Romans in Liverpool?
The Real Story
Roman Liverpool is a story shrouded in mystery. The Romans were definitely here but the exact degree to which no one can be certain of. This is because there are only very small fragments of evidence that have been found.
Coins, jewellery and pottery have been unearthed from all over Merseyside, especially across the Wirral. In particular the northern area of Meols where there was thought to be a shipping port.
In the 1850s parts of a Roman Road were thought to have been found in the areas of Aigburth and Otterspool, and several Roman coins were also found there also. A Roman Well (containing coins) was once found near in Halebank.
Some people believe the Romans called the Liverpool area Portus Segantiorum. This is because it is listed on a map based on the research of Roman Geographer Ptolemy.
However, Portus Setantiorum could be further north towards Fleetwood near Blackpool or even as far West as Meols on the Wirral? People over history have made differing claims.
Ptolemy’s map also shows a river called Belisama, generally thought of as being the River Ribble and a river called Seteia, which could be the Roman name for the River Mersey, however, some think this could be the Dee.
Problems arise from the fact that Ptolemy based his ‘locations’ on other people’s words (translated across different languages) and the map itself was not drawn until over well over 1000 since it he designed it.
It is possible that the Romans came to Liverpool on route from the larger Roman settlements at Deva (Chester) or Bremetennacum (Ribble Valley – Lancashire).
The question is, why didn’t the Romans stop at Liverpool? Why did they just pass through it?
One theory that the River Mersey itself was not really exist in Roman times the way it does today and that it was created from an earthquake sometime after the Romans had left the area.
Several Victorian Canal engineers came to this conclusion when examining the Mersey and some of the known geology of the area.
There is archelogical evidence of an earthquake around this area around the 600s and that it may have moved a Stockport stream (which used to flow into the River Dee) into what is now the River Mersey.
Other factors that add to the confusion are the fact that the whole geography of the area was much different in ancient times with evidence that areas that are now sea and river were once land that people lived on.
Additional links about the Romans in Liverpool:
Pictorial Relics of Ancient Liverpool
Interview about Mersey Earthquake
Roman Wirral and Portus Setantiorum
Further Discussion on Roman Liverpool and the Mersey Earthquake
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