Roman Manchester

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Mancunium—Sketch Plan
to face Title
Section of Foundation of Roman Wall
Northern Wall of Castrum
Re-constructed Cross Section of Castrum, showing nature of Fosses and Ramparts
Gaythorn Street Area — Section of probable Botontinus
Monumental Stone, Effigy, and Figure (two plates)
Diagram of Roads and Botontinus, Vertical Section of probable Botontinus, Section of Road facing Deansgate (three plates)
Altar found at Castlefield in 1612
Roman Manchester
Plated Buttons found at Castlefield
Samian Ware found at Castlefield (seven plates)
Roman Black Ware found at Castlefield
Labels on Mortaria and Amphoræ
Map of Hunt's Bank
Ground Plan of Collegiate Church (taken in 1828) showing position of Roman Substructures
Section of Excavation at Chetham College
General Brito-Roman Map of Manchester
"Draught of an ancient Roman Sweating-Stove"



THE extensive excavations in lower Deansgate during the last four years have naturally been of particular interest to local antiquaries, and therefore invited research. I undertook, at the request of the Society, to watch operations all over the area for the purpose of extending our knowledge of Roman remains, and unstintedly gave all my spare time, so as not to miss the slightest chance of any discovery that might add to our previous information. It proved a very arduous task, but the ground having been familiar to me in all its geological and topographical bearings for many years, no feature of its physiography had difficulties left to unriddle for a thorough comprehension of the localities where results would most likely spring up, and no time was wasted in fruitless search. I had, of course, to condense considerably my materials, which otherwise would have extended my paper to unwelcome size; and have consequently refrained from giving more than a general summary of the leading results. "Roman Manchester" has fared very badly compared with Roman Chester, or even little places like Wilderspool, Ribchester, and Melandra. The earlier antiquaries were satisfied to look at the "square tower," or to view one or two centurial stones left in the wall. Dr. Dee, who might have done much, devoted himself to other studies rather than give us a description of the ruins at Castlefield or leave a plan of how it appeared in his time. Whitaker, with all his eagerness and enthusiasm, practically wrote for men of the town in his own time, who knew all its features well; if he had confined himself to locating and drawing all the sites of discoveries and speculating less, he would have done a great service; as it is, his two large volumes have carefully to be studied through, and the few golden grains have to be extracted from the heap of dross that covers them. But we owe to him the registration of some valuable discoveries which but for him would leave us incapable of understanding some important points which have since extended our knowledge. Thompson Watkin has collected all the literary evidence up to his time, and incorporated his labours in his great work, Roman Lancashire, but not being a resident and thus missing most of the important excavations effected during his time, it has scarcely, if at all, increased our information; besides an author, who had to treat the whole County Palatine, could not be expected to concentrate his attention on Manchester, which held out so little encouragement to him for work or practical research.

Unfortunately, interest in Roman matters lay in a deep slumber, so far as local efforts were in question, and all the great opportunities from 1849 to even recent times were allowed to pass without profiting by the exceptional and transitory chances that lay open to practical investigation. Although records of discoveries and finds are wanting, I know from navvies who have worked on the spot for many years past that the soil was exceptionally rich in Roman "spoils," which my own experience during the last thirteen years confirms. I have lost no opportunity, so far as has been in my power, to rescue and record whatever could be found, and with a view to preserve from loss or indifference any evidence left of Roman Manchester I have spared no time or labour to rescue them for the town. I may say that I have collected numberless objects and fragments, too large and varied for classification; part I have already given to the Grammar School, the Geographical Society, Peel Park, and Oldham, but the main bulk of my collection is awaiting still a proper home,[1] for which, above all, the Town Hall should be the most suitable centre.

Finally, I have to acknowledge the great help received from many quarters during these arduous labours; without the intelligent help of contractors, foremen, and navvies I should have made little progress or result; their assistance and interest, at all times, has been unsparing and valuable. I have also to thank Professor F. Haverfield for much help and information; to Mr. Thomas Rogers, Mr. Charles Bailey, and others for the naming of botanical and other specimens; and particularly to our esteemed member Mr. J. J. Phelps, who later on joined me in work, and who not only has prepared all the splendid drawings and sketches, but has given a great amount of labour and devotion to make this paper more attractive and worthy of acceptance. To present a complete clear account of Roman Manchester I have put all the previous strands together and incorporated Whitaker's and Watkin's data. Whitaker's account had carefully to be restudied, and all his sites to be identified, to make them intelligible and available for a reconstruction of a plan. I shall now immediately proceed to the description of the station.


