Melandra: First Impressions from a Roman Soldier?

We are standing at the edge of the civilised world, our homeland, Germanium, far behind us. Now we are Roman Army auxiliaries: the engineers and fighters of the 1st Cohort Frisiavones.

Before us, thick dark forests cover the hills, as they roll outwards, as far as the eye can see.

Looking North-West from Melandra

To the East, jagged outcrops of rock tower above us, pierced by tree-spiked peaks, like broken, bloodied, spears, clashing in the heat of battle. In the valleys below, the cursed marshlands where sickness and evil spirits dwell among the insect ridden, muddy bogs. Hostile tribes surround us. War with the Brigantes has led us to this broken wooden outpost.

View to the East from Melandra


Here we will build a fort of stone. Here we will stand and fight. It is here that we Frisiavones will leave our mark.

Roman Cohort 1st Frisiavones. 108 AD


Stone laid by 1st Frisiavones under the command of Centurian Valerius Vitalis. About AD 108.

Note: Melandra is the modern place name for this area. The Roman name for Melandra was ARDOTALIA


Visions of the Past

I’m pleased to introduce David Carmichael, one of the project’s new Collection Assistants. Here, Dave takes a look at the project through fresh eyes, and reminds us all why we’re undertaking Collections in the Landscape…

It was with feelings of trepidation and excitement that I entered the green doors of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery to begin my first day of work as Collection Assistant. Trepidation, because I was aware of the mammoth task (forgive the pun!) which lay ahead of us in transforming the museum upper gallery into a permanent exhibition fit for a 21st century audience and, perhaps, beyond. Excitement, because the Buxton Museum Collection is a vast melting pot of archaeology, culture, art, history, geology, biology, the ‘just plain weird’ and plenty of, as yet, undiscovered facts and revelations, with which I was keen to get to grips.

There is something for everyone in this amazing collection: from prehistoric mammoth jawbones and Peak District hill-tribe weapons of war, to the living biology of the landscape, cocooned in the brachiopods, that inhabited the sea which covered the Peak District millions upon millions of years ago. Or, if archaeology and history are not your thing, the beautifully rendered artworks of local painters and sculptors, capturing the monumental and immeasurable rawness of the Derbyshire and Peak District landscape are on regular display.

Dave - hard at work already!

Dave – hard at work already!

Collections in the Landscape is the overall name of the project we are undertaking and my first task is to research and identify objects of interest relating to the ancient Iron Age and Roman Fort of Melandra; situated just above Glossop. These objects of interest will, in turn, be used to plan a walking trail to, and around, Melandra, that can be accessed as a mobile phone app or online.  And, so it was that as I opened my first acid-free archive box and carefully delved into its contents; hundreds of uncategorised pieces of Roman Grey-ware pottery sherds, that trepidation turned to exhilaration as I realised that we were on a journey. A journey through history and time that will be realised, but not end, in 2017.  Who could fail to be inspired?

David Carmichael