PLV Inscriptions (Chesters to Carrawburgh)

Introduction

This section is primarily concerned with centurial stones and, since it contains recently consolidated stretches of curtain wall, it has produced an unusually large geolocatable number of these.

Inventory

RIB 1497: coh(ortis) VIII / c(enturia) Sabini/ana (‘Eight Cohort, former century of Sabinius’). Centurial stone found 1921 25ft W of Chester fort. Source: RIB I p.480

RIB 1498: coh(ortis) VIIII / c(enturia) Aeli Ael/ianus (‘Eighth cohort, century of Aelius Aelianus (built this)’). Centurial stone found before 1840. Source: RIB I p.481

RIB 1499

RIB 1499

RIB 1499: coh(ortis) VI / c(enturia) Lousi / Suavis (‘Sixth Cohort, the century of Lousius Suavis (built this)’). Centurial stone found before 1840. Source: RIB I p.481

RIB 1500: c(o)ho(rtis) X / c(enturia) Matelli / Ursi (‘Tenth Cohort, the century of Matellus Ursus (built this)’). Centurial stone found before 1778. Source: RIB I p.481

RIB 1501: coh(ortis) I c(enturia) Na(s…) / Bassi has(tati) p(osterioris) (‘First Cohort, century of Nas… Bassus, hastatus posterior (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1779 at Heatheridge. Source: RIB I p.481

RIB 1502: c(enturia) p(rimi) p(ili) (‘century of the First Centurion (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1702. Source: RIB I p.481

RIB 1503: c(enturia) p(rimi) p(ili) (‘century of the First Centurion (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1702. Source: RIB I p.481

RIB 1504: [c(o)h]o(rtis) [V]I[II] / c(enturia) C[…] (‘Eighth Cohort, the century of C… (built this)’). Centurial stone found at a turret near Tower Tye (28b?). Now lost. Source: RIB I p.482

RIB 1505: coh(ortis) VI / c(enturia) De[c]i[m]iana(?) (‘Sixth Cohort, the former century of Decimius (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1702 1 furlong W of Tower Tye. Now lost. Source: RIB I p.482

RIB 1506: coh(ortis) VI / [c(enturia)] Lous[i] / Suavis (‘Sixth Cohort, the century of Lousius Suavis (built this)’). Centurial stone found in 1702 at Tower Tye. Now lost. Source: RIB I p.482

RIB 1507: [c(enturia)] Fl(avi) Iuliani (‘The century of Flavius Iulianus (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1702 between Chesters and Carrawburgh. Now lost. Source: RIB I p.482

RIB 1508: coh(ortis) VI / c(enturia) Libe[r]/alis (‘Sixth Cohort, the century of Liberalis (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1702 near Tower Tye. Now lost. Source: RIB I p.483

RIB 1509: coh(ortis) X / [c(enturia)] Iun(i) Ru[fi)] (‘Tenth Cohort, the century of Iunius Rufus (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1702 near Black Carts. Now lost. Source: RIB I p.483

RIB 1510: c(enturia) P[…/ Sere[ni] (‘the century of P[… Serenus (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1732 SW of Tower Tye. Now lost. Source: RIB I p.483

RIB 1511: c(enturia) Cusini O[…] (‘the century of Cusinius O[…] (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1702 W of Chesters. Now lost. Source: RIB I p.483

RIB 1512: c(enturia) Ada[u]c[t(i)] / Pud(entis) (‘century of Adauctius Pudens(built this)’). Centurial stone found in 1873 whilst at Turret 29a. Source: RIB I p.483

RIB 1513

RIB 1513

RIB 1513: c(enturia) Antoni Felic[is] (‘century of Antonius Felix (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1873 in rubble outside Turret 29a. Source: RIB I p.483

RIB 1514

RIB 1514

RIB 1514: c(o)ho(rtis) X / c(enturia) Iuli Com/midi (‘Tenth Cohort, the century of Iulius Commidus (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1877 at Black Carts Farm. Source: RIB I p.484

RIB 1515

RIB 1515

RIB 1515: c(enturia) Helleni (‘century of Hellenius (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1876/7 in rubble near Limestone Corner. Source: RIB I p.484

RIB 1516: c(enturia) Naso(nis) (‘century of Naso (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1873 between Chesters and Carrawburgh. Source: RIB I p.484

RIB 1517: V (‘5’). Building stone found 1912 immediately east of Turret 29b. Source: RIB I p.484

