UK UNESCO World Heritage site damaged

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Brunton Turret, Hadrian’s Wall © David Gill

Part of Hadrian’s Wall at Brunton Turret has been damaged by metal-detectorists “‘Nighthawk’ metal detectorists damage Hadrian’s Wall“, BBC News 20 June 2018). Some 50 holes have been noted around this well-preserved section of the Roman frontier. This raises questions about how internationally significant heritage assets can be protected for future generations. Equally important is the question, how can the archaeological and heritage communities make it clear that such activity cannot be accepted?

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.

London Mithraeum

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Mithraeum, Walbrook, London © David Gill

The Mithraeum was excavated by William Francis Grimes on Walbrook in London. This has now been repositioned in the basement of Bloomberg Space. Visitors experience the darkness of the space and light levels are increased so that the remains can be seen.

Some of the sculptures are displayed in the nearby Museum of London. They include a relief of Ulpius Silvanus, formerly of the II Augustan legion (based at Caerleon). He appears to have been initiated to the cult at Orange in modern France.

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Mithras Tauroctonos, Walbrook Mithraeum, Museum of London © David Gill

Caerleon: amphitheatre

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Caerleon amphitheatre © David Gill

The amphitheatre is located outside the Roman legionary fortress at Isca Silurum (Caerleon). It was probably constructed c. AD 90.  The buttresses supporting the banks can be  clearly seen around the southern entrance that provided one of the two main access points to the arena.

The amphitheatre was excavated by (Sir) Mortimer Wheeler, who also wrote the original Ministry guidebook.

The amphitheatre is in the care of Cadw.

Chesters Roman Fort: defences

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Chesters Roman fort © David Gill

The Roman cavalry fort at Chesters is partially excavated and is now in the care of English Heritage. There are substantial remains of the south-east angle tower. An interval tower was placed between the angle and the south gate.

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Chesters Roman fort © David Gill

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.

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.