Blog – Ardotalia: Melandra: Melandra Castle.

  • Glossop, Derbyshire.
  • OSGB – SK 00910 95050.
  • Scheduled Monument.
  • Scheduled Monument Number – 1004595.


Roman Fort. Possible Roman Marching Camp.

Melandra is situated on a promontory and overlooks the River Etherow, in the Peak District of Derbyshire. It has good views of the surrounding countryside.


Location of Melandra Castle.
Page. W. 1905. The Victoria History of the County of Derby. Volume 1. Constable.


The site measures approximately 113.8 meters east to west, by 126.4 meters north to south. The Doctor’s Gate Roman road led from the east gate to Navio Fort. This is not the Roman name for the road but was given to it in 1657 and named after a well-known doctor of the time.

The fort is of the usual playing card shape with four gateways. Three of the gates were double width with the south gate being only single width. Internally, archaeology has uncovered the remains of angle towers inside the walls, a granary, barrack blocks, the principia, buildings relating to industrial work; and externally, evidence of a camp oven in the eastern rampart area and the Bath House which was located outside of the north west corner of the fort. There was also a large vicus located to the south and south west of the fort.


Plan of Melandra Castle.
Page. W. 1905. The Victoria History of the County of Derby. Volume 1. Constable.


The site was defended by a ditch and rampart, and a stone wall was constructed in 108/110 AD. When the site was abandoned the rampart was demolished into the ditch.


Eastern Gateway of Melandra Castle.
Page. W. 1905. The Victoria History of the County of Derby. Volume 1. Constable.


The Bath House had three phases of construction and included two wings. There is evidence of the usual internal rooms, including the frigidarium (cold room), and the cauldarium (hot room). There is also evidence of a Mansio at the site. The building was constructed of timber and later demolished around 140 AD.

Archaeological evidence has shown that the fort was constructed in stone by Cohors Primae Frisiavonum, the First Cohort of Frisiavones. The evidence is a building stone inscribed, RIB 279.


RIB 279


It is then believed the fort was garrisoned by the 3rd Cohort of Bracara Augustini. The Barrack blocks demonstrate that the site was garrisoned by around 500 men – 6 barrack blocks.

The archaeology from the site is interesting, and although it is recorded that the early excavations did more harm than good, some of the finds are unique.


      • Oak timber beams.
      • Black Burnished ware.
      • Samien ware.
      • Sherds of pottery (including the above).
      • Coins.
      • Leather from a woman’s sandal.
      • Leather from a boot.
      • Tent pegs.
      • Evidence of copper working.
      • Evidence of iron working.
      • Evidence of lead working.
      • Glass.
      • Timber lined drains.
      • Evidence of a pottery kiln.
      • Well head.
      • An iron ring.
      • Roman weights.
      • Weights from other periods.
      • Dress fasteners.
      • A ‘terret’ ring.
      • Clay model of a horse approx. 11.4 cm long.
      • Signet ring.
      • Knife.
      • Iron Nails.
      • Spindlewhorl.
      • Amphorae handle.
      • Beads.

Most of the finds are held at Buxton Museum.

RIB 279 – From the First Cohort of Frisiavonians the century of Valerius Vitalis (Built this).

RIB 280 – For the Emperor Caesar … Trajan ….

For further information about the above click on the following links –


A pebbled road measuring approximately 2.5 meters wide has been identified and located on the outer edge of the ditch. These gravel roads were called via glareata and were one of the three categories of roads/tracks constructed by the Romans, basically this was a B Class road!!


Here is the Timeline for Melandra,

70                     First fort constructed in timber.

83-125               Samien ware dated to.

c.108-110          Defensive wall constructed. Rebuilt in stone by the First Cohort of Frisiavones.

c.120                 Additions to the Bath House.

c.120-140          Further additions to the Bath House.

134                   Archaeological Find: Jewish coin of the insurgent leader Barcochab dates from.

c.140                 Mansio demolished.

140-150             Abandoned.

3rd C                  Pottery sherds date from.

1771                 Rector John Watson identified the site as Ardotalia.

1841                 Copper Domitian coin found at the site.

1899-1901          Excavated.

1905-1907          Excavated.

1908-1911          Excavated.

1935-1939          Excavated.

1958-1961          Excavated.

1965                 Field Investigation. Surveyed.

1966 – 1969        Excavated.

1973                 The Melandra Field Group identified the remains of the Bath House.

1974-1982          Excavated.

1984-1990          Excavated.

1992-1998          Excavated.

1999                 Field Investigation. Survey.

2020                 On the Heritage at Risk Register.


Hopefully this amazing little site can be preserved for the future. Heritage at Risk is serious. Once it has gone – it is gone forever……..



References & Bibliography.

101. Proceedings of British Association. 1906. Man, 6, 157-160. doi:10.2307/2787272.

Aikin. J. 1795. A Description of The Country from Thirty To Forty Miles Around Manchester. J. Stockdale.

Allen. D., & Bryan. M. 2020. Roman Britain and Where to Find It. Amberley Publishing.

Armitage. J. 2020. Celtic Queen: The World of Cartimandua. Amberley Publishing.

Breeze. D., & Dobson. B. 1985. Roman Military Deployment in North England. Britannia, 16, 1-19. doi:10.2307/526389.

