Lanercost Priory: warning sign

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Lanercost Priory © David Gill

The Ministry of Works sign at Lanercost Priory uses strong language (‘forbidden’) to discourage visitors from exploring the site. Similar signs are found at Brough and Brougham Castles.

Alternative wording is found at other sites.

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Lindisfarne © David Gill
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Lindisfarne © David Gill

Shap Abbey: guidebook

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1963 (3rd impress. with amendments)

The Premonstratensian abbey at Shap was founded in the 12th century. The remains were placed in State Guardianship by the Lowther Estates in 1948.

The MPBW guide was first published in 1963. It was divided into two sections, each by separate authors (a pattern found for other sites, e.g. guides prepared by James S. Richardson). The history was prepared by H.M. Colvin of St John’s College, Oxford (pp. 3–5), followed by the Architectural History (pp. 5–6) and Description (pp. 6–15) by R. Gilyard-Beer. A fold-out plan of the abbey was placed inside the back cover. There are four black and white plates, including a pen drawing of 1859 and a Buck engraving of 1739.

Hadrian’s Wall: Pike Hill tower

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Pike Hill tower © David Gill

The tower on Pike Hill lies between MC52 (Bankhead) and T52a (Banks East). Only the south corner survives after the road was adapted in 1870. The tower was excavated in 1931, and associated pottery suggests that it was probably constructed around the reign of Hadrian. Unlike the turrets on Hadrian’s Wall, the wall is attached at an angle suggesting that the tower predates the later defensive line.

An inscription recording Antoninus Pius was found  here in 1862 (RIB 1957). The slab is now in the Tullie House Museum.

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 hunters of Banna

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Inscription, Birdoswald © David Gill

An inscription found at Birdoswald in 1821 is now displayed in the small site museum (RIB 1905). It had previously been displayed in the undercroft at nearby Lanercost Priory (and where it features in Charles M. Daniels, Handbook to the Roman Wall 13th ed.).

The altar was dedicated to the ‘holy god’ Silvanus, and the dedicators were the venatores or hunters of Banna. Banna is almost certainly Birdoswald, and is a name also known from the Rudge cup found at Froxfield in Wiltshire (for the replica, now in the British Museum) that shows some of the forts along Hadrian’s Wall.

It has been suggested that the inscription should be dated to the 3rd century (supported by David Breeze in his Handbook to the Roman Wall).

A Greek inscription from Maryport

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Greek inscription from Maryport © David Gill

Among the inscriptions from the fort at Maryport in Cumbria (and now in the Senhouse Museum) is one in Greek (RIB 808). The dedication to the Greek god of healing, Asklepios, is made by Aulus Egnatius Pastor.

The inscription is known from 1720.

George C. Boon has suggested that Egnatius Pastor was a freedman of the governor Egnatius Lucilianus (“Potters, Oculists and Eye-Troubles”, Britannia 14 [1983] 7 [JSTOR]), and therefore dates to 238-244 (see RIB 1091, from Lanchester; 1262, from High Rochester).

Bonawe Iron Furnace: Charging House

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Bonawe Historic Iron Furnace © David Gill

The Bonawe Iron Furnace was established in 1753 by the Newland Company of Cumbria. This event is marked in the series of Ministry style signs that help to interpret the buildings and installations. The site is in the care of Historic Scotland.

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Bonawe Historic Iron Furnace © David Gill
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Bonawe Historic Iron Furnace © David Gill

The water wheel was installed in the pit adjacent to the blowing house. It was around 3.7 m in diameter. Water was fed from a lade. The wheel provided the power to work the bellows in the adjacent blowing house.

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Bonawe Historic Iron Furnace © David Gill
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Bonawe Historic Iron Furnace © David Gill

The casting house was located adjacent to the blast furnace.

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Bonawe Historic Iron Furnace © David Gill