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WILDERSPOOL Lancashire, England.

Roman industrial site on the Mersey crossing and now on the N side of the Manchester Ship Canal, Warrington. Excavations at the turn of the century brought to light the widest range of industrial remains (kilns, furnaces, hearths, and ovens) known in Roman Britain. Military occupation was also postulated on the basis of a rampart and ditch said to be of Agricolan date, but this was disproved by excavation in 1966-67.

The site proved to have been first occupied in roughly the last decade of the 1st c. A.D. Its heyday appears to lie in the Antonine period, but evidence for continued 3d c. occupation has largely been destroyed by building. In the interior the earliest buildings, large industrial structures, were constructed ca. A.D. 100. The largest was 50 m long, comprising partly an aisled workshop and partly an elongated shed, but this and other early timber buildings uncovered show no trace of military plan. The bulk of the industrial features appear to be of 2d c. date and would repay further technological study. Wilderspool lay at the beginning of the route leading N to the Ribble crossing at Walton-le-Dale, another site not occupied until after A.D. 90. Wilderspool therefore falls into place as a river crossing site which developed with the creation of communications across the Lancashire plain. Finds are kept in the local museum.


T. May, Warrington's Roman Remains (1940); G.D.B. Jones, “The Romans in the Northwest,” Northern History 3 (1968) 1ffMPI.


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