Fort, Minor Settlement, Temple Or Shrine and Wall Fort
The fort itself covers an area of about 4½ acres (c.1.8 ha), measuring 515 feet north-south by 385 feet east-west (157 x 117 m), and has a standard ‘playing-card’ outline. The praetentura of the fort is positioned forward of the line of the Wall, with both ends of the via principalis opening out onto the north side. Excavation has outlined a tumultuous history for the fort; towards the end of the second century it was burned to the ground and was rebuilt shortly afterwards only to be abandoned a century later, the defences were later restored (c.370AD) and the fort reoccupied until the end of Roman rule in Britain at the beginning of the fifth century.
The Roman Military at Vindobala
RIB1398 - Altar dedicated to Mithras
LEG VI D P
During excavations over the years at Rudchester a number of animal bones have been uncovered which give some indication to the varied diet enjoyed by the soldiers stationed here. The remains included those of Ox, Sheep, Pig and Red Deer; the latter animal very likely being hunted and killed for sport and to supplement the military diet. In addition, Oysters were recovered from the site, also Edible Snails.
Centurial Stones From Rudchester
RIB1400 - Centurial stone of Pedius Quintus
𐆛 PEDI QVI
RIB1401 - Centurial stone of Aprilis
RIB1402 - Centurial stone of Arrius
RIB1403 - Fragmentary building inscription
The Notitia Dignitatum tells us that the fourth century garrison at Vindobala was Cohors I Frisiavonum, who were recruited from a tribe inhabiting what is now The Netherlands. It is thought that this unit were numbered among the large auxiliary force which accompanied governor Petilius Cerealis to Britain in 71AD. The unit appears to have remained stationed at the Rudchester fort for the majority of Roman rule in Britain.
The Gods of Roman Rudchester
The Vindobala Mithraeum
- This inscription bears the names of the gods from four different theologies, respectively; Roman, Greek, Germanic and Persian.
The only deity positively attested at Rudchester is Mithras, the Persian sun god, who was also worshipped by the Romans as Apollo or Sol (the sun). There are three texts on stone listed in the R.I.B. which bear his name, and he is inferred on another (vide Legio VI Victrix supra); all of these inscriptions are reproduced above. Also of interest is a dedicatory inscription to an unknown god (vide infra).
RIB1399 - Fragmentary dedication
RIB1404 - Funerary inscription for Aurelius . . .rinus
RIB1405 - Fragmentary funerary inscription
[...] ❦ LEVIS
RIB2298 - Milestone of Caracalla
[... ]CI AVG ARAB
ADIAB P[...]RT MAXIM
O BRIT MAXIMO
TRIB P[...] XVI COS IIII
IM[...] II G IVL MARCO
LEG A[...]G P[...] P[...]
Classical References to Vindobala – ‘White Strength’
The Romano-British name for the Rudchester fort is recorded in two of the major classical geographical works, the Notitia Dignitatum of the late-fourth/early-fifth centuries and the Ravenna Cosmography (R&C#145) of the seventh century. In these documents the name is recorded as Uindobala and Vindovala respectively, and in both cases the name appears between the entries for the neighbouring Wall forts at Condercum (Benwell, Tyne & Wear) and Onnum (Halton Chesters, Northumberland).
The modern B6318 road follows the line of the Rudchester fort’s ‘principal street’ (via principalis), along the course of General Wade’s Military Road, unfortunately built upon the Wall’s original foundations after the Jacobite rebellion in the early 1750’s. Most of the stones from the fort were robbed in the eighteenth century to build a substantial extension to Rudchester Hall, which stands about one-hundred yards from the south-eastern corner, in the area between the fort and the vallum.
References for Vindobala/vindovala
- Hadrian’s Wall Map and Guide by the Ordnance Survey (Southampton, 1989);
- Hadrian’s Wall in the Days of the Romans by Ronald Embleton and Frank Graham (Newcastle, 1984) pp.67-72;
- The Roman Military Diet by R.W. Davies, in Britannia ii (1971) pp.122-142;
- Temples in Roman Britain by M.J.T. Lewis (Cambridge 1966);
- The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965)