The northern and southern walls[2] measured respectively 175 yards, and the western and eastern walls 140 yards, covering thus an area of 5 acres and 10 perches or 24,500 square yards.

The eastern wall, in 1765, stood still 6 feet to 7 feet in height, and was lowered to 3 yards to 4 feet 80 yards away from its northern termination, where the Porta prætoria was placed. The latter was still visible in 1810. It was here that, according to Dr. Holme[3] the centurial walling-stone (Coh. I. Fris. Quintiani Pedes XXIIIII.), measuring 15 inches by 11 inches, of millstone grit, was found. It is of interest to note that the centurial stone of the Frisian Cohort at Melandra[4] was discovered very near the east angle. Probably it was, therefore, inserted in Manchester at or over the gateway. Dr. Holme mentioned that along with it, at the same point, coins of Trajan (98-117) and Hadrian (117-138) were found. Unfortunately, he does not state the exact
Roman Manchester by Charles Roeder p15.jpg
situation in which they occurred. He suggests they might have reference to a time when the wall may have undergone a repair. We shall see later on, when speaking of the hypocaust, that such a hypothesis is not improbable. The wall at the south-east angle in Whitaker's time still stood 10 feet high.

The southern wall. The gateway was exhibited 65 yards away from its south-west angle and afforded a ready passage from the station to the Medlock. The walls were still 7 feet high.

The western wall was still rising 7 feet from the ground and 40 yards from its north-west angle the Porta Decumana was placed.

The northern wall had its gate 48 yards from the east side, it still stood 4 feet to 6 feet high. Whitaker took occasion to examine its internal structure. It consisted of rough undressed stones (new red sandstone), angular pieces of rock, smooth round boulders, all bedded in strong white-brown mortar. He found the walls raised from the breadth of 7 feet to 8 feet at the base. Sir Henry Dryden, who also measured a remnant of the wall in 1843-4 on the east side, states its thickness to be 7 feet, the old base was almost entirely gone, the old joints at the base were about ½ inch wide, the joint inside 2 inches or 3 inches wide, the stones 12 inches and 15 inches long, and 5 inches to 8 inches thick. The probable height of the wall was 12 feet.

We see then from the position of the gates that they were not uniformly placed. The northern gate stood at a distance of 48 yards from the east angle, the southern 65 yards from the west angle, the eastern 80 yards from the north angle, and the western gate 40 yards from the north angle, contrary to the usual rule, and the principal streets, as Whitaker remarks, must therefore have crossed the area obliquely from east to west, and likewise obliquely from north to south. The cause of this deviation is probably to be sought in the physical exigencies of the ground with which the builders had to deal.

Foundations.—I shall first speak of the substructure of the walls. Whitaker fortunately examined three sides. He found the foundation of the western side laid on two beds of blue, well-worked clay, the lower being nearly a foot in depth, and remarkably stiff and solid (pages 32 and 33, edition 1770). The southern side was laid in two courses, not a foot in depth, not of actual clay but of claymortar, clay and sand incorporated together, and both lying upon a deep bed of river sand. The eastern side rose from two courses of boulder stones cemented with clay. The northern side has been trenched at various points during the extensive railway operations from May, 1897, to September, 1898; at the east and west side of Collier Street. These I have carefully watched. The trenches were carried down into the underlying new red sandstone rock, and were made 40 feet long and 28 feet apart from each other. At trench No. 3[5] they penetrated a little into the castral area, cutting the Roman wall obliquely.

I give a cross section.[6] Starting from the surface we have on its eastern side:—

36 inches modern rubbish;
5.6 rough, irregular blocks of sandstone;
a course of brownish-black Roman mortar, mixed with mould;
oblong, dressed blocks of red sandstone;
a course of mortar;
6yellow-brown, stiff boulder clay;
Roman Manchester (1900) by Charles Roeder, Illustration 1.jpg
12 inches rough, undressed sandstone;
19 " consisting of six consecutive layers of well-selected, oval-shaped, small boulder stones, carefully laid in rows, each 2 inches to 3 inches high, all of 5 inches long, and imbedded between regular bands of stiff brown clay, below the natural deposit of
70 " valley gravel, which again rest immediately on the scooped surface of the red rock.[7]

On the western side of the same trench (about 10 feet wide), the layer of 6 inches clay is absent.

