Magnis / Magna
Fort, Marching or Temporary Camps, Minor Settlement and Stanegate Fort
Magnis – The Rocks
In the Notitia Dignitatum of the 4th/5th century Carvoran is named Magnis and appears between the entries for Aesica (Great Chesters, Northumberland) and Camboglanna (Castlesteads, Cumbria). The seventh century Ravenna Cosmography also lists Carvoran as Magnis (R&C#130), between the entries for Luguvalium (Carlisle, Cumbria) and again, the Wall fort at Castlesteads.
The Carvoran Fort
RIB1808 - Inscription
Although the visible remains are early-Antonine, the same site was occupied by several earlier, timber-built encampments, all surface features of which were levelled to make way for the latest fort. Aerial photography has revealed a large enclosure of just under 8 acres (c.3.2ha) which may be late-Flavian in date, lying below the visible defences. It is possible that the site was first occupied during the campaigns of Agricola but the earliest dateale evidence recovered from the site is the famous modius or corn-measure (vide infra), dated to the latter reign of Domitian, which has been taken as proof of first-century occupation.
It is possible that Carvoran was abandoned when the vallum was built, only to be reoccupied by the early-Antonine period c.136/137AD, whereupon the fort's original turf-and-timber defences were rebuilt in stone. Further rebuilding is attested during the governorship of Sextus Calpurnius Agricola at the end of the reign of Antoninus. After the withdrawal from the Antonine wall, the Carvoran fort was reoccupied by the same garrison unit that it formerly housed in Hadrianic times.
RIB1820 - Centurial stone of Silvanus
P CXII SVB
RIB1818 - Centurial stone of Prim[...
SVB FL SECVNDO
An inscription recovered from the interior of the fort (RIB 1809) records building work undertaken during the governorship of Sextus Calpurnius Agricola (163-166AD) who was legatus augusti pro-praetore in Britain during the early reign of emperor Marcus Aurelius.
RIB1809 - Altar dedicated by Licinius Clemens
The Epigraphy of Roman Carvoran
There are 69 inscriptions on stone recorded in the R.I.B. for the Carvoran fort, comprising; 34 altars and religious stones, 18 building inscriptions (including centurial, cohort and legionary stones), 9 tombstones and 8 other undefined inscriptions. Despite all this epigraphic evidence there are only four dateable inscriptions, all produced during the early/mid-second century.
The Dateable Inscriptions
The Legionary Units
Although there is evidence which records the presence of Roman legions at Carvoran, particularly the Twentieth which is mentioned on two stones, the role of the legions was not to garrison the frontier but to maintain it. The Roman citizens which comprised the legionary manpower were possessed of a wide variety of engineering and manufacturing skills, and their main occupation, aside from providing the mainstay of the Roman fighting machine, was the planning, construction, and maintenance of the forts, roads, signal-stations, and other trappings of the Roman frontier system.
RIB1826 - Funerary inscription for Gaius Valerius Tullus
IVLLVS VIAN MIL
LEG XX V V
RIB1779 - Altar dedicated to Fortune
LEG VI XX
Another inscribed stone, an altar dedicated to the goddess Fortune (RIB 1779 supra), appears to lend support to the theory that legionary forces were once stationed at Carvoran, but it must be remembered that legionary centurions were highly experienced fighting men, whose skills often found them seconded to temporary service in an auxiliary unit. These postings could involve the training of troops, the provision of tactical knowlege to the command staff, or the engineering skills required to build a new granary, but sometimes an experienced centurion may be placed in overall command of an entire auxiliary regiment.
RIB1824 - Building inscription of the First Cohort of Batavians
RIB1823 - Building inscription of the First Cohort of Batavians
A building stone found in the immediate area of the Carvoran fort is inscribed on two sides with the name of the unit which possibly formed the original garrison. Cohors I Batavorum Equitata were a five-hundred strong mixed regiment of cavalry and infantry, originating from an island in the Rhine Delta. This unit was moved westwards to Camboglanna (Castlesteads) during the second century, then to eastwards along the Wall to Brocolitia (Carrawburgh) in the third.
RIB1778 - Altar dedicated to the Emperor's Fortune
PRO SALVTE L AELI
CAESARIS EX VISV
T FLA SECVNDVS
PRAEF COH I HAM
V S L M
RIB1792 - Altar dedicated to the Syrian Goddess
AE SVB CALP
ICO[...] LEG AV[...]
PR PR LIC[...]IVS
[...]H I HA[...]
The unit was moved to Bar Hill on the Antonine Wall during this barrier's second occupation period (c.158AD), and returned to Magnis during the reign of Marcus Aurelius (vide RIB 1792 supra). They were very likely stationed at the Vercovicium (Housesteads) fort on the Wall, though the occupation period there is unknown.
