Hadrian’s Wall Inscriptions (Benwell to Rudchester)

Introduction


This section covers Wall Miles 6 to 13, nearly all of which (i.e. WM8–13) is now beneath the Military Road. Many are unprovenanced, usually having been rebuilt into another structure, but some were recovered from the Wall during the construction of the road in 1751. Unfortunately, the locations of these stones were not accurately recorded.

Inventory

RIB 1353: VIAT (‘…]VIAT[…’).  Found 1807 built into a house near MC7. Now lost.  Source: RIB I p.446

RIB 1354

RIB 1354

RIB 1354: c(enturia) Here/nniani (‘The century of Herennianus (built this)’). Centurial stone found before 1732 beside the road at Denton. Now lost. Source: RIB I p.446

RIB 1355: N (‘N’). Building stone found before 1789. Now lost. Source: RIB I p.446

RIB 1356: c(enturia) Iuli / Rufi (‘The century of Iulius Rufus (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1804 near Denton Hall. Source: RIB I p.447

RIB 1357: c(enturia) Iuli / Rufi (‘The century of Iulius Rufus (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1804 near Denton Hall. Source: RIB I p.447

RIB 1358

RIB 1358

RIB 1358: leg(ionis) II Aug(ustae) / coh(ors) I / fec(it) (‘Second Legion First Cohort built this’). Building stone found 1869 near Denton Hall. Source: RIB I p.447

RIB 1359: l(egionis) II Aug(ustae) / c(o)ho(rs) VIII / fec(it) (‘Second Legion Eighth Cohort made this’). Building stone found 1716 in East Denton. Source: RIB I p.447

RIB 1360

RIB 1360

RIB 1360: leg(ionis) / II Aug(ustae) co/h(ors) VIII (‘Second Legion Eighth Cohort (built this)’). Building stone found 1725 at Denton Wood House. Source: RIB I p.448

RIB 1361: c(enturia) Tu[lli] (‘The century of Tullius (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1936 on north mound of Vallum. Source: RIB I p.448

RIB 1362: c(enturia) Val(eri) Fl(avi) (‘Century of Valerius Flavus (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1934 on north mound of Vallum. Source: RIB I p.448

RIB 1363: c(enturia) Val(eri) Fl(avi) (‘Century of Valerius Flavus (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1934 on north mound of Vallum. Source: RIB I p.448

RIB 1364: c(enturia) Pro(culi) (‘Century of Proculus (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1934 on north mound of Vallum. Source: RIB I p.448

RIB 1365: c(oh(ortis) I / Dacor(um) / c(enturia) Ael(i) Dida(e) (‘First Cohort of Dacians the century of Aelius Dida (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1936 on north mound of Vallum. Source: RIB I p.449

RIB 1366

RIB 1366

RIB 1366: Iov/i O(ptimo) M(aximo) / [… (‘For Jupiter Best and Greatest…’). Altar found 1822 on the Wall west of Denton Hall. Source: RIB I p.448

RIB 1367: c(enturia) Atisi (‘The century of Atisius (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1953. Source: RIB I p.448

RIB 1368: c(enturia) Avi/di Rufi (‘The century of Avidius Rufus (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1904 in main road west of lane to Newburn. Source: RIB I p.448

RIB 1369: c(enturia)] / Iuli Pri[…] (‘century of Iulius Primus’). Centurial stone found before 1851 in West Denton. Source: RIB I p.449

RIB 1370: VIII (‘8’). Building stone found 1929 in Milecastle 9. Source: RIB I p.450

RIB 1371: VIIII (‘9’). Building stone found 1929 in Milecastle 9. Source: RIB I p.450

RIB 1372: X (’10’). Building stone found 1929 in Milecastle 9. Source: RIB I p.450

RIB 1373

RIB 1373

RIB 1373: c(enturia) p(rimi) p(ili) (‘century of the first centurion (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1794 in a stable in Walbottle. Source: RIB I p.450

RIB 1374

RIB 1374

RIB 1374: c(enturia) Iuli Pro/culi (‘century of Iulius Proculus (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1906 200 yds W of Engine Inn. Source: RIB I p.450

RIB 1375: coh(ortis) V[… / c(enturia) Iuli Iuv(enalis?) (‘The fifth(/sixth/seventh) cohort, the century of Iulius Iuvenalis’). Centurial stone found 1789 near Walbottle. Source: RIB I pp.450-1

