3d History

Ardotalia - Roman Glossop

Ardotalia: The Auxiliary Roman Fort at Melandra, Glossop

Glossop is a small town in the Peak District of Derbyshire, located just outside the boundary of the National Park. It lies at the western end of the Snake pass that runs over the High Peak to Sheffield on the western side of the Pennine hills.

The town has a good supply of water and this made it an attractive location for the cotton mills during the industrial revolution around the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

A railway line was built during the 1840's, running through a tunnel under the Pennines to Sheffield. The tunnel was closed during the changes proposed by Dr. Richard Beeching in the 1960's, the line stopping at Glossop.


Close by Glossop is the residential estate of Gamesley, the site of the ancient fort of Ardotalia built by the Romans to protect the route over the Pennines between the Legionary fortresses at Lincoln and Chester. There were also roads leading to Manchester (Mamucium), Stockport, York via Castleshaw and to Derby (Derventio) via Buxton (Aquae Arnemetiae).

The fort would have been the base for around 400 to  500 auxiliary soldiers, who would have been responsible for policing the roads and keeping the local Celts, the Brigantes, under control.

Ardotalia: An overhead of Ardotalia, the Roman Fort near Glossop shows clearly teh defensive position above the confluence of the River Etherow and Glossop brook.

The fort was originally built during the Flavian period (AD75) on an outcrop that overlooks the confluence of the River Etherow and Glossop brook, a typical location for a Roman fort. The fort continued in use into the second century and possibly also into the third and fourth centuries.

The fort was constructed by Cohors Primae Frisiavonum (The First Cohort of Frisiavones) assisted by the third Cohort of Bracara Augustani, though  it is thought that it was the third Cohort of Bracara Augustani that were actually resident in the fort. The fort occupies around 21 acres and has a stone wall measuring about 5 feet thick. There are four entrances, three of which have a double gate, the other having only a single gate. (see Roman Fort for an interactive illustration of the various parts of a fort)

A Vicus (civilian settlement) grew up close by the fort where the families of the legionnaires, tradesmen, merchants and craftsmen lived. In addition to the base of the fort's walls there are also remains of a building about 100 m east of the fort that is suspected to be a Mansio. Mansios were official resting places for officials of the Empire built along the main roads at intervals amounting to one day's journey, approximately every 15 to 18 miles.

Below - Views of Ardotalia as it might have appeared during the 2nd or 3rd centuries.