Ancient Monuments

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Roman signal station on Mellor Moor

A Scheduled Monument in Mellor, Lancashire

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Latitude: 53.7769 / 53°46'36"N

Longitude: -2.5211 / 2°31'15"W

OS Eastings: 365755.391736

OS Northings: 431294.618669

OS Grid: SD657312

Mapcode National: GBR BSTR.ZV

Mapcode Global: WH96V.7BQF

Entry Name: Roman signal station on Mellor Moor

Scheduled Date: 23 August 1934

Last Amended: 10 December 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013607

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27675

County: Lancashire

Civil Parish: Mellor

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lancashire

Church of England Parish: Mellor St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Blackburn


The monument includes a Roman signal station located on the summit of Mellor
Moor from where there are extensive views in all directions particularly
northwards towards the site of the Roman fort at Ribchester, and southwards
along the line of the Roman road which connected the forts at Ribchester and
Manchester. It includes the grass covered remains of a central platform
measuring c.19m by 10m surrounded by faint traces of a ditch beyond which are
further traces of a slight bank. The whole site measures approximately 43m
east-west by 31m north south. Limited excavations undertaken in 1898 and 1958
found evidence for a central wooden tower which may have been replaced at a
later date by a stone structure. The monument was encircled by a ditch c.1.5m
deep and outer bank 0.6m high. Its date of construction is thought to be about
AD 80 at the time when the Roman army was campaigning in northern England
under the governorship of Gnaeus Julius Agricola.
All modern fences, stiles, gateposts, and the surface of a farmtrack which
crosses the site are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath these
features is included. An Ordnance Survey column situated upon the western
side of the monument is included within the scheduling.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Roman signal stations were rectangular towers of stone or wood situated within
ditched, embanked, palisaded or walled enclosures. They were built by the
Roman army for military observation and signalling by means of fire or smoke.
They normally formed an element of a wider system of defence and signalling
between military sites such as forts and camps and towns, generally as part of
a chain of stations to cover long distances. In northern England stations were
used in particular to augment the main frontier formed by Hadrian's Wall, but
elsewhere stations were constructed along the coast to keep lookout over the
sea and to signal information both along the coast and to inland sites.
Signal stations were constructed and used in Britain mainly during three
distinct periods. The earliest examples were built between AD 50 and AD 117
for use during earliest military campaigns during the conquest period. Signal
stations at this period took the form of a wooden tower surrounded by a ditch
and bank and possibly a slight timber palisade. After AD 117 towers were more
usually built in stone, some on the same site as earlier timber towers. The
latest series, in the mid-4th century AD, were more substantial stone signal
stations built mainly along the Yorkshire coast. These had a tower up to 30m
high which was surrounded by a curtain wall and external ditch.
Signal stations survive as low earthworks, or their below ground remains may
be identified on aerial photographs. Fewer than 50 examples have been
identified in England. As one of a small group of Roman military monuments,
which are important in representing army strategy, government policy and the
pattern of military control, signal stations are of importance to our
understanding of the period. All Roman signal stations with surviving
archaeological remains are considered to be nationally important.

Despite a combination of past ploughing and limited archaeological excavations
in 1898 and 1958, the Roman signal station on Mellor Moor survives reasonably
well. It formed an important part of the Roman communication system in the
area now known as Lancashire, and will contribute further information to our
understanding of the Roman signalling network in northern England.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Cobley, W, 'Ribble Archaeology' in The Mellor Moor Earthwork, , Vol. 7, (1974), 5
Ferrell,G., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Signal Stations, (1988)
SMR No. 161, Lancs SMR, Mellor Moor, (1991)

Source: Historic England

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