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Huddersfield in Roman Times
By Ian A. Richmond


Not later than A.D. 117, when the Emperor Trajan died, the British frontier in the far north was shaken to its foundations by a severe rebellion. As Mommsen has noted, the even received even less mention in contemporary literature than its result, which was the re-organisation of the frontier, including the building of Hadrian’s wall from Tyne to Solway. But over the map of northern Britain its effects are written large. In or soon after A.D. 115, as coins shew, the great fort at Newstead, near Melrose, was abandoned in haste, and with it the rest of Scotland.

To prevent trouble from spreading further south, additional fortlets were built on the road between Tyne and Solway, known as the Stanegate. About this time, too, the Ninth Legion, stationed at York, disappeared from history, and its place was taken by the Sixth. The intense anxiety of these years is shown by schemes of consolidation in the natural gap between Tyne and Solway. Agricola’s forts on the Stanegate had been strengthened already by the building of new block-houses. They were now remodelled or abandoned; the block-houses fell out of use; and new forts were added to form a new frontier line, much where Hadrian’s Wall now runs. Very soon, preceding the speedy enlargement of some of the forts, the new chain of forts was backed by a great earthwork, built, as it seems, to mark the boundary of the reduced province.

Meanwhile, the forts south of the Tyne had been holding on as well as might be, amid disturbances which apparently were local rather than general. The fort at Ilkley, for example, was burnt down, while those of Slack, Castleshaw, or Hardknot remained unscathed. Soon, however, and probably before A.D. 122, reconstruction and consolidation began under a new governor, Quintus Pompeius Falco, but mostly upon old lines. At Slack, for example, a fresh coin of A.D. 118 was found in the re-constructed bath-house, associated with the altar of Antonius Modestus, who was a centurion of the Sixth Legion, which had arrived to replace the Ninth Legion at York.

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