Defending the Solent

Hurst_EH

2001 [1985]

The Solent provides access to the major harbours of Portsmouth and Southampton. Given the naval sensitivities of the area this seaway was heavily defended by a series of fortifications. The western entrance was defended by Hurst Castle built on a spit of land projecting into the Solent. The earliest phase was a Tudor fort contemporary with Deal and Walmer Castles in Kent. The castle was adapted in the Napoleonic Wars, and expanded in the 1850s, 1860s and 1870s. The English Heritage guidebook is by J.G. Coad.

Yarmouth_EH

2003 [1978]

Yarmouth Castle is located opposite Hurst Castle on the Isle of Wight. This was also a Tudor foundation. The guidebook is by S.E. Rigold.

Calshot_EH

1986

Calshot Castle is located at the mouth of Southampton Water. This was also part of the Tudor defences of the Solent. During the First World War, Calshot became a seaplane base to protect against submarines. The guidebook is by J.G. Coad.

Masada: Roman siegeworks

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Masada, Camp F © David Gill

The remains of the Roman siegeworks of Masada have been preserved in the desert. The main fort was located on the western side of Masada, opposite the northern palace. One of the roles was to provide a location of troops close to the siege ramp that was being constructed.

The siege wall can be seen in front of the fort heading for the edge of the wadi.

One of the current issues facing the forts is that increased visitor numbers threaten their preservation.

Reference
Gwyn Davies. “Under Siege: The Roman Field Works at Masada.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, no. 362, 2011, pp. 65–83. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.5615/bullamerschoorie.362.0065.

Brougham Castle: Latin Inscription

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Latin inscription, Brougham Castle © David Gill

The 13th century keep of Brougham Castle, Cumbria incorporates reused masonry from the Roman fort (Brocavum). A Latin funerary inscription is built into the ceiling of the second floor (RIB 787). The person named is Tittus M[..] who died around the age of 32 (‘[pl]us minus’). The monument was set up by his brother.

The Antonine Wall: Legio XX

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Cast of inscription from Hutcheson Hill, now in Chesters Museum © David Gill

In 1865 a Latin inscription (RIB 2198) was recovered at Hutcheson Hill in the western section of the Antonine Wall. Casts were made and the original was taken to the Chicago Museum where it was destroyed in the great fire of October 1871. [See also Canmore]

The inscription records a vexillatio of the 20th Legion Valeria Victrix that had constructed 3000 feet of the wall.

Another inscription, now in the Hunterian Museum, was found in 1969 near Hutcheson Hill and similarly records a vexillatio of the same legion that had constructed 3000 feet of the wall (AE 1971, no.225) [JSTOR].

A third inscription of the Twentieth Legion probably comes from near Duntocher (RIB 2199).

vexillatio of the Sixth Legion Victrix Pia Fidelis was found at Duntocher (RIB 2200). This stretch was 3240 feet.

 

 

 

 

Trimontium

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Newstead Roman Fort (Trimontium) © David Gill

The Roman fort of Trimontium (Newstead) stands on the line of Dere Street. The site is marked by a Roman style ‘altar’ erected in 1928 by the Edinburgh Border Counties Association. A series of interpretation boards help visitors to make sense of the setting. The road that cut across the fort has now been closed to traffic and allows easy access.

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Newstead Roman Fort © David Gill

The Latin name is taken from the three hills, i.e. the Eildon Hills.

Small finds from the site are displayed in the museum at Melrose Abbey.

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Melrose Abbey Museum © David Gill

Signs of Dere Street

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Dere Street © David Gill

Dere Street ran north from York to the Firth of Forth, passing through Aldborough, Piercebridge, Corbridge and Newstead. A section of the Roman road can be followed to the south-west of Soutra Aisle as it cuts across the Lammermuir Hills before it drops down to the Forth.

The road continued in use into the Medieval period.

This section of the road is in the case of Historic Scotland.

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Dere Street near Soutra Aisle © David Gill

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Dere Street near Soutra Aisle © David Gill

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Dere Street at Soutra Aisle © David Gill

Legionary inscription in Scotland: Abbotsford

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Abbotsford © David Gill

A fragmentary Latin inscription is built (at an angle) into the garden wall of Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott (RIB 2216). It was first known c. 1797 at Callendar House in Falkirk (see Canmore). This location has suggested that the inscription may have been linked to the Antonine Wall. Scott lived at Abbotsford from 1812-32.

The inscription reads: A vexi[llatio]  | of the XXI[I] legion | Primigenia.

At the top left appear to be the legs of what could be a Capricorn, the emblem of Legio XXII. This legion was posted in Upper Germany.

The Legio XXII is also attested from the Roman fort of Birrens, to the north-west of Carlisle (Canmore). An inscription attesting the presence of troops from Legio VIII Augusta and Legio XXII Primigenia was found in 1991 (Britannia 1992, 318, no. 20 [JSTOR]). It has been suggested that this inscription is Antonine in date, and probably associated with troop movements during the construction of the Antonine Wall.