ISCA SILVRVM
CASTRA LEGIONIS

Roman Legionary Fortress & Settlement

Caerleon, Gwent

NGRef: ST339906
OSMap: LR171
Type: Legionary Fortress, Major Settlement.
Roads
E (3) to Bulmore (Gwent)
SW (13) to Cardiff (South Glamorgan)

Castra Legionis / Isca Silurum
Fortress of the Legion / Riverside Settlement of the Silures

The Roman name of the Caerleon fortress occurs in three separate itinera within the late-second century list of imperial road-routes known as the Antonine Itinerary, serving as a terminus on two of these routes.

The only other classical geography which mentions the Caerleon fort is the Ravenna Cosmology of the seventh century, where the name Isca Augusta (R&C#52) occurs between the entry for Bannio (Abergavenny, Gwent) and the unidentified station Albinumno.

The modern name for the fortress of the Second Legion Augusta, Caerleon, is an amalgam of the British word *caer/gaer 'camp, fort', and the Latin legionis 'of the legion'. Gildas (x.2) mentions two Christian martyrs, namely Aaron and Julius, who were described as Legionum urbis cives 'citizens of the Legionary town' (i.e. Caerleon).

The Epigraphy of Isca Silurum

There are eighty-five inscribed stones recorded in the RIB for Caerleon, including thirty-two tombstones, twenty-three centurial and cohort stones, fourteen altars and votive stones, and nine dateable inscriptions.

The Dateable Inscriptions from Isca Silurum

DesignationDateDescription
330AD99/100a dedication to the emperor Trajan by Legio II Augusta
1970.1AD177-180restoration of a temple to Iupitter Optimus Maximus of emperors Marcus Aurelius and Commodus
332AD180-192altarstone to unknown god with secondary text dedicated to emperor Caracalla
333AD198-209dedication to emperor Septimius Severus and his sons Caracalla and Geta
326AD198-209dedication to the health of the emperors Severus and Caracalla by Legio II Augusta
331AD212-217dedication to Caracalla as sole emperor
328Sep 23rd AD234dedication made when Pupienus Maximus (II) and Urbanus were consuls
327Sep 23rd AD244dedication to the Spirits of the Emperors and the Genius of Legio II Augusta during the consulship of Peregrinus and Aemilius
334AD255-260dedication to emperors Valerian and Galerius by governor Desticius Juba and Legio II Augusta

Legio Secundae Augusta - The Second Augustan Legion

Dedication to the Emperor Trajan Recording the Rebuilding of the Fortress Rampart in Stone

IMP CAES DIVI NERVAE F NERVAE TRAIANO AVG GER PONTIF MAXIMO TRIB POTEST P P COS III LEG II AVG
"For Imperator Caesar Nerva Trajanus Augustus Germanicus,¹ son of the divine Nerva, High Priest, holder of tribunician power, Father of the Fatherland, Consul three times.² The Second Augustan Legion [made this]."
(RIB 330; dated: AD99/100)
  1. The emperor Trajan, born Marcus Ulpius Traianus, was adopted by emperor Nerva in October AD97, whereupon he took the rank of Caesar and adopted the family name Nerva, also accepting the victory title Germanicus shortly afterwards. His accession took place in January 98 upon the natural death of Nerva at Rome, whereupon he became Augustus and accepted the honorary title Pater Patriae.
  2. Trajan was consul six times; in AD91, 98, 100, 101, 103 and 112. The stone was originally cut with the numeral II and later changed, probably indicating that the stone was commissioned in AD99 but completed the following year.

