About Castlefield Roman Fort
Castlefield Roman Fort in central Manchester is what remains of the Roman fortress Mamucium, established around 79 AD. Today it features both original stone foundations and reconstructed walls, and provides an interesting walk through some of the city’s oldest history.
Castlefield Roman Fort history
Mamicium’s construction began around 79 AD following a failed treaty between the Brigantes and Roman general Julius Agricola.
The first structure was a timber fort used to house around 500 foreign auxiliary soldiers who were not Roman citizens but had joined the army from elsewhere – these included the Bracaraugustanorium cohort from Spain, the Raetian vexillation from central Europe, and the Austrian Noricor vexillation.
A settlement, or vicus, began to emerge around the fortress with evidence of a Roman temple, mansio (hotel) and a number of other buildings excavated.
When in operation, Mamucium would have been a cosmopolitan hub of activity with merchants from all over the empire travelling there, as it lay at an important junction in the network of Roman bases in Britain. The east-west highway ran through between Deva Victrix (Chester) and Eboracum (York), while the northern highway ran to Bremetennacum in Ribchester.
In 160 AD the fort was extended to include granaries and in 200 AD Emperor Septimius Severus had it resurfaced in stone while subduing a revolt in the north. In the mid-3rd century it appears to have been largely abandoned however, with a small garrison perhaps remaining into the 4th century.
Castlefield Roman Fort today
Today the remains of the Castlefield Roman Fort are open to the public and may be viewed both in their original condition and as reconstructions. Though the fort was cut through by the Rochdale canal and a succession of railway viaducts, its north quarter has survived relatively well.
Following excavations by the Greater Manchester Archaeological Unit, the north gate was reconstructed in 1984 and incorporates some of the original stones from the Roman gate. Visitors can walk atop the reconstructed ramparts, and view the double ditch defences that accompanied them.
The excavated remains of the granaries, three vicus buildings, and a ‘mural’ wall showing the different stages of Roman construction are also on display, giving an indication of what was once a thriving centre of Roman command.
Getting to Castlefield Roman Fort
Castlefield Roman Fort is located in the Castlefield area of Manchester on the A6143 (Liverpool Road), with various car parks available in the area. The 33 bus service stops on Liverpool Road, while Deansgate train station and the Deansgate-Castlefield tram stop are both a 5-minute walk to the site.