Milestone, Settlement and Villa
Durocornavium – The Hillfort of the Cornavi
A cluster of Roman finds recovered from the immediate area of the Carn Brea hillfort, including a milestone (vide RIB 2234 infra) and a villa at Illogan (etiam vide infra), possibly indicates the existence of a Roman road-station, perhaps the Voliba mentioned by Ptolemy, or any one of a dozen or so unidentified Dumnonian stations at the beginning of the British section of the Ravenna Cosmography. In this work, produced during the seventh century, the name Purocoronauis (R&C#6) is listed between Tamaris (Plymouth, Devon) and the unidentified station Pilais. This entry is thought by A.L.F. Rivet to represent the hillfort at Carn Brea (q.v. Town and Country in Roman Britain; p.154). The Ravenna Cosmology is a notoriously difficult source to interpret, however, and the Purocoronauis entry may equally be associated with the Durotrigian civitas capital at Durnovaria (Dorchester, Dorset).
The Cornwall – Cornovii Connection
Judging by the modern name for the county, there exists the possibility of an association in ancient times between Cornwall and the Cornovii tribe who inhabited Cheshire, Shropshire and parts of Staffordshire and the West Midlands. It is known that some draftees into the Roman auxiliary forces from this tribe were not sent abroad to garrison the furthest reaches of the empire – which would have been the normal case – but were instead posted to forts within Britannia. The case in point being an entry in the Notitia Dignitatum prepared at the beginning of the fifth century, which records that Cohors I Cornoviorum ‘The First Cohort of Cornovii‘ were stationed at Pons Aelius (Newcastle upon Tyne) on Hadrian’s Wall.
It will be interesting to see if anything concrete turns-up in future digs recording the presence of another unit of Cornovii here in Cornwall, but in the meantime, Cornish history is further dealt with on the RBO page for Statio Deventiaseteno (Nanstallon).
RIB2234 - Milestone of Gordian III
References for Dvrocornavivm
- The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965);
Map References for Dvrocornavivm
NGRef: SW6840 OSMap: LR203