Dedication to the Emperor Septimius Severus and his Sons Caracalla and Geta

PRO SALVTE AVGG NN SEVERI ET ANTONNI [ET GETAE CAES] P SALLIENVS P F MAEICIA THALAMVS HADRI PRAEF LEG II AVG CVM AMPEIANO ET LVCILIANO
"For the salvation of our emperors Severus and Antoninus¹ [and the Caesar Geta],² Publius Sallienius Thalamus, son of Publius, of the Maecian voting tribe from Hadria,³ prefect of the Second Augustan Legion, with Ampeianus and Lucilianus [his sons]."
(RIB 326; dated: AD198-209; see also RIB 324 infra)
  1. The emperors Septimius Severus and his eldest son Lucius Septimius Bassianus. Severus became emperor in April AD193 and adopted himself into the family of Marcus Aurelius in 195, at the same time renaming his eldest son Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Caesar. Antoninus was elevated to the rank of Augustus in January 198 and ruled jointly with his father until the latter's death at York in February 211. They both adopted the victory title Britannicus in 209, which surely would have been mentioned on a stone erected in the province, so the inscription was probably erected sometime before this date.
  2. Severus' younger son, Publius Septimius Geta, was possibly named Caesar in January 198 at the same time his elder brother became Augustus. Following their father's death, he was to rule as joint Augustus with his brother from January 211 until his murder in December that same year. Following his fratricide, the emperor, who was to earn the historical nickname Caracalla after a type of long military cloak which he favoured, ordered his brother Geta's name erased from all public inscriptions.
  3. Hadria was a small town in Picenum, now known as Atri on the Adriatic coast of Italy, about a hundred miles north-east of Rome.

Dedication to Caracalla as Sole Emperor

IMP CAES M AVRELIO ANTONINO P F AVG L SEP SEVERI AVG FILIO LEG II AVG
"For Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Pius Felix Augustus,¹ the son of Lucius Septimius Severus Augustus. The Second Augustan Legion [made this]."
(RIB 331; dated: AD212-217)
  1. The emperor Caracalla, who was sole ruler from December AD211 until his murder in Mesopotamia in April 217 (see notes #1 & #2 above).

Dedication During the Early Reign of Emperor Philip (the Arab)

N AVGG GENIO LEG II AVG IN HONOREM MILIT M VALERIVS FELIX... P P D D DD VIIII KAL OCTOB PEREGR ET AEMIL COS CVR VRSO ACTAR LEG EIVS DEM
"For the Living Spirits of the Augusti and the Guardian Spirit of Legio Secundae Augusta, in honour of the military achievements of Marcus Valerius Felix¹ [...] propraetor, this votive offering, dedicated on the ninth day before the calends of October, when Peregrinus and Aemilianus were consuls,² was arranged by Ursus, Actarius³ in the aforementioned legion."
(RIB 327; dated: 23rd September AD244)
  1. Marcus Valerius Felix was evidently governor of Britain by AD244.
  2. Tiberius Pollenius Armenius Peregrinus and Fulvius Aemilianus were ordinary consuls for AD244 (a.u.c.997), the two Augusti concerned were, therefore, the Augustus Philip the Arab, and his like-named son Marcus Junius Phillipus Caesar, who came to power in March/April 244 following the death of the young emperor Gordian III. The Kalends occurred on the first of every month. For more information on the Roman calendar click here. Also see RIB 328.
  3. The actarius was the second most-senior book-keeper/clerk in the Roman legion, the assistant of the Cornicularius the regimental treasurer.

Dedication to Emperors Valerian and Gallienus Under Governor Desticius Juba

IMPP VALERIANVS ET GALLIENVS AVG ET VALERIANVS NOBILISSIMVS CAES COHORTI VII CENTVRIAS A SOLO RESTITVERVNT PER DESTICIVM IVBAM V C LEGATVM AVG PR PR ET VITVLAESIVM LAETINIANVM LEG LEG II AVG CVRANTE DOMIT POTENTINO PRAEF LEG EIVSDEM
"For the emperors Valerianus and Gallienus Augustus, and the most-noble Caesar Valerianus, the centuries of the seventh cohort, restored this from its foundations, during [the administration of] the Right Honourable Desticius Juba, pro-praetorian legate of the emperor, and Vitulaesius Laetinianus, legate of the Second Augustan Legion, under the direction of Domitius Potentinus, prefect of the aforementioned legion."
(RIB 334; dated: AD255-260)
  1. The emperor Valerian and his eldest son Publius Licinius Egnatius Gallienus, became joint Augusti in October AD253 and were to rule the empire until June 260 when Valerian was captured by the Persian potentate Shapur, later dying in captivity. Gallienus continued as sole emperor until his murder outside Milan in September 268.
  2. Desticius Juba was governor of Britain around AD256-258.
  3. Regarding the roles of legatus and praefectus. The Legionary Prefect was the military commander of a legion, a professional-soldier of equestrian rank at the apex of his military career, who had earlier commanded auxiliary cohorts and had served in the legions as a tribunus militum. However, a Legionary Legate was merely the nominal commander of a legion, a man of senatorial rank often related to or a client of the pro-praetorian governor, who assumed command on a temporary basis in order to carry out the specific orders of this senior official, who was himself a legatus Augusti a nominee of the Emperor, and acting on his behalf.