RIB1810 - Fragmentary inscription of First Cohort of Hamians
[... ] HAMIORV[  ...]
RIB1780 - Altar dedicated to Hammia
RIB1795 - Altar dedicated to Veteris
IMAG COH II
DELMẠ V S L M
The third century garrison of Carvoran was Cohors II Delmatarum Equitata, another mixed regiment of cavalry and infantry, recruited from among the Delmatian tribes who occupied the area which is now modern Yugoslavia. Their presence is attested on an undated inscription (RIB 1795), which may be of the third century as this unit is also placed here by the Notitia Dignitatum.
RIB1825 - Fragmentary inscription
It seems that a small force named the Numerus Magnesium was stationed at the Carvoran fort, perhaps sometime during the late-second/early-third century when this type of unit first became recognised. This is based solely on the damaged inscription RIB 1825, which reads …AVG… NVMERI… MAGNES… LE…. It is possible that a unit known simply as the 'Company of Magnis' were recruited from the tribesmen and villagers living in the countryside in the immediate area of the Carvoran fort, in order to bolster the Second Cohort of Dalmatians which had become depleted through natural wastage (death, retirement, secondment, etc.). As no further mention of this Numerus has been found, it would appear likely that, over time, this irregular unit became incorporated within the ranks of the Dalmatian regiment, as this unit is later named in the Notitia.
Unfortunately there is nothing to substantiate these claims other than the inscription RIB 1825.
The Gods of Roman Carvoran
A number of altars dedicated to both Roman and native goddesses have been recovered from the Carvoran area. The god who is best represented is Vheterus with thirteen stones (RIB 1792-1805), all but one of which are altarstones, the only god coming anywhere close to this total is the war god Belatucader with three stones, one of which is shared with Mars (RIB 1775/6 & 1784). There are only four other gods with more than one dedication, in each case represented on two stones; Jupiter Best and Greatest (altarstones RIB 1783; 1782, not shown), Fortuna (altarstones RIB 1778, dated: 136-138AD; 1779), Mercury (1786, with Num Aug; 1787, altarstone) and another two to the 'Syrian Goddess' or Ceres (RIB 1791; 1792, altarstone, dated: 163-166AD).
There are single altarstones to a number of deities from a variety of theologies; a slab with an altar in relief bearing an inscription to Regina Caelesti (RIB 1827), an altar to Epona (RIB 1777), another to the 'Hamian Goddesses' (RIB 1780, altarstone), an altar to the Nymphs (RIB 1789), one to Silvanus (RIB 1790, altarstone) and another to the 'God of the Armoury' (1806, altarstone). All of these stones appear somewhere on this page.
RIB1781 - Dedication to Hercules
Altarstones of the Warrior God Veteris
RIB1796 - Altar dedicated to Vetiris
V S L M F
RIB1800 - Altar dedicated to Vitiris
V S ❦ L M
RIB1805 - Altar dedicated to the Vitires
V S L M
The confusion seems to be compounded when a single devotee, one Necalames, who is known to have dedicated at least three altarstones to the god, seems himself to have been undecided as to the correct spelling, on two stones using the name Veteris and on another Vitiris. It is also noted that on the third stone the devotee has changed the spelling of his own name to Necalimes.
Altarstones of the War God Mars / Belatucader
RIB1784 - Altar dedicated to Mars Belatucairus
RIB1806 - Dedication to an unnamed god
V S L M
RIB1827 - Fragmentary funerary inscription?
RIB1777 - Altar dedicated to Epona
AE P SO
RIB1783 - Altar dedicated to Jupiter of Heliopolis Optimus Maximus
RIB1786 - Fragmentary dedication to M... and to the Divinities of the Emperors
ET NVMINIBV[  ...]
IVL PACATVS E[  ...]
ET PACVTIVS C[...]
ET V [..] VAL [...]
CCVS A SOLO [...]
ER V S [   ]
RIB1789 - Altar dedicated to the Nymphs
NILLA FIL V S L [...]
RIB1790 - Altar dedicated to Silvanus
RIB1791 - Dedication to Virgo Caelestis
The Civil Settlement
A number of inscribed tombstones have been recovered from the area to the south of the fort, some of which indicate extended families living – and indeed dying – in the vicus attached to the garrison. One tombstone (RIB 1829) was erected by a Lucius Senofilus to his niece Lifana, whose parents were evidently already deceased when she died. Another (RIB 1830) was dedicated by Aurelia Pusinna to the “memory of a most devoted and very much missed sister”.
