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A ROMAN fort called Mamucium, meaning Ďthe place near the breast-like hillí was built close to the confluence of the Rivers Medlock and Irwell sometime between 78 and 86 AD. By Anglo-Saxon times Mamucium was called Mamecestre and lay within disputed territory on the borders of Northumbria and the midland kingdom of Mercia. Edward the Elder, King of Wessex and Mercia, constructed a fort here in 919 AD to defend his kingdom against the northern Vikings. In Medieval times Manchester was often overshadowed by its near neighbour, Salford, but by the thirteenth century Manchester was developing from a village into an emerging town. In the sixteenth century it was a flourishing market borough, actively involved in the trade of wool. Cloth and cotton would become the lifeblood of Manchesterís economic growth and the town's humid climate made it an ideal centre for cotton production. Manchesterís population was already 10,000 strong by 1717, but the growth of huge factory-like cotton mills in the nineteenth century brought further, massive increases in population. Impressive Victorian Gothic buildings were built in Manchesterís centre and cultural institutions like the Halle Orchestra and The Manchester Guardian newspaper emphasised Manchesterís cultural status. Today Manchester often claims to be the principal town of Northern England, although city fathers in Liverpool, Leeds and Newcastle might not necessarily agree.
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