There are at least seventeen stones which attest the presence of Legio II Augusta at Caerleon, there is a dedicatory inscription to Mithras (RIB 322), an altar to Regina (RIB 324), five building inscriptions (RIB 326/7, 330/1, 334; vide supra), dating from the reign of Trajan (AD99/100) to that of Valerian and Gallienus (AD255-260), there are also nine tombstones of soldiers (RIB 357, 359-361, 363 & 365-368; vide infra) and another possible funerary inscription (RIB 385) attributable to men of the Second Legion including a damaged testament of a signifer of the legion (RIB 367; not shown).

Tombstones of Men from the Second Legion Augusta

InscriptionTogo-TranslationRIB
D M T FLAVIVS CANDIDVS VLP TRAIANA M LEG II AVG STI VII AN XXVII FRA C"To the shades of the departed Titus Flavius Candidus, of [Colonia] Ulpia Traiana,¹ a soldier of Legio Secundae Augusta with seven years service, twenty-seven years old, his brother saw to [this memorial]."357
D M G IVLI DECVM INI V L II AVG A XXXXV C F C"To the shades of the departed Gaius Julius Decuminius, veteran soldier of the Second Legion Augusta, forty-five years old, his wife oversaw the making [of this memorial]."359
D M IVL IVLIANVS MIL LEG II AVG STIP XVIII ANNOR XL HIC SITVS EST CVRA AGENTE AMANDA CONIVGE"To the shades of the departed Julius Julianus, a soldier of the Second Augustan Legion with eighteen years service, forty years of age. He lies here. The responsibility [for this memorial] fell upon his wife Amanda."360
D M A IVLI SEVERI DINIA VETERANI LEG II AVG CONIVX F C"To the shades of the departed Aulus Julius Severus Dinia[nus?], a veteran of the Second Augustan Legion. His wife attended to [this memorial]."361
D M IVL VALENS VET LEG II AVG VIXIT ANNIS C IVLIA SECVNDINA CONIVNX ET IVL MARTINVS FILIVS F C"To the shades of the departed Julius Valens, a veteran of Legio Secundae Augusta, who lived for one-hundred years. Julia Secundina his wife and Julius Martinus his son saw to the making [of this memorial]."363
D M G VALERIVS G F GALERIA VICTOR LVGDVNI SIG LEG II AVG STIP XVII ANNOR XLV CVRA AGENTE ANNIO PERPETVO H"To the shades of the departed Gaius Valerius Victor, son of Gaius, of the Galerian voting tribe from Lugdunum,² standard-bearer of the Second Augustan Legion with seventeen years service, forty-five years old. The responsibility for [this] fell to Annius Perpetuus his heir."365
  1. Colonia Ulpia Traiana was a Roman colony on the Rhenus in the lands of the Cugerni tribe of Germania Inferior. The town now lies in the suburbs of Xanten on the south-west bank of the Rhine in West Germany, close to the border with the Netherlands.
  2. Lugdunum was the city after which the Roman province of Gallia Lugdunensis was named, the birth-place of the emperor Claudius in 10BC, and centre of the thriving Samian pottery industries, the Roman town now lies many yards beneath the modern city streets of Lyons in southern France.

