Lincoln: Newport Arch and lorries

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1971

The Newport Arch forms the northern gateway of the Roman colonia of Lincoln. It is one of the most important pieces of extant Roman architecture in Britain. However it does seem to be vulnerable to lorries. A feature on the excavations at Lincoln appeared in a special number of Current Archaeology (May 1971; Christina Colyer, ‘Lincoln, pp. 67=71), and the cover showed the damage in 1964. The gate has been struck again today.

Local authorities need to restrict access to these important parts of our heritage.

Goldsborough Roman Signal Station

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Goldsborough Roman Signal Station looking south towards Whitby © David Gill

Goldsborough lies to the north of Whitby in Yorkshire. It was one of a series of Roman signal stations constructed along this piece of coastline.

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Goldsborough Roman Signal Station looking north © David Gill

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Goldsborough Roman Signal Station © David Gill

Other known signal stations lie at (from north to south): Huntcliff near Saltburn; Goldsborough; Ravenscar; Castle Hill at Scarborough; and Carr Naze at Filey.

There is an inscription from Ravenscar (RIB 721) that shows that the fort (turrem et castrum) was constructed by Vindicianus who is described as magister, a later rank. The overall commander was Justinianus. Anthony Birley dates the inscription to the 4th century.

Coins from Huntcliff suggest a date from c. 370 to c. 390.

John A. A. Goodall in his discussion of the signal station at Scarborough suggests two theories: a series of signal stations constructed in the wake of the ‘Barbarian Conspiracy’ of 367 (supported by William Hornsby through his excavations); or to the period of Magnus Maximus (383-388).

Bibliography

Bell, T.W. A Roman Signal Station at Whitby. Archaeological Journal 155 , 1 (1998), 303-22.

Hornsby, W., et al. The Roman Fort at Huntcliff, Near Saltburn. The Journal of Roman Studies 2 (1912), 215–32, www.jstor.org/stable/295958.

Hornsby, William, and John D. Laverick. The Roman Signal Station at Goldsborough, Near Whitby. Antiquaries Journal 89, 1 (1932), 203-19. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00665983.1932.10853589

Ottaway, Patrick, Richard Brickstock, John Carrott, H. E. M. Cool, Keith Dobney, Renée Gajowski, Sandra Garside-Neville, G. D. Gaunt, Allan Hall, Michael Issitt, Deborah Jaques, Frances Large & Jason Monaghan. Excavations on the Site of the Roman Signal Station At Carr Naze, Filey, 1993–94. Archaeological Journal 157, 1 (2000), 79-199.

Southern, P. Signals versus Illumination on Roman Frontiers. Britannia 21 (1990), 233–42, www.jstor.org/stable/526297.

The hunters of Banna

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Inscription, Birdoswald © David Gill

An inscription found at Birdoswald in 1821 is now displayed in the small site museum (RIB 1905). It had previously been displayed in the undercroft at nearby Lanercost Priory (and where it features in Charles M. Daniels, Handbook to the Roman Wall 13th ed.).

The altar was dedicated to the ‘holy god’ Silvanus, and the dedicators were the venatores or hunters of Banna. Banna is almost certainly Birdoswald, and is a name also known from the Rudge cup found at Froxfield in Wiltshire (for the replica, now in the British Museum) that shows some of the forts along Hadrian’s Wall.

It has been suggested that the inscription should be dated to the 3rd century (supported by David Breeze in his Handbook to the Roman Wall).

Great Chesters: Roman altar

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Great Chesters © David Gill

The Roman fort of Great Chesters (Aesica) on Hadrian’s Wall lies entirely to the south of the wall. Remains of a milecastle were found underneath it (MC43).

Parts of the fort were excavated in 1894 and 1925. The 14th edition of the Handbook to the Roman Wall notes: ‘The overgrown remains of the south gate contain an uninscribed altar’.

This photograph taken in the early 1980s shows an altar, decorated with a jug, placed in the eastern guardroom of the southern gate. A letter (‘The Roman Wall: Examples of Vandalism’) to The Times (London) by Basil Barham of the East Herts Archaeological Society (27 August 1928) listed a series of complaints about activities along the line of Hadrian’s Wall including at Great Chesters: ‘At Aesica I notice a large portion of stone, apparently an altar, has been brought from some place and erected in the middle of a guard chamber, with a small piece of pillar stuck on its top.’ This staged display clearly lasted for over a century.

 

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.

Chesters Roman Fort and Clayton Museum

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2016 (rev. 2nd ed.)

English Heritage has produced an updated version of its guidebook to Chesters Roman Fort on Hadrian’s Wall (for earlier guides see here). This and the earlier guide are by Nick Hodgson. The coverage has grown from 40 pages to 48 pages plus the material inside the covers. There are some changes to the illustrations.

The main new section is on the Clayton Museum with sections on the Antiquarian Display; The Collection; Coventina’s Well (see here); The Corvoran Modius.

The new guide, like the old, illustrates the so-called Crosby Garrett helmet and asserts the find-spot rather than inserting the phrase ‘said to be’ at the appropriate place.

Pevensey Castle: signage

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Pevensey Castle © David Gill

Pevensey Castle was given to the Office of Works by the Duke of Devonshire in 1925. It became one of the front line defences of Britain in 1940.

Pevensey Castle was one of the Saxon Shore forts and was later reused as a medieval castle.

For guidebooks to the fort and castle see here.