VOREDA

Roman Fort & Marching Camps
Minor Settlement

Old Penrith, Cumbria

NGRef: NY4938
OSMap: LR90
Type: Roman Fort, Minor Settlement, Marching Camps (2).
Roads
Itinera II et V: NNW (8) to Wreay (Cummersdale, Cumbria)
Itinera II et V: SSE (7) to BROCAVVM (Brougham, Cumbria) via Plumpton Head
SW (10) to Troutbeck (Cumbria)

The Antonine Itinerary lists the Old Carlisle fort near the beginning of Iter II where the name appears as Voreda, lying 14 miles from LVGVVALIVM (Carlisle, Cumbria) and 13 miles from BRAVONIACVM (Kirby Thore, Cumbria). The Ravenna Cosmology (R&C#128) cites the name Bereda, between the entries for VERTERIS (Brough, Cumbria) and LVGVVALIVM. The name of the fort is confirmed on an important inscription recovered from Old Penrith (vide RIB 920 infra) where the name appears Voreda.

The Voreda Fort

NVM AVGG VEX LEG XX V V
"By the divine will of the emperors, a detachment under the flag
of the Twentieth Legion, Valiant and Victorious (made this)."

(RIB 940)

The building inscription above shows that the fort at Old Penrith was originally built by a 'vexillation' of legionaries from the Twentieth Legion, who were stationed in Britain for the entire period of Roman rule, for much of this time in the legionary fortress at DEVA (Chester, Cheshire). A certain amount of rebuilding was undertaken by the auxiliary garrison during the early third century, evidenced by several datable inscriptions claiming responsibility for renovation work, especially of the shrines to the gods (RIB 929 et al., infra). Prof. St. Joseph observed the fort from the air shortly after the Second World War and noted the outline of the principia in the centre of the fort with the commanding officer's house, the praetorium, to the west and two granaries (horrea) on the east (JRS 1951 p.54).

... COH II GAL S A AMPLIAVIT ...SVB CALVISIO RVSONE LEG AVG PR PR CVRANTE AVRELIO
"[...] (this building) was made larger by the Second Cohort of Gauls, by approval [...] under Calvisius Ruso, pro-praetorian legate of the emperor, in the administration of Aurelius."
(RIB 929; AD225-38; translation uncertain)

The Garrison Units

Cohors Secundae Gallorum [Equitata] - The Second Cohort of Gauls, part-mounted

I O M COH II GAL Q P DOMITIVS HIERON D NICOMEDIA PRAEF
"To Jupiter Best and Greatest, the Second Cohort of Gauls together with the prefect Publius Domitius Hieronymus,¹ a native of Nicomedia, (placed this)."
(RIB 917; altarstone; AD178)
  1. The name of this Roman knight appears on a military diploma from Rhodope, dated 23rd March AD178 (RMD 184; Britannia xxvi 1995, p.390g).

The Second Cohort of Gauls were a part-mounted unit levied from the various Gallic tribes of central and northern France, and are mentioned on four inscriptions on stone recovered from Voreda. Three of the stones can be dated and prove that this unit were stationed at the fort from at least AD178 (vide RIB 917 supra) to c.AD249 (vide RIB 915 infra). Five military diplomas naming this unit in Britain are variously dated from AD122 (CIL xvi.69) until AD178 (RMD 184; vide RIB 917 supra). It would appear that Cohors II Gallorum came to Britain in the train of the emperor Hadrian, and were removed following the dissolution of the Gallic Empire in AD274 - evidently due to their pro-Gallic views - during which entire period they were garrisoned at the Voreda fort.

I O M ET G D N PHILIPPORVM AVGG COH II GALLOR
"To Jupiter Optimus Maximus and to the genii of our lords the Philippian emperors,¹ the Second Cohort of Gauls (placed this)."
(RIB 915; altarstone; AD246-9)
  1. Emperor Philip the Arab, or to give him his full name and titles, Imperator Caesar Marcus Julius Phillipus Pius Felix Invictus Augustus. His accession to the throne in February AD244 was secured by the murder of the teenage emperor Gordian III, for whom he served as praetorian commander during his campaign in Mesopotamia. Phillipus shared the consulship with his son Imperator Caesar Marcus Julius Severus Phillipus in 247 and 248 (a.u.c.1000-1001). They were both killed in battle at Beroea in Macedonia during September or October 249.