Funerary Inscription of a Soldier from the Second Legion

... SERG ... DOMO... P P LEG II AVG DE SVO SINE TRALATICIO EX ARCA COL
"[...] of the Sergian voting tribe [...] a native of [...] 'First Spear'¹ of the Second Augustan Legion, out of his own funds without resorting to the coffers at the Colonia.²"
(RIB 385)
  1. The literal title of the most experienced centurion in a legion who commanded the First Century of the First legionary Cohort. The title P[rimi]P[ilus] may equally be expanded to P[rae]P[ositus], literally 'the foremost', i.e. 'the one in charge', or even P[ro] P[ietate], 'out of loyalty'. There are a number of other options for this expansion - e.g. Praeses Provincae, Publicani Provincae or even Pater Patriae - but none more likely than the first of these suggestions. I have opted for Primipilus as the most logical option in view of the remaining text.
  2. Very likely Colonia Nervia Glevensium (Gloucester), the former garrison town of the Second Legion.

The Gods of Roman Caerleon

Iupitter

Restoration of a Temple to Iupitter Optimus Maximus During the Reign of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus

I O M ET G IMPERATORVM ANTONINI ET COMMODI AVGG AEDEM A SOLO RESTITVIT T ES V VIVS ... ... ...N... LEG AVGG PRP D D
"For Jupiter Best and Greatest and the Guardian Spirit of the Emperors Antonine and Commodus the Augusti,¹ this temple was restored from ground-level."
(Britannia 1970.1; dated: AD177-180)
  1. Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus and his warped son Imperator Caesar Lucius Aurelius Commodus Augustus. Marcus Aurelius ('the philosopher') had been adopted at the age of sixteen by Antoninus Pius in February 138 along with the like-named seven year-old son of his first chosen successor Lucius Ceionius Commodus. Marcus and Lucius Verus (as he was then known), became joint emperors upon Pius' death of natural causes in March 161, and ruled together without rancour until Verus' death after suffering a stroke in February 169. Marcus had elevated his own five year-old son Commodus to the rank of Caesar in 166, and he was made joint Augustus in 177. After becoming sole ruler on his father's death of natural causes in March 180, he was strangled at Rome in December 192 after spending a depraved twelve years as head of the Roman State.

Altarstone Dedicated to Jupiter Best and Greatest

IOVI O M DOLICHN ... FRONTO AEMILIANVS ... CALPVRNIVS... RVFILIANVS LEG AVGVSTORVM MONITV
"For Jupiter Best and Greatest of Doliche, [...] Fronto Aemilianus [...] Calpurnius [...] Rufilianus, the legates of the emperors have advised."
(RIB 320; altarstone)

Fourteen altarstones and votive texts to various gods have been recovered from the environs of the Caerleon fortress. The texts of all these stones are shown somewhere on this page. The deity with the most dedications is Jupiter who has three altarstones; one dedicated to I O M Dolichenus (RIB 320 supra), one which can be dated to the joint reign of Marcus Aurelius and his son Commodus (Brit. 1970.1, dated: AD177-180; atque supra), and another which reads simply I O M or "[to/for] Iuppiter Optimus Maximus" (RIB 319). The only other deity mentioned on more than one stone is the goddess Fortuna with two inscriptions, one dedicated by a Prefectus Castrorum (RIB 317 infra) and another shared with Bona Eventui (RIB 318 etiam infra).

Fortuna

Altar Dedicated to Fortuna and Bonus Aventus

FORTVNE ET BONO EVENTO CORNELIVS CASTVS ET IVL BELISMICVS CONIVGES POSVER
"For Fortuna and Bonus Aventus,¹ Cornelius Castus and Julius Belismicus placed this for their wives."
(RIB 318)
  1. Unlike the goddess Fortuna whose sphere of influence extended over all human activities and fields of endeavour, the divine powers of the god Bonus Aventus, whose name means 'a good outcome', were limited to specific events only.

Altar to Fortuna Dedicated by a Praefectus Castrorum

DEAE FORTVNAE IVLIVS BASSVS PRAEF CASTROR
"For the goddess Fortuna, Julius Bassus, 'Prefect of the Camp',¹ [dedicates this]."
(RIB 317)
  1. The praefectus castrorum was the quartermaster of the entire legion, through whom all stores and purchases must be approved, his job was concerned with the actual logistics of running a legion of five and a half thousand men. The post was filled from among the former primipili, the most experienced centurions in the legion, and they were awarded equestrian status upon serving their term of service, which then theoretically enabled them to command their own auxiliary regiment as a military tribune.

