Derventio (brigantvm)

Fort, Minor Settlement and Vexillation Fort

Derventio – The Oak Tree Glade

By the year 69AD a legionary base half the normal size had been built at Malton on the northern borders of the Parisi. This tribe occupied the Oceli Promunturium in north Humberside and are thought to have offered little or no resistance to the Roman advance through the area, which was made in order to outflank the truculent and troublesome tribe to the east. This so-called 'vexillation fortress' was temporarily occupied by a 'flag section' or vexillatio of Legio XIV Gemina before their withdrawal to the continent in 70.

Classical Evidence for the Fort at Malton

The Roman name for the Malton military complex first appears in the Antonine Itinerary of the late-second century, where in Iter I “from the frontier at the Vallum [Hadriani] all the way to Praetorium“, which describes the route from Hadrian's Wall to a lost Romano-British port near Bridlington in Humberside, the entry Derventione, is listed 7 miles from Eburacum (York, North Yorkshire) and 13 miles from Delgovicia (nr. Millington, Humberside).

You will be right in thinking that the reported distance of only 7 miles between York and Malton is in error, either that or the identification of Derventio with the Malton complex. It is thought, however (q.v. Margary), that the roman numeral X has been dropped from the York-Malton distance quoted in the First Itinerary, and was transposed further down the list by an unknown scribe at some time in the distant past, thus making the distance between Millington and the terminus station at Bridlington 10 miles too long.

In addition, the Notitia Dignitatum of the 4th/5th centuries lists Deruentione as the last auxiliary garrison “at the disposal of the Right Honourable Duke of the Britains”, following the entry for Longovicium (Lanchester, Durham).

The Epigraphy of Roman Malton

There are ten inscriptions on stone recorded in the R.I.B. for Malton, including a statue or altar base dedicated to the god Mars (RIB 711), a dedicatory inscription to the Guardian Spirit of a Goldsmith's shop (RIB 712), the tombstone of a cavalry trooper (RIB 714) and a dedicatory inscription by the prefect of an auxiliary cavalry regiment (RIB 719a).

[RIB id="718"]

The Derventio Garrison Unit(s)

[RIB id="719a"]
[RIB id="714"]
Praefectus numeri superuenientium Petueriensium, Deruentione

“The prefect of the Company of Newcomers from Petuaria at Derventio

(Notitia Dignitatum xl.31; 4th/5th C.)

The last entry in the list of forces “at the disposal of the Right Honourable Duke of the Britains” mentions an irregular numerus who originally hailed from the town of Petuaria (Brough-on-Humber, Humberside), and may have been recruited from among the British [link_post post_id="1325" type="link"]Parisi tribe.

The Fort and Vicus

Excavations were conducted on the vicus outside the S gate of the fort; between 1949-52 in Orchard Field, and during 1968/9 building operations on the site of Orchard Cottage, further to the S. The 1968/9 digs revealed the presence of a further 14 vicus buildings arranged along two roads of limestone rubble leading south to the Derwent. The eastern-most of these was the earliest, probably being constructed in the late-2nd century, while the road to the west, carried on an embankment to a probable river crossing at Malton New Mills, was built at the beginning of the 4th. Flavian ditches, buildings and hearths were found sealed beneath the late-4th/early-5th century rampart. The area to the north was built-up of successive occupation layers of rubble and earth containing 2nd & 3rd century pottery, and on top of these layers were found stone buildings dating to the early-4th. The eastern road was out of use by the mid-4th century, to be replaced by crudely-built stone structures, possibly out-houses of the buildings fronting the road to the west.

The Gods of Roman Malton

RIB711 - Dedication to Mars Rigas

To the god Mars Rigas, Scirus consecrated this offering, willingly and deservedly fulfilling his vow.
Rigas: Huebner interprets it as Marriga, followed by Ihm in Roscher. In Gazetteer Professor J.R.R. Tolkien suggests that Rigae represents rigai, the Celtic dative of rix, king. The stem -rix occurs in other epithets of Mars, e.g. Albiorix (ILS 4542), Caturix (ILS 4552). For Mars Rigisamus see RIB 187.Scirus: Holder accepts the reading of Huebner, Scirusor. There seems to be no other instance of Scirus as a personal name. But the tribe of Σκίροι are cited in CIG 2058 B, and Pliny (Nat. Hist. iv 97) cites Sciri as near the Sarmatae (see Schönfeld Wörterbuch s.v.).

The gods, classical Roman or otherwise, are sparsely represented at the Malton fort; aside from the base dedicated to Mars (vide supra) and the inscription invoking the Genio Loci (vide infra), there are in addition, a couple of illegible altarstones (RIB 713 et 717; not shown).

RIB712 - Building inscription to the genius loci

Good luck to the Genius of this place. Young slave, use to your good fortune this goldsmith’s shop.
No commentary.

Excavations in 1970

SE792716 – Several buildings of timber and of stone were identified during further work on the Orchard Cottage site in 1970. A complex building sequence was revealed, with major phases occurring during the Trajanic, Severan, Constantian and Theodosian periods. The earliest building identified was associated with an inscription by the Ala Picentiana (Vide RIB 719a supra; also Britannia II (1971) p.291). The south and west defences of an early Roman military work were confirmed beneath the vicus buildings, very likely a southern annexe of the known fort. These additional defences comprised a turf rampart 16ft (4.9m) wide, backing a ditch 6ft (1.8m) wide and 3½ft (1.2m) deep.

Other Roman Sites in the Neighbourhood

Aside from the fort, probable fortress and minor settlement at Malton itself (SE7971), there is a substantial Roman building at Roughborough (SE7670), and Roman potteries nearby at Norton (SE7970) about 1½ miles to the south, and on the River Derwent 5 miles upstream at Crambeck (SE7367). There is a Romano-British villa at Langton (SE8167) about 3 miles to the south. About 7 miles to the west of the Malton fort and settlement there is a temporary marching camp at Wath (SE6774) nearby a villa (SE6675) and Romano-British barrow (SE6775) at Hovingham, and another villa at Pond Head (SE5674) a further 7 miles west, all these sites lying on the line of the road west out of Malton, the latter villa within sight of the main north-south road between Newcastle and York. The newly-discovered camp at buttercrambe Moor lies a short way further along this road.

References for Derventio (brigantvm)

Britannia ii (1971) pp.252/3, 291, 302/3; Britannia i (1970) p.280; The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965). Britannia ii (1971) pp.252/3, 291, 302/3; Britannia i (1970) p.280; The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965). Britannia ii (1971) pp.252/3, 291, 302/3; Britannia i (1970) p.280; The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965). Britannia ii (1971) pp.252/3, 291, 302/3; Britannia i (1970) p.280; The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965).

Roman Roads near Derventio (brigantvm)

Itinera I?/II/V: SSW (12) to Bvttercrambe Moor (nr. Stamford Bridge, North Yorkshire) Probable road: N (12) to Cawthorn ESE (23) to Praesidivm (Bridlington, Humberside) Possible road: W (25) to Isvrivm (Aldborough, North Yorkshire) Itinera I/II/V: SW (17) to Ebvracvm S (31) to Petvaria (Brough-on-Humber, Humberside) WNW (7) to Hovingham Margary#80a: N (72) to Old Dvrham Iter I: S (12) to Delgovicia (nr. Millington, Humberside)