Mediolanvm is a mid/late first century Roman fort which became the focus of a Roman town. The fort (SJ541416), which can be tentatively dated to c.51/2AD, formed part of the border established by Ostorius Scapula and was demolished cAD100. The early phases of the town were marked by construction of timber buildings, some industrial, dating to the mid second century.  These were replaced by stone structures during the late second and early third century when the town reached its height in expansion and prosperity.

The various phases of occupation at Mediolanum may be summarized as follows:

  1. Initial occupation with timber buildings, pre AD 75 and associated with the period of legionary occupation at Wroxeter. Phase ended with dismantling of structure
  2. Flavian auxiliary fort from c AD 75 identified by discovery of western defences and part of internal buildings. Demolished soon after AD 100
  3. There was gradual development of the site as a civil settlement. Timber buildings (several of industrial character) occupied much of the site by the mid 2nd century.
  4. Substantial stone buildings (I and III) replaced timber structures in the area excavated, suggesting town’s property and expansion reached its height in the late 2nd and 3rd century.
  5. By the beginning of the 4th century, Building I had been replaced by its successor (II) flanked to the East by late timber structures of uncertain purpose. The settlement appears to have been contracting along the line of the present High Street by the early 4th century and occupation does not seem to have lasted long into the second half of the century.

Material found is currently stored in the Manchester Museum. Most of the casual finds in store at Whitchurch awaiting new museum premises point unmistakably to the cemetery area (qv SJ 54 SW 4). Finds associated with the Roman occupation of Mediolanum include:

  1. Pottery found in 1903 on the site of the Poultry Market at SJ 5414 4161
  2. Early 2nd century pottery and bronze lamp found 1903 on the site of Town Hall at SJ 5415 4160.
  3. A small pot (date not recorded) was recovered from garden of the ‘Plume of Feathers’ Inn at SJ 5422 4128.
  4.  A dupondius of Vespasian (AD 77-78) in fine condition was found in 1958 on the surface of the Roman road on the site of Lloyd’s Bank (at SJ 5420 4147). This is now on display in the bank, along with a rotary quern-stone and 1st to 4th century pottery.
  5. In about 1960, the demolition of the 18th century premises of Barclay’s Bank in the High Street (at SJ 5420 4152) produced sherds of a grey ware poppyhead beaker, and of cooking pots etc. at a depth of around 8ft. This was possibly a Roman rubbish pit.
  6. A Trajan gold coin was found in 1969 in the yard of the Victoria Hotel at SJ 5410 4160. The coin is now on display in the hotel. (2-9)

The Civil Settlement

Several timber-framed buildings of industrial character were established by mid 2nd century, suggesting a civil settlement. Two early 2nd century wells with small, rectangular buildings and surrounding fences at the well-head, were both filled-in by the end of the 2nd century. Substantial stone buildings were constructed in the late 2nd to 3rd centuries, when the prosperity of the town was at its height. Smaller stone buildings with associated timber out-houses were being built predominantly by the beginning of the 4th century.

Roman Sites in the Neighbourhood

The vexillation fortress and fort at Rhyn Park lies about fifteen miles to the west, on the border between England and Wales. There is also a Romano-British courtyard villa at Hales, around twelve miles to the south-east in Staffordshire.

References for Mediolanvm

  • Roadside Settlements in Lowland Roman Britain by Roger Finch Smith (B.A.R. British Series #157, 1987) p.302.

Roman Roads near Mediolanvm

NNW (8) to Bovivm NE (20) to Middlewich SE (30) to Pennocrvcivm (Water Eaton, South Staffordshire) S (10) to Rvtvnivm (Harcourt Park, Shropshire)

Sites near Whitchurch (Mediolanum) Roman Fort