Epiacum (Whitley) Fort
The Roman fort at Whitley Castle is located on the modern geographical boundary between the counties of Cumbria and Northumberland, close to the line of the Maiden Way on the western bank of the River South Tyne. The fort lies just west of the modern A689 road near Castle Nook, 2 miles north-west of Alston in the Gilderdale Forest.
RIB1204 - Building inscription of the Twentieth Legion
XX V V
Located on a small hill, the fort is posessed of an unusual diamond-shaped plan, which is arranged so as to take maximum advantage of the local terrain. These natural defenses were augmented by a massive system of ditches, up to seven on the south-western side which was the weakest.
RIB1203 - Dedication to Caracalla
TIF MAÍ¡X Â· TRIB P[...]
COS IIII Â· PÍ¡P PṚ[...  4]
PẸ[...] MILIT Â· CO[  ...]
Caracalla ruled jointly with his father Severus from 198AD until they were joined in equal imperium by his younger brother Geta in 209, then came a brief period of brotherly joint-rule after their father’s death in 211, until Geta was murdered the following year, thereafter Caracalla was to remain sole emperor until his own assassination in 217.
Caracalla was consul for the fourth time in 213, and his colleague, Decimus Caelius (Calvinus) Balbinus, was himself consul for the second time this year. If Caracalla was given tribunician power at the time when he was first proclaimed Caesar (heir to the throne) in 196, then the nineteenth year of his tribunicia potestas would have occurred in 215. If tribunician power was withheld until Caracalla was proclaimed joint Augustus in 198, which is thought to be the case, the date of this inscription could range from the year of his fourth consulship up until the year of his death.
The lacuna in the text where Caracalla’s name and titles should appear, is most likely ascribed to the condemnation of his memory by senatorial decree. This would have resulted in his name being deliberately erased from public monuments, altars and building inscriptions throughout the empire.
The Garrison Units
RIB1199 - Dedication to Hercules
𐆛 LEG VI
V P F
RIB1198 - Altar dedicated to Apollo
[..] COH [...] NE[...]
They unit was originally levied from the Nervii tribe of Belgica province, who inhabited the Hainaut region of south-eastern Belgium, extending southwards into the eastern Artois region of northern France; their cantonal capital was located at Bagacum (Bavai, France). The CR suffix usually appended to the unit name stands for civium Romanorum or ‘citizens of Rome’, this honour was not awarded lightly, and probably indicates that the regiment performed some outstanding act of bravery at some time in its history.
This unit have been identified on inscriptions unearthed at a number of other sites in Britain, all undated, some tentative: Rib 1240 Risingham, numeral lost; Rib 1303 Wallsend; Rib 1538 Carrawburgh; Rib 1683 Chesterholm; also identified on lead seals from Brough-under-Stainmore.
RIB1205 - Fragmentary dedication-slab
[...  ]OS PR BR
The Roman Gods of Whitley Castle
RIB1200 - Altar dedicated to Minerva and to Hercules Victor
RIB1202 - Inscription
MAX FIL DIVI ANTON[...] PI[...] G[...]
SARM NEP DIVI ANTONI[...] PRON
DIVI HADR ABNEP DIVI TRAIAN[...]
PARTH ET DIVI NERVAE ADNEP
M AVRELIO ANTONINO PIO
FEL AVG [...]ART MA[  ...]T MA[...] PONT MA[...]
TR POT X[...] IMP I[...] COS IIII P P
PRO PIETATE A[...] DEVOTIONE
COMMVNI CVRANTE ⟦G
Classical References to Epiacum
The only classical geographical source for the Roman name of Whitley Castle is Ptolemy’s Geography, in which the entry Epiacum heads the list of towns in the tribal lands of the Brigantes of north-east England; below the Selgovae and Votadini tribes of Borders and Northumberland.
The name Epiacum is possibly a contraction of epi-acumen meaning ‘surrounding the point’, which could refer to the fort’s outstanding tactical position surrounding the summit of a small hill. The modern name means ‘the castle in the white clearing’.
References for Epiacvm
- Chronicle of the Roman Emperors by Chris Scarre (Thames & Hudson, London, 1995);
- Chronology of the Ancient World by E.J. Bickerman (Thames & Hudson, London, 1980);
- The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965);
Map References for Epiacvm
NGRef: NY6948 OSMap: LR86/87
Roman Roads near Epiacvm
Maiden Way: S (15) to Bravoniacvm (Kirkby Thore, Cumbria) ESE (34) to Dvrnovaria (Dorchester, Dorset) Fosse Way: ENE (23) to Ham Hill (Somerset) Fosse Way: WSW (18) to Isca Dvmnoniorvm (Exeter, Devon) Maiden Way: N (10) to Magnis Carvetiorvm (Carvoran, Northumberland) Probable Road: NE (22) to Corstopitvm (Corbridge, Northumberland)