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Ravenglass is a small coastal village and natural harbour in Cumberland, roughly halfway between Barrow-in-Furness and Whitehaven. It is the only coastal town in the Lake District National Park. It is located at the estuary of three rivers: the Esk, Mite and Irt.
The hamlet of Saltcoats lies north of the River Mite.
The town dates back to at least the 2nd century, when it was an important naval base for the Romans. The Latin name of the settlement is the subject of scholarly debate: believed by some experts to have been Tunnocellum, it is often named Glannoventa. It occupied the most southerly point of the Cumberland coastal defence system, which can be seen as an extension of Hadrian's Wall and the western extremity of the Roman frontier World Heritage Site.
Ravenglass was occupied by the Romans for over 300 years and had a garrison (castra) of 500 soldiers. The town was a regional supply point for much of north-western Roman Britain, with a road from Ravenglass over the Hardknott Pass to the Roman fort at Hardknott and Ambleside. The location is featured in The Fort at River's Bend, a book in Jack Whyte's A Dream of Eagles (Camulod Chronicles) series, and is also mentioned briefly in Mary Stewart's ‘’Merlin’’ trilogy under the name Clannoventa. Today, there are few Roman remains, with the notable exception of a bath-house, known locally as Walls Castle. This is one of the largest remaining Roman structures in England, originally covering an estimated area of 30 yards by 13 yards and with walls up to 12 feet high, though only one end is now visible. Excavations of the rest of the foundations have since been covered and are not visible. The property is now maintained by English Heritage. Approximately a miles walk from the bath-house is Muncaster Castle which it is believed is built partly with the remains of a Roman Fort which once was located near Ravenglass.
Ravenglass is the reputed birthplace of Saint Patrick.
'Renglas' appears in charters and other records of the late 12th century. In 1208 King John granted Richard de Lucy, Earl of Egremont a charter for a market at Ravenglass on Saturdays and a yearly fair on the festival of St James, 5 August.
Ravenglass is served by Ravenglass railway station on the Cumbrian Coast railway line, with trains to Carlisle and Lancaster. This station is also a terminus of the narrow-gauge Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, which runs inland up Eskdale. This serves both as a tourist attraction and as local transport during its operating season.
Ravenglass is connected by a minor road to the nearby A595 trunk road. It also has minor tracks running northwards and southwards via tidal fords, which are unsuitable for normal motor vehicles.
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