The ramparts of Melandra Castle
Melandra 'castle' is the only significant Roman relic visible in the Peak. A small garrison fort, it is situated on the western edge of Glossop with the Gamesley estate encroaching upon it from the south. The fort has been excavated by Manchester University and is a scheduled monument in the care of English Heritage. However, in modern times its major function seems to be as an exercise area for the estate's dogs.
The fort was built as a turf and wood construction around AD 78, when Agricola's troops overran northern England. It would have housed a cohort (500 men) of auxiliary soldiers and had a Principia (headquarters building), barracks and granaries. There is evidence that a vicum (civilian settlement) grew up nearby and a military bath-house has been found north-east of the fort. The name Melandra cannot be found in Roman records and the real name of the fort was probably Ardotalia.
The fort was rebuilt in stone around AD 120 in the time of Hadrian, but was abandoned only 20 years later. In the 18th century an inscribed stone was found which read 'First cohort of Frisiavonians the century of Valerius Vitalis' - this is assumed to be the soldiers who rebuilt the fort, the inscription indicating that they were Frisians from North Germany.
The fort's position is a good one, situated on a bluff overlooking the Etherow and commanding the route into the Longendale Valley. Archaeological research has indicated that this was probably just a part of a network of defences designed to control the east-west route over the Pennines. The visible remains are a disappointment though - all that can be seen is a low rampart enclosing a rectangular area of approximately 3 acres, with the foundations of the main buildings just visible in the centre.