Other Altarstones and Votive Objects to the Gods

There are also a number of deities which are mentioned only on single votive texts. There is an inscribed stone recording the restoration of a temple to Diana (RIB 316), an inscribed statuette of Mercury (RIB 321), a stone votive text dedicated to Mithras (RIB 322), a lead plate dedicated to Nemesis (RIB 323), an altarstone to the goddess Regina (RIB 324), an altar to the Spirit of the Emperor (Brit. 1977.16), and another stone bearing the simple text TERMIN "to/for Terminus" (RIB 325), evidently dedicated to the Roman god of boundaries and limits, whose festivals, the Terminalia, were observed at Rome each February. In addition, there are another two altarstones dedicated to unknown gods (RIB 332, dated: AD180-192; RIB 329; uterque vide infra).

Dedication Recording the Restoration of the temple of Diana

T FL POSTVMIVS VARVS V C LEG TEMPL DIANAE RESTITVIT
"Titus Flavius Postumius Varus, Vir Clarissimus,¹ has restored the legionary temple of Diana."
(RIB 316)
  1. The title Vir Clarissimus means literally 'a man of distinction'.

Statue of the God Mercurius

DEO MERCVRIO CVR... D D SEVER P
"To the god Mercury. Arranged by [...] donated this votive offering for Severus his father.¹"
(RIB 321; statue)
  1. I admit that this reading may be a bit dodgy!

Dedication to the God Mithras

INVICTO MITHRAE ...S IVSTVS ... LEG II AVG B M F
"For Undefeated Mithras [...]s Justus [...] the Second Augustan Legion, well-deserved have made this."
(RIB 322)

Lead Defixio Calling Upon the Goddess Nemesis

DOMNA NEMESIS DO TIBI PALLEVM ET GALLICVLAS QVI TVLIT NONREDIMAT NI VITA SANGVINE SVI
"For the Lady Nemesis¹ an offering to you. Unless the robes and Gallic sandals² which were carried off are not redeemed, the life blood of the perpetrators [is forfeit]."
(RIB 323; lead plate)
  1. The goddess Nemesis was the Roman deity of just retribution.
  2. The palla was a rectangular cloak worn by Roman women. The gallica was the standard double-soled Gallic sandal worn by most Roman civilians, although here the plural diminutive galliculae implies a smaller form possibly worn by women or children.

Altarstone Dedicated to Regina

SALVTI REGINAE P SALLIENIVS P F MAECIA THALAMVS HADRIA PREF LEG II AVG CVM FILIS SVIS AMPEIANO ET LVCILIANO D D
"Greetings to Regina.¹ Publius Sallienius Thalamus, son of Publius, of the Maecian voting tribe from Hadria, prefect of the Second Augustan Legion, with his sons Ampeianus and Lucilianus, gave this votive offering."
(RIB 324; altarstone; see also RIB 326 supra)
  1. Regina is a known surname of the goddess Juno, who had a temple on the Aventine at Rome. These initial words may also be translated "for the health of the Queen", but this cannot be reconciled with any known suitable figure in either Roman or Romano-British history.

Altar to the Numinibus Augustorum

NVMINIBVS AVG COMM ITVS VSLM
"To the Divine Spirits of the Emperors, Commitus willingly and deservedly fulfills his vow."
(Britannia 1977.16; altarstone)

Altarstones Dedicated to Unknown Gods

Altar to an Unknown God Reused for the Emperor Commodus

...I... ... VSLM

IMP MARCVS AVRELIVS MARCI AVRELI FIL
"[...] willingly and deservedly fulfilling a vow

Imperator [Caesar] Marcus Aurelius [Commodus Antoninus Augustus], the son of Marcus Aurelius.¹"

(RIB 332; altarstone; dated: AD180-192)
  1. The secondary inscription on this stone is dedicated to the megalomaniacal emperor Commodus, whose sole rule of the Roman empire began in March AD180 upon the death of his father Marcus Aurelius ('the philosopher'), and ended in December 192 when the 'Gladiator Emperor' was poisoned by his wife Marcia and finally strangled by a young athlete named Narcissus. The senate later decreed that his body be exhumed and dragged through the streets of Rome, but this order was thwarted by the emperor Pertinax who instead had his remains removed to the Mausoleum of Hadrian.

