PLV Inscriptions (Housesteads)

Introduction

There are three principal zones of inscription recovery at Housesteads: the fort itself, the civil settlement, and a religious area around Chapel Hill. Whilst these largely reflect areas of antiquarian interest and archaeological exploration, it has to be said that Chapel Hill does seem to have a prominence that is more than purely topographical.

Inventory

RIB 1576

RIB 1576

RIB 1576: Deabus / Alaisia/gis Bau/dihilli(a)e / et Friaga/bi et n(umini) Aug(usti) / n(umerus) Hnau/difridi / v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito) (‘For the goddesses Alaisiagae, Baudihilia, and Friagabis, and to the divine power of the Emperor, the unit of Hnaudrifidus gladly and deservedly fulfilled a vow’). Altar found 1920 on the N slope of Chapel Hill. Source: RIB I p.501

RIB 1577

RIB 1577

RIB 1577: Cocidio [et] / Genio pr[ae]/sidi Vale/rius m(iles) l[e]/g(ionis) VI v(ictricis) p(iae) f(idelis) v(oto) p(osuit) (‘For Cocidius and the spirit of the garrison, Valerius, a soldier of the Sixth Legion Victrix Pia Fidelis set this up from a vow’). Altar found 1822 E of the mithraeum. Source: RIB I p.502

RIB 1578

RIB 1578

RIB 1578: Deo / Silvano / Cocidio / Q(uintus) Florius / Maternus / praef(ectus) coh(ortis) / I Tung(rorum) / v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito) (‘For the god Silvanus Cocidius, Quintus Florius Maternus, prefect of the First Cohort of Tungrians, willingly and deservedly fulfilled a vow’). Altar found 1854 in the SW corner of the fort. Source: RIB I p.502

RIB 1579

RIB 1579

RIB 1579: Diis Deabusque se/cundum interpre/tationem oracu/li Clari Apollinis/ coh(ors) I Tungrorum (‘For the gods and goddesses according to the oracle of Clarian Apollo, the First Cohort of Tungrians (set this up)’). Altar found before 1808 at Housesteads. Source: RIB I p.502

RIB 1580

RIB 1580

RIB 1580: Herculi / coh(ors) I Tungror(um) / mil(liaria) / cui praeest P(ublius) Ael(ius) / Modestus prae(fectus) (‘For Hercules the First Cohort of Tungrians, which is commanded by Publius Aelius Modestus, prefect (set this up)’). Altar found before 1728 at Housesteads. Source: RIB I p.503

RIB 1581: I(ovi) O(ptimo) M(aximo) / [… (‘For Jupiter Best and Greatest…’). Altar found in 1852 in a north gate guard chamber (but which one?!). Now lost. Source: RIB I p.503

RIB 1582

RIB 1582

RIB 1582: I(ovi) O(ptimo) M(aximo) / milites / leg(ionis) II A[ug(ustae)] / [… (‘For Jupiter Best and Greatest the soldiers of the Second Legion Augusta…’). Altar found before 1854 on the hillside S of Milecastle 37. Source: RIB I p.503

RIB 1583

RIB 1583

RIB 1583: I(ovi) O(ptimo) M(aximo) / et deo Cocidio / Genioq(ue) hui(u)s / loci mil(ites) leg(ionis) / II Aug(ustae) agentes / in praesidio / v(otum) s(olverunt) l(ibentes) m(erito) (‘For Jupiter Best and Greatest and the god Cocidius and the spirits of this place, the soldiers of the Second Legion Augusta, acting as the garrison, willingly and deservedly fulfilled a vow’). Altar found in 1898 in the mithraeum. Source: RIB I p.503

RIB 1584

RIB 1584

RIB 1584: I(ovi) O(ptimo) M(aximo) / et numinibus / Aug(ustorum) coh(ors) I / T[un]gror(um) / cui praeest / Q(uintus) Iul(ius) Maxi/mus praef(ectus) (‘For Jupiter Best and Greatest and the divinity of the Emperors, the First Cohort of Tungrians, which is commanded by Quintus Iulius Maximus, prefect (set this up)’). Altar found in 1702 on Chapel Hill. Source: RIB I p.504

RIB 1585

RIB 1585

RIB 1585: I(ovi) O(ptimo) M(aximo) / et numinibus Aug(ustorum) / coh(ors) I Tungr[orum] / cu[i] prae(e)st Q(uintus) Iulius / […]sus praef(ectus) / v(otum) [s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito)] (‘For Jupiter Best and Greatest and the divinities of the Emperors, the First Cohort of Tungrians which is commanded by Quintus Iulius […]sus, prefect, willingly and deservedly fulfilled a vow’). Altar found before 1726 at the foot of the hill south of Housesteads. Source: RIB I p.504

RIB 1586

RIB 1586

RIB 1586: I(ovi) O(ptimo) M(aximo) / et Numinibus / Aug(ustorum) coh(ors) I Tu/ngrorum / mil(liaria) cui praee/st Q(uintus) Verius / Superstis / prae[fec]tus (‘For Jupiter Best and Greatest and for the divinities of the Emperors, the First Cohort of Tungrians, one thousand strong, which is commanded by Quintus Verius Superstis (set this up)’). Altar found 1702 at the foot of Chapel Hill. Source: RIB I pp.504-5

RIB 1587: I(ovi) O(ptimo) [M(aximo)] / et numinibus / […] / […] / […] / […]rius / [.]upe[…] / [p]raefectu[s] (‘For Jupiter Best and Greatest and the divinities… [.]upe[…], prefect…’). Altar found in the early 19th century at Housesteads. Source: RIB I p.505

RIB 1588

RIB 1588

RIB 1588: I(ovi) O(ptimo) M(aximo) / [et numinibus A]ug(ustorum) / […] / […] / […] / [p]raefectu[s] (‘For Jupiter Best and Greatest and the divinities of the Emperors … prefect …’). Altar found before 1733 at the foot of the hill south of Housesteads. Source: RIB I p.505

RIB 1589: I(ovi) O(ptimo) M(aximo) / pro salute / Desidieni Ae/[mi]liani praef/[ecti] et sua su[or]/[u]m posuit vot/[um]q(ue) soluit libe/ns Tusco et Bas/so co[(n)s(ulibus)] (‘For Jupiter Best and Greatest, for the well-being of Desidienius Aemilianus, prefect, both his and his family’s, (?) set this up and willingly fulfilled a vow in the consulship of Tuscus and Bassus’). Altar found before 1602 at Housesteads. The consular date is AD 258. Source: RIB I p.506

RIB 1590: Marti [… (‘For Mars…’). Altar base found 1708 at Housesteads. Now lost. Source: RIB I pp.506-7

RIB 1591

RIB 1591: Deo / Marti Quint(us) / Florius Ma/ternus praef(ectus) / coh(ortis) I Tung(rorum) / v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito) (‘For the god Mars, Quintus Florius Maternus, prefect of the First Cohort of Tungrians, willingly and deservedly fulfilled a vow’). Altar found before 1717 on Chapel Hill. Source: RIB I p.507

