Vinovia? / Vinovivm?

Fort and Minor Settlement

Vinovia – The Vintners Way?

Binchester appears in three out of the four major classical geographies. Ptolemy's Geography has the entry Vinovium appearing under the Brigantes tribe, between Epiacvm (Whitley Castle, Northumberland) and Cataractonivm (Catterick, North Yorkshire). The Antonine Itinerary has a Vinovia near the beginning of Iter I, where it is listed nine miles from Vindomora (Ebchester, Durham) and nineteen miles from Cataractonivm, and in the Ravenna Cosmology (R&C#134), again as Vinovia, this time between Longovicivm (Lanchester, Durham) and Lavatris (Bowes, Durham).

The Roman name for Binchester appears to be entirely Latin in origin, a compound name from the words vinea or vinum meaning 'vines' or 'wine', and via or 'road'. The oldest reference shows the name as Vinovium, which may indicate that the original ending was in the genitive plural. The name may be something along the lines of 'the Way of the Vines', which suggests that vines were grown in the area, not very likely considering the climate in Bishop's Auckland. An alternative and perhaps more plausible translation may be 'the Ways of the Vintners', which would imply that there was a popular inn or tavern here. Could the original name of Binchester be derived from the name of a Roman pub? Not entirely unthinkable when you consider 'Craven Arms' in Shropshire for instance, a modern town named after an old coaching inn.

The Binchester Fort

RIB1038 - Building inscription of the Sixth Legion

LEG VI
The Sixth Legion (built this).
Evidently brought from Binchester by the Saxon builders.

During excavations over the years a number of animal bones have been uncovered at Binchester, including those of Ox, Sheep, Goat, Pig, Red Deer and Boar; the latter two animals very likely being hunted and killed for sport, as well as to supplement the soldiers' diet.

The Garrison Units

RIB1035 - Altar dedicated to the Suleviae

SVL[...]VI[...]
[...] VETT[...]
CANN
V S L M
To the Suleviae the Cavalry Regiment of Vettonians ... willingly and deservedly fulfilled its vow.
Mr. Farrer was schoolmaster at Witton-le-Wear about 1760. The letter, once in the possession of the Rev. W. Greenwell, Durham, is now lost.For the Suleviae see RIB 105, 106, 151.

The unit were earlier stationed at Cicvcivm (Y Gaer, Powys), as they are attested on two tombstones from there (RIB 403 et 405?). The building work dated to 197-202AD at the nearby fort of Lavatris (Bowes, Durham; RIB 730), was probably carried out while the unit were based here at Binchester. The undated tombstone at Aqvae Svlis (Bath, Avon; RIB 159) probably only reflects the chosen place of retirement for a veteran of the unit.

RIB1039 - Funerary inscription for Nemonius Montanus

D M S
NEM MONTANVS DEC
VIXIT ANN XL NEM
SANCTVS FR ET COHER
EX TESTAMENTO FECERT
Sacred to the spirits of the departed: Nemonius Montanus, decurion, lived 40 years. Nemonius Sanctus, his brother, and his joint heirs set this up in accordance with his will.
2.  Nem. is probably Nem(onius), of which Holder and Schulze list numerous examples R.P.W. Addenda from RIB+add. (1995): 2.  For the nomen cf. Nemonius, duplicarius in the ala I Thracum Mauretana (Cavenaile, Corpus Papyrorum Latinarum (1958), No. 221, 52) and Nemomnius Verecundus, RIB 3061 (= Brit. iii (1972), 352 No. 3) (Cirencester).

RIB1036 - Fragmentary dedication

[...] MANDVS
EX C FRIS VINOVIE
V S L M
... from the cuneus of Frisians of Vinovia, willingly and deservedly fulfilled his vow.
No commentary. Addenda from RIB+add. (1995): 2.  A cuneus literally means ‘wedge’, and represented a third-century unit-title of uncertain significance, consisting of cavalry or non-Roman irregulars.

The second part of the unit name may be Frisiorum or Frisiavonum which indicates the tribe from which the original troops were levied, either the Germanic Frisii or the Belgic Frisiavones. The Belgic tribe can be ruled out on two counts; firstly, the existence is known of a Cohort of Frisiavones in Britain and any additional levies from this tribe would most likely have been posted to this unit, secondly, cunei were mainly restricted to non-allied tribesmen who offered their services as mercenaries, the unit at Vinovia, therefore, were most likely from the Germanic Frisii.

There are other examples of Cunei Frisiorum; at Derventio (Papcastle, Cumbria; RIB 882; 241AD) and Vercovicivm (Housesteads, Northumberland; RIB 1594; 222-35AD).

The Gods of Vinovium

RIB1033 - Altar dedicated to the Mother Goddesses

MAT
SAC
GEME
LLVS
V S L M
Sacred to the Mother Goddesses Gemellus willingly and deservedly fulfilled his vow.
No commentary.

Several Roman altarstones have been recovered from Binchester, over half of which are dedicated to the Matribus Ollototae or the 'Mother Goddesses of Ollototis', one of these altars is shared with Jupiter Optimus Maximus who also has another altar dedicated solely to himself. There are other lone altars to Fortuna the goddess of good fortune, and also to the god of medicine, Aesculapius.

