Danum (Doncaster) Vicus

Roman Settlement

A small settlement called a vicus became established in the protective lee of the fort at Danum. Originally this would have housed the normal camp followers, including the girlfriends, wives and children of some of the soldiers (who were not supposed to marry until retirement, but this particular rule was frequently overlooked), also publicans, prostitutes, purveyors of pastries, and anyone else seeking to profit from the five-hundred or so troops in the Danum garrison. This site, situated as it was between two native British tribes, would have attracted traders from both nations, and before long a substantial border settlement became established here at the crossing of the Don, which eventually boasted several large public buildings.

The Gods of Roman Doncaster

RIB618 - Altar dedicated to the Mother Goddesses

To the Mother Goddesses Marcus Nantonius Orbiotalus willingly and deservedly fulfilled his vow.
For Nantonius as a Celtic name see Ihm, BJ 83 (1887) 157.Orbiotalus: Huebner expands it as Orbiotalis, but Mowat (Rev. Arch. xxxv (1878) 97), on the analogy of similar Celtic names, expands it as Orbiotalus, accepted by Haverfield (Arch. Ael. 2nd Ser. xv (1892) 329), and cited by Holder as the sole instance of this name. Addenda from RIB+add. (1995): For another instance of Orbiotalus see Wuilleumier, Inscriptions latines des Trois Gaules (1963), No. 207.

Excavations at Danum/Doncaster in 1970

SE574035 – Excavations at roadworks south of St. George’s Church in 1969 revealed a section across the east defences and some internal buildings belonging to a Trajanic/Hadrianic fort. The defences of this fort were originally of clay and gravel, which was apparently strengthened during a secondary phase in the late Antonine period. The defences overlay an earlier Roman timber building associated with coins of Vespasian. This probably represents a Flavian fort of greater dimensions than the later known fort, which was obviously demolished in order for its successor to be built on the same site. The road leading through the west gate of the later fort was also built over earlier timber buildings. The road had a coin of Vespasian upon its primary surface, and had been resurfaced twice, in the late-2nd and early-4th centuries. The internal buildings during the 1st & 2nd centuries were regularly shaped timber structures with puddled clay floors, while the 4th century was dominated by much flimsier timber buildings, sometimes on stone footings.

Excavations at St Sepulchre Gate, south of the fort, uncovered what appeared to be the western defences of the vicus. Three parallel ditches each c.2 m deep ran N-S. The innermost contained pottery of late second or early third century date but the outer pair had been dug in the fourth century. A hoard of 48 Constantinian AE coins was found in a small pit on the W side of the central ditch. (10)