RIB 1592

RIB 1592: D[e]/o Sancto M/art[i] votum / pos{si}uit Vi/[tali]anus (‘For the sacred god Mars, vi[…]anus set up a vow’). Altar found before 1853 at Housesteads. Source: RIB I p.507

RIB 1593

RIB 1593: Deo / Marti / Thincso / et duabus / Alaisiagis / Bed(a)e et Fi/mmilen(a)e / et n(umini) Aug(usti) Ger/m(ani) cives Tu/ihanti / v(otum) s(olverunt) l(ibentes) m(erito) (‘For the god Mars Thincsus and the two Alaisiagae, Beda and Fimmilena, and to the divinity of the Emperor, the Germans, citizens of the Tuihante, willingly and deservedly fulfilled a vow’). Pillar found in 1883 at the foot of the N slope of Chapel Hill. Source: RIB I pp.507-8

RIB 1594

RIB 1594: Deo / Marti et duabus / Alaisiagis et n(umini) Aug(usti) / Ger(mani) cives Tuihanti / cunei Frisiorum / Ver(covicianorum) Se(ve)r(iani) Alexand/riani votum / solverunt / libent[es] / m(erito) (‘For the god Mars and the two Alaisiagi, and the divinity of the Emperor, the Germans, citizens of the Tuihanti, of the cuneus of Housesteads Frisians of Severus Alexander, willingly and deservedly fulfilled a vow’). Altar found in 1883 at the foot of the N slope of Chapel Hill. Source: RIB I p.508

RIB 1595: Marti / et Vic/toriae / [… (‘For Mars and Victory…’). Altar fragment found 1898 in the mithraeum. Source: RIB I p.509

RIB 1596

RIB 1596: Deo / [M]arti et / Victoriae / et Numinib(us) Aug(ustorum) / sub cura Lic[i]ni / [.]IVIC[…] II / […]V[…]IS IS VALLVTI / ALPIBAIIRISI / [.]I[.]I[…]SIC[..] /VS […]VIVIOB / […]NDICII / […] cus(tos) arm(orum) / […]SD[…]T (‘For the god Mars and Victoria and the divinities of the Emperors under the command of Licinius … custos armorum‘). Altar found early 19th century at Housesteads. Source: RIB I p.509

RIB 1597

RIB 1597: Deo M(arti) / Calve(…) / Ger(manus) (‘For the god Mars, Calve(…), a German (set this up)’). Altar found 1898 in Building XIII. Source: RIB I p.509

RIB 1598: [Ma]tribus / coh(ors) I Tungr/[or]u[m] (‘For the mother goddesses, the First Cohort of Tungrians …’). Altar found before 1727 at Housesteads. Now lost. Source: RIB I p.509

RIB 1599

RIB 1599: Deo / Soli Invi/cto Myt(h)rae / Saeculari / Litorius / Pacatianus / b(ene)f(iciarius) co(n)s(ularis) pro / se et suis v(otum) s(olvit) / l(ibens) m(erito) (‘For the Invincible Sun, Mithras, Lord of Ages, Litorius Pacatianus, beneficiarius consularis, for himself and his own, willingly and deservedly fulfilled a vow’). Altar found in 1822 in the mithraeum. Source: RIB I p.510

RIB 1600

RIB 1600: Primary text: De[o Secondary text: Deo Soli / Invicto Mit(h)/rae Saeculari / Publ(icius) Proculi/nus c(enturio) pro se / et Proculo fil(io) / suo v(otum) s(oluit) l(ibens) m(erito) / D(ominis) N(ostris) Gallo et / Volusi(a)no co(n)s(ulibus) (‘Primary text: For the god Secondary text: For the god, invincible sun, Mithras, Lord of Ages, Publicius Proculinus centurion, for himself and his son Proculus, willingly and deservedly fulfilled a vow in the consulship of Our Lords Gallus and Volusianus’). Altar found in 1822 in the mithraeum. The consular date is AD 252. Source: RIB I pp.510-11

RIB 1601

RIB 1601: D(eo) Soli / Herion / v(otum) l(ibens) m(erito) (‘For the sun god, Herion willing and deservedly (fulfilled) a vow’). Altar found 1822 in the mithraeum. Source: RIB I p.511

RIB 1602: Deo / Hueteri / Superstes [et] / Regulu[s] / v(otum) s(olverunt) l(ibentes) [m(erito)] (‘For the god Hueteris, Supersitis and Regulus willingly and deservedly fulfilled a vow’). Found 1910 in either the NE or NW angle tower. Source: RIB I p.511

RIB 1603

RIB 1603: Deo / Huitri / Aspuanis / pro et suis / vot(um) / sol(vit) (‘For the god Huitris, Aspuanis, for himself and his own, fulfilled a vow’). Found 1898 in Building VI. Source: RIB I p.511

RIB 1604

RIB 1604: Deo / Veterib/us votu/m (‘For the god Veteris, a vow’). Altar found 1898 in Building VI. Source: RIB I p.511

RIB 1605: [Dib]us / Vete/[ri]bus (‘For the gods the Veteres’). Altar found 1931–2 in the granaries. Source: RIB I p.512

RIB 1606: Veter/ibus / [p]osuuit A/ure(lius) Vict(or) v(otum) (‘For the Veteres, Aurelius Victor set this up a vow’). Altar found in 1931 between S gate and Building I in vicus. Source: RIB I p.512

RIB 1607: Dibus [… (‘For the gods…’). Altar fragment found in 1931 at the W end of Building 2 in vicus. Source: RIB I p.512

RIB 1608: De[o… (‘For the god…’). Altar found 1931 in the vicus. Source: RIB I p.512

RIB 1609: …] / c(enturio) / leg(ionis) VI V(ictricis) P(iae) F(idelis) / v(otum) s(oluit) l(aetus) l(ibens) m(erito) (‘…centurion of the Sixth Legion Victrix Pia Fidelis, gladly, willingly, and deservedly fulfilled a vow’). Altar found before 1703 on Chapel Hill. Now lost. Source: RIB I p.513

RIB 1610: …]/LIA[…] / Aug(usti) l(ibertus) (‘… freedman of the Emperor’). Altar fragment found before 1874 at Housesteads. Source: RIB I p.513

RIB 1611: …]EN V / […]AL et N/[…]IM T AE/[…] […] BVT[..]/[…]O MF[.] (‘… and …’). Altar fragment found at Housesteads before 1874. Source: RIB I p.513

RIB 1612a & b: Imp(eratoribus) Ca[es(aribus) L(ucio) Se]pt(imio) [Severo] / [Pio P]ert(inaci) [et M(arco) Aur(elio) Antonino] / [Pio Augg(ustis) (‘For the Emperor-Caesars Lucius Septimius Severus Pius Pertinax Augustus and Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Pius Augustus‘). Dedication fragment found 1898 in the HQ building. Source: RIB I p.513

