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operations; they continued to possess their territories in peace, savage but free, idolatrous but as yet untainted with the vices of Rome. The time however was at hand when this state of things was to end, and it was reserved for Agricola to carry the Roman arms to those parts of the country which had not as yet been brought into subjection to the imperial rule. This general was appointed to the command in Britain in the autumn of A. D. 78. In spite of the advanced season of the year, he immediately assembled the legions and a small number of auxiliaries, and marching into the territories of the Ordovices (North Wales), who had surprised and cut to pieces a squadron of Roman horse, put to the sword the greater part of that people. He then passed over to Mona (Anglesey) and entirely conquered that island. As the time of the year was past for further military operations, and the slaughter of the Ordovices had struck terror into the other cities, Agricola spent the winter in regulating and reforming the government of Britain, and correcting the innumerable abuses which had crept into the administration. As the summer of the year 79 approached, Agricola set out with his legions, and leaving Deva (Chester), marched through the district now known as Cheshire, and entered Lancashire by the ford over the Mersey at Stretford. From this latter place the distance to Mancenion was but short. The town was soon reached, attacked, and taken, despite the determined resistance offered by the Britons, who were driven out to find a shelter in the surrounding woods as best they could, and so ended the British period of Mancenion's history. The only British remains that have as yet been discovered on the site of this ancient town are few in number, and even these are conjectural. Amongst them we may mention a well, undoubtedly of great antiquity, opened in Castlefield in 1830, and supposed by all to be British, and a Celt or axe-head of stone, also found at the same place, and now in the Chetham Library.
No sooner had Agricola obtained possession of Mancenion than he saw its importance in a military point of view, and at once erected a station there, placing in it a garrison, which, as we learn from the inscriptions that have been found upon its site, was composed of Frisians. These appear to have experienced some difficulty in expressing the name of their country in the
language of their conquerors, for they occur as Frisingi, Frisones, and Frisavi. The designation given to the station, Mancunium, is evidently nothing more than the Latin form of the ancient Celtic name. Mancunium occupied about half the site of the British town, and was in form a parallelogram of 500 feet in length by 400 in breadth. It was enclosed by a wall, many remains of which were visible till a comparatively recent period, This station protected at once the district adjacent to the higher portion of the Mersey and the junction of the Irwell with its tributary streams. Connected with the station of Mancunium were several subordinate ones, generally supposed to have been erected for the protection of cattle in the districts in which they were situated. Traces of these inferior camps have been found at Littleborough, Castlehill (near Delph), Stockport, Didsbury, Stretford, Hyle-wood, (near Castle Irwell), Rainsough (near Kersal Moor), Castle Hill, at Singleton Brook, in the first field in the parish of Prestwich as you proceed from Manchester, on the old road to Bury, and on a spot a little above the Grove Inn, on the Bury New Road, where the site is still recalled by the name of Camp-street.
That Mancunium was a place of great importance during the time that Britain remained under the imperial rule, we have ample evidence in the many roads by which it was united to the other parts of the country. No less than six of these are known to have existed, and the direction of five of them may be distinctly traced even at the present day; the remains of the other are not so very clear, but yet its general direction can be identified. One of these roads connected Mancunium with the stations in the south and west of Britain. Proceeding in the
direction of the present old road to Stretford, where it crossed the Mersey and entered Cheshire, it pursued its course by Crossstreet, and crossing a portion of Dunham Park, arrived at Street Head, from which place the existing road to Knutsford occupies its site till it arrived at Mere Town, and thence inclining to Northwich, proceeded to Condate (Kinderton) near Middlewich, from which several roads branched off in different directions. A continuation of this road connected Mancunium with Coccium (Ribchester), an extensive station, famous for its numerous antiquities. This road followed the direction of the modern Deansgate,
Strangeways, and Bury New Road, till it reached Prestwich, whence it proceeded in a north-north-west direction by the Dales and Radcliffe, and joining the Watling Street at Offside, it continued its course by Edgworth, Blacksnape, Darwen (eastward of Blackburn), Ramsgreave, Longridge Fell, and so on to Ribchester. Another road joined Mancunium to Cambodunum, supposed to be Slack, near Huddersfield, in Yorkshire. This road, evident traces of which may yet be seen in many places, crossed what is now the township of Manchester in a direction of east north-east, and entering Newton township, proceeded by Cheetham Fold, the street in Failsworth, Honey Well-lane, Glodwick, and Lees Brook, in Oldham Below Town, entering Yorkshire near Austerlands, whence it continued its course by Old Delph and Castlehill, and passing over Millstone Edge, near the present Stanedge Tunnel on the Manchester and Huddersfield branch of the London and North Western Railway, reached Cambodunum, from which place it proceeded by Legiolum (Castleford) and Calcaria (Tadcaster) to Eburacum (York). A fourth road, leading to Blackrod, near Wigan, crossed the Irwell at the place known afterwards as Woden's Ford, not far from Old Trafford, and passing by Hope Hall and Chorlton Fold, proceeded by Stanney Street and the present high road to Wigan to the station at Blackrod, from which it is supposed to have gone on to Lancaster. A fifth road, going from Mancunium in a direction almost north north-east, passed by Street Fold in Moston, Street Bridge in Chadderton, Street Gate in Royton, and so on to Littleborough. Turning from the latter place towards the east north-east it crossed Blackstone Edge, where its course is still very distinct, and proceeded to Olicana (Ilkley). The other road united Mancunium with Buxton, which appears to have been remarkable for the medicinal properties of its waters even at this early period. This road pursued the course of the present highway to Stockport.