Another Damaged Altarstone Missing the Deities Name

...EIVSDEM EX VOTO POVSVIT
"[...] of the same, as the result of a vow has placed this."
(RIB 329; altarstone)

Caerleon - The Fortress of the Legion

Building Inscription of Emperor Septimius Severus and his Sons Caracalla and Geta

IMPERATORES CAESARES L SEPTIMIVS SEVERVS PIVS PERTINAX AVG ET M AVRELIVS ANTONINVS AVG ET P SEPTIMIVS GETA NOBILISSIMVS CAESAR ... VETVSTATE CORRVPTVM ... RESTITVERVNT
"The Imperatores, the Caesares, Lucius Septimius Severus Pius Pertinax Augustus and Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus, and Publius Septimius Geta,¹ the most noble Caesar [...] which had decayed through old age [...] they have restored."
(RIB 333; dated: AD198-209)
  1. The emperor Septimius Severus and his sons Caracalla and Geta. For further information see the notes for RIB 326 above.

Situated on the south-western edge of the modern town of Caerleon in Gwent, the Isca Silurum legionary fortress had a standard, playing-card outline measuring 1,600 by 1,350 feet (c.490x410 metres) and encloses an area within the defences of some 50 acres (21ha), easily large enough to house a fully-manned legion of between five and six thousand men. The defences of the fortress are aligned towards the north-west, which implies that the most significant threat was expected to come from that quarter.

Click to Enlarge
Plan of Isca Silurum (from Webster, fig.33)

The original Flavian timber fortress was built sometime between AD70 to 80, which may place the foundation during the campaigns of governor Sextus Julius Frontinus in 74-75. It was certainly built by the men of Legio II Augusta, who continued to garrison the fortress until the mid-fourth century. An inscription of Trajan gives us a fairly precise dating for the replacement of the fortress walls to AD99/100, when the original earth and timber ramparts of the fortress were strengthened by the addition of a stone revetment at the front. Defences of this "composite" rampart consisted of a stone wall 5 to 5½ feet thick, backed by a clay bank and fronted by a single ditch.

Dedication Made When the Consuls Were Pupienus and Urbanus

DEDICATVM VIIII A D KAL OCTOBRES PVPIENIO MAXIMO II ET VRBANO COS
"Dedicated nine days before the calends of October when Pupienus Maximus - for the second time - and Urbanus were consuls."
(RIB 328; dated: 23rd September AD234; see also RIB 327)
  1. Marcus Clodius Pupienus Maximus was consul for the second time with Sulla Urbanus his junior colleague in the year AD234, a.u.c.987.

Between AD140 and 200 occupation evidence is slight, and it has been suggested that most of Legio II Augusta was away in Scotland during this period. The fortress was damaged c.196/7, but by the turn of the third century the legion was evidently back in residence, an inscription records repairs made c.197-211 and another records that the barracks were rebuilt in stone during 259. The coin sequence in the fortress stops in 296, coincident with the period when the legionary fortress at York was rebuilt, and it seems that Caerleon was abandoned at this time, the Legion perhaps moving for a short while to garrison the Coastal Fortress at Cardiff - which had just been rebuilt - before being relocated to Rutupiae on the coast of Cantium.

During excavations at Caerleon over the years a number of animal bones have been uncovered, including those of domesticated Ox, Sheep, Goat, and Pig, also game animals such as Red Deer, Roe Deer, Boar and Hare, and even those of Fox and Wolf; the latter animals very likely being hunted and killed for sport and as a means of pest control. In addition, the soldiers' diet was supplemented by seawater molluscs including Oyster, Mussel, Limpet and Cockle.

