Type: Roman Fort, Minor Settlement.
N (8½) to PONS AELIVS (Newcastle, Tyne & Wear)|
NE (12) to ARBEIA (South Shields, Tyne & Wear)
SSW (15) to VINOVIVM (Binchester, Durham)
S (c.70) to EBVRACVM (York, North Yorkshire)
SSE (c.68) to Buttercrambe Moor (nr. Stamford Bridge, North Yorkshire)
The Roman name for Chester-le-Street is listed in the Notitia Dignitatum of the fourth/fifth century as Concangios, where it appears between the entries for Lavatris (Bowes, Durham) and the unidentified station, Dictium. The seventh century Ravenna Cosmology lists the name as Coganges (R&C#141), which occurs between the unknown Dixio Lugunduno (probably identifiable with the Dictium in the Notitia) and the dual entry for Corstopitum (Corbridge, Northumberland) and Lopocarium, another unknown station.
It should be noted that only eight Roman inscriptions are recorded at Chester-le-Street in the RIB, and all are reproduced on this page. Some of my translations are a bit dodgy though, but probably close enough!
Excavations conducted in 1969/70 revealed the overall dimensions of the fort as 540 by 500 feet (c.165 x 152 metres), giving an internal area of about 6¼ acres (c.2.5ha). There are signs of structural alterations occurring during the early-3rd century.
The first military camp on the site very likely dates from the late 70's AD, possibly constructed in timber by the men of the Ninth Hispanic Legion, who were based at York, and it is interesting to note that a branch-road led south from Chester-le-Street all the way to York, over seventy miles away.
|LEG II AVG [fecit]|
|"The Second Augustan Legion (made this)."|
It would appear that the stone fortifications at Chester-le-Street were built by the men of Legio Secundae Augusta, who were stationed in Britain for the entire period of Roman rule, in legionary fortresses at Exeter, Gloucester and Caerleon, all in the south-western part of the Island. It is known that the Second Augustan Legion was employed during the construction of Hadrians's Wall in the early second century, and it is possible that the Concangis fort was re-built in stone at this time.
|... EQQ ALAE ANTONININAE ...TERRITORIVM... AQVAM INDVXIT BALNEVM ... A SOLO INSTRVXIT SVB CVRA ...DIANI LEG AVG PR PR SABINO II ET ANVLLIN COS|
|"[...] the knights of the Antoninian Wing¹ [...] the territorium² [...] the aqueduct leading to the bath-house [...] constructed from its foundations, during the administration of [...]dianus, pro-praetotian legate of the emperor, when Sabinus - for the second time - and Anullinus were consuls.³"|
(RIB 1049; dated: AD216)
The name of the cavalry unit mentioned in the above inscription is incomplete, and prompted me to scan through the RIB to find other units with the Antoniniana suffix, which indicates sterling service during the Caledonian campaigns of Severus at the beginning of the third century; the full results are shown in the table below:
|London||Legio II Augusta||19; tombstone; AD212-17|
|Carlisle||Legio XX Valeria Victrix||965.B; altar; AD213-22|
|Netherby||Cohors I Aelia Hispanorum M EQ||977; AD213?|
|Ebchester||Cohors IIII Breucorum||1101; altar; AD213-22|
|High Rochester||Cohors I Fida Vardullorum CR EQ M||1279; AD216|
|Chesters||Ala II Asturum||1466; AD221-2|
|Carrawburgh||Cohors I Batavorum||1544; altar; AD213-22|
|Birdoswald||Cohors I Aelia Dacorum||1892; altar; AD212-22?|
It will be noted that the list contains two legions and five auxiliary cohorts, but the only cavalry wing with the requisite suffix is Ala II Asturum Antoniniana who are recorded at Cilurnum (Chesters, Northumberland; vide RIB 1465) on Hadrian's Wall in AD221. The undated tombstone of a seventy year old Decurion from the Second Wing of Asturians has been recorded at Lindum (Lincoln, Lincolnshire; vide RIB 266) and an altarstone, also undated, dedicated to the Mother Goddesses by Decurion Marcus Asiaticus of Ala II Asturum has been recorded at Bremetenacum (Ribchester, Lancashire; vide RIB 586).
This unit is known to have been stationed at the Chesters fort only a few years after the date of the inscription at Chester-le-Street, and there is no overlap in the dates; it appears possible, therefore, that the Ala Antoniniana attested at Concangis may be identified with the Second Wing of Asturians, formerly of Lincoln and Ribchester, later posted to Chesters on Hadrian's Wall.
|Praefectus Numeri Vigilum Concangios|
|"The Prefect of the Company of Watchmen from Concangis."|
Listed under the overall command of the Duke of the Britains, the above extract undoubtedly identifies the Roman garrison of Chester-le-Street at the end of the fourth century. It is possible that this unit was later moved to VINOVIA (Binchester, Durham) where undated tiles have been found bearing the legend Numerus Concangensium.
|DEO APOLLNI TERTIVS VSLM||"To the god Apollo, Tertius willingly and deservedly fulfilled his vow."||RIB 1043|
|DEO DIGENIS BANNAI||"To the god Digenis, (the people) from Banna (placed this)?"||RIB 1044|
|DEO MARTI CONDATI VEROBNVS PRO SE ET SVIS VSLM||"To the god Mars Condates, Verobnus willingly and deservedly fulfilled his vow, for himself and his family."||RIB 1045|
|DEO VITIRI D VIH NO VS||"To the god Vitiris, Decimus Vinhos, fulfilled his vow."||RIB 1046|
|DAEABVS VITIRIBVS VITALIS VSLM||"To the Goddesses of the Veterans, Vitalis willingly and deservedly fulfilled his vow."||RIB 1047|
|DEABVS VITBVS VIAS VADRI||"To the Goddesses of the Veterans, secure this traveller on his road."||RIB 1048|
The classical Roman gods are represented by the war god Mars and the sun god Apollo, and judging from the number of altars dedicated to patron deities concerned with the welfare of veteran soldiers (three out of a total of eight inscriptions!), it would appear that a fair proportion of the denizens of Roman Chester-le-Street were ex-military men. There is another altar to the Celtic or Germanic god Digenis recorded on Hadrian's Wall between Wallsend and Newcastle (RIB 1314).