RIB1828 - Funerary inscription for Aurelia Aia
AVR T F AIAE
𐆛 OBSEQ CON
SIMAE QVAE VI
XIT ANNIS XXXIII
SINE VLLA MACVLA
RIB1829 - Funerary inscription for Aurelia
OVC [...] MA VIX[...]
ANN [...] AVR PV[...]
NA SO[... ] PIEN[...]
SIME ET [...]ID[...]
RIB1830 - Funerary inscription for Lifana
CI FILIA V[...]
IT ANN [...]
LVS AV[...]CVLVS [...]
RIB2310 - Milestone of Constantine I
RIB2309 - Milestone of Aurelian
ANO P F
The Carvoran Modius
The following passage by Joan Liversidge is quoted in full because it accurately gives all the pertinent information in a concise and readable form, therefore leaving no scope for paraphrase:
For measuring corn a bronze vessel shaped rather like a bucket and called a modius was used, and one of these rare objects was discovered outside the fort of Carvoran on Hadrian's Wall and is now in the Chesters Museum. It bears an inscription saying it was made towards the end of the first century during the reign of the Emperor Domitian and that it holds 17½ sextarii or 16.8 pints. In actual fact it holds twenty pints and it has been suggested that this discrepancy was a mean device to defraud the farmers when they came to pay the corn tax (annona). On the other hand, Roman certified measures are usually accurate. Traces of rivet holes show that some attachments have been lost from the modius and these may have taken up the extra space (Liversidge, 1968).
If you would like further information on Roman weights and measures, have a squint at the RBO Roman Appendix.
|LEG II • LEG II AVG|
|“The Second Legion • Legio II Augusta [made this].”|
|(RIB 1341; Building Stone from Benwell)|
Magnis/Carvoran Related Links
References for Magnis / Magna
Britannia xxxii (2001) pp.330/1 & fig.10 p.332; Britannia xxxi (2000) p.391; Hadrian's Wall Map and Guide by the Ordnance Survey (Southampton, 1989); Roman Britain – A Sourcebook by S. Ireland (Routlege, New York, 1986); Hadrian's Wall in the Days of the Romans by Ronald Embleton and Frank Graham (Newcastle, 1984) pp.187-192; Britain in the Roman Empire by Joan Liversidge (London, 1968) p.177; The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965). Except where noted, all English translations, including any inherent mistakes, are my own. Britannia xxxii (2001) pp.330/1 & fig.10 p.332; Britannia xxxi (2000) p.391; Hadrian's Wall Map and Guide by the Ordnance Survey (Southampton, 1989); Roman Britain – A Sourcebook by S. Ireland (Routlege, New York, 1986); Hadrian's Wall in the Days of the Romans by Ronald Embleton and Frank Graham (Newcastle, 1984) pp.187-192; Britain in the Roman Empire by Joan Liversidge (London, 1968) p.177; The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965). Except where noted, all English translations, including any inherent mistakes, are my own. Britannia xxxii (2001) pp.330/1 & fig.10 p.332; Britannia xxxi (2000) p.391; Hadrian's Wall Map and Guide by the Ordnance Survey (Southampton, 1989); Roman Britain – A Sourcebook by S. Ireland (Routlege, New York, 1986); Hadrian's Wall in the Days of the Romans by Ronald Embleton and Frank Graham (Newcastle, 1984) pp.187-192; Britain in the Roman Empire by Joan Liversidge (London, 1968) p.177; The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965). Except where noted, all English translations, including any inherent mistakes, are my own. Britannia xxxii (2001) pp.330/1 & fig.10 p.332; Britannia xxxi (2000) p.391; Hadrian's Wall Map and Guide by the Ordnance Survey (Southampton, 1989); Roman Britain – A Sourcebook by S. Ireland (Routlege, New York, 1986); Hadrian's Wall in the Days of the Romans by Ronald Embleton and Frank Graham (Newcastle, 1984) pp.187-192; Britain in the Roman Empire by Joan Liversidge (London, 1968) p.177; The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965). Except where noted, all English translations, including any inherent mistakes, are my own.
Roman Roads near Magnis / Magna
Wall: W (3.25) to Birdoswald (Birdoswald, Cumbria) Stanegate / Wall: E (3.25) to Great Chesters (Great Chesters, Northumberland) Stanegate: E (3.5) to Haltwhistle Bvrn (Northumberland) Stanegate: E (7) to Vindolanda (Chesterholm, Northumberland) Stanegate: WSW (4.5) to Nether Denton Maiden Way: S (10) to Whitley Castle (Whitley Castle, Northumberland) Stanegate: E (2.25) to Svnny Rigg Stanegate: W (2) to Throp (Cumbria)