RIB 1376

RIB 1376

RIB 1376: c(enturia) Pere/grini (‘century of Peregrinus’). Centurial stone found 1794 slightly east of Walbottle on south mound of Vallum. Source: RIB I p.451

RIB 1377: c(enturia) Muci. / .EN (‘the century of Mucius … (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1732 in a cow shed in Walbottle. Source: RIB I p.451

RIB 1378

RIB 1378

RIB 1378: F]elix… (‘Felix…’). Building stone found 1857 at Walbottle. Source: RIB I p.451

RIB 1379: a) I b) III c) V d) VII[ e) VIII f) IX (‘a) 1 b) 3 c) 5 d) 7(or 8/9) e) 8 f) 9’). Building stones found 1732 in field walls near Walbottle. Source: RIB I p.451

RIB 1380

RIB 1380

RIB 1380: c(enturia) Car[… (‘The century of Car[…’). Centurial stone found in 1864 at Milecastle 10. Source: RIB I p.451

RIB 1381: V (‘5’). Building stone found before 1732 in Throckley. Source: RIB I p.452

RIB 1382: X (’10’). Building stone found before 1732 in Throckley. Source: RIB I p.452

RIB 1383: C (‘C’ or ‘100’). Building stone found 1926 at Great Hill, near Heddon. Source: RIB I p.452

RIB 1384: R (‘R’). Building stone found 1926 at Great Hill, near Heddon. Source: RIB I p.452

RIB 1385: leg(ionis) XX / V(aleriae) V(ictricis) / coh(ors) IV (‘Twentieth Legion Valeria Victrix (built this)’). Building stone found 1807 in the vicarage at Heddon and now lost. Source: RIB I p.452

RIB 1386: c(enturia) Iul(i) / Ruf(i) (‘The century of Iulius Rufus’). Centurial stone found 1807 in the vicarage at Heddon and now lost. This centurion is also recorded in RIB 1356 & 1357. Source: RIB I p.452

RIB 1387: c(enturia) Fl(avi) As/[… (‘The century of Flavius As[…’). Centurial stone found in church at Heddon-on-the-Wall. Source: RIB I p.453

RIB 1388: leg(ionis) VI [V]i/ct(ricis) P(iae) F(idelis) re[f]/ecit coh(ors) X (‘From the Sixth Legion Victrix Pia Fidelis the tenth cohort rebuilt this’). Building stone found (probably near Heddon-on-the-Wall) during construction of the Military Road in 1751. Now missing. Source: RIB I p.453

RIB 1389: leg(io) VI V(ictrix) P(ia) / F(idelis) ref(ecit) Te/r(tullo) et Sac(erdote) co(n)s(ulibus) / S(…) F(…) (‘The Sixth Legion Victrix Pia Fidelis rebuilt this in the consulship of Tertullus and Sacerdos. S(…) F(…)’). Building stone found (probably near Heddon-on-the-Wall) during construction of the Military Road in 1751. Now missing. The consular date is AD 158. Source: RIB I p.453

RIB 1390: leg(ionis) XX V(aleriae) V(ictricis) / coh(ors) VIII (‘Twentieth Legion Valeria Victrix, eighth cohort’). Building stone found (probably near Heddon-on-the-Wall) during construction of the Military Road in 1751. Now missing. Source: RIB I p.453

RIB 1391: leg(ionis) XX V(aleriae) V(ictricis) / coh(ortis) X [c(enturia)] prin(cipis prioris) (‘From the Twentieth Legion Valeria Victrix, tenth cohort, the century of the princeps prior (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1751 during construction of the Military Road, probably near Heddon. Source: RIB I p.453

RIB 1392: coh(ors) pr/ima DC . L (‘First cohort…’]. Building stone found 1751 during construction of the Military Road, probably near Heddon. Source: RIB I p.454

RIB 1393: XIII (’13’). Building stone found before 1952 at Heddon. Source: RIB I p.454

RIB 1394: Cl(audius) · P[… (‘Claudius…’). Found 1932 at Heddon North Lodge. Source: RIB I p.454

RIB 3286: I (‘1’). Building stone found 1930 in Newburn. Source: RIB III p.287

RIB 3287: II (‘2’). Building stone found 1930 in Newburn. Source: RIB III p.287

RIB 3288: + (‘+’). Building stone found 1930 in Newburn. Source: RIB III p.287

Analysis

There is much that can be made from this disparate bunch of mural chisellings. The bulk of the inscriptions from this section fall into the categories of centurial or building stones, with some quarry marks thrown in for good measure. Amongst the centurial stones, there is also an apparent division between legionary centurions (building the curtain wall itself) and auxiliary centurions working on the Vallum.

