LAGENTIVM

Roman Fort

Castleford, West Yorkshire

NGRef: SE427256
OSMap: LR105
Type: Fort
Roads
N (13) to Newton Kyme (North Yorkshire)
Itinera V/VIII: N (13) to CALCARIA (Tadcaster, North Yorkshire)
Itinera V/VIII: SSE (16) to DANVM (Doncaster, South Yorkshire)

Lagentium - The Place of the Bottlemakers

The Roman fort of Lagentium underlies the modern town centre of Castleford in West Yorkshire. The fort was situated on the south bank of the River Aire, just downstream of its confluence with the River Calder, at the point where the stream was forded by the main Roman road running between the Colonies at Lindum (Lincoln, Lincolnshire) and Eburacum (York, Yorkshire).

The Roman name for Castleford is mentioned in only one (out of four) of the main classical geographies, but the Antonine Itinerary makes up for this by listing it twice. The town appears in the middle of the Fifth Itinerary as Legeolio, sixteen miles from Danum (Doncaster, South Yorkshire) and twenty-one miles from Eburacum (York, North Yorkshire). The town is also mentioned in Iter VIII "The Route from Eburacum to Londinium," this time at the top of the itinerary as Lagecio, where again, it is listed twenty-one miles from York and sixteen from Doncaster. The commonly accepted name is Lagentium. It is possible that the Roman name should be translated as "The Place of the Bottles", from the Latin lagenae 'bottles, flasks', especially since a Roman glass-making industry has been identified at Castleford (vide infra).

The Roman Road Station

The Roman road through Castleford is known locally as 'Roman Ridge', and runs almost due north over the river almost eight miles (13km) before veering obliquely to the north-east towards the minor settlement at Calcaria (Tadcaster, North Yorkshire), at a point where the road runs under the modern A1 trunk road at Nut Hill (SE433391), just south of its junction with the A64(T). In the opposite direction, the road appears to have left the immediate vicinity of the fort in a southerly direction and then veered towards the south-east perhaps on the outskirts of North Featherstone two miles to the south, or possibly between North Featherstone and Pontefract Park race-course; the exact route is unknown.

"... exploration on the site of demolished houses in Welbeck Street located an industrial area in the vicus outside the south gate of the fort. Many glass wasters were found, all unstratified. Pottery suggests occupation from the mid-2nd century."
Above passage from Britannia I 1970 p.280; see also: C.B.A. Group 4, 'Annual News-Sheet', 1968 & 1969.

The Gods of Roman Castleford

There are only five inscriptions on stone recorded at Lagentium, three of which are milestones (vide infra), the remaining two both altarstones. The latest altarstone was found at Castleford in 1983 and subsequently included in the RIB (628.a; Britannia xiv, 1983, p.337, no.11). The text reads simply NYMPIS or "To the Nymphs", evidently dedicated to the local water deities. The text of the only other Castleford altarstone is shown and translated below.

Altar to the Goddess Victoria Brigantia

DEAE VICTORIAE BRIGANT A D AVR SENOPIANVS
"To the goddess Victoria Brigantia,¹ this altar is dedicated [by] Aurelius Senopianos.²"
(RIB 628; altarstone)
  1. This dual goddess is mentioned on only one other altarstone in Britain, from Greetland in West Yorkshire (RIB 627), in which the dedication is shared with the Numen Augusti. These altars demonstrate that the patron goddess of the Brigantes tribe, in whose territories the Castleford fort lay, must have shared some attributes with the Roman goddess Victoria (Greek Nike).
  2. The second name of the dedicator is obviously Celtic, while his first name is that of a Roman senatorial family which spawned a number of 'wearers of the purple.' This man was evidently a local Brigantian nobleman who, after being granted Roman citizenship by one of these emperors, took on the imperial family name as his own first name as was the recognized Roman custom. This is why I have preferred the -nos ending to his second name rather than the Romanised -nus.