RIB 1518: X (’10’). Building stone found 1912 immediately east of Turret 29b. Source: RIB I p.484

RIB 1519: c(enturia) Rom(…) / Pro(…) (‘century of Rom(…) Pro(…) (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1932 at Sharpley Farm. Source: RIB I p.484

RIB 3302: coh(ortis) […] / c(enturia) Pont[…] (‘[…] Cohort, century of Pont[…] (built this)’). Centurial stone found at Black Carts farm house before 1976. Source: RIB III p.300

RIB 3303: coh(ortis) VI / c(enturia) Gelli Pilippi (‘Sixth Cohort, century of Gellius P(h)illipus (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1972 11m west of Turret 29a. Source: RIB III p.300

RIB 3304: X (’10’). Building stone found 1972 37m west of Turret 29a. Source: RIB III p.301

RIB 3305: X (’10’). Building stone found 1972 56.6m W of Turret 29a on S face. Source: RIB III p.301

RIB 3306

RIB 3306

RIB 3306: coh(ortis) I, c(enturia) / Nas(…) Ba(ssi) (‘First Cohort, century of Nas(…) Bassus’). Centurial stone found 1972 65m W of Turret 29a on N face. Source: RIB III p.302

RIB 3307: [c(enturia) Ca]n/tabri (‘the century of Cantaber (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1973 75m W of Turret 29a. Source: RIB III p.302

RIB 3308: coh(ortis) I / c(enturia) Pom(pei) Rufi / prin(cipis) pri/mi (‘First Cohort, century of Pompeius Rufus (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1971 in debris 82m W of Turret 29a. Source: RIB III p.303

RIB 3309: V (‘5’). Building stone found 1988 86.6m W of Turret 29a. Source: RIB III p.304

RIB 3310: + (‘+’). Building stone found 1975 226m W of Turret 29a. Source: RIB III p.304

RIB 3311: V (‘5’). Building stone found 1975 273m W of Turret 29a on N face. Source: RIB III p.305

RIB 3312: V (‘5’). Building stone found 1988 274.5m W of Turret 29a on N face. Source: RIB III p.305

RIB 3313: V (‘5’). Building stone found 1988 277m W of Turret 29a on N face. Source: RIB III p.306

RIB 3314: V (‘5’). Building stone found 1988 278.5m W of Turret 29a on N face. Source: RIB III p.306

RIB 3315: V (‘5’). Building stone found 1988 279m W of Turret 29a on N face. Source: RIB III p.307

Analysis

The centurial stones (1497–1516, 1519, 3302–3, and 3306–8) indicate work by cohorts I, VI, VII, VIII, and IX (written as VIIII). C. E. Stevens’ (1966) analysis of the centurial stones (published before the Black Carts sections of curtain wall – represented by 3303–15 – were consolidated) suggested that these belonged to the Second Legion Augusta, but the discovery of another stone (RIB 3407) of Gellius Philippus in Wall Mile 48 (thought to have been the work of the Twentieth Legion) might indicate otherwise. Stone 3305 recalls the near-identical RIB 1473, which Stevens allots to Wall Mile 28 and also to the Twentieth Legion.

Finally, the numerous V and X marks (1517–18, 3304–5, and 3309–15) are thought to be quarry marks although if they were in universal use there should be more of them (every fifth facing stone, in fact).

Reference

Stevens, C. E. (1966) The Building of Hadrian’s Wall, Kendal

PLV Inscriptions (Chesters)

Introduction

Inscriptions from Chesters are largely unprovenanced, unsurprisingly, since most of the excavations took place in the 19th century. Spolia come from Walwick Grange farm to the south, whilst stones from cemeteries come from the region beyond the vicus, south of the site. This was a fort, so we can expect the usual dedicatory inscriptions and altars, as well as tombstones, given the proximity of a civil settlement, but there are some interesting and rather unusual pieces that stand out amongst the assemblage.

