Driving Hadrian’s Wall: the Main Car Parks VI (Carrawburgh)

Carrawburgh (NNP)

Coordinates: N55.035646, W2.220416 Facilities: none

Carrawburgh car park is immediately next to the B6318 (the Military Road) so is pretty much impossible to miss, whether travelling from the east or west. It is another of the Northumberland National Park car parks for which a season ticket can be acquired; an ordinary ticket bought from the machine here can be used on that day at any of the other National Park car parks along the Wall.

Advice

Always be aware of the possibility of thieves operating in the car park. Follow signs for the Hadrian’s Wall Path to access sites to either side of Carrawburgh. Stout footwear is advisable. Access to the fort and museum is by a paved path.

Carrawburgh car parkZone 1 (100m)

1. Carrawburgh fort

Zone 2 (500m)

2. The Temple of Mithras or mithraeum

Zone 4 (2 km)

3. Wall ditch Wall Mile 30

4. Limestone Corner

5. Vallum Wall Mile 30

Zone 5 (3km)

6. Curtain wall (between Limestone Corner and Black Carts)

7. Black Carts Turret

8. Milecastle 29

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

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

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

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

1587

RIB 1587

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

1589

RIB 1589

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

1611

RIB 1611

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

1618

RIB 1618

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

1620

RIB 1620

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

1621

RIB 1621

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

1622

RIB 1622

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.

Wall Mile 31

Wall Mile 31 [HB 215 and 224]

Carrawburgh fort (BROCOLITIA) [HB 216–23]

Carrawburgh fort

Carrawburgh fort

If you have the time and inclination, note that it is possible to enter Carrawburgh fort via a stile next to the car park. It is mostly humps and bumps inside (as a former boss of English Heritage once helpfully classified archaeology), but with a little imagination you should be able to envisage the layout, and – aside from the outlines of old excavation trenches, particularly around the HQ building – the remains of an excavated turret can be seen on the western side of the fort.

Carrawburgh (pronounced Carra-Bruff) is 5.6km (3.5 miles) from Chesters (pronounced Chesters) and is one of the forts that sits astride the Wall, rather than attached to the rear or even detached. Occupying 1.6ha (3.9 acres), it was constructed after the Vallum, the course of which runs under it. It was garrisoned by the cohors I Aquitanorum in the 2nd century and other units attested include the cohortes I Cugernorum, I Frisiavonum, and I Tungrorum (the last of which was milliary, so only a detachment would have fitted in). Cohors I Batavorum was recorded in the 3rd and 4th centuries.

There is little to see of the fort, although its platform is still prominent, but the mithraeum outwith the fort in the civil settlement is on display.We need to follow the path down the outside of the eastern fort defences, turn right and head down the hill until the small fenced enclose containing the temple heaves into view.

The mithraeum [HB 219–22]

When excavated, the waterlogged conditions preserved many organic remains that have enabled a detailed reconstruction to be built in the former Museum of Antiquities, now recreated with the video display we have already seen in the Great North Museum, both in Newcastle. On site, the organic components have been cast in concrete, which is also the medium employed for the replica statuary and altars.

The Carrawburgh mithraeum

The Carrawburgh mithraeum

Designed to mimic a cave and produce what excitable marketing types would probably call ‘an immersive experience’ these days, devotees entered at the south end of this small quasi-apsidal building, encountering a diminutive lobby or vestibule, separated from the rest of the interior by a wooden screen. Beyond the screen were two wicker-lined benches, one on either side, attended by Mithras’ familiar torch-bearing companions Cautes and Cautopates (the former with his torch held upwards, the latter downwards). Cautes has lost his head, but of poor old Cautopates, only the feet remain. At the northern end, there are three altars, dedicated by commanders of the cohors I Batavorum. The one on the left incorporates a nice little effect, whereby the radiate crown of Mithras has been pierced, enabling a lamp to be placed behind it for some minimalistic visual trickery. Evidence of what went on in here includes burnt pine cones, a chicken’s head, and bones from pork, lamb, and more chickens: obviously somebody’s idea of a fun night out in the vicus. The whole thing was thoroughly trashed in the 4th century AD and it is speculated that Christians may have been responsible.

