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Historic England Research Records

Melandra Castle

Hob Uid: 306340
Location :
Derbyshire
High Peak
Glossop
Grid Ref : SK0091095050
Summary : A Roman fort, originally timber-built in Flavian period, reconstructed in stone, abandoned in the first half of 2nd century, excavated several times since 1899, revealed bath house and possible mansio. The ramparts survive as earthworks up to 2.0m high but both the interior and exterior of the fort have been subject to disturbance. Finds from the site indicate the presence of two Auxiliary Units the III Bracara Augustani and the 1st Cohort of the Frisavones. Scheduled.
More information : (SK 0089 9505) Melandra Castle (NAT). Roman Fort (R). (1)

An Agricolan earth-wood fort rebuilt in stone, in part at least,
probably under Trajan. (2)

The Fort has been excavated, very badly, on various occasions since
1899, notably (1906-7), by the Classical Association (3). (3-4)

Occupation evidence, mainly pottery, indicates an abandonment in the
first half of the 2nd century. A few 3rd c. potsherds and one or two
later coins do not add up to re-occupation.

Part of a female sandal, in one of the ditches, suggests civilians,
but the settlement has not been found; neither has the bath-house
which may, however, be nearer the river (Etherow).

The name Melandra is attributed to the Rev John Watson (1772)
(4), but the site is identified by Richmond and Crawford as the
(Ze)rdotalia (Erdotalia or Ardotalia) of the Ravenna Cosmography; (5)
an identification not entirely certain (6). Scheduled. For the designation record of this site please see The National Heritage List for England.(5-7 & 29-30)

Re-surveyed at 1:2500. An extensive collection of material from the
site is in Buxton Museum. (8)

In 1969, earthmoving operations for the Gamesley Overspill Scheme
made possible renewed excavation by DOE on the area of civil
settlement adjacent to the Roman fort. An almost complete plan was
revealed of the supposed mansio (160' x 60') which was partly
excavated in 1966. It was constructed of timber and fronted by a road
to the W, and backed by a rampart and ditch system. The excavations
indicate demolition rather than destruction as the ultimate fate of
the building. A date for the demolition of c.AD 140 was arrived at
from pottery evidence.

The 1969 season concluded the rescue excavation, and the overall
impression of the sizeable defended vicus can now be gained. For a
fort that can never have occupied a key position in the overall
strategy ofthe Northern Military Zone, it is remarkable that it had
such a considerable civil population, and so large a mansio, if such
it be. (See plan).

Name `ARDOTALIA' ? accepted for 4th. edition R. B. Map. (9)

A bath-building, of coursed sandstone slabs set in mortar, was
discovered outside the north west corner of the fort by the
Melandra Field Group in 1973. It proved to be of Reihentyp, with an
apsidal hot room, a warm room and a cold room. The hypocaust pilae
were of tile. Much of the masonry had slipped down the hillside. This
first phase appears to be Flavian but additions were made early in
the 2nd. century about 120 A.D. A secondary wing of finely dressed
gritstone on a base of sandstone slabs, was located to the south of
the cold room in phase 1 running N-S. It consisted of two rooms, one
heated and one unheated. The pilae were of squared sandstone blocks
and the flues of box tiles.
Between AD 120-140 during a third phase of building a possibly heated
room, maybe a dressing-room, was added to the east of the secondary
wing. This room was 5.6m by 5.0m and was built of sandstone blocks.

Between the baths and the fort wall there was a timber-lined drain,
about 25cms wide, which may have diverted surface water aroundthe
baths. A circuit road of pebbles, 2.5m wide and 20cms thick, lay
along the outer lip of the fort ditch. The early phase of this road
ante-dated the baths. (10-14)

Excavations in 1980 and 1982 continued work on the bath-house. In
addition part of the clay and cobble footings of the Trajanic fort
all were exposed to the east of the North Gate and an area of the
vicus examined. Considerable evidence for iron-smelting and
lead and glass working came from the vicus (15,16) ARDOTALIA-the
Roman fort of Melandra Castle (17). (15-17)

Additional reference. (18)

SK 00959495. Excavated material suggests the presence of a pottery
kiln in or near the civil settlement. (19)