Inventory

RIB 1448: [B]onae Deae / Reginae Cae[l/esti… (‘For the Good Goddess, Queen Caelestis…’). Altar found 1891 west of The Chesters. Source: RIB I p.467

RIB 1449

RIB 1449

RIB 1449: D(e)ae / Fort(unae) Co/nservatr/ici Venenu/s Ger(manus) l(ibens) m(erito) (‘For the goddess Fortuna the Preserver, Venenus, a German, willingly and deservedly (set this up)’). Altar found 1884 in the bath-house. Source: RIB I p.467

RIB 1450: I(ovi) O(ptimo) M(aximo) / C[…]O[…]/[…]/[…]/[…]/[…] (‘For Jupiter Best and Greatest…’). Altar found 1827 in Chollerton churchyard. Source: RIB I p.468

RIB 1451: I(ovi) O(ptimo) M(aximo) / […] / […] / OIN / [… (‘For Jupiter Best and Greatest…’). Altar found 1732 at Chesters. Source: RIB I p.468

RIB 1452

RIB 1452

RIB 1452: I(ovi) O(ptimo) [M(aximo)] Dol(icheno) / pro sal(ute) Aug(ustorum) N(ostrorum) / Gal(erius) Ver[ecundus(?)… (‘For Jupiter Dolichenus, Best and Greatest, for the welfare of our Emperors, Galerius Verecundus…’). Dedication slab found in Chesters fort 1884. Source: RIB I p.468

RIB 1453

RIB 1453

RIB 1453: [Mat]ribus Com/[mun(ibus) p[ro salute de/[cur(iae) A]ur(eli) Severi/[… (‘For the omnipresent Mother Goddesses for the welfare of the troop of Aurelius Severus…’). Altar found in 1884 in the bath-house. Source: RIB I p.469

RIB 1454: Dea(e) / Rat(i) / v(otum) s(oluit) l(ibens) (‘For the goddess Ratis (?) willingly fulfills a vow’). Altar found before 1867 at Chesters. Source: RIB I p.469

RIB 1455: Deo sanc/to Vitiri / Tertulus / v(otum) s(oluit) l(ibens) m(erito) (‘For the holy god Vitiris, Tertulus willingly and deservedly fulfilled a vow’). Found in two parts in 1801 and after 1840 at Chesters. Source: RIB I p.469

RIB 1456

RIB 1456

RIB 1456: Dibus / Veteri/bus (‘For the Veteres gods’). Altar found 1867 in the east gate at Chesters. Source: RIB I p.469

RIB 1457: [Di]bus / Vitiri/bus (‘For the gods of the Vitires’). Altar found 1889 near eastern bridge abutment. Source: RIB I p.470

RIB 1458: SVACNV / SVOTVT / d(eo) Vot/ri v(otum) s(oluit) (‘…for the god Votris… fulfilled his vow’). Altar found before 1852. Source: RIB I p.470

RIB 1459: …] M(arcus) Aur[el(ius)] / Ianuarius / emeritus pro se / et suis omnibus / v(otum) s(oluit) l(laetus) l(ibens) m(erito) (‘… Marcus Aurelius Ianuarius, emeritus, for himself and for all his (family), gladly, willingly, and deservedly fulfilled a vow’). Dedication found 1760 at Walwick Grange. Now lost. Source: RIB I p.470

RIB 1460

RIB 1460

RIB 1460: Imp(eratori) T(ito) [Ael](/io Had(riano) [Anton]/ino Aug(usto) [Pio p(atri) p(atriae) II] / co(n)s(uli) leg(io) [VI Vic(trix)] (‘For the Emperor Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius, father of his country, consul twice, the Sixth Legion Victrix (built this)’). Dedication slab found in 1868 (Clayton says in E Gate, but Haverfield says in SE corner of HQ, after talking to witnesses). Source: RIB I pp.470-1

RIB 1461

RIB 1461

RIB 1461: [Imp(eratori) T(ito) Ael(io) Ha]dr(iano) An[to/nino Aug(usto) Pi]o p(atri) p(atriae) [II co(n)s(uli) / vexillatio le]g(ionis) |VI V(ictricis) P(iae) F(idelis) (‘For the Emperor Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Pius, father of the country, twice consul, a vexillation of the Sixth Legion Victrix (built this)’). Dedication slab found 1889 in the barracks in the north-east. Source: RIB I p.471

RIB 1462: [Imp(eratoribus) Caes(aribus) L(ucio)] Sept(imio) / [Severo Pio Pertin]ace / [et M(arco) Aur(elio) Antonin]o Pio / [Aug(ustis) et P(ublio) Sep(timio) Get]ae / [nob(ilissimo) Caes(ari) ala II Ast(urum) cu]rante / Alf(eno Senecione co(n)]s(ulari) et / Oc[latinio Advento p]roc(uratore) / ins[tante… (‘For the Emperor Caesars Lucius Septimius Severus Pius Pertinax Augustus and Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Pius Augustus and Publius Septimius Geta, noblest Caesar, the Second Ala of Asturians (built this) under the command of the consular Alfenus Senecio and the procurator Oclatinius Adventus under the direction of…’). Fragmentary octagonal dedication slab found in the HQ in 1870, 1882, and 1886. Source: RIB I p.471

