EARLIER I tried to clear up the strange name of The Beach at Hartford and explained that there was once a sandbank in the River Weaver nearby.

This was not set in stone but was the most likely reason for a place called The Beach so far from the sea.

Today, let’s have a look at another conundrum – why is Castle and Castle Hill called Castle when there is none there and not a lot of proof that there ever was?

I once owned the huge books called History of Cheshire by the esteemed historian Dr George Ormerod – it was the bible for historians both nationally and locally.

Northwich Guardian:

He wrote that in the 19th century there were two mounds of unequal heights there that would indicate the once presence of a Motte and Bailey castle.

Going further back to the Roman period, archaeologists found evidence of an auxiliary fort in the Castle area of Northwich that had been built in AD 70.

This was one of several auxiliary forts built by the Romans as they moved North from what they had once intended to be the capital of Britain, namely Chester.

While the Romans occupied a town, it was called a castra or fort – yet another possible answer to Castle.

Northwich Guardian: Northwich Guardian:

At the same time, the Roman Fort or Castle formed a boundary between the ethnic Britons under Cartimandua ‘Queen of the Brigantes,’ who dumped her consort, Venutius, and took up with her chariot driver, causing a civil war.

She asked the Romans for help, and an Roman army marched from Chester under the command of General Gnaeus Julius Agricola. They marched through Northwich towards Carlisle, and Northwich was abandoned as the Roman Garrison moved further North to conquer Scotland.

The civilian population of Northwich by then had become very prosperous. Communities formed outside the gates of all Roman Forts and the Castle area of Northwich was no different. Castle Hill was known for the manufacture of pottery, iron and salt goods and much more.

Northwich Guardian:

In around 120 AD Emperor Hadrian came to Britain to reorganise the troops. He pulled out of Scotland and built his coast to coast wall to keep them out.

At the same time, Roman forts and castles further south were re-occupied, and in the case of Northwich, the old fort was taken back, and the civilians ejected.

It was replaced with a stone-built fort or castle. Excavations led at times by historian Brian Curzon discovered that the east gate of the Fort was roughly above what is now the closed Freemasons Arms pub at the top of Castle Hill and near the present Holy Trinity church.