Mithraism was an elitist cult (the temple could only accommodate twelve so it was obviously not meant for the common soldiery), with a strict hierarchy that mimicked the army’s rank structure, and a series of ordeals beloved of such institutions.

Immediately outside the entrance at the western end of the mithraeum was another small shrine, dedicated to the nymphs (unsurprising, given the presence of so much water in the vicinity) and the genius loci (literally ‘spirit of the place’). There was also a bath-house on this side of the fort, excavated by Clayton but not now visible… well, in fact, to be brutally honest, it is currently ‘lost’ (he published a plan but omitted to relate it to the fort).

Leaving the mithraeum, we cross a stile and a stream, then follow the path to the right. The stream issues from Coventina’s Well, which is stioll discernible is an extremely boggy portion off to the right of the path (between us and the imposing ramparts of the fort) and the section with a pond in the middle of it is in fact the site of the shrine itself. Coventina was a local water nymph and, when it was excavated in 1876, the site produced vast amounts of coins (more than 13,000; some were melted down and cast into a bronze eagle – must have seemed like a good idea at the time) as well as other votive material, some of which we saw in Chesters museum, and is characteristic of the Celto-Roman veneration of water deities.

The site of Coventina's Well

The site of Coventina’s Well

Our next re-crossing of the Military Road is about to occur, so keep a sharp lookout since they drive fast around these parts, as you already know, and the crossing point is at the bottom of the dip.

Once on the other side, it is a gentle climb along the upcast mound of the ditch until we reach Carraw Farm, where we are diverted off to the north (this bit can get a bit plodgy) and then back round and onto the upcast mound again, north of the ditch. Soon, unmarked by any ceremony, we arrive at the position of Milecastle 32.

Milecastle 32 (Carraw) [HB 224; haiku]

The site of Milecastle 32 from the air

The site of Milecastle 32 from the air

Don’t bother looking for it, as it is on the other side of the road (remember: the Military Road sits on top of the curtain wall, so the milecastle is south of that), but it survives as a low earthwork, was of the long-axis type, and was excavated in 1971.

PLVad2

Wall Mile 13

Wall Mile 13 [HB 167–72]

We stroll gently uphill, past a line a hawthorn bushes, with the Military Road raised up to our right (and the curtain wall under it), intimations of the Vallum to our left, and the trees around Rudchester ahead of us. At the top of the field, we arrive at a gate that confronts us with a manic rat-run, with a blind corner just metres away to the left, so extreme caution must be exercised in crossing this road. Once safely on the other side and through the next gate, we have reached the fort of Rudchester.

Rudchester fort (VINDOBALA) [HB 168–71]

Rudchester fort plan

Rudchester fort plan

As we enter the field containing the fort, which lies to our right, the first impression is of an unspoiled gem, and that is partly correct. Like Benwell, Rudchester straddles the Wall (and, of course, the Military Road here) and although the southern portion displays enough humps and bumps to delight the head of any major national heritage organization, the northern part has been under the plough for many years and is a very different story. The site is actually owned by Northumberland County Council and one senses it is their little nest-egg, put aside for the day when something exciting can be done with it.

Rudchester fort platform from the south-west corner

Rudchester fort platform from the south-west corner

Rudchester fort platform has been placed in a commanding position to look to both east and west, whilst keeping one eye to the south too. The views to the north are nothing to write home about, however, but in this the fort builders were constrained by the line of the Wall and its own particular tactical requirements. Rudchester is 10.9km (6.75 miles) from Benwell and 7.5 miles from its western neighbour, Haltonchesters. It is 1.8ha (4.5 acres) in size and excavation found that the fort was built over the Wall ditch. The unit which the Notitia Dignitatum tells us was in garrison in the 4th century, the cohors I Frisiavonum, was probably there in the 3rd century as well, but the earliest occupants are unknown.

The civil settlement to the south included a temple to Mithras, known as a mithraeum, excavated some years ago but not visible. There is nothing to see now of the fort other than its platform and the Trail carefully shepherds us around the southern and western of the fort’s defences, but in so doing rewards us with a site graphic explaining the fort at the south-west corner. Sadly, there is no plaque commemorating the fact that I once dug here in horizontal snow in a trench so narrow I could barely get my arm into it. Such are the joys of archaeology…

As we leave the fort in the north-west corner of the field, we head down to the March Burn, crossed with the aid of a dinky yet serviceable bridge, before a slight climb takes us up towards the site of Milecastle 14.