Roman Milestones from the Castleford Area

Milestone Found mile South of Castleford
Inscribed on Two Faces (RIB 2273/4)

IMP C G M Q DECIO P F AVG ET G M Q ETRVSCO CAESAR IMPP CC VIBIO O GALLO ET G V VOLVSIANO P F AVG EB M P XXII
"For the Imperator Caesar Gaius Messius Quintus [Traianus] Decius [Pius Felix Invictus] Augustus, son of Pius, and Gaius Messius Quintus Etruscus Caesar.¹" "For the Imperators, the Caesars [Gaius] Vibius Trebonianus Gallus [Pius Felix Invictus Augustus] and Gaius Vibius Volusianus Augustus,² son of the Pius. Twenty-two thousand paces to Eburacum.³"
(RIB 2273; dated: AD249-51) (RIB 2274; dated: AD251-3)
  1. Emperor Decius and his eldest son, who did not succeed him as they were both killed in battle at Abrittus in Moesia whilst fighting against the barbarian Goths across the Danube. They ruled from September (or October) AD249 until June 251.
  2. Emperor Trebonius Gallus and his son, who ruled from June AD251 until August 253 when they were both murdered by troops of the usurper Aemilius Aemilianus 50 miles north of Rome.
  3. The Roman colony at York.

A couple of important milestones or honorific pillars have been unearthed at or near Castleford, one of which was only in use for a couple of years before being reinscribed and rededicated to another emperor (RIB 2273/4 supra). These stones are particularly useful not only as distance indicators between neighbouring Roman towns which are sometimes mentioned by name, but also frequently provide confirmation of otherwise obscure imperial titles and other appellations.

Another Milestone from Castleford

IMP CAES MAR ANNIO FLORIANO P F AVG
"For Imperator Caesar Marcus Annius Florianus [Pius Felix] Augustus, the son of Pius."
(RIB 2275; dated: AD276)
  1. The emperor Florianus came to power July AD276 and was murdered by his own soldiers the following September after a rule of only 88 days.

Milestone from Pontefract, South-East of Castleford


The Pontefract Milestone
Photograph by Mr. Eric Houlder.

Another Roman milestone has recently been discovered lying in a hedgebank in agricultural land alongside the Roman road to York about 6 miles to the south east of Castleford just south of Pontefract (at National Grid Ref. SE456190). The inscribed stone was found on the Pontefract/Ackworth parish boundary near the Sandygate Lane junction with the A639 Pontefract-Hardwick road. The discoverer was Mr. Roger Metcalf, an experienced tho' retired farm-worker, who recognised its antiquity and immediately notified the landowner Mr. Peter Thorpe of Ryddings Farm, Ackworth Moor Top. The stone had been broken in half some time in the past, and only the top half remained, this surviving portion was removed for safe-keeping to Mr. Thorpe's garden. The stone was later viewed by senior members of the Pontefract & District Archaeological Society in June 2002 and identified as Roman. The restored text and translation are shown below, the original is now on display at the Pontefract Museum.

IMP C (M) ANNI (OFLO) [RIANO P F INV AVG M P E XXVI]¹
"For Imperator Caesar Marcus Annius Florianus² [Pius Felix Invictus Augustus. Twenty-six miles to/from Eburacum]."
(RIB 2275a?;³ dated: AD276)
  1. Restoration of the text supplied by Mr. Eric Houlder.
  2. The emperor Florianus (see note#1 RIB 2275, above).
  3. The RIB designation has yet to be confirmed by Dr. R. Tomlin.

My sincere thanks to Mr. Eric Houlder, chairman of the Pontefract & District Archaeological Society, who kindly provided information and photographs of the Pontefract milestone.

See: Chronicle of the Roman Emperors by Chris Scarre (Thames & Hudson, London, 1995);
The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965).
All translations, including any inherent mistakes, are my own.

This page is dedicated to Bob Weeks - Salute Comite!

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