The Tunnocelum Entry in the Notitia Dignitatum
|Tribunus cohortus primae Aeliae classicae Tunnocelo|
“The tribune of the First Cohort of the Aelian Fleet at Tunnocelum.”
|(Notitia Dignitatum xl.51; 4th/5th C.)|
The entry above, from the late-fourth or early-fifth century work the Notitia Dignitatum is the only classical reference which mentions the name of this fort. Judging from its location in the N.D. under the Duke of the Britains, the fort perhaps lies somewhere in north-east England, possibly on the coast of Cumbria. Why on the coast? Merely because the name of the unit suggests that they were marini or milites classicorum, in other words ‘marines’. This is only an assumption of course, for there was nothing to prevent the Roman high-command from posting the regiment anywhere that circumstances dictated.
The Juliocenon Entry of the Ravenna Cosmography
The seventh century work, the Ravenna Cosmology, contains an interestingly named station Iuliocenon (R&C#116), between the entries for Glannoventa (Ravenglass, Cumbria) and Gabrosentum (Moresby, Cumbria). The position of this entry within the document makes it clear that the station was situated somewhere in Cumbria, quite possibly on the Cumbrian coast. Given even this sparse evidence, coupled with the phonetic correspondence of the names from the two geographies, Tunnocelum – Juliocenon, it seems likely that they refer to the same location.
Located Somewhere near Beckermet or Calder Bridge in Cumbria
The most-likely location for the Juliocenon/Tunnocelum site appears to lie along the line of a suspected Roman road from Papcastle to Ravenglass near the mouth of the River Ehen south of Egremont, close to the nuclear power station at Sellafield. However, aside from a few curiously-aligned Roman finds (see the OS map of Roman Britain), there is no known Roman settlement or military encampment in the area.
RIB796 - Altar dedicated to Hercules and Silvanus
PRIMVS CV AR
PRO SE ET
V S L M
In 1883 a fragment of red-sandstone inscribed in Latin was noticed built into Haile Church – where the stone still remains – some 7 miles south-east of Whitehaven and only two miles from Beckermet and Calder Bridge. The stone (vide infra) is the die of an altarstone dedicated to a pair of Roman gods, the lower part of the pedestal and the capital having been removed to “square-off” the piece prior to it being incorporated within the structure of the church. The dedicator would appear to be the ‘Chief Armourer’ of a vexillatio or legionary detachment and represents solid evidence for a semi-permanent Roman base in the neighbourhood.
|DIBVS HERCVLI ET SILVANO F E PRIMVS CV?R PRO SE ET VEXI?TIONE VSLM|
“To the gods Hercules and Silvanus, Primus the Custodian of the Armoury¹, made this for himself and his ‘flag-section’, willingly and deservedly fulfilling a vow.”
(RIB 796; red-sandstone altar fragment)
- Based on the expansion CV[stos] AR[morum].
The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965).