Tricephalic well-head showing 3 heads: the flanking ones in profile
bear rams-horns,the central face has `water weeds' on either side.
Link with Melandra appears more hopeful than proven. (20)

The `large iron ring' found in 1906 appears to be a pipe collar
(Buxton Museum Acc No Der SB 3850). This will either have supplied a
distribution tank in the fort or the extra-mural bath-house outside
its north wall. The pipeline probably dates from the Trajanic
period, when the fort was rebuilt in stone. (21)

SK 0091 9505. Melandra Castle was visited by English Heritage field investigators in May 1999 as part of the National SAMs Survey Pilot Project.

The fort occupies a high promontory above the River Etherow, with extensive views to north, east and west. The outline of the fort is preserved by the earthwork remains of the ramparts, which stand up to 2.0m high in places. A slight break of slope is visible in the external scarp of the south-east rampart which may be evidence of stone-robbing or alternatively may mark the course of a later hedge boundary. Faint traces of infilled excavation trenches can be seen cutting across the north-west rampart. All the angle towers have been excavated and the remains, although slight, consolidated for public display. At the northern angle one corner of the stone tower survives, to a height of 0.8m; the excavation of this structure has destroyed part of the inner scarp of the rampart to its east. The site of the eastern angle tower is marked by a rectangular platform cut into the rampart, measuring 3.5m by 4.0m. A similar platform at the southern angle reveals wall foundations protruding through the turf. Part of the outer face of the fort wall beneath it has been exposed to a height of 0.6m but is in a dilapidated condition. The western angle is situated very close to the edge of the steep cliff above the river and is beginning to be eroded as the land slips downward.

None of the external ditches revealed by excavation are visible on the ground; a linear depression flanking the south-eastern rampart appears to be a drainage ditch. Outside the north gate is a rectangular feature defined by slight banks not more than 0.1m high which corresponds to a structure depicted on the 1:2500 survey of 1965 (see authority 8). Its date and function are unknown.

In the interior of the fort the only identifiable remains are those of the consolidated principia, which are once more disappearing under vegetation. To the south-west of the fort ridge-and-furrow cultivation is visible; the smoothed appearance of both the interior and exterior of the fort demonstrate that it has been extensively ploughed while the ramparts have latterly formed field boundaries topped by hedges. There is a small quarry outside the south-west rampart, probably of post-medieval date.

1:2500 survey revised. (22)

Finds from the site indicate the presence of two auxilliary units, the 1st Cohort of the Frisavones and the third cohort of the Bracara Augustani. The former unit were recruited from north of the Rhine. the latter were probably from the Braga area now in Portugal. The centurial stone of Melandra refers to the Frisians as the builders of the fort. (23)

Further references to excavations in the fort, vicus and bath house at Melandra. (24-27)