In trench No. 2, starting from the bottom, we find:—

10-12 inches boulder stones, of medium to large size, bedded on clay;
10 " stiff brown clay;
7 " large, dressed red sandstone;
8 " mortar.

Rest obliterated by some fireplace, built into the wall at this point, which cuts off the remaining 3 feet.

At duplicate-trench No. I, we have a cross and longitudinal section of the wall 10 feet long, which shows:—

23 inches rubbish;
29 " greenish soil;
4-5 " boulder-stones, bedded in stiff boulder clay. underlaid by
45 " valley gravel.

And about a yard to the east, instead of boulder stones, we meet with rubble or red sandstone, resting on the clay, and below a light yellow soil, which I may call the pre-Roman or original surface,, which spreads over the valley gravel.

I had another and still better opportunity of examining the nature of the foundation wall in March, 1898, at the western side of Collier Street, where, for the erection of a small coalyard, the northern wall was longitudinally laid open on the inner (intra-castral) side for a length of 38 feet, and 4 feet deep (see section). On its more eastern side, we have a layer of 22 inches Roman mortar, and 20 inches big, roundish sandstone, bound together by brown cement (specimen kept), which seems to have been poured between and over the various layers of stones. On the western side the order changes, and we have four layers of soft, decomposed rubble, separated by layers of middle-sized boulder stones; below, 6 inches to 7 inches, stiff, greenish, sometimes drab coloured boulder clay with boulder stones imbedded, the foundation resting here on greenish marshy clay. At the base, little flat pieces, or chips, of sandstone flags have been laid down. In the central part, at the bottom, for the space of 72 inches, are placed regular oblong and dressed blocks of red sandstone and millstone grit, of various length, varying from 19 inches by 10 inches to 24 inches by 12 inches. In all probability it formed the northern gate. Under the wall, at a spot marked x on the section, I discovered a great number of promiscuous land shells and bones of the newt, which must have been carried hither by some rain floods or the current of an ancient rill. These objects will be described in the appendix. In the various sections along the northern wall no pounded or broken tiles were discoverable in the mortar.

At trench No. 3 the thickness of the foundation walls varied from 5 feet to 6 feet, east of Collier Street it measured 7 feet.

It is evident from the above description that there exists
Roman Manchester by Charles Roeder p23.jpg
a constant and considerable variation in the substructure of the wall, and it appears that the builders were mainly guided by the nature of the ground they had to deal with, adapting their material to the varying ground and levels. At one point they might have strong gravel, at another loose sand or again marshy, yielding ground and swamp, or the outcropping red rock. For the same reason the rough outline wall varied and oscillated between 5 feet to 7 feet in thickness.

Defences.—The fort on the eastern side was bounded by a fosse, of which Whitaker has left a description.[8] On the south-east angle, upon the lower margin of the Medlock, a deep and narrow gully, cut through the solid rock, existed in 1765. From this point, he says, the ditch seems pretty plainly to have mounted directly up the little garden that now lies on the eastern side of Castlefield,[9] the rocks of the right side of the garden appearing evidently cut away and sloping towards the west.

On the south it was naturally protected by the curve of the Medlock. The southern part of the Roman stronghold stood on the rocky ledge of the ridge or plateau, which commenced at Knot Mill, and extended along the northern banks of the Medlock. It may still be viewed in Castlefield Street, at the coal wharf, and along the towing path of the Rochdale Canal. The southern side rose on the crest of the rock and stood on higher ground than the northern part of the castrum, towards which the rock gently dips away. Green's Map of Manchester (1789) gives a good representation of the appearance and direction of the banks and slopes which embrace the west, south, and east side of the fort. "For the greater safety the northern bank of the river was carefully scarped, and the long stroke of the pickaxes appeared in 1764 for the whole compass of the bank, upon the face of the rocks which are below the present edge of the water, and descended nearly to the original surface of it within 1 1/2 yards from the stony bed of the river. Deep in the artificial soil, with which the face of the bank was covered, were found in 1765-6 a fibula, an urn, a coin [ . . . Reduci ... an Aug. Cos], and an unguent bottle of black glass in a little hollow upon the rock. Along one particular part of the margin, from the eastern boundary of the field beyond the mouth of the subterranean Bridgewater tunnel, the rock was cut down either into a very sharp descent or into an absolute perpendicular, and it extended along the whole semicircular margin of the river. About 20 yards to the east appeared in 1766 a large flight of rude stairs leading to the river, viz., seven steps about three yards long, from 3/4 yard to 1 foot in breadth and from 10 inches to 4 inches in depth, and very visibly worn away in the centre. The lower part of them had been actually cut down into an absolute perpendicular."[10]

