort in great detail, along with the remains of a civilian settlement 'vicus' north and west of the fort ramparts. Further research, conservation and interpretation work is planned over the next few years.
The historic walk from Alston takes you along the Pennine Way to Whitley Castle and you can either do a circular walk back to Alston (12km/7.5 miles) or incorporate the walk with a train ride on the South Tynedale Railway to or from Alston to Kirkhaugh (6km/3.75 miles).The walk grade is moderate with some hills, stiles and muddy paths and boots are advisable.
Whitley Castle Roman fort from the air © English Heritage