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.

 

 

 

 

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.

High Rochester: Mars and Hercules

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Inscription from High Rochester, Great North Museum © David Gill

The fort at High Rochester (Bremenium) in Northumberland was one of the most northerly outposts of the Roman Empire. The inscription, now in the Great North Museum, was discovered near to the east gate of the fort c. 1776 (RIB 1284). It was then displayed in Alnwick Castle.

The Latin text records work by a unit, vexillatio, of the 20th Legion Valeria Victrix. The inscription is flanked by figures of Mars and Hercules. Below appears to be a boar, the emblem of the legion.

A building inscription for a vexillatio of the 6th Legion Pia Fidelis is also known from the site (RIB 1283).

These two units may have been posted here, not necessarily simultaneously, to reinforce the northern frontier.

Legionary Building Stone near Vindolanda

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Inscription found near Vindolanda © David Gill

This building stone was found in a field wall near Vindolanda by the Reverend Anthony Hedley prior to 1835 (RIB 1708). It appears to show a boar, and the inscription states the name of the unit: Legio XX V(aleria) V(ictrix).

The stone is now in the museum at Chesters Roman Fort (inv. CH256).

See a building inscription for Legio VI here.