RIB 1463

RIB 1463

RIB 1463: aqua adducta / alae II Astur(um) / sub Ulp(io) Marcello / leg(ato) Aug(usti) pr(o) pr(aetore) (‘Water brought for the Second Ala of Asturians under Ulpius Marcellus, propraetorian legate of the Emperor’). Dedication slab found in 1897. The governor gives a date of either AD181-5 or c.AD217. Source: RIB I p.472

RIB 1464: …ala] II Ast[urum / sub] Ulp(io) Marcello / le]g(ato) pr(o) [pr(aetore)] (‘… the Second Ala of Asturians under Ulpius Marcellus, propraetorian legate’). Dedication slab found before 1840. Source: RIB I p.472

RIB 1465

RIB 1465

RIB 1465: Imp(erator) Caes[a]r M(arcus) Aurel(ius) [[Antoninus P(ius) F(elix)]] / A[ug(ustus) [[sacerdos ampliss(imus) dei Invicti Solis Elagabali]] p(ontifex) [m(aximus) tr]ib(unicia) p(otestate) [[III]] co(n)s(ul) [[III]] p(ater) p(atriae) div[i Anton(ini) f(ilius)] / divi Sever(i) nep(os) et M(arcus) [Aur]el(ius) [[Alexander nobiliss(imus)]] / Caesar imper[[ii et sacerdoti consors…]] / alae II Astur(um) [[Anton(inianae)]] v[et]ustate [dilapsum restitu]/erunt per Marium Valer[ianum leg(atum) Augg(ustorum) pr(o) pr(aetore)] / instante Septimio Ni[l]o prae[f(ecto) equitum] / dedicatum III Kal(endas) Novem(bres) Gr[at]o et Sele[uco co(n)s(ulibus)] (‘The Emperor Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Pius Felix Augustus, most honorable priest of the Invincible Sun god Elagabalus, pontifex maximus, in the fourth year of tribunician power, consul three times, father of his country, son of the deified Antoninus, grandson of the deified Severus, and Marcus Aurelius Alexander, most noble Caesar, imperial partner, for the Second Ala of Asturians Antoniniana, restored [this building] collapsed through age, through the agency of Marius Valerianus, imperial propraetorian legate, under the direction of Septimius Nilus, prefect of cavalry. Dedicated October 30th in the consulship of Gratus and Seleucus’). Dedication slab found 1798 in the south-west of Chesters. The consular date is AD221. Source: RIB I pp.472-3

RIB 1466: [S]alvis Aug[[g]](ustis) / [f]elix ala II Astur(um) / [[Antoniniana]] / Virtus / Aug[[g]](ustorum) (‘If the Emperor(s) are safe, the Second Ala of Asturians (Antoniniana) is happy. The Courage of the Emperor(s)’). Relief found 1875 in the HQ. Source: RIB I p.473

RIB 1467

RIB 1467

RIB 1467: …] / per Cl(audium) [Xenephontem] / leg(atum) pr(o) [pr(aetore) instante] / Sep(timio) Nil[o praef(ecto) equit(um)] (‘…through the agency of Claudius Xenephon, propraetorian legate, under the direction of Septimius Nilus, prefect of cavalry’). Dedication slab found 1884 in the bath-house. It dates to c.AD223. Source: RIB I p.473

RIB 1468: …]e Aug(usti) pr(o) [… / /…] RVVRAE (‘…Emperor’s propraetorian [legate…’). Fragment found 1801 at Chesters. Now lost. Source: RIB I p.473

RIB 1469: … m[i]l[i]tum [… / /…]ddita im[…. (‘…of soldiers…’). Fragment found 1890 at Chesters. Source: RIB I p.474

RIB 1470

RIB 1470

RIB 1470: …] cu/rante Aelio / Longino / praef(ecto) eq(uitum) (‘…under the command of Aelius Longinus, prefect of cavalry’). Dedication slab found before 1867 amongst the bridge remains. Source: RIB I p.474

RIB 1471: leg(io) VI Vi(ctrix) (‘Sixth Legion Victrix (built this)’). Building stone found 1879 in eastern gard chamber of south gate. Source: RIB I p.474

