Brunton Turret: Ministry of Works signage

Brunton Turret (1985) © David Gill

Brunton Turret (T26b) is included in a well preserved stretch of Hadrian’s Wall, just to the east of the River North Tyne (and Chesters Roman fort). The Ministry of Works sign (since removed) reminded visitors not to damage the monument. It is perhaps ironic that Brunton Turret was the target of illegal detecting.

Brunton Turret from the west © David Gill

Fortuna and Bowes

Inscription from Bowes (Cambridge, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology) © David Gill

Two inscriptions from Roman forts on the road across the Pennines are now displayed in Cambridge: one is the Brough Stone now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, and the other is an inscription from Bowes, Co. Durham, now in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (RIB 730; D 1970.3). (For the site of the fort now occupied by a castle.)

The Bowes inscription was transferred, along with 15 other inscriptions from various sites in Britain, from the library of Trinity College to the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in 1970. The altar has been known since at least 1600 when it appeared in Camden’s Britannia. It was found at the Roman fort of Bowes (Lavatrae) to the north-west of Richmond.

The altar is dedicated to the goddess Fortuna. The dedication is made by Virius Lupus, the governor of the province (from AD 197), who restored the bath-house that had been destroyed by fire. Virius Lupus is also known from another project at Ilkley that is dated to exactly the same period (RIB 637). The garrison unit is named as the 1st Cohort of Thracians (see also RIB 740 from the governorship of L. Alfenus Senecio, 205–c. 208). The work was carried out by Valerius Fronto, the cavalry prefect of the Vettonians, based at the fort of Binchester (Vinovia) to the north-east of Bowes.

The severed portrait head from the Alde

Portrait of the Emperor Claudius (British Museum) © David Gill

The bronze head of the Emperor Claudius (or perhaps Nero) was found in the spring of 1907 in the River Alde at Rendham, west of Saxmundham, in Suffolk. As Jocelyn Toynbee observed: ‘The lower line of the neck is torn and ragged, and there can be little doubt but that this head was violently hacked from its body and carried off as loot from some important Roman centre’. The suggestion is that it was removed from the Roman colony at Colchester: see Janet Huskinson, CSIR GB I, 8, no. 23.

The head (‘The Saxmundham Claudius’) was purchased by the British Museum after it had been sold at Sotheby’s in 1965 (inv. 1965.12-01.1).

Barton Farm Villa: Orpheus

Barton Farm Villa (Corinium Museum) © David Gill

The Orpheus mosaic was discovered at Barton Farm outside Circencester in 1825. At the centre is the figure of Orpheus, wearing a Phrygian cap, and playing a lyre. The mosaic is dated to the fourth century AD.

A circle of birds surround Orpheus, among them a peacock.

Barton Farm Villa (Corinium Museum) © David Gill

Orpheus’ music has enchanted a group of animals, among them a lion, a tiger and possibly a leopard. The front of a fragmentary fourth animal can be seen.

Barton Farm Villa (Corinium Museum) © David Gill

The Corinium Museum has displayed the mosaic so that it can be viewed from the first floor of the museum.

Wallsend: viewing the fort

Wallsend Roman fort © David Gill

The most easterly fort on Hadrian’s Wall can be viewed from an elevated platform. It overlooks the east gate of Segedunum; Hadrian’s Wall joined at the west gate. To the south side of the road can be seen the commander’s house and the praetorium; on the north side are the end of two barrack blocks.

To the south of the fort can be seen the reconstructed bath-house.

Wallsend Roman fort © David Gill

Maryport: Cohors I Hispanorum

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Maryport © David Gill

The Senhouse Roman Museum at the Roman fort of Maryport on the Cumbrian coast contains an extensive series of Latin inscriptions. Among them is this altar (RIB 816), found in 1870 to the north-east of the fort.  It was dedicated by the prefect of the Cohors I Hispanorum, L. Antistius Lupus Verianus, from Sicca in Africa (Numidia Proconsularis). David Breeze provisionally dates his command to 136 (and prior to 139 when the Cohors I Delmatarum arrived).

Guidebooks by P.K. Baillie Reynolds

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1951 (2012 reprint)

Paul Kenneth Baillie Reynolds (1896–1973) wrote a number of guidebooks for monuments in state guardianship.

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1956 (repr. 1970)

Baillie Reynolds was educated a Winchester College, and Hertford College, Oxford. His studies were interrupted by service in the Royal Field Artillery (1915–19) when he served in the 4th West Riding (Howitzer) Brigade. On completion of his studies he became a Pelham Student at the British School at Rome (1921–23). He published Thomas Ashby’s notes on the Castra Peregrinorum as well as a study of the troops based there in the Journal of Roman Studies (1923). In 1923 he was made an award by the Craven Fund to continue his research at the British School at Rome; the other awards were made to William A. Heurtley of Oriel College, and C.A. Ralegh Radford of Exeter College.