RIB 1612c: Imp(eratoribus) Ca[es(aribus) L(ucio) Se]pt(imio) [Severo] / [Pio P]ert(inaci) [et M(arco) Aur(elio) Antonino] / [Pio Augg(ustis) (‘For the Emperor-Caesars Lucius Septimius Severus Pius Pertinax Augustus and Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Pius Augustus‘). Dedication fragment found 1931 in the S granary. Source: RIB I p.513

RIB 1612d: Imp(eratoribus) Ca[es(aribus) L(ucio) Se]pt(imio) [Severo] / [Pio P]ert(inaci) [et M(arco) Aur(elio) Antonino] / [Pio Augg(ustis) (‘For the Emperor-Caesars Lucius Septimius Severus Pius Pertinax Augustus and Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Pius Augustus‘). Dedication fragment found before 1874 at Housesteads. Source: RIB I p.513

RIB 1613: D(ominis) [n(ostris) Diocletiano et] / Ma[ximiano (‘For our lords Diocletian and Maximian…’). Dedication found before 1903 at Housesteads. Source: RIB I p.514

RIB 1614: [I]mp(erator)… (‘For the Emperor…’). Fragment of a dedication found before 1874 at Housesteads. Source: RIB I p.514

RIB 1615: …]no / […… (‘? (Antoninus or Hadrianus?)’). Fragment of a dedication found before 1857 at Housesteads. Source: RIB I p.514

RIB 1616: …] / Iul(ius) S[…] / d(ecreto) vica[norum] (‘…Iulius S[…] by decree of the vicus inhabitants’). Dedication found 1931 in Vallum ditch fill. Source: RIB I p.514

RIB 1617: …]A NE I .. H[… (‘?’). Building stone found before 1873 at Housesteads. Now lost. Source: RIB I p.514

RIB 1618: D(is) M(anibus) / Anicio / Ingenuo / medico / ord(inario) coh(ortis) / I Tungr(orum) / vix(it) an(nos) XXV (‘For the immortal shades, Anicius Ingenuus, medicus ordinarius of the First Cohort of Tungrians, lived 25 years’). Tombstone found before 1814. Source: RIB I pp.514-15

RIB 1619: D(is) M(anibus) / Hurmio / Leubasni / mil(iti) coh(ortis) I / Tungror(um) / b(ene)f(iciario) praef(ecti) / Ca[l]pur[ni]us(?) / her(es) f(aciendum) c(uravit) (‘For the immortal shades, for Hermius Leubasnus, soldier of the First Cohort of Tungrians, beneficiarius of the prefect, Calpurnius, his heir, set this up’). Tombstone found before 1717 at Housesteads. Now lost. Source: RIB I p.515

RIB 1620: [D(is)] M(anibus) / […]P[…] / […]ANL[.]MPR[.]E[.] / [..]enioni Venocari / Grato Fersionis / Romulo Alimahi / Simili Daili / Mansuetio Senicionis / Pervinc(a)e Quartionis / heres procuravit Delf/inus Rautionis ex G(ermania) s(uperiore) (‘For the immortal shades… son of Venocarus, Gratus, sone of Fersio, Romulus, son of Alimahus, Similis, sone of Dailus, Mansuetius, son of Senicio, Pervinca, daughter of Quartio, their heir Delfinus, son of Rautio, from Uppper Germany, had this set up’). Tombstone found 1702 ¼ mile from Housesteads (W, S, or E?). Source: RIB I p.516

RIB 1621: AV[…] / Meni[…] / filiae […]/ni coni[ugi] / M(arcus) Aurel(ius) C[…] / vi{c}xit a[nnos] / XXXVII (‘To Au[…] Meni[…], daughter of…, M(arcus) Aur(elius) C[…] (set this up) to his wife, she lived 37 years’). Tombstone found before 1822 at Housesteads. Source: RIB I p.516

RIB 1622: …]uli/us heres vixi(t) / an(n)os XXX (‘…]ulius, heir (set this up), lived 30 years’). Tombstone found before 1822 at Housesteads. Source: RIB I p.516

RIB 1623: …]DV[…] / […]HVIN[.]/[…]VM INGI/[…] ARIVLOF/[…]TVS (‘?’). Tombstone found before 1873 at Housesteads. Source: RIB I p.517

RIB 1624: Impe/rator (‘Emperor’). Building stone found 1898 on building in NE quarter. Source: RIB I p.517

RIB 1625: Aur(elius) / scal(psit?) (‘Aurelius chiselled this (?)’). Building stone found 1898 on building in NE quarter. Source: RIB I p.517

RIB 1626: [..]MTAT / OESN (‘?’). Building stone found on S wall of HQ near SW corner in 1898. Source: RIB I p.517

RIB 1627: ]…RTIRI…[ (‘?’). Building stone found before 1873 at Housesteads. Now lost. Source: RIB I p.517

RIB 1628: MARII (‘?’). Building stone found 1751 on Chapel Hill. Now lost. Source: RIB I p.517

RIB 1629: [pe]datura / […]uci (‘Length in feet built by…’). Building stone found before 1922 at Housesteads. Source: RIB I p.518

RIB 1630: …]I Geredis S[… (‘?’). Building stone found W of the granaries in 1922. Source: RIB I p.518

RIB 1631; […]nus fecit (‘… made (this)’). Building stone found 1831 in the vicus. Source: RIB I p.518

RIB 3325: Im[p(eratori) Caes(ari) divi Traian(i) Parth)(ici) fil(io)] / d[ivi Ner(vae) nep(oti) Traian(o) Hadriano Aug(usto)] / coh[ors…] / mi[l(iaria) …] (‘For the Emperor Caesar Hadrian Augustus, sone of the divine Trajan Parthicus, grandson of the divine Nerva, the… cohort… a thousand strong…’). Dedication found 1961 in Building XV. Source: RIB III pp.316-17

RIB 3326: coh(ors) I Tu(ngrorum) / D (‘First Cohort of Tungrians (built this)’). Building stone found 1986 on N wall of S granary 6.6m from E end. Source: RIB III p.317

RIB 3327: c(enturia) Camian[a] (‘the former century of Camianus (built this)’). Building stone found in 1976 in Chalet 8 of Barrack XIII. Source: RIB III p.318

RIB 3328: Cunaris (‘Cunaris’). Building stone found 1976 unstratified in Barrack XIII. Source: RIB III p.518

RIB 3329: […]AD[…] (‘?’). Building stone found 1990 in S face of fort wall. Source: RIB III p.319

RIB 3330: [D(is)] M(anibus) S[…] / […] vixi[t] / […] / […]OSTI{…] (‘For the immortal shades, S[…] lived…’). Tombstone fragment found 1961 in Building XV. Source: RIB III p.319

Analysis

An interesting variety of deities are represented by the altars from Housesteads, many of which come from Chapel Hill, in the civil settlement to the south of the fort. Ever-popular Cocidius is present (1577–8 and 1583), although out-numbered by Mars (1590–7), Mithras (1599–1600), and the Veteres (in all his/her/their forms: 1602–6).

