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.
English Heritage has issued a guidebook written by Professor Michael Fulford, excavator of the Roman town (2016). It replaces a series of earlier guides to the town.
Inside the front cover is a foldout plan indicating walking routes around the site. Inside the back is a plan of the Roman town and earlier Iron Age defences.
The guidebook includes a tour of the site, and is followed by a history. There are special features on: religion; the water supply and the force pump; dogs; diet; industry; the Ogham stone; the Victorian rubbish pit; and the Silchester collection at Reading Museum.
Caerwent © David Gill
The honorific inscription to Tiberius Claudius Paulinus, legate of the II Augustan legion, was recovered from Caerwent in south Wales (RIB 311). It is now displayed in the parish church of St Stephen and Tathan (see guidebook). Paulinus, who had been based at the nearby legionary fortress at Caerleon, subsequently became governor of Britannia Inferior in 220 (and recorded in an inscription from the fort at High Rochester, RIB 1280).
The decree was set up as a result of a decree passed by the ordo or council of the Silures. It is particularly important as it provides details of the career of Paulinus, including governorships in two separate provinces of Gaul.
Verulamium Roman walls © David Gill
The Roman city of Verulamium (near St Albans) was placed in State Guardianship in 1931. This image from the 1970s shows the Ministry signs in place. The walls are now in the care of English Heritage.
The forum, Philippi © David Gill
The Roman colony of Philippi in Macedonia, northern Greece, has been designated as one of the latest additions to UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites (“Philippi becomes UNESCO World Heritage site“, ekathimerini.com 15 July 2016). Excavations have revealed parts of the Roman city including a series of Byzantine churches.
The site is described as follows:
The remains of this walled city lie at the foot of an acropolis in north-eastern Greece, on the ancient route linking Europe and Asia, the Via Egnatia. Founded in 356 BC by the Macedonian King Philip II, the city developed as a “small Rome” with the establishment of the Roman Empire in the decades following the Battle of Philippi, in 42 BCE. The vibrant Hellenistic city of Philip II, of which the walls and their gates, the theatre and the funerary heroon (temple) are to be seen, was supplemented with Roman public buildings such as the Forum and a monumental terrace with temples to its north. Later the city became a centre of the Christian faith following the visit of the Apostle Paul in 49-50 CE. The remains of its basilicas constitute an exceptional testimony to the early establishment of Christianity.
The colony was the setting of the Apostle Paul’s mission to Macedonia as described in the Acts of the Apostles.
Walltown Crags, Hadrian’s Wall © David Gill
Hadrian’s Wall and Stanegate
Saxon Shore Forts
Helikon Mosaic © David Gill
Visitors to the Roman town of Aldborough (Isurium Bragantium) in Yorkshire will be able to rest on the site of Mount Helikon. A Ministry sign draws attention to where a fragment of a mosaic showing the muses was found. The setting was an apsidal room, perhaps part of a triclinium or dining-room.
The mosaic was found in 1846, and the site was re-excavated between 1976 and 1980. An illustration of the mosaic appears in Henry Eckroyd Smith’s Reliquiae Isurianae (1852) [online].
Site of the Helikon mosaic at Aldborough © David Gill
The word Helikon appears next to a female figure holding a scroll. The identification with the muses was made by R.P. Wright who suggested that the Greek inscription identifying Mount Helikon indicated the subject of the mosaic.
This particular muse was originally identified as Klio (and appears in the English Heritage guidebook). However a photograph taken around 1900 (and in the English Heritage archive) shows a theatrical mask suggesting an identification with Melpomene or Thalia (see Ling 2007). The photograph hints that there may have been a (fragmentary) name on the scroll (perhaps Thalia). The other eight muses have not survived, although parts of one of the others were found during the excavation.
Helikon mosaic at Aldborough © David Gill
Detail of Helikon mosaic © David Gill
The site of the Roman town was placed in State Guardianship in 1952 and is now cared by English Heritage. The mosaic is on display in the site museum
Johnson, S. and D.S. Neal, 2002. Re-Excavation And Study Of The Helicon Mosaic, Aldborough Roman Town. Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 74: 113-34.
Ling, Roger 2007. Inscriptions on Romano-British Mosaics and Wall-Paintings. Britannia, 38: 63-91. doi:10.3815/000000007784016395. [JSTOR]