Page images

every evening before they slept threw into an urn a white pebble if the day passed agreeably, but if not a black one; and at their death by counting the pebbles their life was judged to have been happy or unhappy. As the Manes were supposed to be delighted with blood, various animals, especially such as the deceased had been fond of, were slaughtered at the pyre and thrown on it. Among the Thracians, widows were cast on to the pyres of their husbands.

The Thracians were great gladiators, and the Roman gladiators were divided into classes, and like the factions in the circus each of them had their partisans. The Emperor Domitian patronised the class called Mirmilions, and one day a poor citizen who was watching the gladiators fighting attempted to be witty. He was speaking in favour of the Thracian gladiators. He said "A Thracian may cope with the Mirmilions, but he will never be able to resist the power of him that protects his adversary." Domitian hearing this ordered the poor fellow to be seized and a label fastened to him on which was written, "Impious abettor of Thracia," and then to be devoured by a set of furious mastiffs.

If we inquire into the previous military history of the Frisians we find that early in the history of the Roman occupation of Britain they were present in this country in considerable numbers. "Cohors Prima Frisiavonum" (the first Cohort of the Frisiavonians) is commemorated both in the Sydenham and the Riveling Diplomas and in inscriptions found in Manchester and in Derbyshire. We meet also with "Equites Frisiavonum" at Exeter and with Frisiavones" at Silchester. of which the inscription Unfortunately its present

Camden mentions that an altar is given below was found at Bowes. whereabouts is unknown, and also the date of its first removal; but Camden (1599) refers to it as "an ancient large stone in the church, and sometimes used by them as an altar not long ago." Hübner gives the inscription as follows:—

Im[p(eratori)] Cæsari divi Traiani [Parthici f(ilio)], divi Nervæ nepoti, Traia[no Hadria]no Aug (usto), pontifici maxi[mo tr(ibunicia) pot (estate) .], co(n)s(uli) I(II) p(atri) p(atriæ), coh(ors) IIII F. [sub Iulio Sev[ero? leg (ato) Aug(usti) p(ro)

pr(ætore)], curante

Without going into details it will be necessary here only to say that this shows that the fourth cohort of the Frisians was stationed at Bowes during the reign of Hadrian (117-38).

This is probably the only reference to the presence of the Frisians.

As regards the Thracians, we have the evidence of two altars. The first of these, though really found at Bowes was apparently seen at Appleby by Horsley (1732), since which time it has disappeared. Camden gives the inscription as :—

[blocks in formation]

Horsley, however, read the first line as NOB. CÆ.," but this alteration does not affect the case, for although the altar decides the fact of the presence of Thracians, it altogether fails to give us any clue to the time in which it was dedicated. Frontinus may have been a prefect or other officer of the cohort, but we learn nothing else.

In 198 A.D. the Picts saw there was an opportunity for them to make a raid on the fair province of the south, which had been left defenceless because the troops had been drawn away to the continent to fight in a quarrel between Severus and Albanius, who had been governor of Britain, and wanted now to clutch the crown of Cæsar. So they came swarming over the Roman Wall and wasted the land with spear and fire. Severus settled with Albanius in a great battle near Lyons, was made emperor, and then hearing of the wild work these Picts were doing he sent Virius Lupus over speedily with troops to drive them north again and put a stop to the devastation. But Lupus

was not the man for the time. He tried gold where steel was the true currency, bought their prisoners from them instead. of cutting cords with his sword, and this led them naturally to the conclusion that he was afraid to fight. There was some years of this paltering, seven or eight, during which things went from bad to worse, and Lupus wrote to his Emperor and told him they had broken into revolt and were making havoc again far and near. Would he not then send some troops or come himself and see to it once and for all?

Severus came over in 207, and though he was getting into years and had the gout he cleared the land of the raiders in short time, but at a cost it is said of 50,000 of his men, and then retired to York quite worn out to die in 211. The following is the inscription found on the stone at Ilkley

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

Emperor Severus Augustus and Antoninus Cæsar-elect restored under the care of Virius Lupus their legate Pro Prætor. This stone found at Ilkley tells us that Lupus restored the station for the use of the first Thracian Cohort.

The most important altar that has been discovered at Bowes is stated by Camden to have been removed to Connington by Sir Richard Cotton, and is now preserved at Trinity College, Cambridge, Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (Hübner). The inscription of this altar is:


[ocr errors]












[ocr errors]








Which expanded is:

Deæ Fortunæ Virius Lupus Leg (atus) Aug(usti) Pr(o) Pr(ætore) Balineum Vi Ignis Exustum Coh (ors) Prima Thracum Restituit Curante Val(erio) Frontone Præf (ecto) Eq(uitum) Alæ Vetto (num).