A particularly intriguing dedication (1574) is the one to Clarian Apollo, which chimes with nine other examples from the Empire and may be connected with the Antonine plague of AD 165, brought back to Britain from the East by soldiers returning from the wars there.

Inscriptions record the presence of Germans (1620), at least one of them a soldier (1619), accompanied by Germanic deities – Mars Thincsus (1593) and the goddesses Alaisiagae, Baudihilia, and Friagabis (1576 and 1594) – and this relates to the presence of auxiliaries from the thousand-strong* First Cohort of Tungrians (1578–80, 1584–6, 1591, 1598, 1618–19, and 3326), who are still recorded as the garrison unit at Housesteads in the Late-Roman Notitia Dignitatum and had previously been based not far away, at Vindolanda. However, whilst the garrison of Hadrian’s Wall is usually depicted as being made up entirely of auxiliary cohortes and alae, one inscription (1583) records the presence of legionaries of II Augusta as ‘agentes in praesidio‘ (‘acting as the garrison’), suggesting that their presence at Housesteads was a stop-gap measure, and that is not the only mention of legionaries. The Second Legion occur again (1582) and the Sixth twice (1577 and 1609). The occasion for this legionary substitution may well have been the removal of auxiliary garrisons from Hadrian’s Wall to the Antonine Wall (the First Cohort of Tungrians turn up at Castlecary and Cramond). Later, irregular units – the cuneus of Frisians (1594) and the numerus of Hnaudifidus (1576) – are based at Housesteads, probably accompanying the Tungrians.

* The term milliaria, whilst technically meaning one thousand strong, is a generalisation, for we know such a unit had ten centuries of 80 men. It would thus have been nearer 800 strong, assuming all centuries were up to strength, which is unlikely. Vindolanda Tablet 154 shows that the Tungrians had only 752 men and six centurions when it was written, c. AD 92–7, suggesting that a shortage of centurions was not only a Hadrianic problem.

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Wall Mile 79

Wall Mile 79 [HB 366]

Our last mile of the Wall to the south-east of Bowness fort is a field boundary, some way to the south of the Trail, which wends its way along the shore road. Carry on walking and, as the road curves to the right and signs warn that the road can flood in high tides, we can look across a field gate, some 335m west of Milecastle 79 (NY 233 624), you can look south across the field to the hedge line that represents the course of the wall, where there is even a trace of the ditch (not that you can tell it from your vantage point).

Wall Mile 79 from the air

Wall Mile 79 from the air

Part of the curtain wall was still standing up to 6ft high here when first William Hutton, then John Skinner only a few weeks later, walked past in 1801, but it is now long gone.

Approaching Bowness

Approaching Bowness

Arriving at Bowness, if you are desperate to get your ‘passport’ stamped at the incongruous little shed that lurks off the main street (or just want a view over the estuary and some appreciation of the drumlinoid upon which the fort and village sit), follow the brown signs down the path to the right just after entering the village. Having admired the wildlife mosaics (and fighting off the feeling of anti-climax that greets our monumental effort of having got this far), we may carry on. Return to the main street and turn right towards the centre of the settlement. Some 90m on, to our left, we pass a red-sandstone byre with a blocked door, over which is a weathered Roman altar. The stone of the buildings, unsurprisingly, derives from the fort and the curtain wall.

Byre in Bowness with a Roman altar

Byre in Bowness with a Roman altar

Bowness-on-Solway fort (MAIA) [HB 367–70]

The fort of Maia lies beneath the village of Bowness. The significance of its location, apart from the conveniently raised ground of the drumlinoid, is that it is (or was) the lowest fording point of the Solway Firth. As William Camden observed, ‘at every ebbe the water is so low that the borderers and beast-stealers may easily wade over.’ The remains of the fort were evident when Camden visited in 1599 (‘tracts of streetes, ruinous walles, and an haven now stopped up with mud’), but there is now nothing to be seen of its fabric.

Part of the northern side of the fort has been lost to erosion, but it has been estimated that it occupied 2.8ha (7 acres) and identification of the site of the south gate has shown that the fort faced south-west. Excavation on the eastern defences in 1988 revealed that the primary grey clay rampart was cut back to allow the insertion of a sandstone defensive wall on a cobblestone foundation. The V-shaped ditch was found to be 4.5m wide and 2m deep. The fort housed a milliary unit (around 800 infantrymen), a fact betrayed not only by its size but also from the now-illegible inscription on that altar just mentioned, set up by the tribunus Sulpicius Secundianus to the emperors Gallus and Volusianus (AD 251–3). Another inscription, now in Carlisle, but this time in verse on an altar, records an offering by a trader that implies the lettering was originally gilded. The Notitia Dignitatum does not record a commander or garrison for the fort. Excavations near the west gate have shown that the first phase was of turf and timber, contemporary with the Turf Wall, and it was subsequently reconstructed at least twice in stone.

A noticeboard on the side of the King’s Arms has a plan, together with some useful information. The notional site of Milecastle 80 lies just to the west of our position outside the pub.

Milecastle 80 [Not mentioned in the HB; haiku]

Bowness from the air

Bowness from the air

Milecastle 80 has not been found. It is assumed to have been demolished to make way for Bowness fort, so it will only ever have been made of turf and timber (since it would have been part of the initial Turf Wall system).

PLV Inscriptions (Carrawburgh)

Introduction

Whilst the limited excavations at the fort have produced only a small haul of inscriptions, the various shrines in the civil settlement, notably Coventina’s Well and the mithraeum, have been extremely productive.

Inventory

RIB 1520: ? (‘?’). Altar found 1941 at Uppertown but inscription (if there is one) is concealed. Source: RIB I p.485

RIB 1521: Deo / Belleti/cauro / Lunaris (‘For the god Belleticaurus, Lunaris (set this up)’). Altar found in 1849 at Carrawburgh. Source: RIB I p.485

RIB 1522

RIB 1522

RIB 1522: Deae / Coventi/nae Bellicus / v(otum) s(oluit) l(ibens) m(erito) p(osuit) (‘For the goddess Coventina, Bellicus set this up, willingly and deservedly fulfilling a vow’). Altar found 1876 in Coventina’s Well. Source: RIB I p.485

RIB 1523

RIB 1523

RIB 1523: De(ae) Conve(n)ti(nae) / vot(um) ret(t)u/lit Maus(aeus) / optio c(o)ho(rtis) / p(rimae) Frixiav(onum) (‘For the goddess Coventina, Musaeus optio of the First Cohort of Frixiavones paid a vow’). Altar found 1876 in Coventina’s Well. Source: RIB I p.485

RIB 1524

RIB 1524

RIB 1524: Deae Co/ventin(a)e / coh(orti) I Cube/rnorum / Aur(elius) Camp/ester / v(otum) p(osuit) l(ibens) a(nimo) (‘For the goddess Coventina, Aurelius Campester from the First Cohort of Cuberni set up a votive offering with a glad heart’). Altar found 1876 in Coventina’s Well. Source: RIB I p.485