The unit is not recorded anywhere else in Britain but an undated altarstone has been found at Piacenza in Italy, which appears to have been transported back from Voreda by the prefect Lucius Naevius Verus Roscianus, presumably after he had retired from military service because he wished to be reminded of his old unit, also likely because the stone had cost him a lot of money.

Vexillatio Germanorum Voredensium

DEABVS MATRIBVS TRAMARI VEX GERMANOR VORED PRO SALVTE R F VSLM
"To the Mother Goddesses across the sea, the Detachment of Germans from Voreda, for their well-being, restored (this temple) to its former beauty, willingly and deservedly fulfilling their vow."
(RIB 920; altarstone)

The untrustworthy unit of Gauls previously stationed at Old Penrith were apparently replaced by a large unit of German mercenaries, very likely during the last quarter of the third century. Unfortunately, this unit are attested only on the single inscription shown above. Interestingly, there is a Cohors I Augusta Nervia Germanorum milliaria equitata mentioned on the military diploma RMD 184 cited above, which could connect this unit to the Old Penrith fort; they are mentioned on undated altars at BLATOBVLGIVM (Birrens, Dumfries & Galloway; RIB 2093/7) and ABALLAVA (Burgh-by-Sands, Cumbria; RIB 2041). I'm looking into it, but without a transcript of the diploma things are a bit difficult.

The Roman Gods of Old Penrith

DEO MARTI BELATVCADRO ET NVMINIB AVGG IVLIVS AVGVSTALIS ACTOR IVL LVPI PREF
"To the god Mars Belatucader and to the Spirits of the Emperors, Julius Augustalis, acting for the prefect Julius Lupus (placed this)."
(RIB 918; altarstone)

Apart from the obligatory shrines to Jupiter Optimus Maximus found at almost every auxiliary fort, of which there are three, the classical Roman gods are represented only by two altars to the ancient Italian rural god Silvanus and a single shared-altar dedicated to the war god Mars and his Germanic counterpart Belatucader, who has another three altars dedicated solely to him. Apart from possible shrines to the imperial cult, the remaining altarstones are all Germanic, two to Deabus Matribus Tramarinis and another two to the mountain god Mogons.

DEO MOVNTI PRO SALVE ...STI VSLM DEO SILVANO VOTVM LET POSVVIT
"To the god Mogons, for the well-being [...]stus, willingly and deservedly fulfilled his vow." "To the god Silvanus, this was set-up, in the hope (of averting) a death."
(RIB 922; altarstone) (RIB 923; altarstone?)

Shrines Repaired in the Third Century

IN H D D I O M D VETVSTATE CONLAPS.. AVRELIVS ATTIANVS PRAEF COH II GALL REST DEABVS MATRIBVS TRAMARINIS ET N IMP ALEXANDRI AVG ET IVL MAMMEAE MATR AVG N ET CASTRORVM TOTIQVE EORVM DOMVI DIVINE AEDEM RVINA DILAPSAM VEXILLATIO MR ...
"For this divine house of Jupiter Best and Greatest, the building having collapsed through age was restored by Aurelius Attianus, prefect of the Second Cohort of Gauls." "To the Mother Goddesses across the sea, and to the spirits of the emperor Alexander Augustus and of Julia Mammea,¹ the mother of our emperor and of the Strongholds, the entirety of that divine houses altars being ruined and dilapidated, a detachment of Roman soldiers² [...]"
(RIB 916) (RIB 919; AD222-35)
  1. The emperor Alexander Severus (Imp. 13 March AD222 - March 235) and his mother, the last of the Syrian princess matriarchs.
  2. Based of the dubious expansion M[ilites] R[omanorum]; the rest of the inscription is lost, but we can guess that they claim responsibility for restoration work.

Vicani Voredensium

The civilian settlement or vicus at Old Penrith was observed from the air shortly after the Second World War by Prof. J.K. St. Joseph, when it was seen to extend both to the north of the fort and on the slopes to the west (JRS 1951 p.54).