The Wall sector between Milecastle 6 (just before Benwell) and around Turret 11b (just before Heddon) has traditionally been assigned to legio II Augusta (Birley 1961, 257), with legio XX Valeria Victrix building Turret 11b to around Milecastle 17, based upon the evidence of the building stones. If correct, this would suggest that Iulius Rufus (RIB 1356-7, 1386), Avidius Rufus (RIB 1368), Iulius Primus (RIB 1369), Iulius Proculus (RIB 1374), and Iulius Iuvenalis (RIB 1375) were all centurions of II Augusta, evidently belonging to cohortes I, VIII, and V[… (the primus pilus mentioned in RIB 1373 was the centurion commanding cohors I in a legion; cf RIB 1358). Two inscriptions referring to reconstruction work by legio VI Victrix (one dated to AD 158) presumably relate to their repairing original shoddy construction work (by legio XX?!) after the retreat from the Antonine Wall.

A group of centurial inscriptions from the Vallum (RIB 1361-5, 1376) indicate construction work there by auxiliaries, specifically from cohors I Aelia Dacorum (RIB 1365). This puts the lie to the old chestnut about construction work always being undertaken by legionaries (partly inspired by the images on Trajan’s Column) and this appears to be confirmed by part of Hadrian’s address to troops at Lambaesis (in modern Algeria), where he mentions troops of a mixed cohort building walls and digging ditches. It also presumably meant the legions could carry on constructing the curtain wall and its associated structures whilst the auxiliaries worked on the Vallum.

Some centurions’ names occur more than once. Iulius Rufus (RIB 1356-7, 1386) is found at both Denton and near Heddon (if the same centurion, it indicates leapfrogging by work gangs of the same legion). Avidius Rufus is encountered again to the west of Carrawburgh fort (RIB 1567 and possibly 1564-5).

Finally, the altar (RIB 1366) may originally have come from Milecastle 8 (since, outwith forts and their civil settlements, altars on the Wall usually only occur at milecastles).

References

Birley, E. (1961), Research on Hadrian’s Wall, Kendal

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Wall Mile 50

Wall Mile 50 [HB 309–16]

It might justifiably be argued that this is one of the most interesting of the Wall Miles. Not by me, I hasten to add, but I can see why it could be. Immediately after Milecastle 51, the Turf and Stone Walls separate, the most obvious manifestation of this being the fact that, whilst the Stone Wall ditch continues to the north of the road, the Turf Wall ditch now strides away from it across the field: two ditches for the price of one! Why do they separate here? Better scholars than I have debated this, but it may well be because it was felt that more room was needed north of the Vallum so when the time came to replace the Turf Wall, the new Stone Wall line was moved north and downhill from its predecessor.

Wall Mile 50 from the air

Wall Mile 50 from the air

The Trail takes us across the field, next to the Turf Wall (a low mound north of its ditch) and then across it on a nice new bridge and onto a lane. At this point, those who dislike livestock (there are people who like walking in the country but dislike livestock?!) are offered an alternative animal-free route along the road and this will be of use if we wish to follow the Stone Wall. The main Trail will take us along the Turf Wall, so make your choice.

The Stone Wall

Apart from the ditch to the north of the road and the comforting knowledge that the curtain wall lies beneath the road, there is not much to see if we go this way, although it does provide continuing assurance of the way in which the Romans used the terrain to enhance the effect of the Wall. Climbing up a gentle rise we arrive at a high point which marks the location of Milecastle 50 SW.

The Stone Wall ditch

The Stone Wall ditch

Milecastle 50 SW (High House) [HB 314–15; haiku]

Milecastle 50 SW (High House), a long-axis stone milecastle, was excavated in 1911 and produced three building inscriptions, two of them by legio VI Victrix and one by legio II Augusta. The fortlet platform can just about be discerned by peeking over the southern roadside wall at the right point.

