Long existing as a commercial, cultural and educational centre, Lancaster is the settlement that gives Lancashire its name. Lancaster has several unique ties to the British monarchy; the House of Lancaster was a branch of the English royal family, whilst the Duchy of Lancaster holds large estates on behalf of Elizabeth II, who herself is also the Duke of Lancaster in her capacity as monarch. Lancaster was granted city status in 1937 for its "long association with the crown" and because it was "the county town of the King's Duchy of Lancaster".
With its history based on its port and canal, Lancaster is an ancient settlement, dominated by Lancaster Castle, Lancaster Priory Church and the Ashton Memorial. It is also home to the campus-based Lancaster University and a campus of the University of Cumbria.
The city's name, first recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086 as Loncastre, where "Lon" refers to the River Lune, and "castre", from the Old English cæster and Latin castrum for "fort", refers to the Roman fort which stood at the site.
A Roman fort was built by the end of the 1st century AD on the hill where Lancaster Castle now stands, and possibly as early as the 60s, based on Roman coin evidence. The coin evidence also suggests that the fort was not continuously inhabited in those early years. It was rebuilt in stone around AD 102.
Roman baths were discovered in 1812 and can be seen near the junction of Bridge Lane and Church Street. There was presumably a bath-house belonging to the 4th-century fort. They incorporated a re-used inscription of the Gallic Emperor Postumus, dating from AD 262 to 266.