The people of Roman Castleshaw

The Roman army came to Castleshaw around 2,000 years ago. Their presence acted as a magnet for people and activity.

Bread, meat, other food produce and timber were all needed in huge quantities by the Roman army. The Roman soldiers, of whom there were 480 in the fort, needed civilians to support them. Lead spindle whorl finds tell us that spinning wool was an important activity, evidence for workshops connect us to craftsmen, and quernstones are a reminder of the need for the daily grinding grain into flour by women and children. Latrines, wells and stable blocks evoke the sounds and smells of a long-lost world.

The Roman soldiers hailed from all over the empire, not just Rome or Italy. We know from a stamped tile that some of them came from what was known then as Pannonia, a tribal Roman province in Central Europe.

The Roman army built their fort in the Valley sometime after 70 AD, perhaps 79 AD. This was abandoned in the mid-90s AD and a fortlet was built soon afterwards. The fortlet was abandoned around 120 AD. The civilian vicus settlement that had grown up around the fortlet seems to have died off very soon after the fortlet was abandoned.

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Places to go

The Manchester Museum at Manchester University retains most of the archaeological material from the fort. Gallery Oldham, retains material from fort excavations in the 1980s. Saddleworth Museum retains material from the vicus excavations. Archaeological material is available to view by prior appointment.