A Caerleon Boundary Stone

COH I C STATORI MAXIMI P XXXIII S
"The First Cohort, Century of Statorius Maximus, established thirty-three paces.¹"
(RIB 395; boundary stone)
  1. I have preferred the expansion P[assuus] 'paces', to P[edes] 'feet'. There were five pedes (sing. pes) to each passus. Paces are more often used for the measurement of roads, also for linear barriers such as the Walls of Hadrian and Antonine in northern Britain, whereas pedes were more often used in the smaller distances involved within defensive structures.

The Builders of the Legionary Fortress

Cohort Stones from Caerleon

InscriptionTogo-TranslationRIB
COH II > LIVIANA PE XXIIX"The Second Cohort, century of Liviana, [made] twenty-eight feet.¹"336
COH III C RVFINI PRIMI"The Third Cohort, century of Rufinus Primus."339
CHO V > PAETINI"The Fifth Cohort, century of Paetinus."340
CHOR VI HAST PRI > ROESI MODERA"The Sixth Cohort, century of the Hastatus Prior,² Roesius Modera."341
VIII > VALER MAXSIMI"The Eighth Cohort, century of Valerius Maximus."352
COHO VIIII"The Ninth Cohort."342
COH X > FL IVLINI"The Tenth Cohort, century of Flavius Julinus."343
  1. Presumably of the fortress rampart. See also, note for RIB 395 below.
  2. The rank of hastatus prior was the fifth (out of six) in seniority within an ordinary cohort (see the Military Glossary).

Centurial Stones from Caerleon

> VALERI MAXIM > G IVLI CAECINIANI > LICINI NERV
"The Century of Valerius Maximus." "The Century of Gaius Julius Caecinianus." "The Century of Licinius Nerva."
(RIB 351) (RIB 346) (RIB 347)

Stamped Tiles from Caerleon

LEG II AVG
"[Property of] the Second Augustan Legion."
(Burn 22)

The Military Amphitheatre

A large amphitheatre built c.AD80 could hold six thousand people within its wooden superstructure, and was probably used for parades, displays and exercises by the garrison of the fortress as well as for the usual gladiatorial entertainments. This (Period I) building was destroyed by fire in the early-second century, and the second (Period II) building erected c.AD138 was destroyed around sixty years later c.196/7. It was rebuilt for the third and last time during the campaigns of Severus and Caracalla in Britain c.197-211. The Period III building finally fell into disuse around the middle of the fourth century at the same time that the Caerleon fortress was evacuated. The latest coin from the site is that of Valens (AD364-378).

Beside the River Usk was a massive quay which could accomodate ships with a draught of up to five feet (1.6 metres) at high tide. Nearby, the large baths complex with a swimming pool was still in use in c.AD345 when final rebuilding took place. Repairs to the local road network outside the fortress was last carried out c.301-306.

Building Inscription Recording the Govenorship of Desticius Juba

IMPP VALERIANVS ET GALLIENVS AVGG ET VALERIANVS NOBILISSIMVS CAES COHORTI VII CENTVRIAS A SOLO RESTITVERVNT PER DESTICIVM IVBAM V C LEGATVM AVGG PR PR ET VITVLASIVM LAETINIANVM LEG LEG II AVG CVRANTE DOMIT POTENTINO PRAEF LEG EIVSDEM
"For the emperors Valerianus Augustus, Gallienus Augustus and the most noble Valerianus Caesar,¹ the centuries of the Seventh Cohort, restored [this building] from the foundations, under the most honourable Desticius Juba,² pro-praetorian legate of the emperors, and the legate Vitulasius Laetinianus of the Second Augustan Legion, under the direction of Domitius Potentinus, prefect of the forementioned legion"
(RIB 334; CIL VII.107; ILS 537; dated: AD256-258)
  1. Imperator Caesar Publius Licinius Valerianus Pius Felix Invictus Augustus (Valerian) and his elder son Imperator Caesar Publius Licinius Egnatius Gallienus Pius Felix Invictus Augustus (Gallienus) were joint emperors from October AD253 until Valerian's death in June 260, whereupon Galleinus became sole emperor. Valerians younger son, also named Publius Licinius Valerianus, was given the rank of Caesar in 256 and died early in 258; the stone must date somewhere in this latter period.
  2. Governor Desticius Juba administered Britain between AD256 and 258.

