The Romans in Glossop - Doctors Gate of the Bleaklow
- Written by Portal Editor
Long before Christ, the region around Glossop was inhabited by human beings, as there are indications of a Bronze Age burial site on Shire Hill (near Old Glossop) and some other possibly prehistoric remains in Torside (on the slopes of Bleaklow).
When the Romans came into contact with the island, it was largely inhabited by Celtic-speaking tribes who maintained close ties with Gaul, but because of their distinct material culture today are generally no longer considered to be Celts in the narrower sense. Already before them there had been megalithic cultures in Britain, which among other things built imposing stone monuments, such as in Wiltshire. Little is known about the time of pre-Roman Britain.
During Caesar's conquest of Gaul, it had become evident that the Gauls, in the struggle against the Romans, also received support from related tribes from Britain. Whether the Roman general had any further motives for starting the war in Britain is unclear. Thus, it was assumed that the extension of the fighting should serve Caesar's domestic political power. In order to obtain reliable information about the political situation on the island, he sent the officer Gaius Volusenus with a warship in advance to explore the British Channel coast. Caesar himself put together an invasion fleet in the meantime. Subsequently, British ambassadors were presented to him, who promised to offer hostages and to support the Romans. He met them sympathetically and sent them back with the Atrebaten Commius, whom he believed had some influence on the British.
Gaius Iulius Caesar reports in De bello Gallico that, before his own (more or less failed) campaigns to Britain, only a few merchants allegedly ventured to cross the Channel from Gaul to Britain.
100 years later, the Romans arrived to Glossop
At that time, Glossop was on the territory of a claimant brigand tribe whose main base was Yorkshire. The Romans reached around 78 AD at the sparsely populated region of this time. In the late 1st century, the Romans built first built a palisade fort named Ardotalia, high on a hill above the river that was further expanded and fortified. The site of this fort was rediscovered in 1771 by an amateur historian, John Watson. Subsequently, it was named Melandra Castle. The sprawling grounds were unearthed, revealing fortress walls, a shrine and the headquarters of the fortress. The area has been created touristically so that parking and picnic areas are available.
Ardotalia built by the Cohors Prmae Frisiavonum
Ardotalia was designed by Cohors Primae Frisiavonum - the first cohort of Frisiavones. The proof of the existence of this unity consists not only of the building blocks found at the site, but also of various diplomas and other Roman scriptures. This unit was built for about the size of one thousand men, including the skilled craftsmen who were needed for the expert work in the construction of the fortress.
This unit was supported in the construction of the fort by the 3rd cohort of Bracara Augustani. These men were probably Iberian Celts from the colony of Braga in Portugal, apparently the XX. Legion Valeria Victrix was attached to Chester. Although it is not known which of these cohorts occupied the fort, Bracara Augustani's 3rd cohort is likely to have performed this task because they came from a hilly region and therefore had more experience with occupancy of terrain, as it was in the Glossop environment. The Frisiavones came from low-lying areas across the Rhine and were possibly split between the lower grounds of Manchester and Northwich.
Altar as repayment of a vow
The first cohort of Frisiavones was also present in Brocolitia, one of Hadrian's fortresses and settlements in Carrawburgh, Northumberland. The proof is based on an inscription on an altar stone, which shows that Optio Maus (a corporal within the cohort) had paid back a vow to the goddess Coventina. Whether this altar was the repayment of the vow is unknown.
The name Melandra is of unknown origin, but was possibly created by John Watson, rector of Stockport, who visited the site around 1771, when substantial remains of rocks existed. The name Ardotalia is a hypothetical emendation of Zerdotalia, written in Ravenna Cosmography.
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