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Historic England Research Records

Castleshaw Roman Forts

Hob Uid: 45891
Location :
Oldham
Oldham
Saddleworth
Grid Ref : SD9987009650
Summary : A sequence of Roman forts at Castle Shaw. The first fort on the site was an Agricolan period fort, built in turf and timber circa AD 79. This was refurbished soon after construction and then abandoned circa AD 95. Within the south eastern half of the fort a fortlet was constructed, also in turf and timber, circa AD 105. This was developed during its brief occupation and then sleighted and abandoned circa AD 125. Both military sites were constructed on a spur of higher ground, known as Castle Hill, overlooking Castleshaw Valley. The Roman road from Chester to York runs through the valley and the forts were built to defend and patrol the road in this section as it approaches the western Pennines. The original fort had two ditches outside a rampart enclosing an area 115 metres by 100 metres orientated north east to south west. Within this enclosure were the 'principia' (the administrative centre), the 'praetorium' (the officer's quarters), barracks and granaries. The fortlet, although on the site of the original fort, had two ditches and a rampart of its own and enclosed an area 50 metres by 40 metres with barracks, workshops and a large granary. The Roman fort and fortlet survive reasonably well despite the damage caused by later land use and a number of archaeological excavations. Earthwork remains of the Roman road leading towards the fort survive 50 metres to the south east of Castle Hill. This was part of the road from Chester to York and another section is visible running north east from Castle Shaw Farm.
More information : [SD 9988 0965] Roman Fort [G.S.] (1)

Of the two Roman forts at Castleshaw the outer one was erected in or about A.D.80 by Agricola but was soon abandoned. The inner fort was built soon after the opening of the second century.
The fort was abandoned c.AD 125. (2-3)

Brief description and history. Plan [see AO/61/229/2]
illustrations. (4)

First and second interim reports on excavations, 1907-8. (5)

Excavations in 1957(6) and 1958(7) have been carried out for Manchester University at the larger of the two Roman forts at
Castleshaw ([SD] 999 096 ) ... A large amount of rusticated pottery supports and Agricolan foundation. The finds are deposited in Manchester Museum. (6-7)

Saddleworth, Castle Shaw, Roman forts. Scheduled. (8)

A 25" survey has been made. (9)

Survey of 29.8.61 revised. The interior of the forts has been
considerably disturbed by the annual excavations of Manchester
University. No internal detail survives, and the rampart, also, is assuming an unintelligible form. (10)

The Agricolan fort was excavated in 1964. An unexpected find consisted of a prehistoric pit containing a Beaker group (at least four vessels). (11)

There are no surface indications of Thompson's excavation. (12)

RIGODUNUM. From its position in Ptolemy, probably the Roman Fort at Castleshaw. (13)

There are 2 superimposed Roman military works at Castleshaw. The earliest is an auxiliary fort measuring approx. 300 by 360 ft within the ramparts and enclosing nearly 2 1/2 acres. The latest is a fortlet observing the same orientation and with its SE rampart overlying that of the fort. It measures 135 by 165 ft within the ramparts enclosing about 1/2 an acre. Excavations between 1957 and 1964 established that the NW defences of the fort consisted of a turf-built rampart set on a corduroy of oak posts and 2 V-shaped ditches. On the NE the rampart was similar but without a timber corduroy and no ditches were found. Inside the fort, the western quarter was found to contain 2 granaries set end to end and bordering the intervallum road. Further west, part of a rectangular timber building was also identified. The northern quarter contained a series of parallel shed-like buildings separated by stone-paved roads. These were identified as roughly built barracks on the evidence of clay hearths.

The presence of ash-pits inside the fort and rampart material in the lower half of the ditches, suggested that when the fort was abandoned the defences were partly levelled, the buildings systematically demolished and their timbers burnt.
The excavations gave no reason for doubting the accepted attribution of the fort to Agricola c. 79-80 AD, or the founding of the fortlet under Trajan followed by abandonment early in the reign of Hadrian (13). Geophysical survey in 1977 located the link-road to the W. gate of the fort (14). (14-15)

90% of the early 2nd century base or commissary fortlet was exposed during excavations between 1984 and 1989. It was of two phases (as the earlier fort), measuring 1950sq metres overall in area, with double V-shaped ditches, a turf rampart on a stone foundation and 2 six-post gates on the N and S sides. The central Via Principalis aligned precisely with the same road in the underlying fort. (16)

Clarke suggested a `late Southern British (S3) Beaker domestic site of c1550+/-50bc' for the pit assemblage below the fort. (17-18)

