I think we simply took it for granted that there were Roman remains scattered around the village and at the time there was a small museum, just one room with some dusty artefacts. Since then the museum has been enlarged and modernised with innovative displays, and you can now follow a Ribchester History Trail around the village.
The village was once an important Roman cavalry fort called Bremetenacum. The first fort was built in timber in AD 72/73, renovated in the late 1st century AD and rebuilt in stone in the early 2nd century. During the life of the fort, a village grew up around it. The Romans remained at Ribchester until the 4th century AD.
The original church of St Wilfred was built in the 7th century over the site of the Principia (headquarters building) of the Roman fort and was replaced by a stone church in the 13th century. The remains of Roman granaries have been found next to the churchyard.
Early archaeological work concentrated mainly on the area of the fort, but during the latter part of the 20th century, the ‘vicus’ (civilian settlement) beyond the fort walls was explored more thoroughly. Excavations have revealed rectangular wooden buildings used as workshops and dwellings where craftsmen, especially metalworkers and leatherworkers provided essential goods for both civilians and military personnel.
The vicus was also the site of the baths, the most substantial stone built construction outside the fort, and at least two temples.
Ribchester’s later history was dominated by cotton weaving, firstly hand-loom weaving when the villagers worked in their own cottagers, and later in two mills (Bee Mill and Corporation Mill) on the northern edge of the village.