Verteris (Brough)


The Roman fort at Brough encloses an area of about 3 acres on the widest part of a hogsback ridge that falls steeply northwards to the Swinesdale Beck and less steeply southwards to a narrow tongue of marshy land. It is overlaid and heavily modified by Brough Castle.

The Epigraphic Evidence

RIB757 - Dedication to Septimius Severus

For the Emperor Caesar Lucius Septimius Severus Pius Pertinax Augustus and for Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Caesar ... in the consulship of Lateranus and Rufinus.
[...]ACI G ET
[... ]INO CAES
[...]A[...] ET R[...]IN COS
No commentary.

Only two texts are recorded in the Roman Inscriptions of Britain, the Latin inscription given above (RIB 757), and another in Greek (RIB 758) translated below by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (the original authors or the RIB), but swiped from the indispensible web-site Roman Inscriptions of Britain by Guy de la Bedoyere. Unfortunately the Greek text is not currently available.

Tombstone of Hermes of Commagene

Let some traveller, on seeing Hermes of Commagene, aged 16 years, sheltered in the tomb by fate, call out: I give you my greetings, lad, though mortal the path of life you slowly tread, for swiftly have you winged your way to the land of the Cimmerian folk. Nor will your words be false, for the lad is good, and you will do him a good service.

A disproportionate number of military lead seals have also been recovered from Brough Castle, suggesting that the fort functioned as some sort of administrative centre, but no more details are currently available.

The Numismatic Evidence from Brough-under-Stainmore

A large number of coins have been found over the years at Brough, and records span from 1865 to 1962, but many are unrecorded or unprovenanced. Those reputably stored at the B.M. span from a single silver Republican issue to a copper of Theodosius, with 4 each of Domitian, Trajan and Hadrian. In total, 44 coins are recorded at Brough, most notably, 11 dated between 259-275AD, 8 Domitianic, 5 Trajanic and 5 Hadrianic.

Although the content is small for comment, its chronological distribution suggests a foundation c.80AD, though the presence of a coin of Claudius I offers the possibility of some activity earlier than Agricola.” (Shotter, p.54)

The Verteris Garrison

Numerus Directorum – The Company of Plain-Speakers

Praefectus numeri directorum Uerteris

“The Prefect of the Plain-Speaking Company [at] Verteris

(Notitia Dignitatum xl.26; 4th/5th C.)

The only evidence we have which names a Roman garrison unit stationed at Brough Castle is the entry in the Notitia Dignitatum and gives us the name of the fourth/fifth century garrison regiment, the Numerus Directorum, which appears among the list of units assigned to the ‘Duke of the Britains’. A numerus was an irregular unit of auxiliary soldiers, usually part-mounted with a compliment of perhaps three or four hundred troops, these soldiers made up a large part of the Roman standing army of the later empire. The meaning of this particular unit title is unclear, but its origins may have stemmed from a general non-conformist attitude, or for some unrecorded act of outspokenness during the regiment’s history.

Classical References for Verteris

The name Verteris appears twice in the Antonine Itinerary. As the sixth entry of Iter II it is listed 13 miles from Bravoniacvm (Kirby Thore, Cumbria) and 14 miles from Lavatris (Bowes, Durham). It also appears as the third item from the end of Iter V, again listed 14 miles from Lavatris, and 20 miles from Brocavvm (Brougham, Cumbria) with the terminus of Iter V lying 22 miles beyond at Luguvalium (Carlisle) Fort (Carlisle, Cumbria).

The fourth/fifth century Notitia Dignitatum lists Uerteris between the entries for Lavatris and Bravoniacvm, while in the Ravenna Cosmology (R&C#127) of the seventh century the name Valteris appears between the unknown Lagentium, and the entry for Voreda (Old Penrith, Cumbria).

References for Verteris

  • Roman Coins from North-West England by David Shotter (Lancaster 1990) p.54;
  • Britain in the Roman Empire by Joan Liversidge (London 1968);
  • The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965). 

Map References for Verteris

NGRef: NY7914 OSMap: LR91

Roman Roads near Verteris

NW (7) to Appleby NW (12) to Bravoniacvm (Kirkby Thore, Cumbria) NW (5) to Castrigg NW (10.5) to Crackenthorpe E (13) to Lavatris E (2) to North Stainmore E (6.5) to Rey Cross