Castleshaw Roman forts is a scheduled monument. For a full description of the designated record please see the National Heritage List for England. (19-20)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 6" 1956
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Source Number : 2
Source : The Yorkshire archaeological journal
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Vol(s) : 26
Source Number : 11
Source : The Yorkshire archaeological journal
Source details :
Page(s) : 329
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Plates :
Vol(s) : 41, 1965
Source Number : 12
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F3 BHP 06-JUN-68
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Source Number : 13
Source : The place-names of Roman Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 448
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Source Number : 14
Source : The Roman fort at Castleshaw, Yorks WR: excavations 1957-64
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Source Number : 15
Source : Britannia : a journal of Romano-British and kindred studies
Source details :
Page(s) : 429
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Vol(s) : 9, 1978
Source Number : 16
Source : Castleshaw : the archaeology of a Roman fortlet
Source details :
Page(s) :
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Plates :
Vol(s) : vol.4
Source Number : 17
Source : Man and the changing landscape : a study of occupation and palaeo environment in the central Pennines
Source details :
Page(s) : 105
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 3
Source Number : 18
Source : Beaker domestic sites : a study of the domestic pottery of the late third and early second millennia B.C. in the British Isles
Source details :
Page(s) : 129-130
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Plates :
Vol(s) : 107
Source Number : 19
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 18/03/1998
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Source Number : 20
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : English Heritage. 2011. The National Heritage List for England, [Accessed 21-JUL-2011]
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Source Number : 3
Source : Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society
Source details :
Page(s) : 132-162
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Vol(s) : 40, 1922-3
Source Number : 4
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Richmond IA. 1925. Huddersfield in Roman Times
Page(s) : 48-57
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : Roman Forts at Castleshaw Report
Source details :
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Source Number : 6
Source : Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society
Source details :
Page(s) : 118-119
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Vol(s) : 67, 1957
Source Number : 7
Source : The journal of Roman studies
Source details :
Page(s) : 109
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Plates :
Vol(s) : 49, 1959
Source Number : 8
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Ministry of Works. 1958. Ancient Monuments of England and Wales
Page(s) : 92
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Source Number : 9
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 RL 28-AUG-61
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Source Number : 10
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F2 RL 14-JAN-65
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Early Bronze Age
Display Date : Early Bronze Age
Monument End Date : -1600
Monument Start Date : -2600
Monument Type : Pit
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit, Find
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Abandoned circa AD 125
Monument End Date : 135
Monument Start Date : 115
Monument Type : Fortlet
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Refurbished between c.AD 79 and c.AD 95
Monument End Date : 105
Monument Start Date : 69
Monument Type : Fort
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Built circa AD 79
Monument End Date : 89
Monument Start Date : 69
Monument Type : Fort, Road
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Abandoned circa AD 95
Monument End Date : 105
Monument Start Date : 85
Monument Type : Fort
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Built circa AD 105
Monument End Date : 115
Monument Start Date : 95
Monument Type : Fortlet
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Developed between c.AD 105 and c.AD 125
Monument End Date : 135
Monument Start Date : 95
Monument Type : Fortlet
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Period : Early Bronze Age
Component Monument Type : Pit
Object Type : VESSEL
Object Material : Pottery

Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : GM 27
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 30359
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Greater Manchester)
External Cross Reference Number : 1094
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : NY 216
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Unified Designation System UID
External Cross Reference Number : 1017837
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SD 90 NE 5
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 1130466
Relationship type : Is referred to by

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : CASTLESHAW ROMAN FORT
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1897-01-01
End Date : 1898-12-31
Associated Activities : CASTLESHAW ROMAN FORT
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1907-01-01
End Date : 1908-12-31
Associated Activities : CASTLESHAW ROMAN FORT
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1957-01-01
End Date : 1961-12-31
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON SD 90 NE 5
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1961-08-29
End Date : 1961-08-29
Associated Activities : CASTLESHAW ROMAN FORT
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1963-01-01
End Date : 1964-12-31
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON SD 90 NE 5
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1965-01-14
End Date : 1965-01-14
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON SD 90 NE 5
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1968-06-06
End Date : 1968-06-06
Associated Activities : CASTLESHAW ROMAN FORT
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1971-01-01
End Date : 1971-12-31
Associated Activities : CASTLESHAW
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1977-01-01
End Date : 1977-12-31
Associated Activities : CASTLESHAW ROMAN FORT
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1984-01-01
End Date : 1988-12-31
Associated Activities : DAYCROFT FIELD
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1994-01-01
End Date : 1994-12-31
Associated Activities : DAYCROFT FIELD
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1995-01-01
End Date : 1995-12-31
Associated Activities : DAYCROFT FIELD
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1996-01-01
End Date : 1996-12-31
Associated Activities : TANGS FIELD
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1996-01-01
End Date : 1996-12-31