On the west was the natural barrier of a lofty bank (see Green's Map), forming a sharp slope of 50 yards to the swampy ground below it. It extended in one continuous line up to the present Water Street, and envelops the whole southern wall from its western to its eastern angle. Beneath this bank and rampart spread out a morass, or marshy ground, about 100 yards in breadth and 300 yards in length, beginning at the margin of the Medlock[11] on the south, extending betwixt the bank and the channel of a rill to the north-west of the Roman suburb. Whitaker adds (page 27): "This lately continued so bad a morass that even in the dry summer of 1765 horses sank up to the belly in it."

I may now proceed to the rather intricate question of the set of ditches which were placed along the line of the northern wall.

In order to fully understand the character of their structure I have prepared a plan which shows at a glance the work done during the railway excavations in 1897-8 in that direction.[12] Ten double trenches were made along the wall, and in addition to this the whole area now covered by the new police station, in Bridgewater Street, has been more or less excavated for foundations. I have followed operations almost daily while the work has been in progress; personally examining, measuring, and collecting all the time, and noting the physical features of the successive strata penetrated until the rock was reached. It proved a tough piece of work, and the labour has been great to unriddle satisfactorily the real nature of the northern defences. It must be understood that there was not a single trench that exhibited in unbroken succession the original arrangement. Since the beginning of last century the ground has been interfered with incessantly for the erection of streets and yards, part has been excavated for gravel or for tipping rubbish, and the subsoil has been redisturbed for sinking drains and culverts, and it is only by piecing up shreds of untouched patches here and there that I have been enabled, in a manner, to reconstruct a running section from the point of the northern wall across Bridgewater Street to Worsley Street. As the trenches were made at an angle of 45 degrees to the course of the Roman wall, the section had likewise to be prepared again at right angles. It will thus be seen that the diagram produced presents merely an approximate view of the probable course and appearance of the fosses and ramparts situate on the northern side.

The Romans were obliged to carry their wall on the northern part through a stratum of greenish or blueish and sometimes dark-coloured clay, which reappears inside the castrum. The rocky neck or ridge on which Mancunium stands does not cover the whole internal area; in fact, it falls away gradually at a point about 200 feet away from the northern wall, apparently in a slope, the sides of the ridge being covered by a deposit of ancient valley gravel. This gravel rests practically on the under-lying and undulating red rock, which rises and falls at certain points.

The greenish-blue clay, which occurs at trench No. 3, immediately rests in the hollow of this valley or river gravel, and we can follow it right along our section for a distance of 194 feet. It clearly appears to a geological eye to mark the existence of an old transverse valley trending towards the Irwell, which at one time collected the surface-water of the higher grounds to the east. In all probability this dingle or valley stretched from Camp Street on one side, where we are on a constant rise, right across to the ridge on which the Roman station stands. At Campfield and Alport Town we stand again on the outcropping edge of the red rock, as proved by the recent railway excavations, and the rock after plunging away reappears on the southern side of castrum. This miniature hill-and-valley system, which is so characteristic a feature of the new red sandstone in Deansgate and the cause of the abundance of so many wells and springs in that particular locality, is in full evidence from Ivy Street to Great Bridgewater Street, that is, along the northern side, and throws the underground and surface water into the depression or valley formed between the castrum and Camp Street.

Now at the time the Romans perched their castrum on the northern banks of the Medlock Bridgewater Street formed part of an open valley mingling with stretches of marshy swamp, moorland, patches of heather, sprinkled with some clear pools here and there, and traversed by little rills speeding down from the higher adjacent levels. They had to dig their northern wall along the edges or margins of this marshy ground, and we, therefore, find the foundation walls on that side by necessity sunk down into the swamp. We have seen already that under the foundation of the northern wall on the eastern side of Collier Street a large accumulation of heterogeneous land shells were discovered by me in the green marshy clay beneath, which clearly affords another proof of the existence of an old marshy ground.

