Malton Museum holds an extensive collection of Roman artefacts, a great proportion of the finds from Roman Malton come from outstanding campaigns of excavation led by Philip Corder at Malton, Langton, and Crambeck. Corder’s collaborator, John Kirk, was instrumental in setting up Malton Museum.
The Roman Fort at Malton was the heart of the Roman Settlement and the reason that it existed in the first place. It was located on the north side of the River Derwent, and the lines of its defences can be seen today in Orchard Fields. It was a large fort and its importance is reinforced by the vitality of the town that grew up around it and south of the river in Norton.
Despite this obvious importance, the only sustained investigation has been the excavation report by Philip Corder in 1930. This centered on the fort’s north-east gate, but also exposed some internal buildings in this area. There was also some trial trenching in the fort interior and elsewhere on the defences. This means we that we can have at this moment a tantalising bare outline of the history of the history of the fort. What is clear is that it remained in occupation from the beginning of the Roman period to the very end.
The fort’s origin lay in the first phase of the Roman military intervention in Yorkshire. There are hints of some earlier activity. There are hints of some of earlier activity in the 70s AD, the same decade in which the legionary fortress at York was founded. However, the first fort that we can be certain of dates to the governorship of Agricola (AD77-83).
Even the name of the fort is uncertain. For many years Malton has been identified with the Latin name Derventio, though some Romanists today believe it to be Delgovicia.
Although little of the fort has been excavated, the collection illustrates every aspect of Roman life in the region and even documents two of Malton’s earliest inhabitants, both members of the military. Candidus, the Commander of the Ala Picentiana, the cavalry unit based in Malton, set up an inscription. One of the soldiers, Lucius Servenius Super, punched his name on his mess tin.
It is unusual to know the names of individual Roman soldiers who lived in the local fort, and other items illustrate something of how they, and the civilians in the settlement, lived. A small but important archive from Langton Villa illustrates rural life.
There are multiple themes which can be drawn from the objects in the collection, these are described in more detail here – Themes in our Roman Collection.