NGRef: NY982648
OSMap: Hadrian's Wall, OL43, LR87.
Type: Vexillation Fortress, Fort, Town, Bridge, Mausoleum.
Roads
Dere Street: N (2½) to Onnvm (Halton Chesters, Northumberland)
Stanegate: W (6¾) to Cilvrnvm (Chesters, Northumberland)
Stanegate: ESE (15) to Washing Wells (Whickham, Tyne & Wear)
Dere Street: SE (9) to Vindomora (Ebchester, Durham)

Corstopitum - The Valley of Resounding Noise?

Corbridge
View of the Corbridge Site
from Dere Street looking east.
The undulations are due to subsidence.

The most striking thing about the Corbridge site, aside from the massive remains themselves, is the undulating ground caused by subsidence following the Roman departure, giving the appearance that the ruined town was originally built upon the green and gentle waves of a turf sea. It also makes the layout of the town very difficult to see from ground level unless one looks directly along the line of the Stanegate itself, or one of its side-streets.

Strategically placed beside the lowest fordable point of the Tyne, close downstream of the confluence of its North and South streams. Dere Street crossed the river here on its journey north from Eburacum (York) and continued northwards across the river into Barbaricum.

"Further south are the Otalini, among whom are the following towns: Coria 20*10 59°00, Alauna 23*00 58°40, Bremenium 21*00 58°45."
Ptolemy's Geography
Granaries
The Southern End of the Granaries
viewed from Dere Street looking east

There is an interesting passage in the early second century geographical treatise by Claudius Ptolemaeus (see above), in which he assigns a town named Coria to the Otalini or Otadini tribe, along with other towns Alauna and Bremenium. These settlements have all been identified with Roman sites in Northumberland, at Corbridge, Learchild and High Rochester respectively. The tribal name has now been equated with the Votadini, whose territories lay mostly within the county of Northumberland in north-east England, also in the Borders region of south-east Scotland.

There is further mention of the Roman name for Corbridge in the Antonine Itinerary of the late-second century. The first route listed for Britain in this document is entitled "From the Wall at the limits [of the empire], to Praetorium", which lists the road-stations along the route from Hadrian's Wall to Bridlington on the north-east coast of England. The second entry in Iter I is named Corstopitum, and is listed 20 miles from Bremenium (High Rochester, Northumberland) and 9 miles from Vindomora (Ebchester, Durham).

There is further mention of Corbridge in the Ravenna Cosmography of the fourth/fifth century, wherein entry #142 appears as Corie Lopocarium, the first part of which has been equated with the Coria of Ptolemy (vide supra), but the suffix Lopocarium remains a mystery, and indeed, may even be the name of another town, as yet unidentified. The Corie entry appears between those of Concangis (Chester-le-Street, Durham) and Segedunum (Wallsend, Tyne & Wear).

"Corbridge Northum. Corebricg c.1050. 'Bridge near Corchester'. OE brycg 'bridge' with a shortened form of the old Celtic name of Corchester (Corstopitum) which is near here." (Mills, 1998)

The names Coria from Ptolemy and Corie from the RC, may be derived from the same Celtic roots as the Gaelic word Coire 'a round hollow in a mountainside', and the Welsh word Cwm 'valley, dale'; both words adequately describe the location of the Corbridge station. The Antonine name Corstopitum, is possibly a Romanisation of the original Celtic name suffixed by the Latin word strepitum 'loud noise, resounding', the Roman-British name therefore meaning something along the lines of 'The Valley of the Resounding Noise', a name which undoubtedly reflects its use as a busy legionary garrison post close to the troublesome Scottish border region. It may be significant that the entry identified with Corbridge in the Ravenna Cosmography, seems to show that by the seventh century the settlement had reverted back to its original Celtic name, without the Latin suffix.