D M FL MARTIO SEN IN C CARVETIOR QVESTORIO VIXIT AN XXXXV MARTIOLA FILIA ET HERES PONEN ... CVRAVIT
"To the spirits of the departed and to Flavius Martius, senator of the civitas Carvetiorum, public treasurer, who lived for forty-five years, to Martiola his daughter and heir fell the responsibility for placing (this) [...]"
(RIB 933; tombstone)

The inscription above is very important as it proves beyond doubt that the Carvetii existed as separate political entity in the north-west of England, aside from the powerful Brigantes. The fact that Martius was on the Carvetian council does not prove that the senate actually met in Voreda, however, that distinction very likely fell to LVGVVALIVM (Carlisle, Cumbria), although the pre-Roman capital may have been MAGLONA (Old Carlisle, Cumbria).

Other Roman Civilian Tombstones from Old Penrith

InscriptionTogo-TranslationRIB
D M AVRELIVS VIXIT ANNIS XI AVO PATER PIENTISSIMVS TOM SIBI QVAM ET FILIO SVO POSVIT"To the spirits of the departed and Aurelius, who lived eleven years, his most dutiful paternal grandfather placed this for him, as he had already done so for his son."931
DIS MANIB M COCCEI NONNI ANNOR VI HIC SITVS EST"To the spirits of the departed, and to Marcus Cocceius Nonnius, who lived six years, he is placed here.¹"932
D M CROTILO GERMANVS VIX ANIS XXVI GRECA VIX ANIS IIII VINDICIANVS FRATER TITVLVM POS"To the spirits of the departed, to Crotilus Germanus who lived twenty-six years (and) Greca who lived four years, their cousin² Vindicianus placed this epitaph."934
D M AICETVOS MATER VIXIT A XXXXV ET LATTIO FILIA VIX A XII LIMISIVS CONIV ET FILIAE PIENTISSIMIS POSVIT"To the spirits of the departed, Aicetuos a mother who lived forty-five years and Lattio a daughter who lived twelve years, Limisius placed this for his wife and most dutiful daughter."936
D M YLAE ALVMNI KARISSIMI VIXIT AN XIII CL SEVERVS TRIB MILIT"To the spirits of the departed and to Ylas, most cherished foster-child (who) lived for thirteen years, the military tribune Claudius Severus (placed this)."937
  1. A carving on this tombstone possibly depicts the winner of a chariot race holding a whip and a palm branch; perhaps the boy was indulged in his childhood dream of becoming an auriga, a professional charioteer.
  2. The testator may equally have been a brother; I have made him their cousin purely because of the dissimilarity in names.

Other Roman Sites in the Neighbourhood

Temporary Marching Camps

There are two marching camps lying close by the Voreda fort to the north-north-west, at Galley Gill (NY4938) only about ¼mile (500m) away, and at Knowe Farm (NY4839) almost ½mile (800m) distant. There is another irregularly-shaped camp lying close beside the road at Plumpton Head (NY5035) two miles (3.1km) to the south.

Old Penrith Roman Milestone

A Roman milestone found about ½mile north of Voreda (NY4938) was inscribed IMP CAES M PIAVONIVS VICTORINVS PIVS FEL... "Imperator Caesar Marcus Piavonius Victorinus Pius Felix [Invictus Augustus]" (RIB 2287). Victorinus became the emperor of the break-away Gallic Empire in the summer or autumn of 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.

Statue Base from Voreda

BONO REI PVBLICAE NATO
"Born for the benefit of the republic."
(RIB 930; base)
  1. Inscriptions bearing variations of this same text have been uncovered in Britain at: Moridunum (Carmarthen, Dyfed; RIB 412); Vinovium (Binchester, Durham; RIB 1040a); Hadrian's Wall, somewhere in Cumbria (RIB 2314).
See: Chronicle of the Roman Emperors by Chris Scarre (Thames & Hudson, London, 1995);
Chronology of the Ancient World by E.J. Bickerman (Thames & Hudson, London, 1980);
The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965);
Air Reconnaissance of North Britain by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. xli (1951) p.52-65;
All English translations, including any inherent mistakes, are my own.

Voreda Related Lynx

Beckfoot Country Guest House Helton, nr. Penrith, Cumbria, CA10 2QB
Guesthouse situated south of Penrith beside the 'High Street' Roman road between Ambleside and Brougham

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