Great Chesters: Roman altar

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Great Chesters © David Gill

The Roman fort of Great Chesters (Aesica) on Hadrian’s Wall lies entirely to the south of the wall. Remains of a milecastle were found underneath it (MC43).

Parts of the fort were excavated in 1894 and 1925. The 14th edition of the Handbook to the Roman Wall notes: ‘The overgrown remains of the south gate contain an uninscribed altar’.

This photograph taken in the early 1980s shows an altar, decorated with a jug, placed in the eastern guardroom of the southern gate. A letter (‘The Roman Wall: Examples of Vandalism’) to The Times (London) by Basil Barham of the East Herts Archaeological Society (27 August 1928) listed a series of complaints about activities along the line of Hadrian’s Wall including at Great Chesters: ‘At Aesica I notice a large portion of stone, apparently an altar, has been brought from some place and erected in the middle of a guard chamber, with a small piece of pillar stuck on its top.’ This staged display clearly lasted for over a century.

 

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