Onnum (Halton Chesters) Vicus

Roman Settlement

The Portgate and Civil Settlement

Hadrian’s Wall is pierced by only three Roman roads, at Banna (Birdoswald) and Uxelodunum (Stanwix) on the western half of the Wall in Cumbria, and also here at Onnum. Dere Street was laid-down by governor Agricola c.80AD to serve his vigorous campaigns in Scotland, and this important highway was in constant use by the Roman military in Hadrian’s time. Whereas the Cumbrian roads both led through the centres of forts positioned on the Wall, Dere Street was here conducted via a purpose-built gateway through the Wall itself, the Portgate; situated just over ½ mile west of the Halton Chesters fort, near milecastle 22.

Tombstones from the Onnum Settlement

D M AVRELIAE VICTORINAE AVREL VICTOR PATER FILIAE
“To the shades of the departed Aurelia Victorina, Aurelius Victor, father to daughter.”
(RIB 1435; tombstone)
D M … HARDALIONIS COLLEGIVM CONSER B M P
“To the Spirits of the Departed […] Hardalionis, the College of Conservatores, well deserving, placed this.”
(RIB 1436; tombstone)

The vicus or civil settlement at Halton Chesters extended past the vallum for three or four hundred yards to either side of the road leading from the south gate of the fort. It is possible that this road was continued south-westwards to join up with Dere Street about a mile north of Corstopitum (Corbridge), near Chantry Farm (NY986667).

Recent Archaeological Activity at Halton Chesters

NZ 9975 6830 – Geophysical survey to the south of the B6318 minor road in 2000 revealed a bath-house and southward-leading Roman road flanked by civilian strip-buildings. These features were partially obscured by overlying Medieval ridge-and-furrow.