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of Fngland by the Romans, it would be futile to record and pub
lish conjectures; and it would be equally chimerical to endeavour to ascertain the original occupation of the place by those conquerors. Mr. Whitaker, however, observes, that Agricola established a post here, called Mancunium, “in the year of Christ 79.” The same writer also asserts, that “a castle was built on the site of
Castle-field; and the protection of a castle constantly gave rise to
a town.” He proceeds to state, that “the dimensions of Mancemiom, the British name of the place, are still” (in 1771) “visible. It filled the whole area of the present castle-field, except the low swampy part of it on the west, and was twelve acres, three roods, and ten perches in extent. Terminated by the windings of the Medlock on the south, south-east, and south-west, it was bounded on the east by a fosse, on the west by the present very lofty bank, and on the north by a long and broad ditch.” This description applies to the British fortress; for after the Romans possessed it, they abridged the limits of the castrum, and, according to the same writer, reduced it from an area of “thirteen acres of our statute measure, to about five acres and ten perches.” After describing many transactions, &c. which Mr. W. says must have taken place, he proceeds to state, that “the new erected fort, in castle-field, now became a stationary castrum of the Romans, and the Romans now settled a garrison within it. The new erected fort, in castle-field, still retained the name of the ancient fortress upon it, and Mancenion was only changed into MANCUNIUM.” It will be tedious to follow our author through all the minute particularities of history, description, and critical disquisition, which he indulges in ; and it may suffice to remark, that though all traces of a military station are obliterated, yet a few Roman antiquities have been found here. These serve to prove the identity of the station, and the names of the cohorts, &c. that were established in it. Besides some sepulchral urns and coins, here have been found altars and inscribed stones. One of these,
with the following inscription, was discovered on removing the
rubbish that obstructed “the Praetorian gateway of the Roman camp
camp in castle field.” It is described in the following terms, by the learned Dr. E. Holm, of Manchester, who has supplied the characters, here printed, in Italic capitals.
FRISIAvo N. Q. VI MVNI. M. P. XXIIII. -“Probably; Cohortis prima Frisiavonum quae vitm municit mil. lium passuum viginti quatuor; which may refer to the construction of the military road between Mancunium and Condate; as the distance between these stations, fixed by Richard of Cirencester, in his tenth Iter, at twenty-three miles, measures, according to Mr. Whitaker, twenty-two English, which are nearly equivalent to twenty-three Roman miles and three quarters *. The relic before us is of importance, as it enables us to restore the proper appellation of the cohort that garrisoned Mancunium; concerning which antiquarians have been misled, by an ambiguous contrac. tion in the inscription at Melandra castle, and probably in that transcribed for Camden, by Dr. Dee. It is farther valuable, as it. may serve to vindicate the authority of Pliny, and the purity of his text, in regard to a subject on which they have been questioned, in a work of great erudition, published by an eminent scholar of the seventeenth century t. The Frisiabones, or adopting the reading of Harduin's MSS. Frisiavones are twice mentioned by the elder Pliny; first, as inhabitants of an island situated at the mouth of the Rhine, between the Maese and the Zuyder Zee ; and secondly, as a nation of Belgic Gault. The former are supposed, by Harduin, to have been a body of emigrants from the latter. The name is likewise preserved in an inscription
* History of Manchester, I. 102. # Wid. Cluveti German. Antiq. 561.
t Hist. Nat. Lib. IV. capp. 29, 31.
scription found at Rome, of which I shall insert a copy from
Whether the Mancunian cohort was the same with the Cohors I. Frivagorum of the Notitia, stationed, in the decline of the empire, at Windobala, is a question that must be decided by future discoveries, as no inscriptions occur at Rutchester, which is sup
posed, by Mr. Horsley, to coincide with that station.” The Roman station of Mancunium was connected with “seven” others, by means of military-ways, or roads. Of these Mr. Whitaker endeavours to define and describe six; one leading to Ribchester, a second to Blackrode, a third to Warrington, a fourth to Buxton, a fifth to Ilkley, in Yorkshire, and a sixth to Kinderton, in Cheshire. Besides the station already described as occupying the site of Castle-field, Mr. Whitaker contends, that it was connected with a Castra-AEstiva, or summer-camp, which he fixes at that part of the town where the college, &c. now stand. His account of this spot, furnishes a curious specimen of ingenious conjectural writing. He says, “this is infinitely the properest site in the vicinity of the town, that can pretend to attract the notice of the enquiring antiquarian. This is absolutely the only site in the vicinity of the station that could pretend to attract the notice of the examining Romans. In the earliest period of the Saxon his– tory of Manchester, selected for the seat of its lord, as I shall shew hereafter, and accordingly denominated Barons-hull, and Barons
* Inscript. Antiq. DXXXII. 7.
Barons-yard, and a part of it still retaining the appellation Huntsbank, it, and it alone, is exactly such a site as the exigencies of the Romans required. It is banked on two sides by ribs of rocks, either very steep, or absolutely perpendicular, and looks down from a very lofty summit upon the waters of the Irke, stealing directly along it on one side, and upon the stream of the Irwell breaking directly against it on the other. It spreads its area of dry compacted sand, gently leaning to the north and west; and from the lowness of the ground about it, on the south-west, westnorth-west, and north-east, and from the constant ventilations of the air, by the briskness of the currents below, peculiarly feels, in the summer, a succession of refreshing breezes: and thus admirably fitted for a camp, by its formidable barriers upon two sides, and incomparably adapted for a summer-camp, by its position upon two concurrent streams, its overlooking all the low grounds of Salford and Strangeways, and commanding a distant view of the country, even as far as Howick-Moor; it had the Roman road, to Ribchester, stretching along the western side of it; it still shews the striking remains of an ancient ditch along the southern and eastern sides; and it just contains, within its limits, the requisite number of acres for a summer-camp. The area comprised within the ditch and the rivers, is exactly twelve statute-acres and an half in compass.” After describing the manner of its formation, it is added by Mr. Whitaker, such “was the pleasing, impregnable site of the summer-camp of the Romans, lined with tall impracticable precipices behind, covered with a fosse enormously deep and broad before, and insulated by the three lively currents of water around it; where, for more than eight successive centuries the public devotions of the towns have been regularly preferred to Heaven, and where, for more than twenty successive generations, the plain forefathers of the town have been regularly reposited in a place, the Romans once kept their summer residence, and enjoyed the fanning breeze of the west and north. Where the bold barons of Manchester spread out the hospitable board in a rude
magnificence of luxury, or displayed the instructive mimicry of
who soon relinquished it to the Saxons. During the dynasties of
these invaders, Manchester was several times a place of military
Thomas, on the 14th of May, 1301, granted to his burgesses of
tom of the manor, and was summoned as a baron to parliament, from
* History of Manclester, Vol. I, p. 184.