RIB 1525

RIB 1525

RIB 1525: Die Cove/ntine A/urelius / Crotus / German(us) (‘For the goddess Coventina, Aurelius Crotus, A German (fulfilled a vow)’). Altar found 1876 in Coventina’s Well. Source: RIB I p.486

RIB 1526

RIB 1526

RIB 1526: Deae Nim/fae Coven/tine Mad/uhus Germ(anus) / pos(uit) pro se et su(is) / v(otum) s(olvens) l(ibens) m(erito) (‘For the nymph goddess Coventina, Maduhus, a German, set this up for himself and his own, willingly and deservedly fulfilling a vow’). Altar found 1876 in Coventina’s Well. Source: RIB I p.486

RIB 1527: [Ni]mphae Coventinae / […]tianus dec[u]ri(o) / […]SLE[.]V / […] m(erito) (‘For the nymph Coventina, […]tianus, decurion… deservedly [fulfilled a vow]’). Dedication found 1876 in Coventina’s Well. Source: RIB I p.486

RIB 1528

RIB 1528

RIB 1528: D(e)ae Coven(tinae) / Vinomath/us v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito) (‘For the goddess Coventina Vinomathus willingly and deservedly fulfilled a vow’). Altar found 1876 in Coventina’s Well. Source: RIB I p.487

RIB 1529

RIB 1529

RIB 1529: Deae Coven/tine P[…]a/nus m(i)l(es) c(o)ho(rtis) [… / .TTOIN… / .] / votum [li]/bes animo / r(eddidit) et posivit (‘For the goddess Coventina p[…]anus soldier of cohort […] willingly paid a vow and set this up’). Altar found 1876 in Coventina’s Well. Source: RIB I p.487

RIB 1530

RIB 1530

RIB 1530: C(o)v(entinae) / (Au)g(u)st(ae) / Sa/tu/r/ni(nus) Gabin/ius f(ecit) or Gabin/ius Fe/li/cis Sa/tu/r/ni(nus) (‘For Coventina Augusta, Saturninus Gabinius made this, or, For Good Luck, Saturninus Gabinius’). Clay incense burner found 1876 in Coventina’s Well. Source: RIB I p.487

RIB 1531

RIB 1531

RIB 1531: Cove(n)/tina(e) A(u)/gusta(e) / votu(m) / man/ibus suis / Satu/rni/nus / fecit / Gabi/nius (‘For Coventina Augusta, Saturninus Gabinius made this votive offering with his own hands’). Clay incense burner found in Coventina’s Well in 1876. Source: RIB I p.487

RIB 1532

RIB 1532

RIB 1532: Deae Co/vetine Cr/otus v(o)t(um) l(i)b/e(n)s s[o]lui pro m(ea) sa(lute) (‘For the goddess Coventina, I, Crotus, willingly fiulfilled a vow for my well-being’). Altar found 1876 in Coventina’s Well. Source: RIB I p.488

RIB 1533

RIB 1533

RIB 1533: Deae sanc(tae) / Covontine / Vincentius / pro salute sua / v(oto) l(aetus) l(ibens) m(erito) d(edicavit) (‘For the holy goddess Covontina, Vincentius, for his own well-being, gladly, willingly, and deservedly dedicated this as a vow’). Altar found 1876 in Coventina’s Well. Source: RIB I p.488

RIB 1534

RIB 1534

RIB 1534: Deae / Couventinae / T(itus) D(…) Cosconia/nus pr(aefectus) coh(ortis) / I Bat(avorum) l(ibens) m(erito) (‘For the goddess Coventina, Titus D(…) Cosconianus, prefect of the First Cohort of Batavians freely and deservedly (fulfilled a vow)’). Dedication found 1876 in Coventina’s Well at Carrawburgh. Source: RIB I p.488

RIB 1535

RIB 1535

RIB 1535: Couven[ti(nae)] / Aelius […]/pius p[raef(ectus)] / coh(ortis) I Bat(avorum) / v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito) (‘For Coventina, Aelius […]pius, prefect of the First Cohort of Batavians, willingly and deservedly fulfilled a vow’). Altar found 1876 in Coventina’s Well. Source: RIB I p.488

RIB 1536

RIB 1536

RIB 1536: Fortunae / coh(ors) I Batavor(um) / cui praeest / M(arcus) Flaccinius / Marcellus prae(fectus) (‘For Fortuna, the First Cohort of Batavians, which is commanded by Marcus Flaccinius Marcellus, prefect (set this up)’). Altar found 1695 at Carrawburgh. Source: RIB I p.489

RIB 1537

RIB 1537

RIB 1537: D(e)ae For(tunae) / Vitalis / fecit / lib(ens) mer(ito) (‘For the goddess Fortuna, Vitalis willingly and deservedly made this’). Altar found 1873 in Room B of the bath-house at Carrawburgh. Source: RIB I p.489

RIB 1538: Genio / hu(i)us lo/ci Texand(ri) / et Suve(vae) / vex(illarii) cohor(tis) / II Nervior/um (‘For the Genius of this place, the Texandri and Suavae, from a detchment of the Second Cohort of Nervians (set this up)’). Altar found near the centre of Carrawburgh in 1874. Source: RIB I pp.489-90

RIB 1539: D(eae) M(atri) D(eum) Tranquil/(i)a Severa / pro se et sui/s v(otum) s(oluit) l(ibens) m(erito) (‘For the goddess Mother of the Gods, Tranquila Severa for her and her own willingly and deservedly fulfilled a vow’). Altar found in or before 1716 at Carrawburgh. Source: RIB I p.490

RIB 1540: Matribus / Albinius / Quart(us) mil(es) d(edicavit) (‘For the mother goddesses, Albinius Quartus, a soldier, dedicated this’). Altar found in 1950 reused in the mithraeum. Source: RIB I p.491

RIB 1541: Mat/ribu/s com/mun(ibus) / [… (‘For the universal mother goddesses…’). Altar found 1876 at Carrawburgh. Source: RIB I p.491

RIB 1542: Minervae / Quin[t]us / architect(us) / v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito) (‘For Minerva, Quintus, an engineer, willingly and deservedly fulfilled a vow’). Found 1875 at Carrawburgh. Source: RIB I p.491

RIB 1543

RIB 1543

RIB 1543: Die M/iner/ve Ve/nico pr(o) s(alute) / p(osuit) s(umptu) s(uo) (‘For the goddess Minerva, Venico for his well-being, set this up at his own expense’). Altar found in 1876 in Coventina’s Well. Source: RIB I p.491

RIB 1544

RIB 1544

RIB 1544: Deo Inv(icto) M(ithrae) / L(ucius) Antonius / Proculus / praef(ectus) coh(ortis) I Bat(avorum) Antoninianae / v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito) (‘For the Invincible God Mithras, Lucius Antonius Proculus, prefect of the First Cohort of Batavians Antoniniana, willingly and deservedly fulfilled a vow’). Altar found 1949 in the mithraeum at Carrawburgh. Source: RIB I p.492

