ISVRIVM BRIGANTVM

Romano-British Tribal City

Aldborough, North Yorkshire

NGRef: SE406664
OSMap: LR99
Type: Tribal Civitas (Brigantes).
Roads
NNW (24) to CATARACTONIVM (Catterick, North Yorkshire)
Possible road: E (25) to DERVENTIO (Malton, North Yorkshire) via Wath
SW (23) to VERBEIA (Ilkley, West Yorkshire)
SE (15) to EBVRACVM (York, North Yorkshire)
S (14) to Newton Kyme (North Yorkshire)

Below the Selgovae and Otalini¹ are the Brigantes² extending to both seas,
among whom are the following towns:
... Calatum 19*00 5745 Isurium 20*00 5740 Rigodunum 18*00 5730 ...

Above excerpt from Ptolemy's Geography of the early-second century
  1. Both tribes in south-eastern Scotland; the Novantae occupied the south-western peninsula.
  2. The Brigantes tribe were the most populous in Northern Britain; their Romanized commercial and administrative centre was established here at Aldborough.
  3. There are nine πολεις ("poleis" - 'cities') attributed to the tribe by Ptolemy and Aldborough appears in the middle of the list; the three towns listed here are, in order, Calacum/Burrow in Lonsdale in Lancashire, Isurium/Aldborough in North Yorkshire, and Rigodunum/Castleshaw in Greater Manchester.

The town appears in three separate itinera in the late-second century list of Roman road-stations the Antonine Itinerary. The first mention occurs in Iter I, which details the journey along Dere Street between Bremenium (High Rochester, Northumberland) beyond Hadrian's Wall to the port of Praesidium (Bridlington, Humberside). In this itinerary the name Isurium is listed 24 miles from Cataractonium (Catterick, North Yorkshire) and 17 miles from the Roman colony at Eburacum (York, North Yorkshire); these details are repeated in the Second Itinerary, which lists the road-stations between the Roman fort at Blatobulgium (Birrens, Dumfries & Galloway) and the Channel Port at Rutupiae (Richborough, Kent).

The Fifth Itinerary lists the route between Londinium (London) and Luguvalium (Carlisle, Cumbria). In this itinerary the name Isubrigantum appears 17 miles from Eburacum and again, 24 miles from Cataractonium but the road stations appear in reverse order to those in itinera I & II.

Altar to Jupiter

I O M ET MATRIB V...
"For Jupiter Best and Greatest and to the Mother Goddesses V[...]"
(RIB 708; altarstone)

There are four inscriptions on stone recorded in the R.I.B. for Aldborough; a single altarstone (RIB 708 supra), a damaged dedicatory text (RIB 710a infra), also two tombstones, one of which is undamaged (RIB 710 infra), but the other is fragmentary and reads: ... AVR... VIX ... ET AN... NO ... AN I ... "..." (RIB 709; tombstone).

Tombstone of a Woman from Aldborough

D M FELICVLE COIVGI KARIS G M P F CVR
"To the shades of the departed Felicula, the most-caring wife, her loyal and faithful husband Gaius saw to this [memorial].¹"
(RIB 710; tombstone)
  1. This translation is tentatively based on the expansion: G[aius] M[aritus] P[ius] F[idelis] CVR[avit].

Dedicatory Inscription from Aldborough

DIVO ANTONINO MAGNO DVS... ... ... FIRMIN ... OB HONOREM D D
"For the divine Antoninus¹ the mighty [...] the mainstay [...] dedicates this offering in [his] honour."
(RIB 710a; Britannia ix (1978), p.474, no.6)
  1. There were several Roman emperors with this name; none, to my knowledge, were also surnamed Magnus.

Stamped Tile from Aldborough

LEG VIIII HISP
"[Property of] the Ninth Hispanic Legion."
(Burn 19)

Roman Milestones from the Aldborough Area

Milestone from Duel Cross, 3 Miles South of Aldborough

¹ IMP CAES G MESSIVS Q DECI TRA PO FELICI AVG XXG S
"For Imperator Caesar Gaius Messius Quintus Decius Trajanus Pius Felix Augustus,² [...]³"
(RIB 2276; milestone; dated: AD249-251)
  1. The primary inscription on this stone has been almost entirely obliterated to make space for the later text, all that remains of the original is the trailing title ... AVG "[...] Augustus.".
  2. These are the full names of the emperor Decius, who became Augustus (i.e. emperor) in Septemper or October AD249 after defeating Philip the Arab in battle at Beroea in Macedonia. He was himself killed in battle against the Goths at Abrittus in Moesia, June 251.
  3. I am unable to deduce an expansion or translation of the trailing letters of this inscription, XX G S. It is possible that it records the overland distance to another Romano-British town, but this is by no means certain.

Honorific Pillars from Dere Street near Aldborough

IMP CAES G MESSIVS IMP CAES DO N G MESS
"Imperator Caesar Gaius Messius.¹" "Imperator Caesar, our lord Gaius Messius.¹"
(RIB 2277; milestone; dated: AD249-51) (RIB 2278; milestone; dated: AD249-51)
  1. Both of these honorific pillars record the name of emperor Decius (see note#2 for RIB 2276 above).

Click here for the Romano-British Walled Towns page

See: The Towns of Roman Britain by John Wacher (2nd Ed., BCA, London, 1995) pp.401-407 & fig.179;
The Romans in Britain - An Anthology of Inscriptions by A.R. Burn (Blackwell, Oxford, 1969);
The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965).
All translations, including any inherent mistakes, are my own.

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