Margam Stones Museum: guidebook

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1949 (2nd impress. 1967)

The guidebook presents the collection of a Roman milestone, early Christian inscriptions, and later monastic material that were moved into the old School House at Margam in 1932.

The guidebook by C.A. Ralegh Radford starts with a history of the area that allows the material in the museum to be placed in context: The Silures and Glamorgan in the Roman period; the restoration of native rile and the introduction of Christianity; the early Christian memorial stones; the formation of Glamorgan; the Celtic monastery at Margam; the pre-Romanesque crosses; the later history of the kingdom of Morgannwg; the Norman conquest of Glamorgan; the Cistercian abbey of Margam.

The second half includes a description of the pieces, starting with the early 4th century Roman milestone from Port Talbot (RIB 2254).

The guidebook includes a plan of the museum showing how the stone were displayed.

Lympne: Praefectus of the British Fleet

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Inscription from Lympne © David Gill

This altar was discovered in April 1852, subsequent to the 1850 excavations of the east gate of the Roman fort at Lympne in Kent (RIB 66). The inscription shows that it was a dedication to the god Neptune, set up by L. Aufidius Pant(h)era who was serving as the praefectus of the British fleet, clas(sis) Brit(annicae).

Pant(h)era, from Umbria, served as prefect in a cavalry unit in Upper Pannonia and is named in a diploma dated to 2 July 133. He probably moved to Britannia subsequent to this date.

It appears that the altar was reused in the later Saxon Shore fort, probably dating to the second half of the third century. The altar was purchased by the British Museum from Charles Roach Smith in 1856 (inv. 1856.07-01.5026).

Legio II at Benwell

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Inscription from Benwell, Hadrian’s Wall © David Gill

A small inscription was found on the north side of the fort at Benwell on Hadrian’s Wall (RIB 1341). It was first recorded in J. Brand’s History and Antiquities of the Town and County of Newcastle upon Tyne (1789). It is now displayed in the British Museum.

The inscription records work of the Legio II Augusta (repeated on the vexillum) based at Caerleon in south Wales. To the left is a goat, and to the right Pegasus, symbols of the legion.

Other building inscriptions of the Legio II Augusta, relating to the 2nd, 4th and 10th cohorts, are known from round Benwell (RIB 1342, 1343, 1344). David Breeze (Handbook, 14th ed., 158) suggests that they come from the line of the wall around Milecastle 7 (just to the west of the fort): ‘their style suggests a late-second-century date, implying that the Wall in this sector required repair at that time’.

Whithorn: museum signs

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Whithorn Museum © David Gill

We have commented on the wonderful Historic Scotland museum at Whithorn. The old Ministry sign is displayed in addition to the new HES information board.

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Whithorn Museum © David Gill

Above the door is an inscription in both Latin and English dating to 1730 recording the benefaction of both the parish and town (donis parochiae et urbis structa).

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Whithorn Museum, inscription © David Gill

Caistor St Edmund: inscription

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Inscription from Caistor St Edmund, Norwich Castle © David Gill

In 1931 Donald Atkinson discovered a fragmentary Latin inscription cut on a piece of limestone (Collingwood, R. G., and M. V. Taylor. “Roman Britain in 1931.” The Journal of Roman Studies, 22, 1932, p. 226. JSTOR). It was found at a depth of 1 foot and 6 inches [c. 45 cm] ‘beside the road flanking the east side of the forum’. Atkinson suggested that it could be linked to the construction or refurbishment of the forum.

The inscription may have read, ADAT / SVPE (RIB 214). It can be seen in Norwich Castle Museum.

Silvanus at Corinium

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Corinium Museum © David Gill

A fragmentary altar to Silvanus was found at Circencester (Corinium) in the 19th century (RIB 104). It was dedicated by [.] Sabidius Maximus.

Anthony Birley has suggested a possible link with M. Sabidiu[s] Ma[ximus] known from an inscription found at Elbasan, Albania, on the route of the strategic Via Egnatia (AE 1937, no. 101) [JSTOR]. He served in various roles, including signifer, in the Legio IX Claudia, then as centurion in the Legio III Gallica (during the reign of Hadrian). Birley suggests that one of the Legions in which he served could be restored as the Legio I[I Augusta] (based at Caerleon).

The Thruxton mosaic

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Mosaic from Thruxton, British Museum © David Gill

The mosaic from Thruxton in north-west Hampshire was discovered in 1823 and was presented to the British Museum in 1899 [catalogue]. John Lickman’s engraving of the mosaic from the time of the discovery showed that the central roundel contained an image of Bacchus seated on a feline. This was subsequently lost through plough damage.

In the corners of the mosaic were the four seasons. An inscription appears at the top containing a name: Quintus Natalius Natalinus et Bodeni. A further line of text is known from the bottom end of the mosaic although only two letters could be read.

The mosaic appears to come from a villa, and it probably should be dated to the period 250–350.

Further information: Martin Henig & Grahame Soffe, ‘The Thruxton Roman Villa and Its Mosaic Pavement’, Journal of the British Archaeological Association 146, 1 (1993), 1-28.