The Garrison Units

I O M PRO SALVTE VEXILLATIO NVM LEG XX V V ET VI VIC MILITES AGENT IN P...
"To Jupiter Best and Greatest, for the well-being and harmony of the Vexillation drawn from the Valiant and Victorious Twentieth Legion and the Victorious Sixth Legion, the soldiers negotiated the placing [of this]."
(RIB 1130; altarstone)

The Corbridge garrison was composed of legionary cohorts taken at various times from several of the Roman legions which were stationed in Britain. The first to arrive was Legio II Augusta from Caerleon in south Wales, who were stationed here under governor Quintus Lollius Urbicus around AD140, followed in the late second century by cohorts of Legio VI Victrix from York. The cohorts from the Sixth Legion were augmented for a short time by contingents from Legio XX Valeria who were moved up from their legionary fortress at Chester in Cheshire during the administration of Sextus Calpurnius Agricola. The last legionary cohort recorded at Corbridge was from the Sixth, dated to the turn of the third century.

CONCORDIAE LEG VI VI P F ET LEG XX
"To Concordia,¹ the Sixth Legion, Victorious, Loyal and Faithful and the Twentieth Legion [dedicates this]."
(RIB 1125)
  1. Concordia was the Roman goddess of peace and friendship. Evidently, there was a certain amount of friction between the legionaries from the Sixth and the Twentieth.
Vexillus
Vexillus of the Second Legion Augusta
VEXILLVS LEG II AVG
"A 'flag-section' of the Second Augustan Legion [built this]."
(RIB 1154; relief of legionary standard; < vide sinistra)
InscriptionTogo-TranslationRIB
LEG II AVG COH III F "The Third Cohort of the Second Augustan Legion made this" 1155
LEG II AVG COH III "The Third Cohort of the Second Augustan Legion" 1156
LEG II AVG COH IIII F "The Fourth Cohort of the Second Augustan Legion made this" 1157
...CE LEG II AVG FEC "[...] of the Second Augustan Legion made this" 1158

The Second Legion is mentioned on at least eleven inscribed stones recovered from the Corbridge environs. Aside from the usual clutch of 'cohort stones' (vide supra) which proclaim responsibility for the structure of the defences and internal buildings, there are a couple of inscriptions which provide invaluable dating information (RIB 1147 & 1148), culturally important altarstones dedicated to classical gods (RIB 1127 & 1136), also a single tombstone to an unnamed soldier (RIB 1177); all texts shown below.

DISCIPVLINAE AVGVSTORVM LEG II AVG
"For the Discipline of the Emperors, the Second Augustan Legion [made this]"
(RIB 1127; altar or statue base)
DEO SAN SILVANO MILITES VEXILLAT LEG II AVG ET COL LEGIVM SILVANIANO RVM ARAM DE SVO POS VOL LIB
"For the holy god Silvanus,¹ the soldiers from the Vexillation of the Second Augustan Legion and the College of the Silvaniani,² willingly and freely placed this altar out of their own resources."
(RIB 1136; altarstone)
  1. Silvanus was an old Italian deity of uncertain genesis, a god of gardens, woods and rural places.
  2. The Silvaniani were the priesthood dedicated to the upkeep of the Silvan temple precinct.
IMP T AELIO ANIONINO AVG PIO II COS SVB CVRA Q LOLII VRBICI LEG AVG PR PR LEG II AVG F IMP CAES I AELIO ANTONINO AVG PIO III COS P P SVB CVRA Q LOLLI VRBICI LEG AVG PR PR LEG II AVG FECIT
"For the emperor Titus Aelius Antoninus Augustus Pius, consul for the second time,¹ under the command of Quintus Lollius Urbicus,² legate of the Augustus with pro-praetorian power, the Second Legion Augusta built this" "For Imperator Caesar Titus Aelius Antoninus Augustus Pius, three times consul,¹ Father of the Fatherland, under the care of Quintus Lollius Urbicus² the pro-praetorian legate of the emperor, the Second Augustan Legion made this"
(RIB 1147; dated: AD139) (RIB 1148; dated: AD140)
  1. Antoninus Pius was emperor from 10th July AD138 until his death from natural causes on 17th March 161. He was consul I AD120, cos II in 139, III in 140 and consul IV in 145. The title Pater Patriae was bestowed in late 139.
  2. Quintus Lollius Urbicus was governor of Britain from AD138/9 to c.AD144.
D M MILES LEG II AVG ...
"To the spirit of the departed, a soldier of the Second Augustan Legion [...]."
(RIB 1177; tombstone)
InscriptionTogo-TranslationRIB
LEG VI VIC FE "The Sixth Victorious Legion made this" 1159>
LEG VI VIC P F "The Sixth Victorious Legion, Loyal and Faithful" 1160
INSTANTE FL HYGIN > LEG VI V "Restored by the century of Flavius Hyginus of the Sixth Victorious Legion" 1161
LEGIO VI PIE F VEX REFE "The flag-section of the Sixth Legion, Loyal and Faithful rebuilt this" 1162

There are at least a dozen stones bearing the name of the Sixth Legion; including three dateable to the latter half of the second century, three altarstones and a tombstone. This total includes the much-defaced and difficult inscription RIB 1190, which reads: ...IE... ...TITICIA... ...VI BRIV... ...TAE... ...L VI VIC ...F, the latter part of which contains the name of the legion.

