13 February 2015


Remains of  The Granary at Templeborough
Moved in 1916 to Clifton Park, Rotherham
Long ago, before there was such a country as England, Rotherham sat at the border between the ancient kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria. Going back even further in time to the first century AD, the Romans built an important fortress at Rotherham. It was at the northern edge of the Roman Empire long before they pressed further northwards to settle in Northumbria and build Hadrian's Wall.

Today the Rotherham fort is known as Templeborough but tragically the site was obliterated in 1916 as the steel company Steel, Peach and Tozer expanded their works as part of the effort to win World War One. Though she probably didn't know it, my grandmother Phyllis White worked in the very cavernous manufacturing shed which was quickly built upon the Templeborough fortress site. She belonged to an army of women who produced shell casings.

In 1916, a lot of the old stones had already disappeared from the Roman fortress. They had been purloined over many centuries and then the steel company began to move away the earth - destroying so much evidence of a Roman military settlement that had been in use for almost four hundred years. Fortunately, some bigwigs at Rotherham Council realised what was being lost and sent in a team of archaeologists. They only had a few weeks in which to properly conduct a final survey of the site and rescue as much archaeology as they could. By the way, there had been some earlier digs during the nineteenth century.

Some of the evidence collected in 1916 ended up with the British Museum in London but a lot of it remains in Rotherham - housed at Clifton Park Museum. I was there today.

Behind the museum there are many old stones that were once part of Templeborough's granary building. Having a large food store was vital for maintaining hundreds of Roman troops - many of whom came from Gaul. They stored dried meats and fruit as well as various grains.

Inside the museum there's Roman pottery, weaponry, domestic objects such as tweezers, photographs of the desperate archaeological dig back in 1916 and the broken remains of four Roman gravestones:-
The base of the middle stone is inscribed with these words:- 
Which means:-
"To the spirits of the departed and Crotus Vindex, veteran of the Fourth Cohort of Gauls, forty years old, this monument was made and its inscription set down by Flavia Peregrina a most faithful wife for a most faithful husband".

Today there's nothing to see at the place where the fortress once stood. It is really very sad but at least some objects were rescued and much is known of the site and of its importance in advertising that the Romans had arrived and they were not going to be messed with.


  1. I never knew anything of this apart from the steel works. Thanks I'll have to have a look next time I'm down that way.

    1. As I say, you will see nothing but the Magna Centre over the place where the fortress once stood. It was directly connected with the fort at Wincobank and the little fort at Brough in The Hope Valley.

  2. Although I've spent some time in the Rotherham area when Steve's mother still lived in Wath, I've never actually been to Rotherham itself and certainly did not know about this disappeared Roman site. Good to know there is at least the museum to remind people of the history of the place.

    1. To me it is sad that Rotherham is now tainted with tales of child sex abuse. The council has been suspended by central government. It is not the prettiest place in the world but it still has interesting tales to tell.

  3. Wonderful post! It is fascinating (especially to one whose neighbors probably don't remember anything before last year's Oscar telecast) to realize that real flesh-and-blood people lived in one's area centuries ago. I recently learned that the area around Fier, Albania, hometown of my wife's mother, has been continuously populated for more than 2,700 years. Fier is 8 km, I think it was, from where Apollonia used to be on some very ancient maps. Anyhoo, Carry On, Paleontoligist!

    1. How silly of me -- I meant Archaeologist, of course.

    2. So pleased that you enjoyed this post Bob. I lay in bed last night and imagined 75 generations in a row - going back to the time when the Roman forces first arrived at Templeborough.


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