At the northern or outer side of the wall this soft marshy bed is cut down to a slope of 45 degrees. At trench No. 2, 2 feet to 3 feet away from the wall, and at the very bottom of the first fosse, a solid causeway was struck in May, 1897, running apparently parallel to the wall. It was formed of large dressed blocks[13] of compact, heavy, white millstone grit, measuring 11 inches by 7 inches by 6 inches each. The upper face of the stones was convex, and they had the hard Roman mortar still adhering to its two sides, the bottom had no mortar, and was rough. The width of this causeway was 2 feet 7 inches. It was laid on the marshy ground, and the navvies had great difficulty in breaking it up, in consquence of its solidity and the stones being so tightly cemented together. Unfortunately, I was not present at the moment when taken up in situ to see whether the stones bore any rut-traces, and how the two sides terminated. Later on in 1898 this causeway was found again in the same position in the duplicate—trench No. 1 on the east side of Collier Street, close to the wall.

Being at the bottom, and so close to the wall, the natural conclusion seems to be that it was made for securing a firm grip, and giving greater stability, and for procuring a foothold to carry and facilitate the transport of the building-stones and material when building at the foundations. In trenches Nos. 2 and 3 we see the first hollow or fosse, 16 feet wide and 4 feet to 5 feet deep, carried into the river gravel, then follows a gravel-ridge, feet wide, which formed apparently a small rampart. Then comes a little hollow, 5 feet wide and 1 1/2 feet deep. From its banks, sliding down in an angle, we observe a promiscuous stratum of Roman mortar and broken pieces of rubble stone, and having the appearance of surplus building rubbish. It looks as if the material had been discharged from the top after the work was finished. The natural ground is disturbed at this part. Then follows another hollow, 16 feet wide; a gravel ridge, 6 feet wide; a hollow, 22 feet wide; ridge, 4 feet; then the visible part (for 14 feet) of another hollow, the slope of which is flanked with big angular and rounded blocks of white millstone grit, measuring from 11 inches by 8 inches to 21 inches by 24 inches—perhaps to strengthen the sides of the fosse. Reaching now Bridgewater Street (30 feet wide), which, of course, is inaccessible for underground examination, we are left to conjecture. The only partially-seen hollow probably runs on for another 14 feet. Close to the new police station begins another
Roman Manchester by Charles Roeder p31.jpg
hollow, down whose descent a flight of stone steps seems to have been carried, consisting of a series of large, roughly-shaped, white millstone grit blocks[14] in situ, which measured 27 inches by 13 inches, 16 inches by 11 inches, 12 inches by 9 inches. They were placed in the blue marshy soil, at a depth of 62 inches. There I met with some small fossilised bones, burnt bones, decayed wood and rootlets, and a piece of Roman brick at the bottom. After this we have another gravel ridge, 13 feet wide, which is succeeded by another long stretch of a marshy depression, 46 feet wide, extending to the back of the new police station at Worsley Street.

We have thus a longitudinal section of 198 feet, drawn at right angles, from the northern wall.

Summing up again, to make the matter clearer, and substituting fosse for hollow, we have then—

Fosse I. ... 16 feet wide, 4 feet to 5 feet deep.
5 feet, gravel ridge or rampart.
5 feet, rubbish-ditch.
2 feet, gravel ridge.
Fosse II. ... 16 feet.
6 feet, gravel ridge.
Fosse III. ... 22 feet.
4 feet, gravel ridge.
Fosse IV. ... 14 feet, visible part 3 feet to 4 feet deep.
(?) 14 feet, probably carried under Bridgewater Street.
(?) 14 feet, gravel ridge (?), probably carried under Bridgewater Street.
Fosse V. ... 27 feet, flanked with stone steps.
6 feet, gravel ridge.
47 feet, marshy depression.
198 feet.

In the first fosse, close to the wall, scarcely any pottery has been found; when we recede from the wall it becomes abundant, and more so near the edges of the fosses; at 90 feet away, the almost complete fragments of a large amphora (4 feet high) was found by me.