... VEXILLATIO LEG VI VIC P F SVB CN IVL VERO LEG AVG PER L O... TRIB MILITVM
"[...] flag-section of the Sixth Victorious Legion, Loyal and Faithful under Gnaeus Julius Verus,¹ legate of the emperor, through the agency of Lucius O[...] military tribune"
(RIB 1132; dated: c.AD158)
SOLI INVICTO VEXILLATIO LEG VI VIC P F F SVB CVRA SEX CALPVRNI AGRICO LAE LEG AVG PR PR
"To the Invincible Sun, the Vexillation of the Sixth Legion, Victorious, Loyal and Faithful, under the administration of Sextus Calpurnius Agricola,² pro-praetorian legate of the emperor"
(RIB 1137; dated: AD162-8)
VEXILLATIO LEG VI VIC P F SVB CVRA VIRI LVPI V C COS
"The Vexillation of the Sixth Legion, Victorious, Loyal and Faithful under the administration of the consular Virius Lupus,³ a most worthy man"
(RIB 1163; dated: AD197-202)
  1. Gnaeus Julius Verus was governor of Britain by AD158. His period of tenure is unknown.
  2. Sextus Calpurnius Agricola was governor of Britain from around AD163/4 to c.AD166. See also RIB 1149 below.
  3. Virius Lupus was governor of Britain from AD197 to 200/202.
APOLLINI MAPONO Q TERENTIVS Q F OVF FIRMVS SAEN PRAEF CASTR LEG VI V P F D D DEO MAPONO APOLLINI P AE... LVS > LEG VI VIC VSLM
"To Apollo Maponus, Quintus Terentius Firmus, son of Quintus, of the Aufentine voting tribe from Saena,¹ Praefectus Castrorum² of Legio Sextae Victrix Pia Fidelis, donated out of devotion" "To the god Maponus Apollo, Publius Ae[lius Lucul]lus, centurion of the Sixth Victorious Legion willingly and deservedly fulfills his vow"
(RIB 1120; altarstone) (RIB 1122; altarstone)
  1. An inland town of Etruria, now known as Siena.
  2. Prefect of the Camp, the most senior position for a centurion, after which came promotion to the order of knights, perhaps with a further career as a military tribune in command of an auxiliary infantry unit.
L VAL IVSTO MIL LEG VI EGN DYONISIVS ET SVR IVSTVS HER F C
"For Lucius Valerius Justus, a soldier of the Sixth Legion, Egn[atius] Dyonisius and Sur[ius] Justus his heirs had this made"
(RIB 1175; tombstone)
InscriptionTogo-TranslationRIB
LEG XX V V FECIT "The Twentieth Legion Valiant and Victorious made this" 1164
LEG XX V V FEC "The Twentieth Legion Valiant and Victorious made this" 1165
LEG XXX¹ V V COH VII "The Seventh Cohort of the Twentieth¹ Legion Valiant and Victorious" 1166
  1. The numeral must originally have read XX, an additional X being inserted sometime in antiquity.

The name of the Twentieth Legion appears on five stones from Roman Corbridge, and it seems that a Vexillatio of at least one cohort undertook building work during the latter part of the second century. This posting placed contingents from two separate legions in Corstopitum at the same time, and appears to have been cause of some disharmony, as the only altarstone dedicated by the Twentieth is one to Concordia, the dedication of which is significantly shared with the Sixth Legion (vide RIB 1125 supra).

