Luguvalium (Carlisle) Town
There is no doubt that the civil settlement at Carlisle thrived primarily due to the continued presence of the Roman military, first on the south bank of the Eden and later also to the north where a separate smaller settlement developed in the area between the auxiliary fort at Stanwix and the river. The defences of the Romano-British town enclosed some seventy acres, and it became a flourishing centre for trade, relaxation and retirement. Inscriptions in Greek as well as Latin have been found, indicating that Roman Carlisle was fairly cosmopolitan.
A school of stone-carvers became established at Carlisle, the only school of British masons so far identified. The masons created tombstones from the local sandstone, some of which have been found in the surrounding Romano-British settlements at Old Carlisle and Bowness. The school operated from the Antonine period until well into the third century AD.
The discovery of buildings in the Blackfriars area of Carlisle, confirms the continuation of the civilian settlement into the fifth century; beyond this date things get a but tenuous until Carlisle and all surrounding land and its inhabitants in a fifteen mile radius was granted to St. Cuthbert in a charter dated to 685AD.
The Citizens of Luguvalium
RIB955 - Funerary inscription for Flavius Antigonus Papias
FLAS ANTIGONS PAPIAS
CIVIS GRECVS VIXIT ANNOS
PLVS MINVS LX QVEM AD
FATIS ANIMAM REVOCAVIT
RIB959 - Funerary inscription for Aurelia Aureliana
ANNOS XXXXI VLPIVS
APOLINARIS CONIVGI CARISSIME
- The restoration of this name is entirely conjectural.
The Civitas Carvetiorum
The Civitas Carvetiorum or the ‘tribal council of the Carvetii’ is first attested during the rule of emperor Postumus, the Carvetii cantonal council almost certainly met at Carlisle. It is thought that the Carvetii were in fact the tribe of Venutius, the consort of Cartimandua of the Brigantes, if this were true, then it is quite possible that he lived at Old Carlisle, which was probably the chief pre-Roman tribal centre.
It is probable that the Romano-British town of Luguvalium, given its concentration of retired Roman soldiers attested by inscriptions, was awarded some sort of civil charter.
The Provincial City
Following the defeat of the former British propraetor Albinus by the emperor Caracalla in 197AD, the province of Britannia was split into two, Londinium remained the provincial capital of Britannia Superior while the inferior province in the north was governed from Eboracum (York). Later, during the reign of Diocletian around 296AD the provinces of Britain were again split into two, the administration of Britannia Inferior was divided into a military post of legatus, based at York with command of the provinces only legion, and an administrative position of procurator, who had only auxiliary forces, and was probably based at Carlisle. The town may also have been the capital town of the later Roman province of Velantia.
The Local Roman Road System
An arterial road ran south along the valley of the Petteril between Carlisle and Penrith, now roughly followed by the modern A6. Several signal stations have been identified beside this road, Barrock Side and Barrock Fell in particular.
Another arterial road ran over the mosses to the north of Carlisle to the fort at Netherby and possibly on to Broomholm. Another road branched off this northern road after the Lyne crossing south of Netherby, probably crossing the Esk near Burnfoot and continuing due west to Birrens and onwards into the Dumfries area.
The recently identified Roman road leading east from Kirkbride near the mouth of the Wampool ran towards Burgh-by-Sands and must have terminated at Carlisle. This road is thought to represent a westward extension of the Stanegate frontier during the early second century.
The Harraby Bridge Milestone
RIB2290 - Fragmentary milestone
- Carausius the Usurper.
- The future emperor Constantine.
Carausius was the commander of the Roman North Sea Fleet who siezed control of Britain in 286AD and proclaimed himself emperor. He also held the Gallic port of Gesoriacum (Boulogne) until 293 where he was defeated in battle by Constantius Caesar and fled back to Britain, whereupon he was treacherously slain later that same year by his trusted first-minister and treasurer Allectus. Constantius was appointed Caesar in March 293AD and recovered Britain from Allectus in 297 whereupon he ruled from Eboracum (York) as ‘Caesar in the West’, until his elevation to Augustus in May 305 when his title changed to ‘Emperor in the West’. His reign was not to last, however, for he died of ‘illness’ (probably the Romano-British equivalent of Dheli-Belly) at York in July 306.
Constantius’ son Constantine was appointed Caesar sometime during 306AD, and was proclaimed Augustus (i.e. Emperor in the West) by the soldiers – presumably the men of Legio VI Victrix – after his father’s death at York the following year. Constantine quickly returned to the continent to establish his birthright and was converted to Christianity after the Battle of the Milvian Bridge against Maxentius in 312. He went on to defeat his co-emperor Licinius in two decisive victories on the Bosphorus in 324, and, once sole emperor, he forbade all pagan sacrifice, convening the Council of Nicea and declaring Christianity the official religion of the Roman empire the following year. He died of natural causes at Constantinople, his new capital, in May 337, dropping the title Pontifex Maximus and receiving Christian baptism shortly before his death.