The so-called ‘Colchester Vase’, decorated with gladiatorial scenes, was discovered in a cemetery off the Lexden Road in 1848. This is the subject of a report (Dalya Alberge, ‘Startling’ new evidence reveals gladiators fought in Roman Britain. The Observer (London) March 4, 2023; James Fitzgerald, ‘Gladiator fights were staged in Roman Britain, evidence suggests‘, BBC News March 6, 2023) that claims ‘Gladiator fights were once staged in Roman-occupied Britain’. Alberge notes a forthcoming ‘research paper’ by Glynn Davis of Colchester Museum and John Pearce of King’s College London. The new research presumably has as its focus a re-interpretation of the pot and its decoration.
One of the themes explored in the EARC report, From the Wash to the White Cliffs: The Contribution of the Heritage Sector, is the climate crisis. The EARC region includes coastal heritage from the Wash, along the Norfolk and Suffolk coasts, the Essex marshes, and the Kent coast. The report considers heritage and coastal change; impacts of future climate and coastal change on heritage; and heritage responses to climate change and coastal change.
Gill, D. W. J., M. Kelleher, P. Matthews, T. M. Pepperell, H. Taylor, M. Harrison, C. Moore, and J. Winder. 2022. From the Wash to the White Cliffs: The Contribution of the Heritage Sector. Eastern Academic Research Consortium (EARC) <https://kar.kent.ac.uk/96160/>.
This ‘R.A.C. Road Sign’ created by Burrow of the Kingsway in London outlines some of the key heritage sites around Dorchester, the Roman Durnovaria, including the ‘Prehistoric Camp’ at Poundbury, and the ‘Great Prehistoric Earthworks’ at Maiden Castle.
A set of Roman barracks from the legionary fortress at Caerleon (Isca Silurum) lies in the north-west corner in a location known as Prysg Field. They were excavated by Victor Nash-Williams from 1927 to 1929. Each of the four blocks that can be viewed would have held a century. The accommodation for the centurion was placed at the end of each block.
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.
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 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).
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.
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.
The Corinium Museum has displayed the mosaic so that it can be viewed from the first floor of the museum.