IMPERATORIBVS CAESARIBVS M AVRELIO ANTONINO AVG TRIBVNICIAE POTESTATIS ... COS ... ET L AVRELIO VERO AVG ARMENIACO TRIBVNICIAE POTESTATIS I... COS ...II VEXILLATIO LEG XX V V FECIT SVB CVRA SEXTI CALPVRNI AGRICOLAE LEGATI AVGVSTORVM PR PR
"For their imperial Caesars, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus, holding tribunician power for the [seventeenth]¹ time, consul [three]¹ times, and Lucius Aurelius Verus Augustus Armeniacus, holding tribunician power for the [third]¹ time, consul [two]¹ times, a Vexillation of the Twentieth Legion Valiant and Victorious made this, under the administration of Sextus Calpurnius Agricola, legate of the emperors with pro-praetorian power"
(RIB 1149; dated: AD163)
  1. The numerals are restored from the R.I.B., which enables an accurate dating of AD163.
  2. Sextus Calpurnius Agricola was governor of Britain from c.AD163 to c.AD166. See also RIB 1137 above.
DIS MANIBVS FLAVINVS EQ ALAE PETR SIGNIFER TVR CANDIDI AN XXV STIP VII H S
"To the spirits of the departed and to Flavinus, a trooper of the Petrian Wing, standard-bearer in the turma of Candidus, twenty five years old with seven years service, here [he] lies"
(RIB 1172; tombstone)

This cavalry unit is attested at Corbridge on at least one tombstone, and is possibly mentioned on another, both stones being shown here. The wing was named after Titus Pomponius Petra, a former commander, and the name was later transferred to their main garrison fort Petrianvm (Stanwix, Cumbria). For further information see Ala Petriana.

...MERITO EX EQ ALAE ...AE
"[...] veteran and former trooper of the Wing [...]"
(RIB 1178; suspected tombstone)
DISCIP AVGVSTO MILITES COH I F VARDVLLORVM M C R EQ CVI PRAEEST PVB CALPVRNIVS VICTOR TR
"For the Discipline of the Emperor, the soldiers of the First Cohort of Vardulli, one-thousand strong, citizens of Rome, part-mounted, under the command of the tribune Publius Calpurnius Victor [made this]."
(RIB 1128)

The First Cohort of Vardulli is attested at Corbridge on a single dedicatory stone (see text above). This part-mounted unit were originally recruited from among the Vardulli tribe, who inhabited Hispania Terraconensis, Guipuscoa, northern Spain. The unit is also recorded on two stones from Longovicium (Lanchester, Durham; RIB 1076 & 1083), on seven inscriptions variously dated between AD216 to AD241 from Bremenium (High Rochester, Northumberland; RIB 1262, 1263, 1272, 1279, 1280, 1285 & 1288), and on single undated altarstones in Scotland at Cappuck in Borders Region (RIB 2118) and Castlecary in Central (RIB 2149).

COH [I] LING ILIOMARVS
"The [First] Cohort of Lingones, [century of] Juliomarus [made this]"
(RIB 1186)
  1. The numeral is missing from the inscription and has been restored.

Cohors Primae Lingonum Equitata was a part-mounted unit originating from the Lingones tribe of Gallia Lugdunensis, inhabiting the Bourgogne region of Central France. The First Cohort of Lingones is known from inscriptions at Bremenium (High Rochester, Northumberland; RIB 1276; AD139-43) and Longovicium (Lanchester, Durham; RIB 1091/1092; AD238-44), and possibly also here at Corbridge, where it is recorded on a single undated stone (RIB 1186 supra), which is missing the unit number.

The Roman Military Encampments

The Agricolan Vexillation Fortress at Beaufront Red House

This large early installation is described on a separate page: Beaufront Red House.

The Stanegate Auxiliary Forts at Corbridge

Strongroom
The Strongroom in the Principia
viewed from the south

A Trajanic coin sealed beneath the rampart of the Stanegate fort at Corbridge proves a foundation date of AD103 or later, at the same time that the emperor Trajan was withdrawing troops from Britain (and elsewhere) for deployment in his second Dacian campaign which commenced in 105. It would appear that the original (Agricolan?) fort was burnt to the ground and the area levelled shortly after AD103. This is not indicative of barbarian activity, who would hardly be mindful to carefully level the ground after a night's arson attack, but is sure evidence of careful preparation of the foundations for another, larger fort built upon the same site during the early-Trajanic period. This complete rebuilding of the former fort is evidence of a change in the type of garrison unit housed at the site.

