Young historian Dylan Martin bought an ancient book and the information in it has led him to turn to Examiner readers for help. The 11-year-old Lindley Junior School pupil is the son of Huddersfield University history research fellow Janette Martin, loves history and is eager to discover more about Huddersfield’s Roman heritage. Here is a feature he has written.
My mum and I were walking around Huddersfield second hand market one Saturday morning when we came across a book called Annals of Leeds and the Surrounding Districts which was published in 1862.
It was old and battered and had golden edges on the pages. We were very excited and bought it – a good bargain at £6. When we got home we peered inside. It was full of exciting and strange stories of terrible storms, cows struck by lightning (or electrical fluids), terrible accidents (mill fires and pit disasters) and people living to the ripe old age of 100.
Events are given year by year and some of the stories were about places in Huddersfield that I know like Lindley and Marsh.
But my favourite story was the discovery of a Roman temple in Huddersfield in 1743.
This fascinating extract states: “1743, March 7th. At Huddersfield the foundations of a Roman temple were found with many beautifully ornamented bricks and an altar, having a patera at the summit, on one side a cornucopia and an augural staff on the other. The edifice had been dedicated to the goddess Fortune by one Antonius Modestus, or Modestinus, of the sixth conquering legion.”
I was very interested in finding out about this temple so I looked on the internet for more information. I wanted to know where in Huddersfield the temple was, who was Antonius Modestus and who was the Roman goddess Fortune. I am also interested in whether any of the finds have survived.
After looking on the internet I think the temple was part of the Roman Fort at Slack. A website called http://roman-britain.org/places/cambodunum.htm gave useful information.
It stated: “The fort was built during the Flavian period, probably c.AD80. The first buildings, including the gates, were of timber construction. The buildings were later part-replaced by stone but the fort appears to have been abandoned before the work was complete, possibly because the auxiliary garrison had been moved to the northern frontier.”
The same website said: “An altarstone found in 1736 just south of the bath house outside the east angle of the fort. The altarstone dedicated by Modestus to the goddess of good fortune may have been set up in celebration of his being sent to command the men stationed at this fort.”
I found some more interesting information on Modestus and the Goddess Fortuna.
Antonious Modestus was a centurion in the Sixth Legion of the Roman Army. He was probably in command of a detachment of legionaries . He and his men had come to Slack to carry help build the fort. Modestus dedicated the altar to the Roman goddess Fortune. Fortune or Fortuna as she was sometimes called, was the goddess of fortune. She brought good luck and was also a goddess of fate. The Romans worshipped her and other goddesses.
I would love to know more about this Roman Temple especially if anything still survives.
If you can help please contact me c/o firstname.lastname@example.org