The "ala Vettonum" was apparently stationed at Vinnovium (Binchester) in Durham, to which a road led from Lavatræ by way of Barnard Castle (xlviii, J.A.A., 132).

This inscription establishes the fact that the bath had been destroyed by fire; that it was restored by the first cohort. of the Thracians; and that the altar itself was dedicated as a memorial of its restoration during the time when Virius Lupus was the Legate of Augustus (196-202). Thus the date is settled. It tells us that the restoration was carried out under the care of Valerius Fronto, prefect of horse of the Ala Vettonum. The name of this governor, Virius Lupus, Bailey states is only met with in Britain twice, at Bowes and Ilkley, both in connection with a restoration.

This altar advances no proof that the Vettones were actually in camp at the time. With a strong first cohort in camp, was it necessary to have a cavalry cohort as well? Granting that this was necessary, the case would be that Valerius Fronto would make periodical visits to Bowes during the progress of the work so as to be assured that his instructions were being

carried out, for we may assume that he was the person who made the plans, etc., as being better fitted for the work than anyone amongst the Thracians.

Now can we find any neighbouring station which would fairly meet all the requirements of the case? An altar at Binchester (Vinovium) may probably have an important bearing on this question. It is thus inscribed:

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

i.e. it is dedicated "To Esculapius and Salus for the health and safety of the Ala of the Vettonians Roman Citizens by Marcus Aurelius (Chrys)ocomas Physician has erected this in due and cheerful performance of his vow."

The presence of the Vettones at Binchester thus seems established, but the most important part of the inscription is that in which the regimental physician states with pride that the Vettones were Roman citizens. This taken by itself would be of little moment, as unfortunately we are not given any direct evidence, if indeed any, as to the exact date of the dedication and hence of the presence of the Vettones in camp (Bailey). Could this only be settled we might be able to speak with a greater degree of certainty as to the exact circumstances attending the restoration of the bath at Bowes. However a certain amount of circumstantial evidence may probably be derived from the inclusion of these letters, "C.R." In the year A.D. 211 Caracalla allowed all free inhabitants of the empire the privilege of becoming Roman citizens. This being so we may assume that the actual value of this designation would then in a measure decline, i.e. so far as stating the fact on a public altar is concerned. In other words we should expect to find the letters "C.R." on altars dedicated previous to that date, rather than on those dedicated at a later date. That this is a fair assumption is allowed by Dr. Bruce in his remarks on the presence of the same letters on several of the Maryport altars. If this be admitted the inference is fairly clear. Thus the bath was restored between the years A.D. 196 and 202. This Binchester altar was dedicated probably at some date previous to A.D. 211, hence Valerius Fronto may have been the commander of the very cohort of which we have the dedication by its physician.

Nor would his official visits to Lavatræ involve any difficulty, as the distance between the two camps was only some twenty miles, and the road direct.

Granted then the feasibility of our assumption, everything seems to point to the fact that there is no real evidence that the Vettones were stationed at Bowes during the restoration of the bath, nor indeed at any other time.

This does not complete the list of altars found at Bowes, as there are two others at present in Bowes Church. We can gain nothing from these, as one of them is uninscribed and the other has only the letters "D.M.I." Probably owing to this fact they have been allowed to remain when the inscribed ones have been removed.

In January, 1850, six massive gold rings of rude workmanship were discovered at no great distance from the camp, and at a little depth below the surface. These rings though disunited could easily be rejoined into a chain, as the circles had not been welded together. Each piece of gold had been simply bent round until the ends touched. This chain, it has been suggested, had formed the torque or distinctive badge of rank of some Celtic prince or leader, and had probably been lost in battle or concealed in troublous time, the place of deposit being afterwards forgotten. As is usually the case in similar discoveries, the weights of the various pieces materially differ. The following is given as the separate weights of the respective rings by Longstaffe:

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

They are stated to have been sold to the Duke of Northumberland, but no trace of them can now be found in the museum at Alnwick Castle.

In the north transept of the church there is preserved a round stone, which has certainly in comparatively recent times been used as a millstone. It has borne an inscription in Latin, of which a part remains. Mr. Robert Blair, of South Shields,

« PreviousContinue »