RIB 1545

RIB 1545

RIB 1545: D(eo) In(victo) M(ithrae) s(acrum) / Aul(us) Cluentius / Habitus pra(e)f(ectus) / coh(ortis) I / Batavorum / domu Ulti/n(i)a colon(ia) / Sept(imia) Aur(elia) L(arino) / v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito) (‘For the invincible scared god Mithras, Aulus Cluentius Habitus, prefect of the First Cohort of Batavians, from the Ultinian voting-tribe, from the colony of Septimia Aurelia Larinum, willingly and deservedly fulfilled a vow’). Altar found 1949 in the mithraeum at Carrawburgh. Source: RIB I pp.492-3

RIB 1546

RIB 1546

RIB 1546: Deo Invicto / Mitrae M(arcus) Sim/plicius Simplex / pr(a)ef(ectus) v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito) (‘For the invincible god Mitra, Marcus Sinmplicius Simplex, prefect, willingly and deservedly fulfilled a vow’). Altar found 1949 in the mithraeum at Carrawburgh. Source: RIB I p.493

RIB 1547: [Nymp]his / [vexi]llatio / [leg(ionis) VI] Vic[tricis] (‘For the nymphs, a detachment of the Sixth Legion Victrix (set this up)’). ?Statue base found before 1873 near Coventina’s Well. Source: RIB I p.494

RIB 1548: Deo Ve/teri vo/tum Uc/cus v(ouit) l(ibens) (‘For the god Veteris, Uccus willingly fulfilled a vow’). Altar found before 1716. Now lost. Source: RIB I p.494

RIB 1549: [Dibu]s / Huite/ribus (‘For the Huiteres gods’). Altar found 1849. Source: RIB I p.494

RIB 1550

RIB 1550

RIB 1550: …]v[er]o leg(ato) / [Aug(usti) pr(o) p]r(aetore) coh(ors) I Aquit/[anorum] fecit / [sub …]io Nepote / [pra]ef(ecto) (‘…] Severus, the Emperor’s propraetorian legate, the First Cohort of Aquitani built this under […]ius Nepos, prefect’). Dedication found 1838 in the NE corner of the fort. Source: RIB I p.495

RIB 1551: …divi Nerv]ae ad[nep(oti) M(arco) Aur(elio)] / [Antonin]o Pio [Fel(ici) Aug(usto) / Parthico] M[a]x(imo) B[rit(annico) Max(imo)… (‘…of the deified Nerva, Marcus Auirelius Antoninus Pius Felix Augustus, Parthicus Maximus, Britannicus Maximus…’). Dedication found 1871 at Carrawburgh. Source: RIB I p.495

RIB 1552: …di]vi / [… di]vi Ner(vae) / […]us / [… (‘…of the deified… of the deified Nerva…’). Dedication found 1874 near the middle of the fort. Source: RIB I p.495

RIB 1553

RIB 1553

RIB 1553: [Imp(eratori) Caes(ari) [[C(aio) Iulio Ver]o] / [[Maximino] P(io) F(elici) Aug(usto) Ge]r(manico) max(imo) / [Dac(ico) max(imo) Sarm(atico) max(imo) pont(ifici)] max(imo) / [tr(ibunicia) p(otestate) III imp(eratori) VI co(n)s(uli) p]r(o)co(n)s(uli) / [p(atri) p(atriae) et [[C(aio) Iulio Vero] Maxi]/[[mo] Ger(manico) max(imo) Dac(ico) max(imo) S]arm(atico) / [max(imo) nob(ilissimo)] Caes(ari) n(ostro) sub / […]ucciano v(iro) c(larissimo) leg(ato) / [Aug(usti) pr(o) pr(aetore)] coh(ors) I B[a]tavorum / [fecit cur]ante Burrio / […]sto prae[f(ecto)] / [Perpetuo et C]orneliano [co(n)s(ulibus)] (‘For the Emperoro Caesar Gaius Iulius Verus Maximus Pius Felix Augustus, Germanicus Maximus, Dacicus Maximus, Sarmaticus Maximus, pontifex maximus, with tribunician power for the third time, acclaimed Imperator six times, consul, proconsul, father of his country, and for Gaius Iulius Verus Maximus, Germanicus Maximus, Dacicus Maximus, Sarmaticus Maximus, our most noble Caesar, under […]uccianus, of senatorial rank and Emperor’s propraetorian legate, the First Cohort of Batavi built this under the command of Burrius […], prefect, in the consulship of Perpetuus and Cornelianus’). Dedication found 1838 in the NE corner of the fort. The consular date is AD 237. Source: RIB I pp.495-6

RIB 1554

RIB 1554

RIB 1554: c(enturia) Alexand[ri] (‘The century of Alexander (built this)’). Centurial stone found before 1732 at Carrawburgh Farm. Source: RIB I p.496

RIB 1555: c(enturia) Antoni / Rus(tici) (‘the century of Antonius Rusticus (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1874 at Carrawburgh. Source: RIB I p.496

RIB 1556: c(enturia) Thrupo/niana / p(edes) XXIIII (‘the former century of Thrupo (built) 24 feet’). Centurial stone found in the southern interval tower on the west side of Carrawburgh in 1871. Source: RIB I p.496

RIB 1557: c(enturia) […] (‘century of […] (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1732 at Carrawburgh Farm. Now lost. Source: RIB I p.496

RIB 1558: …]paudi Re[g]ulo vixit / [anni]s XXXIIII et [..]atencte / [con]iugi pi(a)e vix(it) an(n)is XXX [et] / […]ian(a)e fili(ae) eorum vixit d(iebus) / […] filio eorum / […]udivaiti fil(io) / […]PAHICE / [ (‘… for… Regulus, lived 34 years and for … devoted wife… lived 30 years and for … their daughter, lived … days, and for … their son and for… son…’). Tombstone found 1876 at Carrawburgh. Source: RIB I pp.496-7

RIB 1559

RIB 1559

RIB 1559: D(is) M(anibus) [s(acrum)] / Longi[ni …] / buc(inatoris) c[oh(ortis) I Bat(avorum)] / [… (‘For the immortal shades, Longinus … trumpeter of the First Cohort of Batavi’). Tombstone found in the bath-house in 1873. Source: RIB I p.497

RIB 1560

RIB 1560

RIB 1560: [D(is)] M(anibus) / […]s Mileni (filius) / [signi]fero / cohor(tis) I Bat/[avorum] (‘For the immortal shades, …s son of Milenus, standard-bearer of the First Cohort of Batavi’). Tombstone found 1873 in the bath-house. Source: RIB I p.497

RIB 1561

RIB 1561

RIB 1561: D(is) M(anibus) / Ael(iae) Comindo / annorum XXXII / Nobilianus dec(urio) / coniugi car[i]ss[i]m(ae) p(osuit) (‘For the immortal shades and Aelia Comindus, Nobilianus, decurion, set this up for a most dear wife’). Tombstone found 1873 in the bath-house. Source: RIB I pp.497-8

