Hadrian’s Wall: unfinished ditch at Limestone Corner

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Hadrian’s Wall, Limestone Corner © David Gill

One of the reminders of the difficulty in constructing Hadrian’s Wall can be seen at Limestone Corner (MC30), to the east of Carrawburgh, where the ditch to the north of the wall was left unfinished. It is estimated that one of the single blocks removed from the ditch originally weighed 13 tons.

Pevensey Castle: Roman signs

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Pevensey Castle © David Gill

The west gate of the Roman Saxon Shore fort at Pevensey is marked (in the path) with a Ministry sign. The gate itself is flanked by massive bastions. The Roman walls in effect became an outer bailey for the medieval castle.

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Pevensey Castle, Roman west gate © David Gill

Jupiter Dolichenus at Vindolanda

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Vindolanda, temple of Jupiter Dolichenus © David Gill

The sanctuary of Jupiter Dolichenus lies just inside the northern ramparts of the fort at Vindolanda. It was excavated in 2009.

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Vindolanda, altar of Jupiter Dolichenus © David Gill

One of the finds was a stone inscribed altar (now displayed in the museum). It bears a relief of Jupiter standing on the back of a bull. The inscription is dedicated to Jupiter Dol<o>chenus by Sulpicius Pudens, prefect of the Fourth Cohort Gallorum.

Sulpicius Pudens also appears on a second altar dedicated to Jupiter (but not Jupiter Dolichenus) that was found at Staward Pele in 1885 (RIB 1688). The earliest dedication to Jupiter was probably made by the prefect Quintus Petronius Urbicus dating to 213-235 (RIB 1686). Another prefect also made a dedication to Jupiter (RIB 1687). A fourth inscription, dedicated Naevius Hilarus, probably came from Vindolanda (RIB 2062). Some of these may have been dedicated in the praetorium building.

The Fourth Cohort Gallorum was stationed at Vindolanda from c. 213 to 367. The unit is identified in an inscription of c. 213 (RIB 1705). The unit is recorded in a building inscription of 223 (RIB 1706); it probably relates to the rebuilding of the south gate of the fort. The cohort is recorded on an inscription that dates to the reign of Probus, 276–282 (RIB 1710). Another prefect, Pituanius Secundus, erected an altar to the genius of the praetorium at Vindolanda (RIB 1685).

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Altar dedication by Quintus Petronius Urbicus from Vindolanda, Chesters Museum © David Gill

Caerleon: official guidebooks

Caerleon_MoW
1950 (1962)

(Sir) Mortimer Wheeler and Tessa Wheeler prepared the first official guide to the Roman amphitheatre outside the legionary fortress at Caerleon (Isca Silurum) in 1935. The couple had excavated on the site in 1926–27. This guide reappeared as the Ministry of Works paper guide in 1950. It contains the sections:

  1. Caerleon in Legend and History
  2. The Amphitheatre

A plan appears on one of the middle pages. There is a note about the legionary barrack-blocks in Prysg Field (also in State Guardianship).

caerleon_doe
1970 (1973)

This simple guide was expanded into the ‘blue’ guide with a contributions by Dr V.E. Nash Williams. This is divided into the following sections:

  1. Caerleon in legend and history
  2. The amphitheatre
  3. The Prysg Field barrack-buildings
  4. Caerllion [short summary in Welsh]

Two fold-out plans appear inside the back cover. The first two sections are essentially the same text as the 1950 guide by Wheeler; Williams contributed the discussion of the barrack-buildings.

The DOE guide has a different bilingual title inside:
Caerleon Roman Amphitheatre and Barrack Buildings
Theatre Gron Rufeinig Caerllion a Llety’r Milwyr

Caerleon_Welsh_Office
1970 (4th impress. 1980)

The Welsh Office / Y Swyddfa Gymreig produced the Official Handbook / Llawlyfr Swyddogol (blue guide) in 1980. Welsh was used on the cover, and inside the guide uses the bilingual titles that were used in the original blue guide.

The main difference is that there is an extended guide in Welsh with sections mirroring the English section: Hanes; Theatr Gron; Disgrifiad.

Caerleon_Cadw
1988

Jeremy K. Knight prepared the new Cadw guide (1988). There was a move away from it being a guide to the amphitheatre to the legionary fortress. The guide was organised in the following sections:

  • In search of Isca
  • The legion and its fortress
  • The foundation of Isca
  • The layout of the fortress
  • The Second Legion and the occupation of Caerleon

 

This was followed by a tour guide, starting with the fortress baths, followed by the amphitheatre, defences and barracks.

A fold-out plan is printed inside the rear card cover.

There is a single page summary in Welsh (Hanes; Disgrifaid).

Caerleon_Cadw_large
2003 (3rd ed.)

Knight prepared the 3rd edition (2003) in the new large format of Cadw guides. A fold-out bird’s eye view was printed inside the front card cover, and a plan inside the back cover. It is divided into two main sections: a history of Roman Isca; a tour of Roman Isca. It contained a feature on ‘Outside the walls: the civilian settlements’.

 

Vindolanda: organic finds

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Vindolanda Museum © David Gill

Some of the organic finds from the excavations at the site of Vindolanda to the south of Hadrian’s Wall have now been put on display in a series of impressive displays in the site museum (see press release). The focus is on the wide range of objects made from wood.

The new displays have been funded through support from the HLF.

Y Gaer (Brecon Gaer): guides

Brecon_Gaer_card
1973

The Roman fort of Brecon Gaer lies to the west of Brecon. It is probably to be identified with the Cicucium (Cicutium) from the Ravenna list. The fort was excavated by Sir Mortimer Wheeler in 1924 and 1925, and the remains placed in State Guardianship in 1953. He suggested that the fort was constructed c. AD 75.

A funerary inscription, dating to c. AD 100, belonged to a trooper in the Cavalry Regiment of Vettonian Spaniards (RIB 403). Another tombstone for a trooper from another cavalry regiment is also known from the site (RIB 405). The same cavalry unit was based in Binchester in Co. Durham in the 190s (RIB 730; 1032; 1035). (The guide suggests that the unit was based at Bowes [see guidebook] but the confusion comes from a dedication made at Bowes.)

Oswin E. Craster prepared the short guide (1954). This consisted of a history followed by a description of the remains.

The later DOE guide is an updated version of the paper guide. The concertina card guide was also used for other Roman forts such as Hardknott, and the Saxon Shore Fort at Reculver.

Brecon_Gaer_MPBW
1954 (1969)

Vindolanda: the strong room

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Vindolanda © David Gill

At the heart of the Roman fort at Vindolanda lay the headquarters building. Excavations in 1933 revealed the 4th century phase of the construction. On the south side lay the sacellum and the strong room. This part of the building was indicated by a Ministry of Works sign (see other signage from the site including the milestone).

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Strong Room, Vindolanda © David Gill
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Sacellum and strong room, Vindolanda © David Gill