Lagentium or Legiolum was the Roman name for the strategic fort which was built around the year
74by the Roman Empire. The English town of Castleford, West Yorkshire, is now built on what was the fort.
Around this time, the Romans defeated the
Brigantes, a peaceful, farming people. The Romans named this new settlement Lagentium. They built a turf and timber fort sometime in the early 70sto guard the river crossings and the vital road to the north. The fort was built on either a natural ridge or a man-made mound, we are not certain. The Roman engineers chose Lagentium for its strongly strategic position. The mound offered a strong and clear vantage point, and the river offered a source of water and food. The low crossing point also had the advantage that both sides of the river could be farmed on. So a fort was built on top of a Brigantian settlement. Over the sixty years since the fort was built, permanent shops and gardens were built, and traders began to arrive.
The fort was garrisoned for 24 years by the Roman army, to keep the Brigantes under control. The Romans simply believed that the Brigantes were 'barbarians', but peace was eventually established and the troops were moved to the north. The Brigantes were not the most advanced of British Tribes, but the few Brigantes that did accept Roman law were allowed to experience greatly enhanced living conditions, under the watchful eye of the Romans.
43, a road known as Ermine Streetran from the south to the north, but the Romans had to cross the Humberestuary to get to the other side of the road. The estuary was two miles wide, and the river had raging currents, and was subject to strong winds, making any crossing very difficult. Also, the Romans were not keen sailors, so this route north was not appropriate. So the Romans built another road, known as Watling Street, with numerous forts strategically positioned along it. Lagentium, along with what is now Littleborough, Bawtry, Tadcasterand Doncaster, was one of these forts.
The fort built in Castleford shared many of the luxuries of any Roman settlement. In the vicus (a settlement just outside of the fort) there were temples, houses, shops, alehouses, public bathhouses and brothels. Many other improvements were made to Lagentium, including straight metalled roads, rectangular stone buildings with tiled roofs and glazed windows; the houses had drains and sometimes central heating.
410Lagentium was abandoned, as the Roman Empirewithdrew its legions. The Brigantes returned to power, and carried on with their lives as if the Romans had never been there. There were no significant changes from the time the Romans had left to the Middle Ages. The Brigantes allowed the fort to grow over, and they continued with the farming way of life that they had had for centuries.
Norman Conquestof England in 1066, the land was split up and given to the King's knights. The land in Castleford, Pontefract, Leeds, Wakefieldand Morley was given to Ilbert de Lacey. Castleford continued to be a farming village, and remained as one until the industrial revolution.
The education system in the
United Kingdomis very proud of its heritage, and the childrenof Castlefordare all taught about Lagentium.
* [http://www.roman-britain.org/places/lagentium.htm Lagentium at roman-britain.org]
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