In 1924 he was appointed Assistant Master, Winchester College, and later the same year Lecturer in Ancient History, University College of Wales, Aberystwyth (1924–34) where the principal from 1927 to 1934 was (Sir) Henry Stuart-Jones, a former director of the British School at Rome. Baillie Reynolds published The Vigiles of Imperial Rome (Oxford University Press, 1926). From 1926–29 he directed the excavation of the Roman auxiliary fort at Caerhun (Canovium) to the south of Conwy in north Wales; the final report was published by him in 1938. In 1931 he was responsible for excavating the north gate, and in 1932 the west gate of Verulamium as part of the wider project directed by (Sir) Mortimer and Tessa Wheeler. He was elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (1929).

In 1934 he was appointed Inspector of Ancient Monuments for England, Ministry of Works. In 1936 in his capacity as Inspector he supported the proposal to preserve the remains of the Jewry Wall in Leicester that had been excavated by Kathleen Kenyon. In 1935 he was elected to the Council for the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, serving alongside Ralegh Radford.  In 1947 he was one of the people who helped to acquire the Roman site of Wall from the National Trust.

Baillie Reynolds joined the Royal Field Artillery (TA) (1927–39) while he was in Aberystwyth, and during the Second World War served as a Major in the Royal Artillery (1939–45).

In 1954 he became Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments, Ministry of Works (1954–1961) replacing B.H. St John O’Neil; A.J. Taylor was appointed Assistant Chief Inspector. One of his projects was the intervention at Corfe Castle in 1959 to stabilise the ruins. Another was the restoration of West Kennet Long Barrow and Wayland’s Smithy; he defended his decisions in The Daily Telegraph (28 July 1962) describing the work as ‘no more a “fake” than is the reconstructed Portland Vase’. In 1960 he advised on the restoration of the Claudian aqueduct that ran through the grounds of the British Embassy in Rome. He retired in 1961 and was succeeded by Taylor.

In 1963 he was elected President, Royal Archaeological Institute (1963–1966) succeeding Ralegh Radford. He was made OBE (1950) and CBE (1957). Baillie Reynolds died in 1973.

Obituary: The Times 25 August 1973.

Top 10 Heritage Sites for Norfolk

Grimes Graves
Galleries at the bottom of Pit 1 at Grimes Graves (2015) © David Gill

I have been thinking about my Top 10 heritage sites in Norfolk. This is very much a personal choice, and the locations are placed in (rough) chronological order. I have tried to include a variety of types of heritage site. How can you decide between Norwich Cathedral and Norwich Castle? Or between Felbrigg and Blickling? Castle Rising and Castle Acre?

Grime’s Graves. You can descend into the Neolithic flint mines.

Burgh Castle
The Roman fort at Burgh Castle © David Gill

Burgh Castle. One of the best preserved Roman forts of the Saxon Shore.

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Norwich Cathedral © David Gill

Norwich Cathedral. The cathedral is an architectural gem and dominates the city.

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Binham Priory © David Gill

Binham Priory. Part of the Benedictine priory is still in use as the parish church.

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Castle Rising © David Gill

Castle Rising. This well-preserved keep is dominated by a series of earthworks.

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Oxburgh Hall © David Gill

Oxburgh Hall. The moated hall at Oxburgh contains fabulous tapestries.

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Felbrigg Hall © David Gill

Felbrigg Hall. The 17th century front to the house is a gem.

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Holkham Hall © David Gill

Holkham Hall. One of the most magnificent houses and Grand Tour collections in Norfolk.

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North Norfolk Railway, Sheringham Station © David Gill

The North Norfolk Railway (The Poppy Line). The journey between Sheringham and Holt provides views of the coast as well as the Norfolk countryside.

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Sandringham © David Gill

Sandringham. The Royal residence sits in the middle of extensive landscaped grounds.

Hadrian’s Wall: Benwell Vallum Crossing

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Benwell © David Gill

The vallum crossing lay 55 m from the south gateway of the cavalry fort at Benwell (Condercum). The crossing has a monumental gateway, 3.56 m wide, which was controlled from the north.

The vallum crossing is in the care of English Heritage (with links to plan).

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Benwell © David Gill

Leicester: the Roman baths

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Leicester © David Gill

The ‘Jewry Wall’ forms part of the bath complex in the Roman town of Ratae Coritanorum (Leicester). It is now dated to c. AD 160 (rather than AD 125–130). The masonry remains are in State Guardianship.

See English Heritage.