RIB 1562

RIB 1562

RIB 1562: …coh(ortis)] I Bat(avorum) / [… et] Hilario / heredes f(aciendum) c(uraverunt) (‘…First Cohort of Batavians, […] and Hilario, heirs, had this set up’). Tombstone found 1873 in the bath-house. Source: RIB I p.498

RIB 1563: …] Ulp[…] / […]Sabin[… (‘?’). Tombstone? fragment found 1735 at Simonburn. Source: RIB I p.498

RIB 3316

RIB 3316

RIB 3316: Nymphis et Genio / Loci M(arcus) Hispanius / Modestinus praef(ectus) / coh(ortis) I Bat(avorum) pro se / et suis l(ibens) m(erito) (‘For the nymphs and the spirit of the place, Marcus Hispanius Modestinus prefect of the First Cohort of Batavians, for himself and his family, willingly deservedly (fulfilled a vow)’). Altar inscribed almost identically on two faces found 1957 in an open-air shrine. Now in the GNM. Source: RIB III pp.308-9

RIB 3317: […Had]ri[ano Aug(usto) …] co(n)s(uli) […] / […co]h(ors) I Tun[grorum …] / […fec]it (‘For …Hadrian Augustus… consul… the First Cohort of Tungri made this’). Dedication found 1965 in a field wall. Source: RIB III pp.310-11

RIB 3318: …]AE[… / …]X[… (‘?’). ?Tombstone found 1964 when making the car park. Source: RIB III p.311

Analysis

There is an overwhelming spiritual theme to the inscriptions from Carrawburgh.

The altars from Coventina’s Well dominate this assemblage and it is noteworthy that it is the commanders and men of the First Cohort of Batavi who are dedicating them and that these included ethnic Germans. Although she appears to be a local water nymph, a case has been made for a Germanic origin and other dedications are known from western Europe. Although it is thought the altars surrounded the well in the shrine, they were actually found dumped into it; some have seen this as ritual deposition, others as concealment or desecration.

The mithraic inscriptions, on the other hand, reflect the elite nature of that cult, with commanders of the unit dedicating the three main altars from the mithraeum.

A range of tombstones have come from the site, including part of a Totenmahl stone, showing the deceased reclining at their final (eternal) meal. This features a rather fine depiction of a three-legged table.

PLV Inscriptions (Rudchester)

Introduction

An important group of four altars comes from the mithraeum to the south-west of the fort, in the civil settlement. The other stones were found reused in the vicinity.

Inventory

RIB 1395

RIB 1395

RIB 1395: Deo Invicto / Mytrae P(ublius) Ae(lius) / Titullus prae(fectus) / v(otum) s(olvit) l(aetus) l(ibens) m(erito) (‘For the Invincible God Mithras, Publius Aelius Titullus, prefect, gladly, willingly, and deservedly fulfilled a vow’). Altar found 1844 in the mithraeum at Rudchester. Source: RIB I pp.454-5

RIB 1396

RIB 1396

RIB 1396: Deo Soli Invic(to) / Tib(erius) Cl(audius) Dec(i)mus / Cornel(ius) Anto/nius praef(ectus) / templ(um) restit(uit) (‘For the invincible sun god, Tiberius Claudius Decimus Antonius, prefect, restored the temple’). Altar found 1844 in the mithraeum at Rudchester. Source: RIB I p.455

RIB 1397

RIB 1397

RIB 1397: Soli / Apollini / Aniceto / [Mithrae] / Apon[i]us / Rogatianus / [… (‘For the sun god Apollo Anicetus Mithras, Aponius Rogatianus…’). Altar found 1844 in the mithraeum at Rudchester. Source: RIB I p.455

RIB 1398

RIB 1398

RIB 1398: Deo / L(ucius) Sentius / Castus / (centurio) leg(ionis) VI d(ono) p(osuit) (‘For the god, Lucius Sentius Castus, centurion of the Sixth Legion set this up as a gift’). Altar found 1844 in the mithraeum at Rudchester. Source: RIB I p.456

RIB 1399: …]ulius [… / …]ogenes [… / sol]uit felic[iter] (‘…]ulius […]ogenes …successfully fulfilled…’). Found 1875 in a wall at Rudchester. Source: RIB I p.456

RIB 1400: coh(ortis) III[I] / c(enturia) Pedi Qui(nti) (‘Fourth cohort, the century of Pedius Quintus (built this)’). Centurial stone found around 1875 in a wall at Rudchester. Source: RIB I p.457

RIB 1401: [c]oh(ortis) VI / c(enturia) Aprilis (‘the sixth cohort, century of Aprilis (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1848 at Rudchester. Source: RIB I p.457

RIB 1402

RIB 1402

RIB 1402: c(enturia) Arri (‘the century of Arrius (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1875 in a wall at Rudchester. Source: RIB I p.457

RIB 1403: NEMI (‘?’). Found before 1852 near Rudchester. Source: RIB I p.457

RIB 1404: [D(is) M(anibus)] / Aur(eli) […]/rini [vi]/xit [an]/nis […] (‘For the immortal shades and Aurelius […]rinus, he lived […] years…’). Tombstone found 1810 at Rudchester. Source: RIB I p.457

RIB 1405: …] / [si]t tib[i / terra] levis (‘…may the soil rest lightly upon you’). Tombstone found 1789 at Rudchester. Source: RIB I p.458

Analysis

The four inscribed altars (RIB 1395–8; an additional, small, uninscribed one was recovered in 1844) reflect the elite nature of the adherents of the cult of Mithras, three of them being set up by unit commanders, the fourth (possibly) by a centurion (who, given that he explicitly states he was from the Sixth Legion, may have been in temporary command of the unit based there). Although the mithraeum was first found in 1844, it was not properly excavated until 1953.

None of the inscriptions from Rudchester records the fact, but the fort was garrisoned by the cohors I Frisiavonum in the 4th century (and probably in the 3rd century too); the earliest unit based there is unknown.

Other stones, such as the centurial stones RIB 1400–2, may have come from the Wall near the fort (Arrius was certainly active near Benwell). The two tombstones, on the other hand, almost certainly derive from the civil settlement of the fort itself.

Wall Mile 19

Wall Mile 19 [HB 175–7]

After 145m we have to cross the road again (we haven’t finished dodging traffic yet, unfortunately) but before we do we can have a peep over the wall and see the ditch lurking to the north of the Military Road. We carry on to a junction. After we cross that, a rather flamboyant stile takes us over to a length of the Trail that runs to the south of the road, separated by a wall and hedgerow which is, on a nice day, one of the most pleasant stretches of the wall walk and usually a good place to see butterflies. The traffic is almost unnoticeable here, strangely.

