The Antiquary (Dec 1909) - Proceedings of Archaeological Societies

The following is a transcription of a historic article and may contain occasional errors.

On November 10 Dr. Villy lectured before the Bradford Historical and Antiquarian Society on "The Roman Occupation of the West Riding." In the course of his address the lecturer said that there were three roads passing through the North. The first started from Chester, and, going through Northwich, ultimately reached Manchester, and thence continued into the West Riding in the direction of Huddersfield. From that point the tracing was indefinite, but there was little doubt that it passed not far from Castleshaw, probably got to Tadcaster, across the Wharfe, and communicated with York. That road would be of great importance, setting up as it would communication between Chester and York. Dr. Villy dwelt on the fort at Castleshaw, and alluding to the finds made there, he said that the pottery discovered belonged to the first century. He also dealt with the fort at Slack, where had been found tile stamps of the 4th Cohort B.R.E., the nationality of which had never been definitely fixed. The auxiliaries of the Roman army, Dr. Villy in passing remarked, formed an interesting study. The legions, 6,000 strong, were nominally Italians, but the auxiliaries were recruited in the conquered countries. They had the Sarmatian Horse, and he thought they might not be far wrong in regarding them as the predecessors of the present Cossacks. At Ilkley they got the Lingones from France, at other places there were traces of Moors, so at that time they could imagine a very strange mixture of peoples in the North, what with the legions, the auxiliaries, the hangers-on, and the camp-followers. As to what had become of the original natives in these parts, nobody knew. It seemed exceedingly doubtful that they became civilized and assimilated like those in the South, for it was recorded that at times, in spite of the huge garrisons, the country was upset because of the people in the hilly country being ever ready to do an injury to the Romans whenever they could. From 150 to 200 a.d. the North of England was in an uproar, until the Emperor Severus took the matter properly in hand. It was a fairly well accepted fact, however, that the North of England as a whole, if conquered, was in a sullen state, and, so far from being friendly, was always ready to do the invaders an injury. The second road was from Manchester to Ilkley, and in dealing with this, the lecturer pointed out, it was not correct to assume that the Romans always made their road straight. In the plain, flat country that policy was as a rule carried out, but in hilly country the roads were laid out by landmarks, and he pointed out how in the neighbourhood of Denholme, Harden Moor, and Riddlesden, the straight lengths were of very short distance. The third road ran from Rib-Chester, past Elslack to Skipton, across Rumbolds Moor to Tadcaster and York, thus giving a complete line across the country from east to west. This road was kept on a low level, seldom reaching a height of 450 feet. In conclusion, the lecturer dealt with the excavations at Elslack, of which he showed a few photographs.