RIB 1472: c(enturia) p(rimi) p(ili) (‘the century of the first centurion (built this)’). Centurial stone found before 1873, apparently at Chesters. Source: RIB I p.474

RIB 1473

RIB 1473

RIB 1473: coh(ortis) I / c(enturia) Nas(…) Ba(ssi) (‘The first cohort, century of Nas(?) Bassus (built this)’). Centurial stone found before 1840 at Chesters. Source: RIB I p.475

RIB 1474: coh(ortis) […] / c(centuria) Fl(avi) Civ[i]l[i]s (‘… cohort, the century of Flavius Civilis (built this)’). Centurial stone found before 1873 at Chesters. Source: RIB I p.475

RIB 1475: coh(ortis) V / c(enturia) Caecili / Procul(i) (‘Fifth cohort, the century of Caecilius Proculus (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1760 at Walwick Grange. Source: RIB I p.475

RIB 1476: coh(ortis) V / c(enturia) Caecil(i) / Procu[li] (‘Fifth cohort, the century of Caecilius Proculus (built this)’). Centurial stone found before 1812 at Walwick Grange. Source: RIB I p.475

RIB 1477

RIB 1477

RIB 1477: c(enturia) Horta[e]s[i] / Maximi (‘the century of Hortaesius Maximus (built this)’). Centurial stone found before 1873 at Chesters. Source: RIB I p.475

RIB 1478: c(enturia) Locu[…] (‘century of Locu[…] (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1807. Source: RIB I p.476

RIB 1479: c(enturia) Sim/ilis (‘century of Similis (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1843 near the CO’s house. Source: RIB I p.476

RIB 1480: D(is) M(anibus) / Aventino / curatori alae / II Astur(um) stip(endiorum) XV / Ael(ius) Gemellus dec(urio) / h(eres) f(aciendum) c(uravit) (‘For the immortal shades, for Aventinus, curator of the Second Ala of Asturians, served 15 years, his heir Aelius Gemellus, decurion, set this up’). Tombstone found 1760 at Walwick Grange. Source: RIB I p.476

RIB 1481

RIB 1481

RIB 1481: [DIis) M(anibus)] / M(arcus) Aurelius Vic/[t]or vixit an(nis) L (‘For the immortal shades, Marcus Aurelius Victor, lived 50 years’). Tombstone found 1760 in field called Ox Close. Source: RIB I pp.476-7

RIB 1482

RIB 1482

RIB 1482: D(is) M(anibus) s(acrum) / Fabie Honor/ate Fabius Hon/oratus tribun(us) / coh(ortis) I Vangion(um) / et Aurelia E[g]lec/[t]ione fecer/unt filie d/ulcissime (‘For the immortal shades, for Fabia Honorata: Fabius Honoratus, tribune of the First Cohort of Vangiones, and Honorata Eglectiane made this for their sweetest daughter’). Tombstone found before 1716 at Chesters. Source: RIB I p.477

RIB 1483: D(is) M(anibus) / Urse sorori / Iulie coniugi / Canioni filio / [L]urio German(us) (‘For the immortal shades, for his sister Ursa, his wife Julia, and son Canio, Lurio the German (set this up)’). Tombstone found 1716 at Ox Close south of Chesters. Source: RIB I p.477

RIB 1484: …]A / …]NN / …] . O (‘?’). Tombstone fragment found 1953 in North Tyne. Source: RIB I p.478

RIB 1485: …] COM[… / …]LI PRO[… / …]SI[M… (‘?’). Fragment found in 1760 at Walwick Grange. Source: RIB I p.478

RIB 1486: C SENC[… / CINA VOTO/NE QI LICIAT (‘?’). Quarry inscription found 1884 on E bank of N Tyne. Now lost. Source: RIB I p.478

RIB 1487: ]NG[I… / …] CCCXLIII [… (‘… 343 (or more) …’). Found before 1873 in the coach house at Chesters. Source: RIB I p.478

RIB 1488: Biaso (‘By Biasus(?)). Found 1875 re-used in column base at SE corner of HQ courtyard. Source: RIB I p.479

RIB 1489: lapis unus (‘One stone’). Found 1882 at Chesters. Source: RIB I p.479

RIB 1490: miles (‘soldier’). Building stone found 1882 at Chesters. Source: RIB I p.479