The ditch east of Halton Shields

The ditch east of Halton Shields

To our right, the Vallum is a very shallow (almost imperceptible) ripple in the arable fields, still visible from the air, but nigh on vanished at ground level. This then, more or less sums up the rest of this stretch. The curtain wall is to the north of us, beneath the southern carriageway of the Military Road; the ditch is beyond the road, amongst the trees; and the Vallum is sneaking across the fields to our south. In this fashion, we arrive at the site of Milecastle 19.

Wall Mile 19 from the air

Wall Mile 19 from the air

Milecastle 19 (Matfen Piers) [HB 175–6; haiku]

Milecastle 19 (Matfen Piers), located opposite the eponymous estate-guarding piers on the north side of the road, has been examined in 1932 and 1999. An altar to the Matres was found, dedicated by cohors I Vardullorum, who we know were at Corbridge during the mid-2nd century AD.

BandC2ad

Wall Mile 43

Wall Mile 43 [HB 269–77]

After Milecastle 44, the Wall turns to the south-east and begins to descend gently towards the plantation at Cockmount Hill. The line of the stone wall itself is represented by a drystone wall, but if we glance over it occasionally we will see that the ditch returns as the crags diminish and cease to offer any defence to the north.

Wall Mile 43, looking towards Cockmount Hill

Wall Mile 43, looking towards Cockmount Hill

When we reach the wall surrounding the plantation, it is as well to pause and look at the gateway through the modern wall immediately to our north. The western gatepost is an uninscribed milestone, probably taken from the Military Way, which runs only some 70m to the south of it. Roman milestones usually bore a carved inscription providing a date when built or repaired and sometimes a distance to the nearest significant point. We also suspect that those that do not seem to bear such an inscription may instead have had a painted one (examples of these are known from Roman roads in the East).

Milestone serving as a gatepost

Milestone serving as a gatepost

We enter the softwood plantation and emerge on the other side, passing Cockmount Hill house and press on, making best use of this more level terrain. A solitary tree then marks the location of Turret 43a (more humps and bumps just east of the tree) and we carry on over a couple of stiles and suddenly there is no longer a modern wall on top of the Roman one, just the ruinous curtain itself. Finally we reach the field containing the western ditches of Great Chesters fort.

Ditch system on the west side of Great Chesters

Ditch system on the west side of Great Chesters

Great Chesters fort (AESICA)

Great Chesters is unusual in that it is largely unconsolidated and remains an atmospheric ruin, rather than a manicured monument. Covering 1.35ha (3.36 acres), this fort is (rather unusually) aligned east to west.

It was added to the Wall some time after AD 128 and was the base for the cohortes VI Nerviorum and VI Raetorum respectively during the 2nd century, and cohors II Asturum and the Raeti Gaesati during the 3rd. The Notitia records the cohors I Asturum as being here later.

North-west corner tower at Great Chesters

North-west corner tower at Great Chesters

After the unusually strong series of four ditches on the west of the fort, presumably the whim of an officer with nothing better to do, since the land to the east and south is not similarly provisioned. The trail takes us to the north-west corner, where we see the inner face of the appropriate corner tower. Once more we note how a fort has become a later farming settlement.

Strongroom

Strongroom

Inside the fort, surrounded by a wooden railing, there is part of the vaulted strong room of the headquarters building. From here we can look down towards the remains of the barrack buildings in the south-west quadrant of the fort, barely visible on the ground but very clear from the air. To the south can be seen the southern gateway, where there is a Roman altar which usually holds a few modern coins left on top in its focus by bemused visitors. The west gateway demonstrates the use of blocking walls (which, as we now know, were usually removed by later excavators at other forts), with first one then both portals ultimately being blocked.

Great Chesters is also remarkable for its aqueduct, the course of which is known for most of its length of 9.5km (from a source just over 4km away). It has been traced as an open channel, rather than an elevated structure. Sadly, there is nothing to see at the fort to mark its arrival. Most forts probably had aqueducts (Housesteads is an exception to this rule, as we shall see) but very few have been studied.

Milecastle 43 (Great Chesters) [HB 270; haiku]

Excavation at Great Chesters in 1939 showed that the fort had been constructed on top of the short-axis Milecastle 43 (Great Chesters), which was razed to the ground, and there is now nothing to see.

Seditio2ad

Wall Mile 60

Wall Mile 60 [HB 336]

Just after Wall Head, the lane along which we have been walking turns off to the right, but we are going to follow the line of the Wall straight on and through a gate and one of the many benefits of walking Hadrian’s Wall west to east suddenly becomes apparent.

Track on line of Wall heading towards Blaetarn

Track on line of Wall heading towards Blaetarn

Here, for the first time, the Wall ceases to coyly peep at us from hedgerows and the major components – or at least their respective remnants – present themselves. The line of the curtain wall itself is represented by a low causeway running across the pasture towards the farm at Bleatarn, whilst a depression to the left marks the course of the ditch and, some way to the right, the earthworks of the Vallum can be made out near the western field boundary. Aerial photography has revealed extensive pre-Roman field systems in this area, the alignments of which the Wall blithely ignores (later agriculture always tends to respect the monument, which is why its course is so obvious across most of the countryside).

Causeway leading to Blaetarn

Causeway leading to Blaetarn

As we move along our mural causeway towards Bleatarn Farm, it will become apparent that some substantial earthworks, possibly associated with hollow ways and quarries, have enhanced and in part removed the line of the ditch to the north, whilst next to the farmhouse itself, the rather pleasant rush-bedecked tarn which gives it its name is probably also a result of such delvings.

The Trail crosses a lane by means of two gates (through the first you need to look slightly to your left to find the second), and then we are in the fields again. To your right, next to Bleatarn Farm, you will find one of the few portaloos provided along the line of the trail. If the National Trail has failings (it actually has several), one of the most serious is the lack of provision of facilities for walkers. Later we will encounter grumpy notices asking us to refrain from using farm buildings as lavatories, but what we seldom find are such thoughtfully provided toilets as this one at Bleatarn. This subject is by and large avoided in most discussion of the Trail and why this should be is mystifying.

Hollow way on the line of the Wall ditch

Hollow way on the line of the Wall ditch

Crossing the field, we keep immediately north of the hedgerow, noting how the line of the ditch to our left is used by a green lane. Once we have crossed the next field boundary and are in the second field, we are close to the site of Milecastle 60. Looking back, we can see how we have been walking along the berm (the hedgeline in the next field to the east takes up the line of the curtain wall itself again) and that the green lane has moved up onto the north lip of the ditch, which is now decidedly sodden.

Congratulations – together we have completed twenty Roman miles of the length of Hadrian’s Wall, or exactly one quarter of its original length (but not, please note, one quarter of the length of the National Trail – they are two very different things).

Milecastle 60 (High Strand) [HB 336; haiku]

The site of Milecastle 60

The site of Milecastle 60

Although Milecastle 60 (High Strand) has never been excavated, the site has provided another altar to Cocidius, only five Roman miles after the last one, hinting at the popularity of this deity on the western side of the Wall.