Whitaker, of course, misses the true character of the northern defences, and, being guided by his eyes alone, was naturally led away by mere appearances. What he saw was certainly a large hollow, 35 yards to 40 yards, or 105 feet to 120 feet wide, as he says, and this hollow is also well shown on Laurent's old map. The slope on the wall-side is nothing else but the large talus of soil and rubbish accumulated in the course of ages, and the northern termination of his fosse would coincide with the gravel ridge, past our Fosse IV. The intermediate four fosses were of course levelled up long ago, and would appear to him level ground, and formed thus the bottom of his so-called great fosse.

We learn from Whitaker that the northern defences, or his great fosse, runs 30 yards beyond the eastern end of the wall, and terminated in a high bank, which was raised upon the course of his ditch, and sloped away into the former part of it; the north-west part sloped north and south, and the north-east part sloped south and west, and was sunk 5 feet deep and extended 75 yards in length beyond the wall, even to the great road (Alport Lane).[15]

This latter incidental information is of particular interest ; it simply shows that the northern fosses turned at right angles, that is, they swept away in a curve far beyond the north-east side of the castrum independently, without inter-branching with the eastern ditch on the side of Knot Mill.

The construction of the northern defences, I need scarcely remark, differs entirely from what we see at Wilderspool (Veratinum) and Ribchester (Bremetonacum). We must again remember that the ground on the northern side consisted of marsh, low swamp, and undulating gravel ridges, which would offer natural advantages in the adoption of this parallel work.

A similar arrangement is observed in the Roman station at Birrens, in Annandale (4 acres in extent), where on the north-east side we have also a series of parallel trenches, "thus establishing a resemblance between this work and the stations of the German limes not yet proved in any other Roman or native work in Britain." At Birrens we find six ditches bending round the angles without coalescing.[16]

At the edge of the marshy depression, inside the new police station, a little black pit[17] was discovered. A few yards away from it in situ on the river gravel I found a corroded brass coin, which Mr. Robert Blair refers to Antoninus Pius (138-161). Now above this gravel we have in succession a stratum of Roman soil, about 22 inches thick, abounding in ornamental Samian ware, typical, according to Professor Haverfield, who examined these finds, of the second century; then upwards a gravel iroad, 3 inches deep, and on the top of it again 19 inches of Roman soil with quantities of Roman pottery in it.

This part of the section then, as I read it, seems to mark four distinct phases: (1) The undisturbed Roman period, when the ground was still mere marsh and bog; (2) conversion into fosses; (3) the filling up of the fosses when no longer required to make room for the suburb; (4) the formation of a road over it in the second century; (5) the final accumulation indicating when the station fell into decay.

Gates.—We have once more to return to the northern wall. The situation of the Porta Principalis dextra evidently was a little west of Collier Street, now occupied by the little coalyard. It was 6 feet wide, but unfortunately its structure could not be traced, the upper part having been taken out for a culvert. At its base we find a course of rectangular stones, varying in length and height, 11 inches and 12 inches long, 19 inches by 10 inches and 24 inches by 12 inches; these, with the exception of the latter, which is of white millstone grit, were all of red sandstone. Only the internal part of the wall being exposed to view, it was, of course, impossible to follow the passage outside the wall and the access to it from the fosses. The stones were placed close together without the use of mortar. At Whitaker's time (see pp. 36-7, vol. i.) the gateway was still rising 4 feet to 6 feet high.

He also tells us (Principal Corrections, p. 12) that in the northern wall itself small circular arches were left, at certain distances, five or six in number, the facing of one side still remaining over two of them. They were found below the natural surface of the ground. He noted them carefully in 1772. One that was accidentally laid open from end to end disclosed the design of all. He says, "As the Romans carried their walls upwards they took off the pressure from the parts below and gave a greater strength to the whole, by turning little arches[18] in their work and fixing the rest of the wall upon them. We must again bear in mind that practically the northern wall was directly laid in the marshy ground and stood on the first fosse which reached up to it. Whitaker omitted to give the distances between the set of arches and their dimensions.

