Concangis Fort

Fort

Concangis was an auxiliary castra in the Roman province of Lower Britain (Britannia Inferior). Its ruins are located in Chester-le-Street, Durham, in England, and are now known as Chester-le-Street Roman Fort. It is situated 6 miles (10 km) north of Durham and 8 miles (13 km) south of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Classical References for Concangis

The Roman name for Chester-le-Street is listed in the Notitia Dignitatum of the fourth/fifth century as Concangios, where it appears between the entries for Lavatris (Bowes, Durham) and the unidentified station, Dictium. The seventh century Ravenna Cosmology lists the name as Coganges (R&C#141), which occurs between the unknown Dixio Lugunduno (probably identifiable with the Dictium in the Notitia) and the dual entry for Corstopitum (Corbridge, Northumberland) and Lopocarium, another unknown station.

It should be noted that only eight Roman inscriptions are recorded at Chester-le-Street in the RIB, and all are reproduced on this page.

The Concangis Fort and Garrison

Excavations conducted in 1969/70 revealed the overall dimensions of the fort as 540 by 500 feet (c.165 x 152 metres), giving an internal area of about 6ΒΌ acres (c.2.5ha). There are signs of structural alterations occurring during the early-3rd century.

The first military camp on the site very likely dates from the late 70’s AD, possibly constructed in timber by the men of the Ninth Hispanic Legion, who were based at York, and it is interesting to note that a branch-road led south from Chester-le-Street all the way to York, over seventy miles away.

RIB1050 - Building inscription of the Second Legion Augusta

The Second Legion Augusta.
LEG II AV[...]
No commentary.

Ala Secundae Asturum Antoniniana

The name of the cavalry unit mentioned in the above inscription is incomplete, and prompted me to scan through the RIB to find other units with the Antoniniana suffix, which indicates sterling service during the Caledonian campaigns of Severus at the beginning of the third century; the full results are shown in the table below:

 

Location:: London
Unit: Legio II Augusta
RIB: 19; tombstone; 212-17AD
Location:: Carlisle
Unit: Legio XX Valeria Victrix
RIB: 965.B; altar; 213-22AD
Location:: Netherby
Unit: Cohors I Aelia Hispanorum M EQ
RIB: 977; 213AD?
Location:: Ebchester
Unit: Cohors IIII Breucorum
RIB: 1101; altar; 213-22AD
Location:: High Rochester
Unit: Cohors I Fida Vardullorum CR EQ M
RIB: 1279; 216AD
Location:: Chesters
Unit: Ala II Asturum
RIB: 1466; 221-2AD
Location:: Carrawburgh
Unit: Cohors I Batavorum
RIB: 1544; altar; 213-22AD
Location:: Birdoswald
Unit: Cohors I Aelia Dacorum
RIB: 1892; altar; 212-22AD?

It will be noted that the list contains two legions and five auxiliary cohorts, but the only cavalry wing with the requisite suffix is Ala II Asturum Antoniniana who are recorded at Cilurnum (Chesters, Northumberland; vide RIB 1465) on Hadrian’s Wall in 221AD. The undated tombstone of a seventy year old Decurion from the Second Wing of Asturians has been recorded at Lindum (Lincoln, Lincolnshire; vide RIB 266) and an altarstone, also undated, dedicated to the Mother Goddesses by Decurion Marcus Asiaticus of Ala II Asturum has been recorded at Bremetenacum (Ribchester, Lancashire; vide RIB 586).

This unit is known to have been stationed at the Chesters fort only a few years after the date of the inscription at Chester-le-Street, and there is no overlap in the dates; it appears possible, therefore, that the Ala Antoniniana attested at Concangis may be identified with the Second Wing of Asturians, formerly of Lincoln and Ribchester, later posted to Chesters on Hadrian’s Wall.

Numerus Vigilum Concangenses

Praefectus Numeri Vigilum Concangios

“The Prefect of the Company of Watchmen from Concangis.”

(Notitia Dignitatum)

Listed under the overall command of the Duke of the Britains, the above extract undoubtedly identifies the Roman garrison of Chester-le-Street at the end of the fourth century. It is possible that this unit was later moved to Vinovia (Binchester, Durham) where undated tiles have been found bearing the legend Numerus Concangensium.

The Gods of Roman Chester-le-Street

The classical Roman gods are represented by the war god Mars and the sun god Apollo, and judging from the number of altars dedicated to patron deities concerned with the welfare of veteran soldiers (three out of a total of eight inscriptions!), it would appear that a fair proportion of the denizens of Roman Chester-le-Street were ex-military men. There is another altar to the Germanic deity Digenis recorded on Hadrian’s Wall between Wallsend and Newcastle (RIB 1314).

References for Concangis

  • Chronicle of the Roman Emperors by Chris Scarre (Thames & Hudson, London, 1995);
  • Chronology of the Ancient World by E.J. Bickerman (Thames & Hudson, London, 1980);
  • Britannia ii (1971) p.251; A.E. 1970;
  • The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965);

Roman Roads near Concangis

SSW (15) to Binchester (Binchester, Durham) Wrekendike: N (8) to Pons Aelivs (Newcastle, Tyne & Wear) Wrekendike: NE (12) to Sovth Shields (South Shields, Tyne & Wear) Dere Street: S (6) to Old Dvrham