A Selection of Tombstones from Roman Caerleon

Four Assorted Tombstones

InscriptionTogo-TranslationRIB
D M AVRELIVS HERCVLANVS AEQVES VIXIT ANNOS XXVIII CONIVX FACIENDVM CVRAVIT"To the shades of the departed Aurelius Herculanus, a horse-soldier who lived for twenty-eight years, his wife saw to the making [of this]."356
D M T FL NATALIS VETERANVS VIXIT AN LXV CVRATVM PER FL INGENVINVM ET FL FLAVINVM FIL ET FL VELDICCAM CONIV"To the shades of the departed Titus Flavius Natalis, a veteran soldier, sixty-five years old, attended by his sons Flavius Ingenuinus and Flavius Flavinus, and his wife Veldicca."358
D M TADIA VALLAVNIVS VIXIT ANN LXV ET TADIVS EXVPERTVS FILIVS VIXIT ANN XXXVII DEFVNCTVS EXPEDITIONE GERMANICA TADIA EXVPERATA FILIA MATRI ET FRATRI PIISSMA SECVS TVMVLVM PATRIS POSVIT"To the shades of the departed Tadia Vellaunius, who lived for sixty-five years, and her son Tadius Exupertus, who lived for thirty-seven years, who died on the German campaign, Tadia Exuperata her daughter, for the most loyal mother and brother, whom she has buried separately from her father."369
D M CAESORIA COROC CA V A XLVIII RENATVS CONIVX EIVS ET MVNATIVS ET LESTINVS ET LECONTIVS FECERVNT FILI EIVS"To the shades of the departed Caesoria Corocca, who lived for forty-eight years, Renatus her husband and her sons Munatius, Lestinus and Lecontius have made this."371

Aside from those tombstones with undamaged or restorable funerary inscriptions shown and translated here, there are another fourteen damaged stones, none of which are shown.

Tombstones of Five Roman Women Named Julia

InscriptionTogo-TranslationRIB
D M IVL NVNDINAE VIXIT AN XXX AGRIVS CIMARVS CONIVNX PIISSIMVS F C"To the shades of the departed Julia Nundina who lived thirty years, Agrius Cimarus had this made for a most dutiful wife."372
D M MEMORIAE IVLIAE SECVNDINAE MATRI PIISSIME VIXIR ANNIS LXXV G IVL MARTINVS FIL F C"To the shades of the departed Julia Secundina who lived seventy-five years, Gaius Julius Martinus had this made for his most devoted mother."373
D M IVLIE SENICE VICS ANOS LX"To the shades of the departed Julia Senica who lived for sixty years."374
D M IVLIA VENERIA AN XXXII I ALESAN CON PIENTISSIMVS ET I BELICIANVS F MONIME F C"To the shades of the departed [and] Julia Veneria aged thirty-two; Julius Alexander her most devoted husband and Julius Belicianus her son had this monument made."375
D M IVLIA IBERNA VIXSIT ANNOS XVI MESSE XI F C FLA FLAVINA MATER"To the shades of the departed Julia Hiberna who lived for sixteen years eleven months; Flavia Flavina her mother had this made."377
See: The Romans in Britain An anthology of Inscriptions by A.R. Burn (Oxford 1932);
The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965);
Britannia i (1970) pp.272/3 & p.305 no.1;
The Roman Military Diet by R.W. Davies, in Britannia ii (1971) pp.122-142;
Britannia viii (1977) pp.429-30 no.16;
De Exidio Britonum by Gildas, translated by Michael Winterbottom (Phillimore, London, 1978);
The Roman Imperial Army by Graham Webster (Constable, London, 1979);
Chronology of the Ancient World by E.J. Bickerman (Thames & Hudson, London, 1980);
Chronicle of the Roman Emperors by Chris Scarre (Thames & Hudson, London, 1995);
Except where noted, all translations, including any inherent mistakes, are my own.

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