Towers.—The recent excavations at Ribchester and Melandra have shown the existence of four corner turrets built within the rounded angles of the walls. Their structure is particularly well shown at Melandra. They are built square and stand detached, 4 feet away from the angles, measuring 10 feet by 11 feet, the walls being 3 feet thick. Indications and traces of a similar turret were found at our station by Whitaker in 1768-9. He says: "A man hunting for treasures made trenches through the foundations of the stationary walls, near the south-east angle, and carrying his operations along the interior line came to a new and distinct wall, lying 3 feet to 4 feet from the wall, which proved to be 3 feet thick and 12 feet long, fairly curving at the angle." Whitaker followed up the work where the treasure seeker had left off, digging downwards for 1 1/2 yards, and found this wall ranging parallel with the line of the station. It consisted of large and squarish flakes of red rock, and was cemented with a new species of clay mortar, a brown, compacted mass of sand and clay, tempered with some sprinkling of lime. Each irregular layer seemed to rest, he says, upon a course of fine sand, and the lowest was framed of the massiest stones and lay on a deep bed of sand that had been previously beaten and compacted together, each spade-depth of it appearing successively smooth and hard upon the surface and the third lying on the natural gravel. (See Whitaker, page 13.)

The stations at Ribchester, Melandra, and Manchester were no doubt all built on the same general plan, and turrets must have existed at our station on the remaining three angles- Traces of the turret situated in the north-west angle in Manor Street, which part is still unexplored and little interfered with, may yet be found at a future time, when the property on the north-west side of the station will be pulled down.

Interior Buildings.—Inside the present timber-yard, about 48 yards to the west of the eastern gate, in a central position, we have still preserved the remains of the wall of a building which, judging from its situation, indicates doubtlessly the site of the prætorium; the wall still rises about 26 inches from the ground, its thickness is yet 2 feet wide, and its length 20 feet.[19] Unfortunately, this old monument of Roman times is fast crumbling away for insufficient shelter, and the rainwater is slowly but surely disintegrating and dissolving the piece away, as I have convinced myself from recent examination.

The prætorium at Melandra is similarly placed and measures 25 yards square, the inner walls 2 feet and the outer walls 3 feet thick. In its rear it has three additional buildings, analogy leads us to think that the same arrangement prevailed here.

The construction of the Altrincham railway in 1849, which diagonally cut through the whole area of the castrum from east to west, destroyed and effaced whatever foundations were in existence, and narrow-minded officialism prevented antiquaries from entering the precincts to note the many discoveries which are sure to have been made* To formulate any idea of the internal buildings, and how they were planned and assigned, we are thrown upon the researches now made at Melandra, Ribchester, and Wilderspool for completing the lacunae. All these places were erected at periods not much removed from each other, and we know already that in the main features they were much the same in plan and structure. When these excavations are complete we shall be able to realise much better than at present what Mancunium probably looked like.

Internal Area.—I have already pointed out that the southern, and, probably, also the central part of the castrum, stood on a higher level than the more northern part, and that the ground was therefore levelled up. In May, 1898, a long trench was made in Collier Street, leading to Southern's timber-yard, from the large stone post at the passage of the small coalyard to inside the railway arch, where we are on intra-castral ground. After penetrating the layer of rubbish and modern paving, we come upon a course of paving stones, underlaid by stiff, earthy clay, yellow soil, and stones. This shows that the area, just as at Castleshaw and Ribchester, was levelled with soil and stiff clay, and that it was paved with stones. Mr. Howarth, who tried to watch the excavations in 1849, also mentions the existence of pavements inside the castrum.

Drain.—On the 6th May, 1897, on driving the foun^ dation for the new railway pier on the west side of Collier Street, an arched drain or culvert was found, 12 feet below the surface, and raised on the rock* It was 4 feet high, the arch spanning 3 feet in the centre, the bricks^ were 6½ inches by 2½ inches by 2½ inches, of "bull nose" shape. At the bottom it was laid on flags Page:Roman Manchester (1900) by Charles Roeder.djvu/40 Page:Roman Manchester (1900) by Charles Roeder.djvu/41 Page:Roman Manchester (1900) by Charles Roeder.djvu/42 Page:Roman Manchester (1900) by Charles Roeder.djvu/43 Page:Roman Manchester (1900) by Charles Roeder.djvu/44 Page:Roman Manchester (1900) by Charles Roeder.djvu/45 Page:Roman Manchester (1900) by Charles Roeder.djvu/46
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Page:Roman Manchester (1900) by Charles Roeder.djvu/77 48 « RECENT ROMAN DISCOVERIES:

structural damage;* that for its relief and repair a body of troops may have been hurried down from York or the Great Wall, and that possibly the centurion Lucius Senecianius Martius,† in commemoration, erected this altar to Fortuna Conservatrix. Another altar, dedicated to the same genius, has been found at Cilurnum, on the Roman wall ; another at Netherby in Cumberland.‡

    But to return to the hypocaust. I mentioned that 

between the eastern wall and the ditch, which defended the east side, two other large buildings were found. These seem to have freely communicated with those placed within the semi-circular area on the south side of the station by a paved causeway, and access to the bed of the river and the river boats was gained by the flight of steps midway between them.