Water Tank
Water Tank outside the Principia

There is evidence of another rebuild and accompanying change of garrison in the early Hadrianic period, and a certain amount of rebuilding during late-Antonine times in the mid-second century is attested by an inscription of governor Sextus Calpurnius Agricola, who replaced Priscus around AD162. This probably indicates the strengthening of the Hadrianic and Stanegate barriers following the withdrawal from the Antonine Wall in Scotland. By the 3rd century Corbridge had grown into a large sprawling garrison town of 12 hectares enclosed by walls and housing a legionary garrison at its centre.

The dimensions of the auxiliary forts at Corbridge are unknown, but judging from the size of the garrison units, two of which contained a nominal one-thousand men and/or horses, the forts must have covered an area of at least 8 or 9 acres (c.3.6ha). It is noteable that of all the forts on the Northern frontier only Corbridge has yielded Saxon artefacts, perhaps indicating that the Hadrianic barrier a couple of miles to the north continued to keep barbary at bay, at least for a while.

Building Inscription from the Corbridge Granaries

IMP CAES L SEP SEVERVS PI PERTINAX ET IMP CAESAR M AVR ANTONINVS PIVS AVGVSTI ET P SEPTIMIVS [GETA] CAESAR HORREVM PER VEXILLATIONEM LEG ... FECERVNT SVB L ALFENO SENECIONE LEG AVGG PR PR
"For Imperator Caesar Lucius Septimius Severus Pius Pertinax, Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Pius Augustus and Publius Septimius Geta Caesar, this granary, through the agency of a detachment of the [...] Legion, was built under Lucius Alfenus Senecio,¹ legate of the emperors with pro-praetorian power."
(RIB 1151; restored inscription; dated: AD205-8)
  1. The final two lines of this inscription are unclear. The most commonly accepted ending is shown above, but the text may also be restored ... FECERVNT SVB G VALERIO PVDENTE LEG AVG PR PR, or "... built under Gaius Valerius Pudens, pro-praetorian legate of the emperor". These alternatives are discussed below.

The latest datable inscription found at Corbridge is RIB 1151, a restored inscription for which there are two feasible concluding lines (see above). Lucius Alfenus Senecio governed Britain from c.AD205 to 208 and is the last known governor of the entire British province before it was partitioned by the emperor Septimius Severus sometime before his death at York in 211. Gaius Valerius Pudens was the immediate predecessor of Senecio, and governed Britain from c.AD202 to 205.

During excavations over the years at Corbridge a number of animal bones have been uncovered, including those of domesticated Ox, Sheep, Goats and Pigs, game such as Red Deer, Roe Deer, Wild Ox and Hare, also animals such as Fox, Badger, Beaver, Vole and Mole; the latter group very likely being hunted and killed for sport and as a means of pest control. Among the bones recovered from the Red House site were those of Ox, Sheep, Goat, Pig, Red Deer and Roe Deer.

The Civilian Settlement

"At Corbridge, records have been obtained of roads and buildings over a wide area around the visible remains exposed by excavation. The main street fronting the two military compounds continues in an irregular course east and west. It is flanked by buildings, and other streets branch off to north and south. A third of a mile to the west is a Romano-Celtic temple of normal plan. The outline of the precinct-wall, which encloses an area of perhaps 120 by 110 ft., and of a central building are clearly visible, though no trace remains on the surface." (St. Joseph, 1951)

Tombstone of a Retired Standard-Bearer from Corbridge

D M ...RATHES PAL MORENVS VEXILA VIXIT AN LXVIII
"To the spirits of the departed [and Aria]rathes¹ Morenus the Palmyrene,² vexillarius² who lived for sixty-eight years."
(RIB 1171; tombstone)
  1. The restoration of this name is purely conjectural.
  2. see RIB 1065 from South Shields.
  3. The bearer of the pennant or vexillum under which the entire military garrison of Corbridge was gathered.

As always, the best epigraphic evidences of civilian settlement at Corbridge come in the form of tombstones.

