Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hadrian’s Wall Inscriptions (Newcastle)

Only one inscription (RIB 3284) relates to the likely garrison of the fort at Newcastle during the early 3rd century AD, the cohors I Ulpia Traiana Cugernorum c. R. (which differs from the unit mentioned in the Notitia Dignitatum, the cohors I Cornoviorum). Of greater interest are the two altars (RIB 1319–20) recording the arrival by sea (dedications to Neptune and Ocean and reliefs of anchors and tridents give the game away) of part (or perhaps all) of legio VI Victrix, possibly around the time of Hadrian's arrival in the province, and presumably to help build the Wall. These, together with the slab (RIB 1322) recording the arrival of reinforcements for the British legions in the 150s, all come from the Tyne near the likely site of the Roman bridge and suggest dedications fittingly set up over water and the fact that Newcastle (and not South Shields) was being used as a port of disembarkation for troops.

Aurelius Iuvenalis' wistful altar inscription (RIB 1318) may also hint at a sea crossing and it is tempting to see the legionary soldier [B]uc[c]io's dedication (RIB 3282) in the same light (remembering RIB 1322), but a legionary garrison or detachment on the site at some point cannot be completely ruled out. Why that draft of legionaries should be brought into Newcastle, rather than further north (e.g. Cramond) or south (e.g. York), is anybody's guess.

Via http://perlineamvalli.wordpress.com/2012/07/17/hadrians-wall-inscriptions-newcastle/