RIB 1491: Neilo (‘By Neilus?’). Building stone found 1884 at Chesters bath-house. Source: RIB I p.479

RIB 1492: D E F H I K (‘D E F H I K’). Fragment of an abecedarium found 1892 at Chesters. Source: RIB I p.479

RIB 1493: M V N (‘?’). Fragment found 1894 in the barracks at Chesters. Source: RIB I p.479

RIB 1494: …]NO[… (‘?’). Fragment found 1807 at Chesters. Now lost. Source: RIB I p.480

RIB 1495: …]SAIIA[… (‘?’). Fragment found 1807 at Chesters. Source: RIB I p.480

RIB 1496: …]SAT[… (‘?’). Fragment found 1807 at Chesters. Source: RIB I p.480

RIB 3298

RIB 3298

RIB 3298: [D]iscipulinae / imp(eratoris) Had(riani) Aug(usti) / ala Aug(usta) / [o]b virt(utem) appel(lata) / [… (‘For the discipline of the Emperor Hadrian Augustus, the Ala called Augusta through courage…’). Altar found 1978 on W bank of N Tyne. Source: RIB III p.295

RIB 3299: [I(ovi) O(ptimo)] M(aximo) Dol[icheno] / [Sal(uti)] Aug(ustae) sac[rum …] / […]ACENTA[…]/ [sy]mmachar[…] / […] templi […] / [co]nstituer(unt) OM[…] / [Maxi]mo et Aqui[lino co(n)s(ulibus)] (‘Sacred to Jupiter Dolichenus Best and Greatest and Salus Augusta… symmachiarii… established… of the temple, in the consulship of Maximus and Aquilinus’). Slab found in 2004 in bed or North Tyne. Consular date is AD 286. Source: RIB III pp.296-7

RIB 3300: coh(ors) I / Dalmat(arum) / fecit (‘First Cohort of Dalmatians built this’). Slab found 1956 as bottom step in HQ strongroom. Source: RIB III p.298

RIB 3301: [t]ur(ma) Paterni / p(er) val(lum) (‘troop of Paternus (built) along the rampart’). Building stone found 1961 at minor E gate. Source: RIB III p.299

Analysis

The garrisons of the site are betrayed by a series of inscriptions and interestingly include both cavalry and infantry. Two infantry cohorts are recorded, I Vangionum (1482) and I Dalmatarum (3300) as well as two cavalry alae, the unnumbered Augusta ob virtutem apelllata (3298) and (by far the most prolifically commemorated) II Asturum (1462–6 and 1480). A figured tombstone (1481) depicts a cavalryman but (uncharacteristically, for this type of stone) makes no mention of his unit. Legio VI Victrix is attested undertaking construction work in the Antonine period (1461 and probably 1460 and1471) but there is as yet no reason to think it was actually garrisoning the site at any point. The various centurial stones (1472–9) with no legionary attestation doubtless come from the initial construction of the curtain wall, whilst a building stone from a turma (3301; a sub-unit of 32 cavalrymen from an ala) seems to refer to construction (or indeed repair) of a length of the defences of the fort itself.

Amongst the deities attested, Jupiter (at his Best and Greatest) is unsurprising (1450–1), but his alter ego Dolichenus (1452 and 3299) is becoming a familiar Eastern interloper. The Mother Goddesses feature (1453) as does Dea Ratis (1452), possibly connected with Leicester (Ratae), whilst the Veteres/Vitiris/Votris (1455–8) are present too. An oddity is the deity Elagabalus (1465, inextricably linked with the bizarre emperor of the same name).

Outstanding amongst these must be the inscription recording the construction of an aqueduct (1463) whilst part of an abecedarium (1492) seems to show somebody practising writing skills. It is usually assumed that this must be children but it could equally be adults (including soldiers) in pursuit of the literacy that was so valued in Roman society. Finally, one dedication (1465) employed a formula (vetustate dilapsum restituerunt or ‘restored [what was] destroyed through age’) which has been much debated by scholars. Taken at face value, it has been seen simply as recording reconstruction work; others, however, subsequently (and perhaps a mite cynically) saw instead euphemisms masking enemy action; views change with time and the former explanation has come back into fashion. Where does the truth lie? Who knows?! All that can be said is that a building in need of repair at Chesters was restored in AD 221.

One day, a publisher wrote to me; I replied

One day, a while back, a publisher (who had best remain anonymous) emailed me with a proposal to write some brief contributions for Yet Another Dull Encyclopaedia of the Roman World. At the time it angered me so much I sent back a rather (for me) unusually long reply. Here it is, unedited except for masking a few key names.