Some Civilian Tombstones from Corbridge

InscriptionTogo-TranslationRIB
D M IVL PRIMVS CONIVGI C P C "To the spirits of the departed and to Julius Primus, husband. His wife placed this as arranged." 1174
D M AHTEHE FIL NOBILIS VIXIT ANIS V "To the spirits of the departed and Athene, an excellent daughter who lived for five years." 1180
D M SVDRENVS ERTOLE NOMINE VELLIBIA FELICISSIME VIXIT ANIS IIII DIEBVS LX "To the spirits of the departed, Sudrenus Ertole nominates the most happy Vellibia, who lived for four years and sixty days." 1181
IVLIA MATER NA AN VI IVL MARCELLINVS FILIAE CARISSIMAE "Julia Materna, six years old. Julius Marcellinus [made this] for a most lovely daughter." 1182

The Gods of Roman Corbridge

LEG A... Q CALPVRNIVS CONCESSINI VS PRAEF EQ CAESA CORIONOTOTARVM MANV PRAESENTISSIMI NVMINIS DEI V S
"The Legate of the Augustus [...] for cutting-down an armed band of Corionototae,¹ Quintus Calpurnius Concessinius, Prefect of Cavalry, fulfills his vow to the spirit of the most omnipresent god.²."
(RIB 1142; altarstone)
  1. This tribe possibly inhabited the land in the immediate area of the fort. The name of the tribe may stem from the same roots as the Roman name for Corbridge.
  2. Very likely Jupiter, the king of the classical Roman pantheon.

Over twenty altarstones have been uncovered at Corbridge, mostly dedicated to various gods from the classical pantheons of Greece and Rome, although the greatest number of altars to a single god is the Romano-Celtic amalgam Apollo Maponus, to whom there are four dedications, closely followed by the Germanic god Veterus with three. The only other gods possessing more than one dedication are Jupiter and Discipline, each with two altarstones. There are single altars dedicated to Astarte (in Greek), Concordia, Diana, Hercules (in Greek), Mercury (in relief), Minerva, Panthea, Silvanus, Sol Invictus (Mithras) and Victory; there are another six altarstones dedicated to gods whose names are illegible or otherwise unknown. A selection of the more interesting examples are shown here.

IOVI AETERNO DOLICHENO ET CAELESTI BRIGANTIAE ET SALVTI G IVLIVS APOLINARIS > LEG VI IVSS DEI
"To the eternal Jupiter of Doliche,¹ Celestial Brigantia² and Salus,³ Gaius Julius Apolinaris, Centurion of the Sixth Legion, [set this up] by command of the god."
(RIB 1131; altarstone)
  1. The Doliche in question is a town in Syria where the god Baal was worshipped. This dark Syrian god, condemned in the Christian Bible, was associated by the Romans with their own god Jupiter. There is another town named Doliche in Thessaly, and there is also an island of the same name in the Ægean Sea.
  2. Brigantia was a Celtic goddess worshipped in Britain and on the continent, also known as Brigit or Bride, she was the patron deity of the Brigantes tribe of north-east England. This is the only known altar which contains the 'Celestial' affix.
  3. Salus was the goddess of Health at Rome, worshipped by the Greeks as Hygiea - from whom the English word 'hygiene' has been derived.
ASTARTES BOMON M HESORAS POULCHER M ANETHEKEN HERAKLEI TYRIOI DIODORA ARCHIERIA
"You see me, an altar of Astarte,¹ Pulcher set me up." "To Herakles of Tyre,² the priestess Diodora (set this up)."
(RIB 1124; altarstone; in Greek) (RIB 1129; altarstone; in Greek)
  1. Astarte was a powerful Syrian goddess, associated by the Greeks with Aphrodite and by the Romans with Venus.
  2. Tyre (or Tyrus) was an ancient city of the Phoenicians, built on an island a couple of miles from the coast of Syria; their principal deity was Hercules (or Herakles) for whom a magnificent temple was built, decorated with pillars of gold and emeralds. He was possibly worshipped here under the name Melkaart.
The two English translations from the Greek above, were heisted from Roman Britain - A Sourcebook by S. Ireland.
Gimme a break! It's hard enough translating Latin, let alone Greek.
VICTORIAE AVG L IVL IVLIANVS LEG AVG ...VS...
"To August Victory, Lucius Julius Julianus, legate of the emperor [... willingly and deservedly] fulfilled his vow."
(RIB 1138; altarstone)
DEO VETERI VIT M ITI DEO VITIRI
"For the god Veterus." "For Vitiris, Marcus Itius [made this]." "To the god Vitiris."
(RIB 1139; altarstone) (RIB 1141; altarstone) (RIB 1140; altarstone)

