Brocolitia (Carrawbrough) Vicus

Roman Settlement

A small civil settlement or vicus occupied the low-lying marshy ground outside the south-west corner of the fort, where the remains of no less than three temples have been found; a mithraeum dedicated to the god Mithras, a nymphaeum dedicated to the local water deities, and a sacred well dedicated to the iron-age water goddess Coventina. All three of these temples are associated with a small tributary stream of Meggie’s Dene Burn, which issues from a spring consecrated to Coventina and runs beside the fort past the Mithraeum and the nymphaeum to the south-west, to empty into the River South Tyne near the Stanegate fort at Newbrough, three miles to the south.

RIB1558 - Fragmentary funerary inscription

... to ... Regulus (who) lived 34 years and to ... his devoted wife ... who lived 30 years and to ..., their daughter, (who) lived ... days, and to ... their son and to ... son ..
[...]PAVDI RE[...]VLO VIXIT
[... ]S XXXIIII ET [..]ATENCTE
[...]IVGI PIE VIX ANIS XXX [...]
[...]IANE FILI EORVM VIXIT D
[...] FILIO EORVM
[...]VDIVAITI FIL
[...] PAHICE
[...]
No commentary.

RIB1561 - Funerary inscription for Aelia Comindus

To the spirits of the departed (and) to Aelia Comindus, aged 32, Nobilianus, decurion, set this up to his very beloved wife.
D M
AEL COMINDO
ANNORVM XXXII
NOBILIANVS DEC
CONIVGI CAR[...]SS[...]M P
For Comindus as a feminine name cf. Vallaunius (RIB 369) R.P.W. The exact circumstances of the discovery of this stone are obscure. Bruce, lecturing in 1873, included the stone among other tombstones from the floors of the external bath-building. Tailford, however, who was present at the discovery, told Haverfield (Haverfield MS. MS. xix 1903-5, p. 5) in 1903 that he had found it 'lying face downwards in a building near the centre of the fort', and in 1904 reasserted this. Another stone, RIB 1552, was also found in 1874 near the centre of the fort R.P.W.

Tombstone of a Decurion’s Wife

D M AEL COMINDO ANNORVM XXXII NOBILIANVS DEC CONIVGI CARISSIM P
“To the shades of the departed Aelia Comindos, thirty-two years old. Nobilianus the decurion, placed this for a most-lovely wife.”
(RIB 1561; tombstone)

The Gods of Brocolitia

There are six altarstones and votive stones; a dedication and an altarstone to the water-nymph Coventina (1534 & 1535), another two altars to the god Mithras (vide RIB 1544 & 1545 infra), one of which may be dated to between 213AD and 222, there is also a single altarstone to the goddess Fortuna (1536) and one more dedicated to the Nymphs (vide RIB 1563a infra). In addition to the religious stones there is a building inscription which can be positively dated to the year 237AD (RIB 1553 supra), two tombstones of a Bucinator and a Signifer (1559 & 1560 respectively), also another damaged funerary inscription (1562). The texts of all of these stones are shown on this page.

Dedication and Altar to the Water-nymph Coventina

RIB1534 - Dedication to Covventina

To the goddess Covventina Titus D(...) Cosconianus, prefect of the First Cohort of Batavians, willingly and deservedly (fulfilled his vow).
DEAE
COVVENTINAE
T D COSCONIA
NVS PR COH
I BAT L M
No commentary.

RIB1535 - Altar dedicated to Covventina

To Covventina Aelius Tertius, prefect of the First Cohort of Batavians, willingly and deservedly fulfilled his vow.
COVVEN[...]
AELIVS TE[...]
TIVS P[...]
COH I BAT
V S L M
No commentary.

RIB1536 - Altar dedicated to Fortune

To Fortune the First Cohort of Batavians, under the command of Marcus Flaccinius Marcellus, prefect, (dedicated this).
FORTVNAE
COH I BATAVOR
CVI PRAEEST
M FLACCINIVS
MARCELLVS PRAE
No commentary.

Aside from the ten dedications to Coventina three stones of Mithras and two others dedicated to the Nymphs, which are all dealt with in separate sections below, many other deities are also represented at Carrawburgh. There are two dedicated to the goddess Fortuna (1536/1537), the former by Coh I Bat, two to the Mother Goddesses (1540/1541), two to the goddess Minerva (1542/1543), two to the Germanic warrior-god Vheterus (1548/1549), two to the Local Guardian Spirit, one by a detachment of Coh II Ner (1538), the other by Coh I Bat shared with the Nymphs (1563a), single altarstones to the god Mercury (1539) and the god Belatucader (1521), also an altarstone bearing a completely obliterated text (1520; not shown).

