PLV Inscriptions (Haltonchesters)

Introduction

The inscriptions from Haltonchesters include a number of building stones by different legions (reflecting the development of the site) as well as a number of tombstones and some dedications. A very unusual inscription is the lightning strike stone which was included in the Haltonchesters inscriptions by RIB, despite the fact it was found some way to the west of the fort (indeed, to the west of Dere Street).

Inventory

RIB 1423: Deae / Fortu/nae […] / CVR[…] / HD[… (‘For the goddess Fortuna…’). Found 1801 near Haltonchesters. Source: RIB I p.461

RIB 1424: Deabus / [M]atribu/[s …]E[…] (‘For the mother goddesses …’). Found before 1840, possibly at Haltonchesters. Source: RIB I p.461

RIB 1425: Numin[i]bu[s] / Augu[storum] / [ (‘For the divine spirits of the Emperors…’). Found in 1868 at Halton Castle. Source: RIB I p.462

RIB 1426

RIB 1426

RIB 1426: Fulgur / divom (‘Lightning of the gods’). Slab found in 1848 a mile west of Haltonchesters. Source: RIB I p.462

RIB 1427

RIB 1427

RIB 1427: Imp(eratori) Caes(ari) T[ra(iano) Hadriano] / Aug(usto) leg(io) VI V[ictrix P(ia) F(idelis)] / A(ulo) Platorio N[epote] / leg(ato) Aug(usti) pr(o) [pr(aetore)] (‘For the Emperor Caesar Traianus Hadrianus Augustus the Sixth Legion Victrix Pia Fidelis under Aulus Platorius Nepos, propraetorian legate of the Emperor (built this)’). Building stone found in 1936 at the west gate of Haltonchesters. Source: RIB I p.462

RIB 1428

RIB 1428

RIB 1428: Leg(io) / II / Aug(usta) / f(ecit) (‘Second Legion Augusta built this’). Building slab found 1753 at Haltonchesters during road construction. Source: RIB I p.463

RIB 1429: Leg(io) VI V(ictrix) / P(ia) F(idelis) f(ecit) (‘Sixth Legion Victrix Pia Fidelis built this’). Found 1768 at Haltonchesters. Now lost. Source: RIB I p.463

RIB 1430: Leg(io) V[I] / Vic(trix) et / leg(io) [XX] / V(aleria) v(ictrix) / [f]ec(erunt) (‘Sixth Legion Victrix and Twentieth Legion Valeria Victrix built this’). Building stone found before 1760 at Haltonchesters. Now lost. Source: RIB I p.463

RIB 1431: Leg(ionis) XX V(aleriae) V(ictricis) / [c(enturia)] Hortens(i) / Procul(i) (‘Twentieth Legion Valeria Victrix, the century of Hortensius Proculus (built this)’). Found in 1753 at Haltonchesters. Now lost. Source: RIB I p.463

RIB 1432: [c(enturia)] Satur[i]n[i] (‘The century of Saturninus (built this)’). Centurial stone found in the middle of the 19th century. Now lost. Source: RIB I p.463

RIB 1433: …]rmat[…] / civ]is Norici an(norum) XXX / [M]essorius Magnus / [f]rater eius dupl(icarius) alae / Sabinianae / [f(aciendum)] c(uravit) (‘…rmat… a citizen of Noricum, of 30 years. Messorius Magnus, his brother (or messmate), duplicarius of the Ala Sabiniana, set this up’). Tombstone found about 1600. Source: RIB I p.464

RIB 1434: …] / MARI […] / […] SVELLI […] / […]LONG/[…]VS[… (?). Found around 1600 at Halton. Now lost. Source: RIB I p.464

RIB 1435: D(is) M(anibus) / Aurelia[e] / Victor[i]nae / Aurel(ius) [Vic]tor / p[ater] / fi[liae] (‘To the immortal shades, for Aurelia Victorina, Aurelius Victor, father (set this up) for daughter’). Tombstone found before 1840 near Halton. Source: RIB I p.464

RIB 1436: [D(is) M(anibus)] / […] / Hardalio/nis (servo) / collegium / conser(vorum) / b(ene) m(erenti) p(osuit) (‘For the immortal shades… slave of Hardalio, the guild of fellow-slaves set this up, well deserved’). Tombstone found 1868 at Halton Castle. Source: RIB I p.464

RIB 1437: I]uliu[s] / [Sa]nct[us (‘Iulius… sacred…’). Found before 1732 at Halton. Source: RIB I p.465

RIB 3289: VI (‘6’). Voussoir found 1957. Now lost. Source: RIB III p.288

RIB 3290: Vita/lis / [D(is)] M(anibus) / [titulu]m posu/[erunt V]irilis e(t) / […]s vi/[vi filio s]uo (et) s/[ibi…] (‘(Tombstone) of Vitalis. For the immortal shades. Vitalis and […] set up this tombstone in their lifetime for their son and themselves…’). Found 1973 in the centre of the fort. Source: RIB III pp.288-9

RIB 3291: [… Ant]onin[o] / […vex(illatio) le]g(ionis) VI V[ic(tricis)] / […] (‘For the Emperor Antoninus Pius… a vexillation of the Sixth Legion Victrix…’). Found 1973 in the centre of the fort. Source: RIB III p.290

RIB 3292: [… Aug(usto) P]io […] (‘For the Emperor Antoninus Pius…’). Found 1973 in the centre of the fort. Source: RIB III p.290

Analysis

The building stones reflect the building history of the fort at Haltonchesters through a series of fortunate occurrences. RIB 1427 shows the Sixth Legion building the fort whilst Platorius Nepos was still governor, so presumably soon after the ‘forts decision’ had been made and, rather obviously, after that legion had arrived in the province. Another, this time very ornate, building stone records work by the Second Legion, this time framed by griffon-headed peltae, a style of decoration found in the Antonine period and reaching a pinnacle towards the end of the 2nd century AD (and found at Carpow in Scotland, a Severan-period vexillation fortress). Between these we have further evidence of construction work by both the Sixth Legion and the Twentieth (and, in one instance, both of them together: RIB 1430–1). Why such a variety of activity by different legions? The answer lies just a short distance to the south, where the fort at Corbridge was dismantled in the Antonine period and replaced by compounds containing detachments of two legions.

Tombstones from the civil settlement include unusual pieces like a slave commemorated by a guild of slaves (RIB 1436) or a couple setting up a tombstone for their son and themselves (in their lifetime: RIB 3290). A tombstone of a cavalry trooper (RIB 1433) is erected by his ‘brother’ (frater) which may actually be used in the sense of ‘messmate’, rather than ‘child of the same father’.

Finally, amongst the religious dedications, the slab commemorating a lightning strike not far from the fort (RIB 1426) is especially noteworthy, since this will have had a very particular sacred significance to the Romans. Intriguingly it begs more questions than it answers: was the strike witnessed or was there a lightning tree that betrayed it? That is one historical event that we are unlikely ever to be able to elucidate.

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