ARDOTALIA

Minor Romano-British Settlement

Melandra Castle, Glossop, Derbyshire

NGRef: SK009951
OSMap: LR110
Type: Minor Settlement, Fort.

Ardotalia, Oriented with North at the Top
from Collingwood 1930 fig.6
Roads
W (13) to MAMVCIVM (Manchester, Greater Manchester)
SE (12) to NAVIO (Brough-on-Noe, Derbyshire)

The only classical reference for the Roman name of the Melandra Castle fort is the Ravenna Cosmology of the seventh century. In this work the name Zerdotalia (R&C#108) appears between the entries for Aquae Arnemetiae (Buxton, Derbyshire) and Mamucium (Manchester, Greater Manchester). This name has been associated with the Melandra Castle fort, but is thought to be somewhat corrupt, and the name now commonly accepted is Ardotalia.

Cohors Primae Frisiavonum - The First Cohort of Frisiavones

CHO I FRISIAVO C VAL VITALIS
"The First Cohort of Frisiavones, century of Valerius Vitalis [made this]."
(RIB 279)

There are only two inscriptions on stone recorded in the R.I.B. for Melandra Castle, both building inscriptions, one of them fragmentary. One stone mentions the name of a garrison unit, Cohors Primae Frisiavonum (vide supra), while the other damaged stone reads IMP CAES... TR... "The emperor Caesar [...] tribune[...]" (RIB 280), which is not very helpful.

This fort was originally built in Flavian times (c.AD75) and continued to be occupied until at least the end of the second century, as Trajanic and Hadrianic pottery has been recovered from the site, along with Antonine samian ware by the potter Advocisus. The fort had its original clay rampart reinforced with a stone wall and gateways during late-Hadrianic/early-Antonine times, and occupation into the third and fourth centuries is suggested by the discovery of coins of Marcus Aurelius and the usurper Carausius, the last dateable coin being one of Magnus Maximus. Protected by steep slopes to the north and the west, a small bath-house stood outside the north-west corner of the fort.

"Melandra Castle (Fig. 9), near Glossop, is 358 by 328 feet internally (i.e. 21 acres) with a close resemblance in plan and size to Hardknot. It has a stone wall 5 feet thick, contemporary with a 15-foot clay bank ; of its four gates the decumana is single, the rest double, and there are no guard-chambers. All these features follow the Hardknot pattern. The headquarters building is of stone, and post-holes show that the barracks were of wood. The evidence of date was taken by the excavators to suggest the late first century; but the structural features point rather to the early second (Conway, Melandra Castle, 1906).¹" 1 The excavations hitherto carried out do not enable us to assert positively that there was not an earlier fort on the site." (Collingwood, p.42)

The Ardotalia Mansio

SK010950 - The site of a supposed mansio identified in 1966 was excavated in 1969 and uncovered a complex rectangular building measuring some 160 x 60 feet (49 x 18 m), lying some 300ft (c.95m) outside the E gate of the fort (at SK010950). The mansio faced a street which was widened after c.AD120, possibly at the same time as the building was constructed. The building was demolished c.AD140.

See: Britannia i (1970) pp.283/4 & fig.7;
The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965);
The Archaeology of Roman Britain by R.G. Collingwood (Methuen, London, 1930).
All English translations, including any inherent mistakes, are my own.

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