There are three altarstones recovered from Corbridge which are dedicated to the god Veterus or Vitiris (vide supra), an ancient German ancestral deity worshipped in Britain under a variety of names including; Veter, Veteres, Viter and Votris. The god is also known from altars at Concangis (Chester-le-Street, Durham; RIB 1046), Vindomora (Ebchester, Durham; RIB 1103) and Cataractonium (Catterick, North Yorkshire; RIB 727), also at many forts along Hadrian's Wall.

DEAE MINERVAE T TERTINIVS... LIBR EX VOTO POS
"To the goddess Minerva,¹ Titus Tertinius [...] Librarius,² placed this as the result of a vow."
(RIB 1134; altar or statue base)
  1. Minerva was the Roman goddess of wisdom, war and the liberal arts, associated with the Greek goddess Athene. Her mother was Metis, one of the Oceanides the daughters of the Ocean, and her father the god Jupiter/Zeus, who, fearing that the result of their union would grow to be more intelligent than himself, consumed his wife whole to prevent their baby being born. Following this, however, Jupiter/Zeus was stricken with headaches so violent that he ordered the celestial weaponsmith Vulcan to cleave open his skull, whereupon Minerva was reputed to have sprung, fully-armed, out of the brain of the god.
  2. The librarii were soldiers excused normal duties (thus classed among the immunes) in order to assist the regimental book-keeper, the Cornicularius. They kept records of the pay, loans and savings of each man in the unit and worked in an office called the tablinarium, situated within the principia at the centre of the encampment.
APOLLINI MAPONO CALPVRNIVS ... TRIB DEDICAVIT DEO ARECVRIO APOLLINARIS CASSI VSLM
"To Apollo Maponus, the tribune Calpurnius [...] has dedicated [this]." "To the god Arecurius Apollo, Cassius willingly and deservedly fulfills his vow."
(RIB 1121; altarstone) (RIB 1123; altarstone)

Apollo, also known by the Romans as Phoebus (the sun), was the son of Jupiter and Latona, and brother of Diana (a.k.a. Phoebe, the moon). He was the god of the fine arts, music, poetry, medicine and eloquence, and reputed to be master of the bow and arrow, as was his sibling goddess. His temples are known throughout the Roman world, including many examples in Britain.

ARA DIAN POSVI N... DEO MERCVRIO B F DEAE PANTHEAE
"An Altar for Diana,¹ placed from us [...]." "To the god Mercury.²" "Good fortune to the goddess Panthea.³"
(RIB 1126; altarstone) (RIB 1133; relief of Mercury) (RIB 1135; altarstone)
  1. Diana was the goddess of the moon, also skilled at hunting. See paragraph on Apollo, her brother, above.
  2. Mercury was the messenger of the gods and the patron of merchants.
  3. Panthea was the name conferred on Caligula's sister Drusilla after her death and subsequent deification sometime in AD38. The name is Greek, meaning 'All the Goddesses'.
... ... ...SIT... ... ...NORVS ...PRAEP CVRAM AGENS HORR TEMPO RE EXPEDITIONIS FELICISSI BRITTANNIC VSLM
"[...] the acting administrator,¹ planning in advance [so that] the granaries were repaired in time for the successful campaigns in Britain, willingly and deservedly fulfilling a vow."
(RIB 1143; altarstone)
  1. This man may be Marcus Antius Crescens Calpurnianus, who is thought to have been the acting Governor of Britannia c.AD202.
     