Burnham. B., Keppie. L., A. S. Esmonde Cleary. Hassall. M., & Tomlin. R. 1993. Roman Britain in 1992. Britannia, 24, 267-322. doi:10.2307/526740.

Burnham. B., Keppie. L., Esmonde Cleary. A. S., Hassall. M., & Tomlin. R. 1995. Roman Britain in 1994. Britannia, 26, 325-390. doi:10.2307/526890.

Caruana. I., Huntley. J., Dickinson. B., Hird. L., Cool. H., Winterbottom. S., . Groves. C. 1992. Carlisle: Excavation of a Section of the Annexe Ditch of the First Flavian Fort, 1990. Britannia, 23, 45-109. doi:10.2307/526104.

Chapman. E., Hunter. F., Booth. P., Wilson. P., Worrell. S., & Tomlin. R. 2009. Roman Britain in 2008. Britannia, 40, 219-364. Retrieved May 18, 2021, from

Collingwood. R. 1937. Roman Britain in 1936: I. Sites Explored: II. Inscriptions. The Journal of Roman Studies, 27, 223-250. doi:10.2307/296369.

Conway. R. 1905. The Manchester and District Branch of the Classical Association. The Classical Review, 19(6), 287-289. Retrieved May 18, 2021, from

Finney. B. 2003. The Ups and Downs of Branches. Greece & Rome, 50, 157-168. Retrieved May 18, 2021, from

Frere. S., Hassall. M., & Tomlin. R. 1985. Roman Britain in 1984. Britannia, 16, 252-332. doi:10.2307/526410.

Frere. S., Hassall. M., & Tomlin. R. 1989. Roman Britain in 1988. Britannia, 20, 258-345. doi:10.2307/526174.

Frere. S., & Tomlin. R. 1991. Roman Britain in 1990. Britannia, 22, 222-311. doi:10.2307/526647.

Frere. S., Hassall. M., & Tomlin. R. 1992. Roman Britain in 1991. Britannia, 23, 255-323. doi:10.2307/526123.

Gillam. J. 1976. Coarse Fumed Ware in North Britain And Beyond. Glasgow Archaeological Journal, 4, 57-80. Retrieved May 18, 2021, from

Goodburn. R., Wright. R., Hassall. M., & Tomlin. R. 1976. Roman Britain in 1975. Britannia, 7, 291-392. doi:10.2307/525786.

Goodburn. R., Hassall. M., & Tomlin. R. 1978. Roman Britain in 1977. Britannia, 9, 404-485. doi:10.2307/525961.

Goodburn. R., Hassall. M., & Tomlin. R. 1979. Roman Britain in 1978. Britannia, 10, 268-356. doi:10.2307/526068.

Hanson. W. 1978. The Organisation of Roman Military Timber-Supply. Britannia, 9, 293-305. doi:10.2307/525944.

Heritage Gateway. 2021. Melandra Castle. Available at

Historic England. 2021. Melandra Castle Roman fort – High Peak. Available at, and

Jarrett. M. 1994. Non-Legionary Troops in Roman Britain: Part One, the Units. Britannia, 25, 35-77. doi:10.2307/526988.

Jermy. K. 1990. The ‘North Cheshire Ridge’ Roman Road. Britannia, 21, 283-285. doi:10.2307/526303.

Keppie. L., Esmonde Cleary. A. S., Hassall. M., Tomlin. R., & Burnham. B. 1999. Roman Britain in 1998. Britannia, 30, 319-386. doi:10.2307/526690.

‘Melandra Castle’. 1906. The Classical Review, 20(6), 289-290. Retrieved May 18, 2021, from

Page. W. 1905. The Victoria History of the County of Derby. Volume 1. Constable.

Roman Britain in 1937: I. Sites Explored: II. Inscriptions. 1938. The Journal of Roman Studies, 28, 169-206. doi:10.2307/296660.

Ward. A. M., & Brown. M. H. 1986. Melandra Castle Roman. Guide Book from Glossop Heritage Tryst. Available at

Warry. P. 2010. Legionary Tile Production in Britain. Britannia, 41, 127-147. Retrieved May 18, 2021, from

Webster. P.V. 1971, ‘Melandra Castle Roman fort: excavations in the civil settlement 1966-1969’, Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. 91, 58-11.

Wild. F. 2002. The Development of the Roman Road System in the North-West: The Evidence of the Samian Ware. Britannia, 33, 268-274.

Willis. S. 2011. Samian Ware and Society in Roman Britain and Beyond. Britannia, 42, 167-242. Retrieved May 18, 2021, from

Wilson. D., & Wright. R. 1967. Roman Britain in 1966: I. Sites Explored: II. Inscriptions. The Journal of Roman Studies, 57(1/2), 174-210. doi:10.2307/299353.

Wilson. D., & Wright. R. 1970. Roman Britain in 1969. Britannia, 1, 269-315. doi:10.2307/525847.

Wright. R. 1960. Roman Britain in 1959: I. Sites Explored: II. Inscriptions. The Journal of Roman Studies, 50, 210-242. doi:10.2307/298302.


Enjoyed the content? Please comment with your thoughts...

error: You are not allowed to copy or take the contents of this page for use in any other printed material, website, social media accounts or for any commercial reasons. This includes using AI and ChatGPT to plagiarize and pass off my research as your own. Legal action will be taken you do so.
error: Alert: Content selection is disabled!!