Luguvalium (Carlisle) Town

British Civita

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

RIB 955 - Funerary inscription for Flavius Antigonus Papias

To the spirits of the departed Flavius Antigonus Papias, a citizen of Greece, lived sixty years, more or less, and gave back to the Fates his soul lent for that extent of time. Septimia Do[… (set this up).


This tombstone is probably Christian and belongs to the fourth century (see Haverfield in PSA 14 (1893) 263, Cumb. Westm. AAST 1st Ser. xiii (1895) 165), although Professor Jocelyn Toynbee (BAAJ 3rd Ser. xvi (1953) 14) considers that the arguments cited below ‘for the Christian character of the stone would seem to be sound, so far as they go; but they are not quite conclusive’.dm, though a pagan usage, is by no means unknown on fourth-century Christian tombstones (see Haverfield Acad. loc. cit.).plus minus: ‘more or less’ is characteristically Christian.The interpretation of quem ad modum … animam revocavit is difficult, animam reddere for ‘rendering one’s soul to God’ is used on Christian inscriptions, e.g. Diehl ILCV ix 3326, 3327 (= CIL xiii 2359); and for revocare in the sense of reddere Haverfield cites an African instance of A.D. 314 in Optatus Milevitanus app. 27b Acta Purgationis Felicis (Corp. Script. Eccl. Lat. xxvi p. 202 ed. Ziwsa): revocare codices. Further, in CIL xv 7181 ff. revocare is regularly used in the sense of ‘restore’ on fourth-century name-plates and collars for slaves or dogs by pagans and Christians alike (for a Christian example see CIL xv 7192).accom(m)odare can mean a ‘loan’ (e.g. Valerius Maximus 1, 5, 4, paulisper locum residendi accommodare).The metrical phrases should be noted: fatis animam revocavit makes the end of a hexameter and is presumably a quotation. Even accomodatam may have formed part of a metrical phrase, for its first three syllables are scanned as a dactyl in CIL vi 1343. Thus the awkwardness in ll. 4-6 may well be due to a use of phrases from metrical epitaphs. For a somewhat similar mixture of metrical tags on a Christian metrical epitaph see Diehl ILCV ix 3330 (= Bücheler, Carmina Latina epigraphica (1895) 1339) where in l. 12 vix commodata suo is used as the end of a pentameter.

RIB 959 - Funerary inscription for Aurelia Aureliana

To the spirits of the departed Aurelia Aureliana lived 41 years. Ulpius Apolinaris set this up to his very beloved wife.


No commentary. Addenda from RIB+add. (1995): Full description in CSIR i, 6. 493, which notes that she is holding poppies symbolizing the sleep of death. The hairstyle suits a mid-third century date, as do the diamond-shaped Os of the inscription, cf. RIB 334.

  1. 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 (Maglona), 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

RIB 2290 - Fragmentary milestone

… the Emperor ..

[...]M[  ...]

No commentary.

RIB 2291 - Milestone of Carausius

For the Emperor Caesar Marcus Aurelius Mausaeus Carausius Pius Felix Invictus Augustus.


Carausius, A.D. 286-93.

RIB 2292 - Milestone of Constantine I

For Flavius Valerius Constantinus, most noble Caesar.


Constantine I as Caesar, A.D. 306-7, although in EE Haverfield assigned it to Constantius Chlorus.

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.

Sites near Luguvalium (Carlisle) Town