The Roman fort of Mamucium was built in 79 AD near the confluence of the River Medlock and River Irwell. It was constructed to guard strategically important roads to larger Roman forts at Chester, York, and Ribchester.
The fort was garrisoned by a cohort (480 soldiers) of auxiliaries. Auxiliaries were non-Romans, recruited from tribes that had been conquered by the Romans or allied to them. They served for 25 years, gaining Roman citizenship at the end of their service.
The fort was rebuilt by the Romans on at least three separate occasions; in 90 AD, 150 AD, and 200 AD. It was abandoned around 410 AD.
A vicus, or civilian settlement, was established outside the fort. The vicus was home to the soldiers’ families and traders that supplied services to the army. By 200 AD it is thought that the vicus was home to around 2,000 people. Archaeological excavations have uncovered evidence of buildings such as an inn, temples, shops, and a bathhouse.
The ruins of the fort stood until the Industrial Revolution. During this time, much of Mamucium was flattened for to make way for developments such as the Rochdale Canal and railway viaducts.
In the 1980s Castlefield was regenerated and became the UK’s first Urban Heritage Park. Redevelopment work included the reconstruction of the rampart (banked defensive wall), northern gateway, and the foundations of vicus buildings.
The reconstruction of the northern gateway is particularly impressive. It depicts the gateway as it was thought to have existed in 200 AD. It includes a section of original Roman stone and forms the entrance to a lawned area. In the summer months, it’s a popular spot to rest and relax.
The Roman fort is located in Castlefield, in the area between the Castlefield Bowl, the Science and Industry Museum, and the Rochdale Canal. The site is open to the public and free to visit.
The nearest train station is Deansgate.
The closest Metrolink stop is Deansgate-Castlefield. An impressive tower offers pedestrians a quick route from Castlefield to the tram stop.