Hadrian’s Wall inscriptions (Newcastle)

Introduction

The inscriptions come from six locations, two of them being excavations within the area of the fort, three reused as spolia prior to deposition, and one apparently in situ from the site of the Roman bridge.

Inventory

RIB 1316: I(ovi) O(ptimo) M(aximo) / pro salu/te et victor/ia Augusti (‘For Jupiter Best and Greatest, for the health and victory of the Emperor’). Altar found in 1932 in extending the old county council offices. Source: RIB II p.435

RIB 1317: [I(ovi] O(ptimo) M(aximo) et / [Nu]mini [… / … / D]is Hospital(ibus) / …] S{…]AE / [… (‘For Jupiter Best and Greatest and for the Deity [of the Emperor…] and to the gods of hospitality…’). Altar found 1929 in the fort. Source: RIB II p.435

RIB 1318

RIB 1318

RIB 1318: Dea(bus) / Matribus Tramarinis / Patri(i)s Aurelius Iuvenalis / s(acrum) (‘For the mother goddesses of his native land across the sea, Aurelius Iuvenalis offered this’). Dedication found 1858 in Mitchell’s printers, cathedral churchyard. Source: RIB II p.436

RIB 1319

RIB 1319

RIB 1319: Neptuno le(gio) / VI Vi(ctrix) / P(ia) F(idelis) (‘For Neptune, the Sixth Legion Victrix Pia Fidelis (set this up)’). Altar found 1875 in north channel of Tyne during construction of the Swing Bridge. Source: RIB II p.436

RIB 1320

RIB 1320

RIB 1320: Ociano leg(io) / VI Vi(ctrix) / P(ia) F(idelis) (‘For Ocianus, the Sixth Legion Victrix Pia Fidelis (set this up)’). Altar found 1875 in north channel of Tyne during construction of the Swing Bridge. Source: RIB II pp.436–7

RIB 1321

RIB 1321

RIB 1321: D(e)o / Silvano / G(aius) Val(erius) / [… (‘For the god Silvanus, Gaius Valerius (set this up) …’). Altar found in 1843 in the Whitefriars Tower of the city wall. Source: RIB II p.437

RIB 1322

RIB 1322

RIB 1322: Imp(erator) Antoni/no Aug(usto) Pio p(atri) / pat(riae) vexil(l)atio / leg(ioni) II Aug(ustae) et leg(ioni) / VI Vic(trici) et leg(ioni) / XX V(aleriae) V(ictrici) con(t)r(i)/buti ex Ger(maniis) du/obus sub Iulio Ve/ro leg(ato) Aug(usti) pr(o) pr(aetore) (‘For the Emperor Antoninus Augustus Pius, father of the country, the vexillation contributed from the two Germanies under Iulius Verus, propraetorian legate of the Emperor, for the Second Legion Augusta, Sixth Legion Victrix, and Twentieth Legion Valeria Victrix, (set this up)’). Dedication found 1903 dredging the north channel of the Tyne by the Swing Bridge. Source: RIB II p.437

RIB 3282: Matribus / [B]uc[c]io / [mi]les leg(ionis) / [XX V(aleriae) V(ictricis) / [… (‘For the mother goddesses, Buccio, soldier of the Twentieth Legion Valera Victrix…’). Altar found 1977 in excavations at the Castle. Source: RIB III p.282

RIB 3283: […]/cto ar[a]m / fecit [S]atu/rninus v(oto) s(oluto) / pro [se et suis] (‘…]cto Saturninus made the altar, fulfilling his vow for himself and his kin’). Altar found 1977 in excavations at the Castle. Source: RIB III p.283

RIB 3284: Iulia[e Aug(ustae)] / no[strae matri] / [Aug(usti) nostri M(arci) Au]/reli Anto[nini ac] / cas[tr(orum) ac sen(atus)] / ac pat(riae) [pro pietate] / ac dev[otione] / [curante G(aio) Iul(io) Marco] / leg(ato) Aug(usti) pr(o) [pr(aetore) coh(ors) I Ulpia] / Traiana C[ugernorum] / c(ivium) R(omanorum) [posuit] (‘For our Iulia Augusta, mother of our Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus and of the camps and senate and country, from duty and loyalty, under [Gaius Iulius Marcus], the Emperor’s prpraetorian legate, the First Cohort of Cugerni Ulpia Traiana, Roman citizens, [(set this up)]’). Statue base found in 1979 in excavations in the Castle. Source: RIB III p.284

Analysis

Only one inscription (RIB 3284) relates to the likely garrison of the fort at Newcastle during the early 3rd century AD, the cohors I Ulpia Traiana Cugernorum c. R. (which differs from the unit mentioned in the Notitia Dignitatum, the cohors I Cornoviorum). Of greater interest are the two altars (RIB 1319–20) recording the arrival by sea (dedications to Neptune and Ocean and reliefs of anchors and tridents give the game away) of part (or perhaps all) of legio VI Victrix, possibly around the time of Hadrian’s arrival in the province, and presumably to help build the Wall. These, together with the slab (RIB 1322) recording the arrival of reinforcements for the British legions in the 150s, all come from the Tyne near the likely site of the Roman bridge and suggest dedications fittingly set up over water and the fact that Newcastle (and not South Shields) was being used as a port of disembarkation for troops. Aurelius Iuvenalis’ wistful altar inscription (RIB 1318) may also hint at a sea crossing and it is tempting to see the legionary soldier [B]uc[c]io’s dedication (RIB 3282) in the same light (remembering RIB 1322), but a legionary garrison or detachment on the site at some point cannot be completely ruled out. Why that draft of legionaries should be brought into Newcastle, rather than further north (e.g. Cramond) or south (e.g. York), is anybody’s guess.

Advertisements