Roman signal station on Mellor Moor


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013607

Date first listed: 23-Aug-1934

Date of most recent amendment: 10-Dec-1995


Ordnance survey map of Roman signal station on Mellor Moor
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Lancashire

District: Ribble Valley (District Authority)

Parish: Mellor

National Grid Reference: SD 65753 31296


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

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.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


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.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 27675

Legacy System: RSM


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)

End of official listing