Once conquered, the British population of this district seems to have been entirely subdued and to have settled down peacefully under the sovereignty of the Romans. This part of the country was shortly afterwards included in the province of Maxima Cæsariensis, one of the five into which the whole of Britain was divided for the purposes of government and military organisation.
A new town was founded to the north of the station of Mancunium, receiving from it its name, and its locality may still be identified by the name of Aldport or Alport, which it received from the Angles in a succeeding age. The foundation of this new town is generally ascribed to the reign of Titus, and we may reasonably infer that it partook somewhat of the character of a Roman town, but how much or how little we can only conjecture. There can be no doubt that the Roman garrison would exercise great influence on the Britons, and if we may form an opinion from what occurred in other parts of the country, a certain amount of Roman civilisation and refinement would be introduced among them; Roman manners and customs would be more or less followed, and the Roman forms of worship adopted. It is to the Romans that the Britons of this part of the country were indebted for their knowledge of agriculture, upon which the conquerors placed especial honour. The soldiers who formed the garrison became the cultivators of the land in the neighbourhood of the station. Their example was not lost upon the Britons, who cleared the ground of its forest trees, and raising upon it large crops of corn, depended no longer upon the precarious produce of the chase for their support. Other arts, such as dyeing, weaving, &c., were also introduced, as well as the various trades required for the necessities and comforts of the inhabitants; a corn-mill was erected on the banks of the Medlock a little below the station, and a bakery was established, which for many succeeding ages possessed the exclusive privilege of baking the bread of the population.
Mancunium continued to be held by the Romans as long as Britain was connected with the empire, and during the whole of that period there is every reason to believe that its garrison was composed of the Frisians mentioned above; but there is also little doubt that there were natives of the other countries subject to the imperial rule intermingled with the population, as these foreign admixtures were common in Britain at the time. From this we may safely assume that the inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood were no longer exclusively British, though that people may have constituted the great bulk of the population. Pagans they were undoubtedly; yet here and there might have been found one who had embraced the doctrines of Christianity, and as far as possible, though in secret, carried out its precepts
and practices. Of the state of religion in Britain during the Roman period of its history little is known that can be relied on, but one fact may be stated, and that is, that among all the remains of the conquerors of the world which the labours of antiquaries and others have brought to light in this country, nothing decidedly Christian, with one single exception, has as yet been discovered, and it cannot but excite surprise that such should be the case, if the accounts given of the ancient British church be at all worthy of credit.'
Beyond the names of persons commemorated on the inscribed stones which have been found here, and the light which they and the other monuments of antiquity throw upon the condition of the country, the history of this town and district, under the Romans, is almost a blank. As the hostilities in this part of Britain for a long period were confined to the northern borders, the troops stationed here must have been in a constant state of movement and agitation, which increased as the attacks of what were now called the Picts of the north and their allies the Gaelic Scots of Ireland became more frequent and formidable. The original population of the country must have been diminished, not only by the ordinary causes which lead to the diminution of a conquered race under such circumstances, but because the Romans were very unlikely to leave in such a position a conquered race strong enough to rise and coöperate with foreign invaders. Moreover, we know that the process of extermination had commenced as early as the middle of the second century, for we learn from the contemporary writer, Pausanias, that under Antoninus Pius more than one half of the tribe of the Brigantes were cut off for an act of turbulent insubordination in making war on the Genuni, another British tribe. To these causes also we must add the continual drawing away of the British youth to serve as Roman auxiliaries in foreign countries. Though the British population suffered this diminution, we cannot go so far as some writers who state that the population of Britain, during the latter portion of the Roman period, possessed very little of
1 The exception alluded to in the text has been found on the principal tasselated pavement of the Roman villa discovered at Frampton, in Dorsetshire, where the Christian monogram (the X and P) appears in the midst of figures and emblems, all of which are purely pagan.