Milecastle 14 (March Burn) [HB 172; haiku]

Rudchester from the site of Milecastle 14

Rudchester from the site of Milecastle 14

There is nothing to see of the milecastle, which was examined in 1946 and 2000 and found to be probably a short-axis example of its kind, but there are impressive views south towards the Tyne valley and, since it is directly under the approach to Newcastle airport, upwards at the bellies of aircraft landing at or taking off from there. A bend in the Military Road here reflects a change in course of the Wall onto an almost-due-easterly heading.

Seditio3ad

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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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.

Wall Mile 13

Wall Mile 13 [HB 167–72]

As we leave the milecastle and the change of course for the Wall, we come down to the March Burn, crossed with the aid of a dinky yet serviceable bridge. Now we have a slight climb up towards Rudchester, placed in a commanding position to look to both east and west, whilst keeping one eye to the south too. The views to the north are nothing to write home about, however, but in this the fort builders were constrained by the line of the Wall and its own particular tactical requirements.

Rudchester fort (VINDOBALA)

As we enter the field containing the fort, the first impression is of an unspoiled gem, and that is partly correct. Like Chesters and Haltonchesters, Rudchester straddles the Wall (and, of course, the Military Road here) and although the southern portion displays enough humps and bumps to delight the head of any major national heritage organization, the northern part has been under the plough for many years and is a very different story. The site is actually owned by Northumberland County Council and one senses it is their little nest-egg, put aside for the day when something exciting can be done with it.

The corner of Ruschester fort

The corner of Ruschester fort

Rudchester is 7.5 miles from Haltonchesters and is 1.8ha (4.5 acres) in size and excavation found that the fort was built over the Wall ditch. The unit which the Notitia tells us was in garrison in the 4th century, the cohors I Frisiavonum, was probably there in the 3rd century as well, but the earliest occupants are unknown.

The civil settlement to the south included another Mithraeum. There is nothing to see now of the fort other than its platform and the Trail carefully shepherds us around the western and southern sides of the fort’s defences, but in so doing rewards us with a site graphic explaining the site. Sadly, there is no plaque commemorating the fact that I once dug here in horizontal snow in a trench so narrow I could barely get my arm into it. Such are the joys of archaeology…

Looking towards Heddon-on-the-Hill from above Rudchester

Looking towards Heddon-on-the-Hill from above Rudchester

We depart Rudchester by a gate that dumps us onto another manic rat-run, with a blind corner just metres away to the right, so extreme caution must be exercised in crossing this road. Once safely on the other side and through the next gate, we have a gentle downhill stroll past a line a hawthorn bushes, with the Military Road raised up to our left (and the curtain wall under it), intimations of the Vallum to our left, and the outskirts of Heddon-on-the-Wall coming into view beyond the A69. About 140m after we pass a gate in the wall on our left – and with the A69 making its presence felt – we arrive at the site of Milecastle 13 (Rudchester Burn).

Milecastle 13 (Rudchester Burn) [HB 167; haiku]

Site of Milecastle 13

Site of Milecastle 13

A short-axis milecastle, it was excavated in 1930, although its remains are now barely perceptible as a slightly raised platform. Treasure-lovers will be delighted to hear that a pot of 516 gold and silver coins was found here in the year of the American declaration of independence, although it is doubtful whether the two facts are linked. The latest coin dated to 168, thought to be a troubled time in northern Britannia. When thinking of Roman coin hoards, it is always difficult not to recall Samuel Pepys and his attempt to hoard coins when a Dutch invasion was threatened (unlike the Romans, he did not have the foresight to use a container that would not perish and so rendered recovery that bit more tricky).

PLVad2

Wall Mile 31

Wall Mile 31 [HB 215 and 224]

Our gentle climb continues until we reach Carraw Farm, where we are diverted off to the north (this bit can get a bit plodgy) and then back round and onto the upcast mound again, north of the ditch. Now, however, since we have passed the crest, Carrawburgh fort heaves into view south of the road, after we have negotiated the dip. You will have noted that, now that the Wall has come down from the crags, it is being extremely well-behaved and traversing the landscape with nice straight stretches, just like the Vallum has been doing all along. Now there is nothing to stop the two of them running along, hand-in-hand, for a few miles.