Site of Milecastle 50 SW

Site of Milecastle 50 SW

The Turf Wall

Those opting for the Turf Wall route will find themselves walking along the northern lip of the Turf Wall ditch, with the mound of the rampart itself to the south of it and beyond that the earthworks of the Vallum, crammed into the limited space between the Turf Wall and the edge of the scarp north of the Irthing. It was along this stretch that the existence of the Turf Wall was first proved conclusively by Frances Haverfield and his co-workers when they cut a trench across it (they were less than impressed by his excavation methodology, it seems) and that section is reopened and cleaned up every ten years when the Pilgrimage wanders this way.

After a reasonably level stretch we start to climb up towards the site of Milecastle 50 TW and this affords a good opportunity to look back at the separated Walls west of us.

The Turf Wall and ditch near Milecastle 50 TW

The Turf Wall and ditch near Milecastle 50 TW

Milecastle 50 TW (High House) [HB 309–12; haiku]

To say that there is not much to see of Milecastle 50 TW (High House) is probably something of an understatement but no less true for all that. It has the distinction of being the only Turf Wall milecastle without a Stone Wall successor on top of it. Excavated in 1934, it was found to have an undug causeway across the ditch, a rampart of turf and gateways of timber (which, it is suggested, had towers, since there were thought to be too many timbers just for revetting the gateway). The Vallum ditch swerved south to avoid the milecastle, but more interestingly the excavations found a timber inscription, restored as recording its construction under A. Platorius Nepos. It is customary to think of Roman inscriptions as being carved in stone, but (as we shall see later, in Wall Mile 43) they could be painted on stone or carved (or painted) on wood. These are amongst the Rumsfeldian ‘known unknowns’ of Roman archaeology.

Wall Mile 66

Wall Mile 66 [HB 347]

The Wall now crosses former railway yards whilst the Trail, diving under an old railway viaduct, hugs the riverside, ultimately arriving at Bitts Park, on the floodplain of the Eden and just north of Roman Carlisle.

Carlisle from the air

Carlisle from the air

The fort at Carlisle (Luguvalium) was never part of the Hadrian’s Wall system, but was rather connected to the ‘Stanegate frontier’ (itself a notion which regularly comes into, and then goes out of, fashion). The redevelopment of the city centre has seen large portions of the extramural settlement and the southern portion of the fort being excavated (the northern part is situated under the castle, which is still Crown property), the earlier levels showing a degree of organic preservation second only to Vindolanda. It has the distinction of its first fort being dated very precisely to AD 72, thanks to dendrochronology, and there is then a cycle of renewal approximately every ten years, with the garrison probably changing each time. Writing tablets (similar to, but less famous than, the Vindolanda examples) mention the presence of ala I Gallorum Sebosiana in AD 105. Like the Roman fort at Corbridge, its later garrison included detachments from the three British legions, II Augusta, VI Victrix, and XX Valeria Victrix.

The curtain wall crossed the Caldew and then the Eden by means of stone bridges and Camden observed that ‘within the chanell of the river mighty stones, the remaines thereof, are yet extant’. This lay just downstream of the bridge that carried the Roman road to the outpost fort at Netherby across the Eden and through the Wall (probably with a gateway like that at Portgate, north of Corbridge). Stones from one (or more) of the bridges can be seen in Bitts Park, just after crossing the bridge over the Caldew, off the path to our left.

Stones from a Roman bridge in Bitts Park

Stones from a Roman bridge in Bitts Park

After Bitts Park, the National Trail continues along the south bank of the Eden before crossing the river, but we are going to deviate and cross by means of the road bridge, about 200m from the site of the Roman bridge carrying the Wall, so that we can keep more closely to the line of the frontier and explore the neglected remains of Stanwix fort.

Milecastle 66 (Stanwix Bank) [HB 346; haiku]

Site of Milecastle 66

Site of Milecastle 66

Milecastle 66 (Stanwix Bank) – to the left as we cross the bridge – was noted by Thomas Pennant in 1772 on his way north to explore Scotland again. He saw it perched on the edge of the north bank of the river, recording ‘vestiges of some dikes describing a small square’ but no trace now remains.