RIB1521 - Altar dedicated to Belleticaurus

To the god Belleticaurus Lunaris (set this up).
DEO
BELLETI
CAVRO
LVNARIS
No commentary.

RIB1537 - Altar dedicated to Fortune

For the goddess Fortune Vitalis willingly and deservedly made this.
DAE FOR
VITALIS
FECIT
LIB MER
No commentary.

RIB1539 - Altar dedicated to the Goddess, Mother of the Gods

To the Goddess Mother of the Gods Tranquila Severa for herself and her family willingly and deservedly fulfilled her vow.
D M D TRANQVIL
A SEVERA
PRO SE ET SVI
S V S L M
No commentary.

Altars to the Mother Goddesses

RIB1540 - Altar dedicated to the Mother Goddesses

To the Mother Goddesses Albinius Quartus, a soldier, dedicated this.
MATRIBVS
ALBINIVS
QVART MIL D
No commentary.

RIB1541 - Altar dedicated to the Mother Goddesses

To the Mother Goddesses everywhere abiding ..
MAT
RIBV
S COM
MVN
[...]
For the Matres Communes see RIB 1453.

Altars to Minerva

RIB1542 - Altar dedicated to Minerva

To Minerva Quintus, an engineer, willingly and deservedly fulfilled his vow.
MINERVAE
QVIN[...]VS
ARCHITECT
V S L M
No commentary.

RIB1543 - Altar dedicated to Minerva

To the goddess Minerva Venico for his welfare set this up at his own expense.
DIE M
INER
VE VE
NICO PR S
P S S
No commentary. Addenda from RIB+add. (1995): For the personal name Venico cf. Rivet and Smith, The Place-Names of Roman Britain (1979) s.v. Venicones, the name of a tribe.

Altars to Vheterus

RIB1548 - Altar dedicated to Veteris

To the god Veteris Uccus willingly vowed his vow.
DEO VE
TERI VO
TVM VC
CVS V L
For the name Uccus see CIL iii 5451.

RIB1549 - Altar dedicated to the Huiteres

To the gods the Hviteres.
[...]S
HVITE
RIBVS
Watkin notes that Huebner placed it under Newcastle because he did not know its origin.

Coventina’s Well

Noted by Horsely in 1786 and excavated in 1876 by John Clayton, this forty foot square temple housed a natural well-spring, situated in the centre of the building and enclosed by a low stone receptacle with an interior dimension of about seven feet square. The temple building was roofed-over and contained a large number of carved stone altars, which were presumably arranged against the inside walls of the structure.

There are ten altarstones to the water-nymph Coventina, including those dedicated by four auxiliary infantry units; Coh V Raetorum (vide RIB 1529 supra), Coh I Batavorum (vide RIB 1534 & 1535 supra), Coh I Cugernorum (vide RIB 1524 supra) and Coh I Frisiavonum (vide RIB 1523 supra), plus two other undefined stones (RIB 1527 infra & 1534 supra) and two clay incense burners (RIB 1530/1531 etiam infra).

Altarstones Dedicated to the Goddess Coventina

RIB1522 - Altar dedicated to Conventina

To the goddess Conventina Bellicus set this up, willingly and deservedly fulfilling his vow.
DEAE
CONVENTI
NAE BELLICVS
V S L M P
No commentary.

RIB1525 - Altar dedicated to Coventina

To the goddess Coventina Aurelius Crotus, a German, (fulfilled his vow).
DIE COVE
NTINE A
VRELIVS
CROTVS
GERMAN
For the same dedicator see RIB 1532. Werle, Zeitschr. f. dt. Wortforsch. 12 (1910) s.v. considers that Crotus is a Germanic name.

RIB1526 - Altar dedicated to Coventina

To the goddess-nymph Coventina Maduhus, a German, set this up for himself and his family, willingly and deservedly fulfilling his vow.
DEAE NIM
FAE COVEN
TINE MAD
VHVS GERM
POS PRO SE ET SV
V S L M
No commentary.

RIB1548 - Altar dedicated to Veteris

To the god Veteris Uccus willingly vowed his vow.
DEO VE
TERI VO
TVM VC
CVS V L
For the name Uccus see CIL iii 5451.

RIB1532 - Altar dedicated to Covetina

To the goddess Covetina I, Crotus, willingly fulfilled my vow for my welfare.
DEAE CO
VETINE CR
OTVS VT LB
ES S[...]LVI PRO M SA
For the same dedicator see RIB 1525.

RIB1533 - Altar dedicated to Covontina

To the holy goddess Covontina Vincentius for his own welfare as a vow gladly, willingly, and deservedly dedicated this.
DEAE SANC
COVONTINE
VINCENTIVS
PRO SALVTE SVA
V L L M D
No commentary.

