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For the larger conurbation, see Greater Manchester Built-up Area.
For the wider metropolitan county, see Greater Manchester. Manchester is fringed by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east, and an arc of towns with which it forms a continuous conurbation. The recorded history of Manchester began with the civilian settlement associated with the Roman fort of Mamucium or Mancunium, which was established in about AD 79 on a sandstone bluff near the confluence of the rivers Medlock and Irwell.
It was historically a part of Lancashire, although areas of Cheshire south of the River Mersey were incorporated in the 20th century.
Throughout the Middle Ages Manchester remained a manorial township but began to expand "at an astonishing rate" around the turn of the 19th century.
Manchester's unplanned urbanisation was brought on by a boom in textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution, Manchester achieved city status in 1853.
The Manchester Ship Canal opened in 1894, creating the Port of Manchester and directly linking the city to the Irish Sea, 58 kilometres (36 mi) to the west.
Significant quantities of cotton began to be used after about 1600, firstly in linen/cotton fustians, but by around 1750 pure cotton fabrics were being produced and cotton had overtaken wool in importance.
The Irwell and Mersey were made navigable by 1736, opening a route from Manchester to the sea docks on the Mersey.
The canal was extended to the Mersey at Runcorn by 1776.
A stabilised fragment of foundations of the final version of the Roman fort is visible in Castlefield.
The Roman habitation of Manchester probably ended around the 3rd century; its civilian settlement appears to have been abandoned by the mid-3rd century, although the fort may have supported a small garrison until the late 3rd or early 4th century.
Charles Worsley, who sat for the city for only a year, was later appointed Major General for Lancashire, Cheshire and Staffordshire during the Rule of the Major Generals.
He was a diligent puritan, turning out ale houses and banning the celebration of Christmas; he died in 1656.