Milestones from Corbridge, Northumberland

IMP C M PIAVONIO VICTORINO P F AVG AVG ... • CAESAR MAXIMINVS AVG N
"Imperator Caesar Marcus Piavonius Victorinus Pius Felix Augustus.¹" "Augustus [...]² • Caesar Maximinus, our emperor.³"
(RIB 2296; dated: AD269-271) (RIB 2297; dated: AD235-238)
  1. Victorinus - Became the emperor of the break-away Gallic Empire in Summer or Autumn AD269, following the death - by strangulation - of Postumus' successor Marius after he had been in office for only a few months. Victorinus himself was only to last until the spring of AD271, before being killed for propositioning the wife of one of his own generals.
  2. This is the only visible part of the original or 'primary' inscription.
  3. Maximinus - Imperator Caesar Gaius Iulius Verus Maximinus Pius Felix Invictus Augustus, nicknamed Thrax ('the Thracian'), ruled the Roman empire from February/March AD235 until his murder by his own troops at Aquileia in April 238. It should be noted that Guy de la Bedoyere favours the date AD309-313, which would make the dedication to Maximinus Daia.
Lion
Statue of Lion Devouring a Kid

The Corbridge Classical Roman Temples

The sanctuary area of Corstopitum lay in two sections to the north of the military enclosures at the heart of the Roman town. The defenses of both the eastern and western compounds have a very un-military outline due to their methodical respect of the temples sacred boundaries. All of the temples so far discovered appear to be constructed in the classical style, which is to be expected in a town with a predominantly legionary population, all of whom were Roman citizens and thus inclined towards the classical pantheon. The eastern enclave contains at least five known temples (numbers 1 through 5) while the western enclave holds two (6 & 7). Unfortunately, although there have been several altarstones and religious artifacts turned-up in Corbridge over the years, none may be positively assigned to any of the classical shrines.

Corbridge Temple 1

The podium of this temple was composed of packed earth held within retaining walls of dressed stone measuring 24½ ft. wide by 33 ft. long. There were five irregularly-spaced columns along the northern front, the bases of which were 1 ft 4 ins. square, which would imply a column-height of between 10-12 ft. The north-east corner of the temple was destroyed, possibly during barbarian incursions south of Hadrian's Wall around AD296.

Corbridge Temple 2

Built alongside Temple 1 only 2 ft. to the east, the podium of this temple measured 31 ft. 5 ins. wide and at least 55½ ft. long. There were four columns set along the front of the temple, two spaced 10 ft. apart to either side of the door leading to the cella, the sanctuary of the temple. The form of the temple sanctuary was an open courtyard with surrounding roofed colonnade containing a massive platform set at the rear, probably to house an altar which was also open to the sky.

Corbridge Temple 3

Lying to the immediate east of Temple 2, all that survives of this temple is the front of the podium measuring 27 ft. wide; the original length is unknown.

Corbridge Temple 4

This temple is situated to the north-east of Temple 3, behind Temple 5, and unlike the three preceeding temples faced either west or east. Only the podium has survived, measuring 27 ft. 3 ins. wide by 32 ft. 8 ins. long.

Corbridge Temple 5

Like temple 4, this temple is oriented east-west and is known only from its podium, which measured about 26½ ft. wide by at least 43 ft. in length. It was situated to the immediate north of Temple 3 and just west of Temple 4, obscuring them both.

Corbridge Temple 6

This temple lies in the western enclave and is known only from its podium, which measures 12 ft. 8 ins. in width by 24 ft. 10 ins. long. It is the smallest known temple at Corbridge and is oriented north-south, its facade probably opened onto the street to the north.

Corbridge Temple 7

This temple lies to the immediate south of Temple 6 and is known only from the south-east corner of its podium, which was probably aligned east-west.

Corbridge Today

Corstopitum Bibliography

See: Air Reconnaissance of North Britain by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. xli (1951) p.55;
The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965);
Temples in Roman Britain by M.J.T. Lewis (Cambridge 1966);
The Roman Military Diet by R.W. Davies, in Britannia ii (1971) pp.122-142;
Chronology of the Ancient World by E.J. Bickerman (Thames & Hudson, London, 1980);
Hadrian's Wall in the Days of the Romans by Ronald Embleton and Frank Graham (Newcastle, 1984) pp.204-212;
Corbridge: excavations of the Roman fort and town, 1947-80 by M.C. Bishop & J.N. Dore (HBMCE, 1989);
Hadrian's Wall Map and Guide by the Ordnance Survey (Southampton, 1989);
Chronicle of the Roman Emperors by Chris Scarre (Thames & Hudson, London, 1995);
Dictionary of English Place-Names by A.D. Mills (Oxford, 1998);
All English translations - except where noted - are my own.

Corstopitum Related Lynx

Coming Soon!

Details of the Redhouse Vexillation Fortress, the Corbridge Forts and all the Marching Camps