Two Earthenware Incense Burners Inscribed by Saturninus and Gabinius

RIB1530 - Dedication to Coventina

Gabinius Saturninus (son) of Felix
GABIN
VS
IF
EL
CSI
SA
TV
R
NI
No commentary. Addenda from RIB+add. (1995): The nine panels read: gabiv | ns | if | el | csi | sa | tv | r | ni, Gabin(i)us Felicis Saturni(nus), 'Gabinius Saturninus (son) of Felix' R.S.O.T., Brit. xiv (1983), 349, and in Allason-Jones and McKay, Coventina's Well (1985), 45-6. There is a full description ibid., 41-7.

RIB1531 - Dedication to Coventina Augusta

For Covetina Augusta Saturninus Gabinius made this votive offering with his own hands.
COVE
TINA A
GVSTA
VOTV
MAN
IBVS SVIS
SATV
RNI
NVS
FECIT
GABI
NIVS
No commentary. Addenda from RIB+add. (1995): There is a full description Allason-Jones and McKay, Coventina's Well (1985), 41-7.

RIB1527 - Dedication to Coventina

To the Nymph Coventina ...]tianus, decurion, ... deservedly [fulfilled his vow].
[...]MPHAE COVENTINAE
[...]TIANVS DEC[...]RI
[...] SLE[.]V
[...] M
No commentary.

Mithraeum – Temple of Mithras

The remains of the Mithraeum were discovered during the dry summer of 1949, lying within a hollow in normally boggy ground outside the southern defences of the fort, where the top portions of three altars were seen protruding out from the grass. The site was completely excavated the following year and was found to be a Mithraic temple, in an excellent state of preservation, with its three altars still upright and in position, and each bearing a dedicatory inscription by a third-century commander of the nearby fort’s garrison.

All three altarstones bear dedicatory inscriptions to the god Mithras, two are dedicated by men from Cohors Primae Batavorum, and one stone can be dated to the years 213-222AD.

Excavation has revealed that the temple was first erected early in the third century and altered several times before being destroyed, probably by northern barbarians who took advantage of the unrest caused by the Roman usurpers Carausius and Allectus, who withdrew a large proportion of the Wall garrison south c.296AD in order to sustain their rebellion. Rebuilt shortly afterwards during the visit of the legitimate emperor Constantius who campaigned in the north of Britain, the temple was finally demolished early in the fourth century, possibly by the pious followers of a new religious sect which was then becoming popular, Christians.

Nymphaeum – Temple of the Water Nymphs

Carrawburgh Today

The Remains of the Infantry Fort

Brocolitia/Carrawburgh Roman Fort
Nothing can now be seen of the bath-house excavated by Clayton in 1873, and the interval tower uncovered in 1876 is now largely overgrown. Of the forts defences the northern side now lies beneath the modern B6318, while the remaining ramparts are visible as raised earthworks in the field beside the road. The positions of the south, east and west gateways are easily discernible, though no internal buildings remain to be seen. The line of the vallum is seen to descend the hill from Carraw Farm in the west and seemingly to pass through the centre of the fort and disappear over the hill to the east; a clear visible indication that the fort was built across and thus post-dates the vallum earthwork.

The Carrawburgh Temple Remains

Coventina’s Well
Little is now visible of the shrine to Coventina, though a large number of the altars and votive offerings recovered from the site by Clayton are currently on display at the nearby Chesters Museum.
The Mithraeum
The restored Temple of Mithras represents the principal visible remains at Brocolitia, though the altars which adorn the temple on the Tynedale Moors are all replicas. The original altars are housed within a full sized reconstruction of the interior of the Carrawburgh Mithraeum on display at the Museum of Antiquities in Newcastle upon Tyne.
The Nymphaeum
Nothing remains to be seen of the Temple of the Nymphs, though the dedicatory altar is currently on display at the Chesters Museum nearby.

References for Brocolitia (Carrawbrough) Vicus

  • Hadrian’s Wall Map and Guide by the Ordnance Survey (Southampton, 1989);
  • Hadrian’s Wall in the Days of the Romans by Ronald Embleton and Frank Graham (Newcastle, 1984) pp.117-121;
  • Hadrian’s Wall History Trails Guidebook IV by Les Turnbull (Newcastle, 1974), pp.26-28; Temples in Roman Britain by M.J.T. Lewis (Cambridge 1966);
  • The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965).

Map References for Brocolitia (Carrawbrough) Vicus

NGRef: NY 858 712 OSMap: Hadrian’s Wall, OL43, LR87.

Roman Roads near Brocolitia (Carrawbrough) Vicus

Wall: E (3.5) to Cilvrnvm (Chesters, Northumberland) Wall: W (5) to Vercovicivm (Housesteads, Northumberland) Military Way: W (2.25) to Coesike Hadrian’s Wall: ENE (1) to Limestone Corner