Carrawburgh from near Carraw Farm

Carrawburgh from near Carraw Farm

Our second crossing of the Military Road is about to occur, but here there is no pedestrian crossing as there was in Stanwix so keep a sharp lookout as they drive fast around these parts and the crossing is at the bottom of the dip.

Site of Coventina's Well

Site of Coventina’s Well

Once over the road, there is an extremely boggy portion off to the right of the path (between us and the imposing ramparts of the fort) and the section with a pond in the middle of it is in fact the site of the shrine of Coventina, a local water nymph. When it was excavated in 1876, it produced vast amounts of coins (more than 13,000; some were melted down and cast into a bronze eagle – must have seemed like a good idea at the time) as well as other votive material, some of which we can see in Chesters museum very soon, and is characteristic of the Celto-Roman veneration of water deities.

Carrawburgh fort (BROCOLITIA) [HB 216–23]

Carrawburgh fort (BROCOLITIA) (pronounced Carra-Bruff) is 7.6km (4.75 miles) from Housesteads and is one of the forts that sits astride the Wall, rather than attached to the rear or even detached. Occupying 1.6ha (3.9 acres), it was constructed after the Vallum, the course of which runs under it. It was garrisoned by the cohors I Aquitanorum in the 2nd century and other units attested include the cohortes I Cugernorum, I Frixiavonum, and I Tungrorum (the last of which, as we know from Housesteads, was milliary, so only a detachment would have fitted in). Cohors I Batavorum was recorded in the 3rd and 4th centuries.

Mithraeum

Mithraeum

There is little to see of the fort, although its platform is still prominent, but the mithraeum outwith the fort in the civil settlement is on display. When excavated, the waterlogged conditions preserved many organic remains that enabled a detailed reconstruction to be built in the former Museum of Antiquities, now recreated as a rather-less-successful video display in the Great North Museum, both in Newcastle. On site, the organic components have been cast in concrete, which is also the medium employed for the replica statuary and altars.

Designed to mimic a cave and produce what excitable marketing types would probably call ‘an immersive experience’ these days, devotees entered at the south end of this small quasi-apsidal building, encountering a diminutive lobby or vestibule, separated from the rest of the interior by a wooden screen. Beyond the screen were two wicker-lined benches, one on either side, attended by Mithras’ familiar torch-bearing companions Cautes and Cautopates (the former with his torch held upwards, the latter downwards). Cautes has lost his head, but of poor old Cautopates, only the feet remain. At the northern end, there are three altars, dedicated by commanders of the cohors I Batavorum. The one on the left incorporates a nice little effect, whereby the radiate crown of Mithras has been pierced, enabling a lamp to be placed behind it for some minimalistic visual trickery. Evidence of what went on in here includes burnt pine cones, a chicken’s head, and bones from pork, lamb, and more chickens: obviously somebody’s idea of a fun night out in the vicus. The whole thing was thoroughly trashed in the 4th century AD and it is speculated that Christians may have been responsible.

Altar for Mithras

Altar for Mithras

Mithraism was an elitist cult (the temple could only accommodate twelve so it was obviously not meant for the common soldiery), with a strict hierarchy that mimicked the army’s rank structure, and a series of ordeals beloved of such institutions

Immediately outside the entrance at the western end of the mithraeum was another small shrine, dedicated to the nymphs (unsurprising, given the presence of so much water in the vicinity) and the genius loci (literally ‘spirit of the place’).

As we have already seen, the remains of Coventina’s shrine lie nearby, but there was also a bath-house on this side of the fort, excavated by Clayton but not now visible… well, in fact, to be brutally honest, it is currently ‘lost’.

Milecastle 31 (Carrawburgh) [HB 215; haiku]

Looking towards the site of Milecastle 31

Looking towards the site of Milecastle 31

Milecastle 31 (Carrawburgh) lay just beyond the eastern end of the car park, part of one of the robbed walls having been found. Needless to say, there is nothing to be seen now.

PLVad2