The interior of the fort has never been ploughed, but was subjected to a leveling of archaeological excavation upcasts from the early C20th by use of heavy grading machines. (28)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" map, 1954
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : Journal of the Derbyshire Archaeological and Natural History Society
Source details : (J A Petch)
Page(s) : 01-Sep
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 83, 1963
Source Number : 11
Source : Britannia : a journal of Romano-British and kindred studies
Source details :
Page(s) : 322-323
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 7, 1967
Source Number : 12
Source : Britannia : a journal of Romano-British and kindred studies
Source details :
Page(s) : 387-388
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 8, 1977
Source Number : 13
Source : Britannia : a journal of Romano-British and kindred studies
Source details :
Page(s) : 432
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 9, 1978
Source Number : 14
Source : Britannia : a journal of Romano-British and kindred studies
Source details :
Page(s) : 293
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 10, 1979
Source Number : 15
Source : Britannia : a journal of Romano-British and kindred studies
Source details : (F O Grew)
Page(s) : 335
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 12, 1981
Source Number : 16
Source : Britannia : a journal of Romano-British and kindred studies
Source details : (S S Frere)
Page(s) : 299
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 14, 1983
Source Number : 17
Source : The place-names of Roman Britain
Source details : (A L F Rivet and C Smith)
Page(s) : 156-257
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 18
Source : Romano-British urban defences
Source details : Crickmore J, 1984
Page(s) : 126-127, 181, 192-193
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 126
Source Number : 19
Source : The pottery kilns of Roman Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 252
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 5
Source Number : 20
Source : Between and beyond the Walls : essays on the prehistory and history of north Britain in honour of George Jobey
Source details : Ross A and Feachem R, 1984
Page(s) : 338-352
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : Journal of the Derbyshire Archaeological and Natural History Society
Source details : (F A Bruton)
Page(s) : 22-63
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 9, 1907
Source Number : 21
Source : The Archaeological Journal
Source details :
Page(s) : 228
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 142, 1988
Source Number : 22
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : Amy Lax/26-MAY-1999/RCHME:National SAMs Survey Pilot Project
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 23
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Ward AM and Brown MH, 1986: "Melandra Castle Roman Fort" (guide book).
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 24
Source : Melandra Castle Roman fort: excavations in the civil settlement, 1966-9
Source details :
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 25
Source : Melandra [Roman] fort: the tenth season of excavations, 1986 [mainly Period III]
Source details :
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 26
Source : Melandra: excavations 1988
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 27
Source : Melandra Roman fort: excavation on the site of the bath block, 1992
Source details :
Page(s) :
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Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 28
Source : Oral information, correspondence (not archived) or staff comments
Source details : Email Correspondence E P Beckmann 22-JUL-2014
Page(s) :
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Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 29
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : District of High Peak, Derbyshire. 30-NOV-1925, amended 23-OCT-1975
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 30
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : English Heritage. 2014. ‘English Heritage: The National Heritage List for England’, < http://list.english-heritage.org.uk/resultsingle.aspx?uid=1004595 > [Accessed 24-JUL-2014]
Page(s) :
Figs. :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : Archaeologia : or miscellaneous tracts relating to antiquity
Source details : (Watson)
Page(s) : 236
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 3, 1777
Source Number : 5
Source : Archaeologia : or miscellaneous tracts relating to antiquity
Source details :
Page(s) : 34
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 93, 1948
Source Number : 6
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : OS Roman Britain map, 1956
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Ancient Monuments in England and Wales, 1961, p 31
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 8
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : FC/13-OCT-1965/OS Archaeology Division Field Investigator
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 9
Source : Journal of the Derbyshire Archaeological and Natural History Society
Source details : (P V Webster)
Page(s) : 96-98
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 89, 1969
Source Number : 10
Source : Britannia : a journal of Romano-British and kindred studies
Source details :
Page(s) : 420
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 5, 1975

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Roman
Monument End Date : 410
Monument Start Date : 43
Monument Type : Fort, Bath House, Mansio, Pottery Kiln, Rampart
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit, Conjectural Evidence, Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : DR 8
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Unified Designation System UID
External Cross Reference Number : 1004595
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SK 09 NW 2
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : MELANDRA CASTLE (ARDOTALIA)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1899-01-01
End Date : 1900-12-31
Associated Activities : MELANDRA CASTLE (ARDOTALIA)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1905-01-01
End Date : 1907-12-31
Associated Activities : MELANDRA CASTLE (ARDOTALIA)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1908-01-01
End Date : 1911-12-31
Associated Activities : MELANDRA CASTLE (ARDOTALIA)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1935-01-01
End Date : 1939-12-31
Associated Activities : MELANDRA CASTLE (ARDOTALIA)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1958-01-01
End Date : 1961-12-31
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON SK 09 NE 11
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1965-10-13
End Date : 1965-10-13
Associated Activities : MELANDRA CASTLE (ARDOTALIA)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1966-01-01
End Date : 1969-12-31
Associated Activities : MELANDRA CASTLE (ARDOTALIA)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1974-01-01
End Date : 1982-12-31
Associated Activities : MELANDRA CASTLE (AROTALIA)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1984-01-01
End Date : 1990-12-31
Associated Activities : MELANDRA CASTLE (AROTALIA)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1992-01-01
End Date : 1998-12-31
Associated Activities : RCHME NATIONAL SAMS SURVEY PILOT PROJECT
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1999-01-01
End Date : 1999-06-01