Dear JJJJ,

Thank you so much for your invitation to contribute to what I suppose we shall have to call the XXXX. I was particularly intrigued that you had managed to both flatter me as a potential ‘expert contributor’ and insult me by proposing to pay me £50 for 1333 of my carefully crafted and referentially rock-solid words. Given that the writing, almost-inevitable rewriting, and proofreading of these 1333 little chaps would, at the most conservative of estimates, take two days of my time, I have calculated a daily rate of £25 lurking in there. As a self-employed writer – please don’t be offended at this – I’m afraid I see that as an insult.

You should by now be beginning to suspect that I am not instantly going to accept your offer to contribute to this august volume, but (this must be your lucky day) I am going to do better than that and offer you A Piece of Advice and A Warning.

First, however, I have to decry the niggling annoyance that you are not proposing to give writers of less than 25 offerings a free copy of the book, but rather offering to sell them copies at 50% of the cover price (which, as we know, is not 50% of the unit cost). So, if I want my very own copy of the XXXX (leaving aside whether I would indeed need a work of reference that devotes only 500 words to an important source like Vegetius), I will have to fork out £97.50; I could of course offset my £50 honorarium against that, but it still comes down to the fact that you have just written to ask me to pay you £47.50 for the privilege of writing 1333 of those jolly little words to help you sell your book! Now, I don’t know what YYYY pay their staff these days, but I’m pretty sure they don’t charge you for the pleasure of working there.

So, to A Piece of Advice and A Word of Warning. I should preface these by noting I have worked in publishing as a writer, publisher, print buyer, marketer, editor, copy-editor, proofreader, indexer, typesetter, designer, and illustrator for more than 29 years, starting out in what used to be called self-publishing (and subsequently in various guises for various more-or-less mainstream publishers), so I have what might be described as a Teiresian perspective on the industry.

A Piece of Advice: never, ever, put your potential author’s back up by proposing a deal that, by any stretch of the imagination, sucks. It just says ‘we don’t value you’ in 48pt bold pink Comic Sans. One of the few endearing qualities remaining in publishing, since it became A Business, has been the author’s free copy. We, sad creatures that we are, would hand over our nearest and dearest in exchange for a free copy; even to the point of writing 1333 poorly paid words. But to expect payment for a copy of what we write? Seriously…

A Word of Warning: somebody somewhere in your organisation needs to consider very carefully your business model for this volume. Who is going to buy the XXXX at £195 a shot? Speaking as a punter, not me, that’s for sure (even before you proposed I contribute to it; I thought £95 for the BBBB was a rip-off); I’d point out that Wikipedia has a fair shot at Vegetius, for instance (not least as it is based on c.500 words of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, which has not aged too badly with regard to Veg, as we call him in the trade). You see, I can’t afford £197 for a reference book when I, as a writer, am paid so poorly. Moreover, if it is going to cost so much to produce the book and yet you are paying your contributors next to nothing, I would suggest you have stern words with your print buyer, and see if they cannot acquire dead trees more cheaply. But of course, we all know that the real reason the book will cost so much is that you are scavenging the academic market, using the model pioneered by (in the days of yore) WWWW and the likes of (nowadays) ZZZZ. However, some waking and coffee-smelling may soon be required as university libraries (oops, forgot to mention I worked in an academic library for two years!) are soon not going to be able to afford, let alone justify, such luxuries. A smart move would be selling it for £25 a pop (called pile ’em high and sell ’em cheap, I believe – have a word with that print buyer of yours) and flog them to all those people out there who find the world of Late Antiquity sufficiently interesting that they would indeed hand over their money willingly… but I doubt you’ll do that. Books like the XXXX are brachiosaurs wandering into the tar pits of modern publishing, seemingly oblivious to their surroundings and, ultimately, doomed. You didn’t hear it here first, but it remains true. You see, there are these little things called the internet and ebooks…

So there you are, JJJJ, I’m afraid I shall have to turn down your kind offer reluctantly, but would point out, by way of compensation, that I have given you 955* honed and embellished words for free and – best of all – I have not had to pay you for writing them; instead it has served to dissipate my anger at being so grossly (yet, I’m sure, unintentionally) offended on an empty stomach.

Best wishes,

Mike Bishop

*The word count was of course accurate before my expurgation of the original text.