RIB1028 - Dedication to Aesculapius and Salus

[...]VLAPIO
[...] SALVTI
[... ]TE ALAE VET
[...] C R M AVRE
[... 4]OCOMAS ME
[...    ] L M
To Aesculapius and Salus for the welfare of the Cavalry Regiment of Vettonians, Roman citizens, Marcus Aurelius [...]ocomas, doctor, willingly and deservedly fulfilled his vow.
No commentary. Addenda from RIB+add. (1995): For part of an altar dedicated by a prefect of the ala Vettonum see RIB 3260 (= Brit. xxiii (1992), 314 No. 10).

RIB1029 - Altar dedicated to Fortune

[...]ORTVNAE
SANCTAE
M VAL FVLVIANV[...]
PRAEF EQ
V S L L M
To holy Fortune Marcus Valerius Fulvianus, prefect of cavalry, gladly, willingly, and deservedly fulfilled his vow.
No commentary.

RIB1030 - Altar dedicated to Jupiter Optimus Maximus and the Mother Goddesses Ollototae

I O M
ET MATRIB
VS OLLOTO
TIS SIVE TRA
NSMARINIS
POMPONIVS
DONATVS
BF COS PRO
SALVTE SVA
ET SVORVM
V S L A
To Jupiter, Best and Greatest, and to the Mother Goddesses Ollototae, or Overseas, Pomponius Donatus, beneficiarius of the governor, for the welfare of himself and his household willingly fulfilled his vow.
See Grienberger and Ihm (loc. cit.) for a discussion of Ollototae. A beneficiarius was a soldier, usually a legionary, seconded for special duties by favour (beneficium) of a specific senior officer; in particular the beneficiarius consularis, an officer on the governor’s staff, who might be out-posted.

RIB1031 - Altar dedicated to the Matres Ollototae

DEAB
MATRIB O[...]LOT
T[...]B CL QVIN
TIANVS BF COS
V S L M
To the Mother Goddesses Ollototae Tiberius Claudius Quintianus, beneficiarius of the governor, willingly and deservedly fulfilled his vow.
For the Matres Ollototae see RIB 574, 1030, 1032. A beneficiarius was a soldier, usually a legionary, seconded for special duties by favour (beneficium) of a specific senior officer; in particular the beneficiarius consularis, an officer on the governor’s staff, who might be out-posted.

RIB2294 - Milestone of Gordian III

IMP CAES
ARI MARCO
ANT GORDIANO
[...]
For the Emperor Caesar Marcus Antonius Gordianus ..
This milestone is probably not to be identified with the milestone which was found about 800 m. west of Willington shortly before Hutchinson’s visit, in or before 1794, for this was ‘squared down and defaced, to make the pillar of a shed for cattle’.Gordian III, a.d. 238-44. See also RIB 2289, 2295.

References for Vinovia? / Vinovivm?

Air Reconnaissance of North Britain by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. xli (1951) pp.52-65; Air Reconnaissance in Britain, 1951-5 by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. xlv (1956) pp.82-91; The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965); Britannia i (1970) p.308 no.15; The Roman Military Diet by R.W. Davies, in Britannia ii (1971) pp.122-142; Britannia xxiii (1992) p.314 no.10; Chronicle of the Roman Emperors by Chris Scarre (Thames & Hudson, London, 1995); Atlas of the Greek and Roman World in Antiquity by Nicholas G.L. Hammond (Bristol Classical Press); Air Reconnaissance of North Britain by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. xli (1951) pp.52-65; Air Reconnaissance in Britain, 1951-5 by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. xlv (1956) pp.82-91; The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965); Britannia i (1970) p.308 no.15; The Roman Military Diet by R.W. Davies, in Britannia ii (1971) pp.122-142; Britannia xxiii (1992) p.314 no.10; Chronicle of the Roman Emperors by Chris Scarre (Thames & Hudson, London, 1995); Atlas of the Greek and Roman World in Antiquity by Nicholas G.L. Hammond (Bristol Classical Press); Air Reconnaissance of North Britain by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. xli (1951) pp.52-65; Air Reconnaissance in Britain, 1951-5 by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. xlv (1956) pp.82-91; The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965); Britannia i (1970) p.308 no.15; The Roman Military Diet by R.W. Davies, in Britannia ii (1971) pp.122-142; Britannia xxiii (1992) p.314 no.10; Chronicle of the Roman Emperors by Chris Scarre (Thames & Hudson, London, 1995); Atlas of the Greek and Roman World in Antiquity by Nicholas G.L. Hammond (Bristol Classical Press); Air Reconnaissance of North Britain by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. xli (1951) pp.52-65; Air Reconnaissance in Britain, 1951-5 by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. xlv (1956) pp.82-91; The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965); Britannia i (1970) p.308 no.15; The Roman Military Diet by R.W. Davies, in Britannia ii (1971) pp.122-142; Britannia xxiii (1992) p.314 no.10; Chronicle of the Roman Emperors by Chris Scarre (Thames & Hudson, London, 1995); Atlas of the Greek and Roman World in Antiquity by Nicholas G.L. Hammond (Bristol Classical Press);

Roman Roads near Vinovia? / Vinovivm?

NNW (13) to Lanchester (Lanchester, Durham) NNE (15) to Chester-le-street (Chester-le-Street, Durham) Dere Street: S (9) to Piercebridge (Durham) SW (18) to Lavatris Dere Street: NE (10) to Old Dvrham S (6) to Sandforth Moor