    The presence of blocks of millstone grit in the founda-tion walls of the station manifestly proves a previous 

intimate acquaintance with the borderland of the south- western Brigantes of Yorkshire, for the stone could not have been carried a day's march from the station unless it were already tolerably well held by Cerealis and Frontinus. We may, therefore, assume that its final erection, built with strong walls, is due to Agricola. Agricola's military schemes were on a more elaborate scale, and his ambitions included the whole reduction of the north, with Lancashire and Yorkshire as a base of operations. To this circumstance the erection of Mancunium as a strong −———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

  • The centurial stone of the First Cohort of the Frisians, found in the rubbish at the eastern gateway, along with coins of Trajan and Hadrian, is supposed by Dr. Holme to point to the destruction and subsequent repair of this entrance.

†Mr. C. F. Bell, assistant curator of the Ashmolean Museum, has kindly taken a fine squeeze of the altar in question, which is now placed in the Free Reference Library. ‡In the York Museum is an altar dedicated to the Dea Fortuna. This goddess was specially worshipped in connection with baths, and inscrip- tions have been found to her under the title of Fortuna Balnearis. See

Orelli Inscr., 5796-7. See York Museum Catalogue, 1891, p. 32.
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From the Roman Station, Castlefield, Manchester.

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From the Roman Station, Castlefield, Manchester.

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From the Roman Station, Castlefield, Manchester.

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From the Roman Station, Castlefield, Manchester.

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From the Roman Station, Castlefield, Manchester.

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From the Roman Station, Castlefield, Manchester.

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For some further remarks on above Graffitti see Appendix.

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  1. For want of a proper municipal historical museum most of the rare and priceless treasures and relics of Manchester have become dispersed or lost, as will be seen in the appendix from the list of the older finds from Castlefield and elsewhere. Chester, Liverpool, Warrington, and Preston have set a better example, and greater public appreciation has been shown in these places for the preservation of local antiquities.
  2. Although the walls were really running north-east, south-east, south-west, north-west, I retain for convenience Whitaker's description, and call them, therefore, north, east, south, west.
  3. See Memoirs of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, vol. v., part ii., p. 676. 1802
  4. It measures 16 inches by 12 inches and is of millstone grit, and was found near the tower, at the eastern angle of the fort. See Rev. Watson's description of Melandra. Archæologia, vol. iii. 1771.
  5. The general and larger section, showing all the trenches, is in the Manchester Reference Library.
  6. See section.
  7. I have kept samples of the various kinds of mortar and a specimen of the tough clay with the boulder stones imbedded in it for reference and as an ocular demonstration of the foundations of Roman Manchester.
  8. Vol. i., p. 20, ed. 1771.
  9. The situation is indicated on his "ground plan of Mancenion," taken August 8th, 1765, and corresponds to Knot Mill, facing Gaythorn Street, Hewitt Street, and Commercial Street.
  10. See vol. i., pp. 22-3, ed. 1771.
  11. See vol. i., p. 21.
  12. See General Section in the Reference Library, King Street. B
  13. I had saved one of the blocks for later examination, but on my return the men had removed it to my great regret. Each stone must have weighed between 30 pounds and 40 pounds.
  14. The section has been photographed, and is in the Reference Library.
  15. Whitaker, vol. i.» p. 37, 1771; see also his "Ground Plot of Roman Mancunium."
  16. See the "Excavations of Birrens, a Roman Station in Annandale." — Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. xxx., 1896, pp. 81-199, and plans, p. 96.
  17. The contents of this pit will be described in the appendix.
  18. He also notices such another arch, vhich was visible in 1769, a little to the "west of the south-east angle, and the crown just rose above the ground.
  19. Asphalt was also used along with the usual mortar.

This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.