Huddersfield Chronicle (25/Nov/1865) - Huddersfield Archaeological and Topographical Association: Cambodunum

The following is a transcription of a historic newspaper article and may contain occasional errors. If the article was published prior to 1 June 1957, then the text is likely in the Public Domain.

Huddersfield Archaeological and Topographical Association. — Cambodunum.

The wet and tempestuous weather of the past week has very much retarded the work of excavations at Slack ; but, notwithstanding, we are glad to be able to report that considerable success has attended the labours of the Society. This day week three Roman coins were found, within a foot of the surface of the ground. One of them is of copper, the other of brass. There was also found a small portion of armour. On Monday, two other coins were discovered, — one of them a Vespasian, the other is supposed to be a Nero, both are of copper, and in a wonderful state of preservation. But the most important discovery of the week is the frigidarium, which is composed of a huge block of concrete, measuring 13½ feet in length, feet in breadth, and 1½ feet in depth. It is set on a bed of masonry, with a gentle incline to the north to carry off the water. It is surrounded by a rim of the same material, six inches in depth, and has a well-formed lip or spout for the escape of water. When it was fully cleared of the soil and rubbish, it was swilled once more after the lapse of ages, and it carried off the tide of water as in days of yore. The Thermae is now complete in that department. There is the tepidarium, where they used to prepare for the cella caldaria or hot bath room ; and now the cella frigidarium is laid bare where the cold or douce bath was taken. An upper flooring of concrete is now being opened ; and promises to be one of considerable dimensions. Great interest is manifested by all classes in the work going on ; and it is now becoming more of a national affair than hitherto. Ladies and gentlemen from considerable distances come to see Rome redivivus, even setting the weather at defiance. We hope Huddersfield people will take great interest in that which comes home to their doors ; and will not be backward in giving a helping hand to the work.





On referring to the History of Manchester, by the Rev. Mr. Whitaker,published upwards of 90 years ago, it appears that the site of Cambodunum was then the subject of debate among antiquaries.

Tracing the Roman road which led from the station of Castle Field, Manchester (Mancunium), to York (Eboracum), the author states :—

Crossing the Manchester and Huddersfield road at Delf, and passing along the fields to Castle Shaw, it appears in one long green seam upon Clowze Moss, and is popularly denominated 'The Old Gate ;' and it appears again in a green track upon the hill, which is called the Reaps — leaves March Hill a little to the north, and Marsden about a mile and a half to the south, and runs over the middle of Holm Moor, up Cupwith Moor, and by Pole Moor Stone, to the northern side of Golcar Hill and the ground plot of Cambodunum."

After stating the conflicting opinions of antiquaries as to the real site of Cambodunum, the author says :—

About the twenty-second mile, therefore, from Castle Field, along the track of the Roman road, will be the site of Cambodunum ; and just about that distance from it and Manchester I find it. The ground upon which I settle the town is vulgarly denominated Slack, and lies in the township of Longwood, and the parish of Huddersfield. There are four closes which are called the Eald or Old fields and crofts, and adjoin to the course of the way from Mancunium. These contain an area of twelve or fourteen acres, and are watered with a couple of brooks that meet just at the town, and curve round three sides of it. There several soughs have been found, pieces of thick glass, urns, bones, and slips of copper ; and crowded foundations of buildings have been equally discovered along them ; some a yard in thickness, and all composed of strong stone and cement. Two of the fields have been lately cleared ; but the others remain to this day entirely filled up with them, and the farmers have frequently broken their ploughs in all.
Thus plainly have these Eald fields been the site of some considerable town ; and it was certainly a Roman one. The position of it amid the wild extent of these moors and upon the course of the Roman road over them, and its exact distance from Mancunium, do of themselves declare it to be Roman, and a great quantity of Roman bricks has been discovered in the foundations — some long and some square — and all of a beautiful red. The latter were frequently twenty-two inches in the square, and found in the floorings of the houses ; as in some was dug up a thick crust of brick rudely scored into squares in imitation of tesselated work, and in others a pavement composed of pounded brick and very white mortar. Near the eastern side of the area where three stone hedges and three lordships now meet, and whence a long line of houses appeals from the discovered foundations to have extended towards the north, were lately found three coins of brass, two of which were soon lost by the carelessness of ignorance ; and the third has CAES. AVG. P. M. TR. on one side, S. and C. in the middle, and PVBLICA round the other. And these two Roman inscriptions have also been discovered, OREBURRHUF and OPVS. The former of them walled up in a building was copied for me by the Rev. Mr. Watson, and the latter is in my own possession.
But near the place where the coins were discovered was very lately a mount, one yard in height and about thirty in circumference ; and in the rubbish of it, and about three yards below the ground, was dug up the foundation of a building, constructed of stone and floored with bricks. Upon the eastern side of this, and below the level of the floor, was a small chamber four yards in length and two and a half in breadth. It was supported by pilasters rising half a yard in height and formed of square bricks, and it was paved with pounded brick and mortar, very hard and about a yard in thickness. This was clearly a Roman hypocaust ; and the flooring was designed to bear the requisite force of the fire, as the space between the pilasters was sufficient to admit the body of a boy, and the pavement was covered with a quantity of black ashes ; and on the western side of the building were found a Roman altar and its basis. The former is now in my own possession, and this is the inscription upon it, FORTVNAE SACRVM C. ANTO. MODES. C. LEG. VI. VIC. P. F. V. S. LM. And at full length it runs thus, Fortunae Sacrum Caius Antonius Modestus, Centurio Legionis sextæ, victricis, piæ fidelis, votum solvit lubens merito. Caius Antonias Modestus, centurion of the sixth victorius, pious, and faithful legion, consecrates this altar to Fortune, and with pleasure discharges the vow which he owed.
Thus plainly are the remains evinced to be Roman ; and what has been sought ineffectually for a century and a half, the real site of Cambodunum, is now discovered. The town was constructed along these four closes ; and the station was placed upon the neighbouring fields, and immediately perhaps beyond the channel of the western current. There is a proper site for a camp, a tongue of land formed by the union of the two above mentioned brooks and defended by their deep channels on two sides.

Trusting that this extract may interest some of your readers.

I remain, yours truly,