« PreviousContinue »
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 :
NO D CÆ
CE.,” 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 diawn 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 thein 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 :
EORVM . PR. PR.
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 :
Which expanded is :-
Deæ Fortunæ Virius Lupus Leg
(atus) Aug(usti) Pr(o) Prsætore) LEG . AVG . PR
Balineum Vi Ignis Exustum Coh BALINEVM
(ors) Prima Thracum Restituit EXVST
Curante Val(erio) Frontone Præf VM . COH . I . THR (ecto) Eq(uitum) Alæ Vetto(num). ACVM
The “ala Vettonum” was apparTVIT CVRAN
ently stationed at Vinnovium (BinVAL
chester) in Durham, to which a TONE
road led from Lavatræ by way of EQ. ALÆ . VETTO 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 Vetton
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 mp, 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 :
ME. V. S. 1. M i.e. it is dedicated “To Æsculapius 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 estalı lished, 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
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 :
grs. No. 1
6 2 5
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, thinks that the stone is Roman. With the view therefore of putting it upon record and inviting its inspection by other antiquaries, I give the inscription :
There is but little doubt that many interesting relics still lie buried beneath the turf, and an effort should be made to raise subscriptions to cover the expense of a systematic exploration of the station. Many altars and inscriptions testify to the occupation of this quarter of Yorkshire by the Romans. One, found on the banks of the Greta in 1702, a votive offering of two females, appears to have been dedicated to a nymph, Elaune, perhaps the Lune river, distant only a few miles :
IANVARIA : FIL
A milestone found by the side of the Roman road at Greta Bridge, very near the rampart of the castrum (concangium), is inscribed :-“To the emperors our Lords Gallus and Volusianus (his son)," probably A.D. 253 (Gough's Camden).
8 Aug., 1913.