Lagentium (Castleford) Fort

Fort

The Roman fort of Lagentium underlies the modern town centre of Castleford in West Yorkshire. The fort was situated on the south bank of the River Aire, just downstream of its confluence with the River Calder, at the point where the stream was forded by the main Roman road running between the Colonies at Lindum (Lincoln, Lincolnshire) and Eburacum (York, Yorkshire).

The Roman name for Castleford is mentioned in only one (out of four) of the main classical geographies, but the Antonine Itinerary makes up for this by listing it twice. The town appears in the middle of the Fifth Itinerary as Legeolio, sixteen miles from Danum (Doncaster, South Yorkshire) and twenty-one miles from Eburacum (York, North Yorkshire). The town is also mentioned in Iter VIII “The Route from Eburacum to Londinium,” this time at the top of the itinerary as Lagecio, where again, it is listed twenty-one miles from York and sixteen from Doncaster. The commonly accepted name is Lagentium. It is possible that the Roman name should be translated as “The Place of the Bottles”, from the Latin lagenae ‘bottles, flasks’, especially since a Roman glass-making industry has been identified at Castleford (vide infra).

The Roman Road Station

The Roman road through Castleford is known locally as ‘Roman Ridge’, and runs almost due north over the river almost eight miles (13km) before veering obliquely to the north-east towards the minor settlement at Calcaria (Tadcaster, North Yorkshire), at a point where the road runs under the modern A1 trunk road at Nut Hill (SE433391), just south of its junction with the A64(T). In the opposite direction, the road appears to have left the immediate vicinity of the fort in a southerly direction and then veered towards the south-east perhaps on the outskirts of North Featherstone two miles to the south, or possibly between North Featherstone and Pontefract Park race-course; the exact route is unknown.

… exploration on the site of demolished houses in Welbeck Street located an industrial area in the vicus outside the south gate of the fort. Many glass wasters were found, all unstratified. Pottery suggests occupation from the mid-2nd century.

The Gods of Roman Castleford

There are only five inscriptions on stone recorded at Lagentium, three of which are milestones (vide infra), the remaining two both altarstones. The latest altarstone was found at Castleford in 1983 and subsequently included in the RIB (628.a; Britannia xiv, 1983, p.337, no.11). The text reads simply NYMPIS or “To the Nymphs”, evidently dedicated to the local water deities. The text of the only other Castleford altarstone is shown and translated below.

RIB628 - Altar dedicated to Victoria Brigantia

To the goddess Victoria Brigantia Aurelius Senopianus dedicated this altar.
DEAE VIC
TORIAE
BRIGANT
A D AVR S
ENOPIANVS
For Victoria Brigantia see RIB 627.

Roman Milestones from the Castleford Area

Milestone Found ½ mile South of Castleford Inscribed on Two Faces (RIB 2273/4)

“For the Imperator Caesar Gaius Messius Quintus [Traianus] Decius [Pius Felix Invictus] Augustus, son of Pius, and Gaius Messius Quintus Etruscus Caesar.¹”

“For the Imperators, the Caesars [Gaius] Vibius Trebonianus Gallus [Pius Felix Invictus Augustus] and Gaius Vibius Volusianus Augustus,² son of the Pius. Twenty-two thousand paces to Eburacum.³”

(RIB 2273; dated: 249-51AD)

(RIB 2274; dated: 251-3AD)

  1. Emperor Decius and his eldest son, who did not succeed him as they were both killed in battle at Abrittus in Moesia whilst fighting against the barbarian Goths across the Danube. They ruled from September (or October) 249AD until June 251.
  2. Emperor Trebonius Gallus and his son, who ruled from June 251AD until August 253 when they were both murdered by troops of the usurper Aemilius Aemilianus 50 miles north of Rome.
  3. The Roman colony at York.

A couple of important milestones or honorific pillars have been unearthed at or near Castleford, one of which was only in use for a couple of years before being reinscribed and rededicated to another emperor (RIB 2273/4 supra). These stones are particularly useful not only as distance indicators between neighbouring Roman towns which are sometimes mentioned by name, but also frequently provide confirmation of otherwise obscure imperial titles and other appellations.

RIB2275 - Milestone of Florian

For the Emperor Caesar Marcus Annius Florianus Pius Felix Augustus.
IMP CAE[...]
MAR ANNIO
FLORIANO
P F AVG
Florian, A.D. 276.
IMP C (M) ANNI (OFLO) [RIANO P F INV AVG M P E XXVI]¹

“For Imperator Caesar Marcus Annius Florianus² [Pius Felix Invictus Augustus. Twenty-six miles to/from Eburacum].”

(RIB 2275a?;³ dated: 276AD)

  1. Restoration of the text supplied by Mr. Eric Houlder.
  2. The emperor Florianus (see note#1 RIB 2275, above).
  3. The RIB designation has yet to be confirmed by Dr. R. Tomlin.

References for Lagentivm

  • Chronicle of the Roman Emperors by Chris Scarre (Thames & Hudson, London, 1995);
  • The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965).

Roman Roads near Lagentivm

SE (11) to Bvrghwallis Itinera V/VIII: N (13) to Calcaria (Tadcaster, North Yorkshire) Itinera V/VIII: SSE (16) to Danvm (Doncaster, South Yorkshire) Roman Ridge: N (13) to Newton Kyme (North Yorkshire)