from 1908 to 1933…

If you’d been at the site at the beginning of June 1908 you’d have found Francis Archibald Bruton (FAB) in charge of excavations at the site – Samuel Andrew and Major Lees taking over in mid June until mid August. The main task in this season was the investigation of the inner fort. In this year also Bruton published the main findings from 1907, which you’ll see in the previous post here, then the findings from 1908 were eventually published in 1911.  Bruton says that in 1908 they examined all the structural details again but did not add to their knowledge of the outline of the forts, see original plan in previous post and artist’s impression here….


Here’s the list of their finds: coins – from 83 BC/ Vespasian/ Trajan/ Hadrian; a fragment of gold; part of a bronze bell; lead lampstand; spindle whorls; seal; a number of beads; window glass; bottle glass; pieces of shoes; fragments of oak; two pointed stakes; several millstones. Also there were 8 fragments of Samian Ware pottery and 36 sherds of unglazed ware, and red or buff coloured tiles were found all over the site.

The next academic landmark is in 1922, when Ian Richmond published a paper on the dates, sequencing and purpose of the forts, based on the information given in Bruton and on the pottery found in the 1907/8 excavations.

I haven’t been able to get original photos of any of finds or of the antiquarians mentioned, but here’s a picture of two men from same era, looking the part ….

…………………………………………….. 56b9c2c0444020a6007cc01366ea1099

does anyone know who they are?


Without resorting to photographing images of finds in Bruton’s book, I can tell you that the best way to find good illustrations, photos and information is in Booth (2001). On page 32 there’s even a picture of five of the team standing by the hypocaust.

I can’t tell you who is whom on that photo either, (and will still try to get a copy for blogging), but I thought you might like to know that Samuel Andrew died in 1916, Major Lees in 1926 and FAB in 1929.  After the death of Major Lees there was an issue about the land of Castleshaw and the poor rate of taxation due on it, as well as its accession. The site must have eventually acceded to a farmer…

as here’s the headline in the Manchester Guardian just a few years later – 21.7.33 –


“Castleshaw, the Roman camp near Saddleworth, just over the Yorkshire border, is in danger of being buried for good under a mountain of refuse.  The site has been offered by its owner, a local farmer, to the Saddleworth Urban District Council as a refuse tip.”

The report says “the chairman of the Health Committee appeared to be in favour of the proposal.”

Devastating thought……


to this…………………dump1


becoming this……………………..dump2


But the work of our antiquarians hadn’t been in vain – for they had ensured that the site was known and valued, and archaeologists in Manchester plus John Swarbrick, the secretary of the Ancient Monuments Society, took up arms against the threat. They had all the information about the forts at their fingertips, courtesy of Bruton’s careful recording and writing, and were able to argue for the saving of the site.

Eighteen months later – in January 1935 – the site became a Scheduled Monument.

It’s quite possible that without the dedicated work of particularly Andrew, Lees and Bruton, but also mentioning Wrigley, Buckley and Richmond, the site could well have become a scenic dump.  Forget that they didn’t fill in the trenches properly, we owe them our very grateful thanks.

As ever, your Bloggeria


Booth, K. 2001. Roman Saddleworth. Saddleworth Archaeological Trust./ Bruton, F.A. 1911. The Roman Forts at Castleshaw Second Interim Report. Manchester: The University Press./ Richmond, I. 1922. The Sequence and purpose of the Roman Forts at Castleshaw. The Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society./ Roman Camp as Refuse Tip, The Manchester Guardian, July 21 1933. From ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

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