Hadrian’s Wall (#21)

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Today we continue examining the list of 52 Ancient Roman Monuments which had been claimed as a “must see” by Touropia Travel Experts. The last location we had checked out was #22 – the Forum of Jerash.

Today we’re headed to northern Britannia, as we explore what was once the edge of the Roman Empire as we to bring to you #21 – Hadrian’s Wall!hadrians_wall

Begun in AD 122 by command of Emperor Hadrian, this was a defensive fortification in the Roman provincia of Britannia. With a stone base this stone wall ran from the banks of the River Tyne near the North Sea to the Solway Firth on the Irish Sea.

Known as Vallum Aelium, Vallum Hadriani, Picts‘ Wall, or the Roman Wall, Hadrian’s Wall was obviously named to honor the Emperor. According to restored sandstone fragments found in Jarrow which date from AD 118 or 119, the Roman Wall was probably planned before Hadrian’s visit to Britain in AD 122.

It is entirely possible that, on his arrival in Britain in AD 122, one of the stops on his itinerary was the northern frontier to inspect the progress of the building of the wall. Although Hadrian’s biographer wrote “(Hadrian) was the first to build a wall 80 miles long to separate the Romans from the barbarians”, reasons for the construction of the wall vary, and no recording of an exact explanation survives.

MapOn his accession to the throne in AD 117, Hadrian had been experiencing rebellion in Roman Britain and from the peoples of various conquered lands across the Empire, including Egypt, Judea, Libya and Mauritania (not much has changed in a millennia). These troubles may have influenced Hadrian’s plan to construct the wall as well as his construction of Limites in other areas of the Empire.

Scholars disagree over how much of a threat the inhabitants of northern Britain really presented and whether there was any economic advantage in defending and garrisoning a fixed line of defenses like the Wall. It seems that the Wall would be easier, in the long run, to hold and maintain rather than conquering and annexing what has become the Scottish Lowlands and defending the territory with a loose arrangement of forts.

There were milecastles with 2 turrets in between. There was a fort about every 5 Roman miles.

Cross-sectionFrom north to south, the wall comprised: a ditch, the wall, a military way and then a Vallum (another ditch with adjoining mounds). It is thought that the milecastles were staffed with static garrisons, whereas the forts had fighting garrisons of infantry and cavalry.

Vallum near Milecastle XXXXII
Vallum near Milecastle XXXXII

In addition to the wall’s defensive military role, its gates may have been used as customs posts. People within and beyond the limes traveled through the Wall each day when conducting business, and organized check-points like those offered by Hadrian’s Wall provided good opportunities for taxation.

Another theory is that Hadrian’s Wall was constructed simply to reflect the power of Rome Used as a political point by Hadrian, it would be a very obvious way to show the unaligned local tribes just what Rome was capable of and how quickly.

Hadrian’s Wall was 80 Roman miles or 73 mi long. Its width and height varied according to the construction materials that were available nearby. hw-slide-sunset-min

East of the River Irthing, the wall was made from squared stone and measured 9.8 ft wide and 16 to 20 ft high, while west of the river the wall was originally made from turf and measured 20 feet wide and 11 ft high. This section was later rebuilt in stone.

These dimensions do not include the wall’s ditches, berms and forts. The central section measured 8 Roman feet wide (7.8 ft) on a 10 ft base. Some parts of this section of the wall survive to a height of 10 ft.

Hadrian’s Wall extended west from Segedunum at Wallsend on the River Tyne, via Carlisle and Kirkandrews-on-Eden, to the shore of the Solway Firth, ending a short but unknown distance west of the village of Bowness-on-Solway.

Although the curtain wall ends near Bowness-on-Solway, this does not mark the end of the line of defensive structures. The system of milecastles and turrets is known to have continued along the Cumbria coast as far as Risehow, south of Maryport.

Leahill Turret
Leahill Turret

It is a common misconception that Hadrian’s Wall marks the boundary between England and Scotland. Hadrian’s Wall lies entirely within England; it is less than 0.6 mi south of the border with Scotland in the west at Bowness-on-Solway, in the east it is as much as 68 mi away.

The initial plan called for a ditch and wall with 80 small gated milecastle fortlets, 1 every Roman mile, holding a few dozen troops each, and pairs of evenly spaced intermediate turrets used for observation and signaling. However, very few milecastles are actually sited at exact Roman mile divisions: they can be up to 200 yards east or west because of landscape features or to improve signaling to the Stanegate forts to the south.

Local limestone was used in the construction, except for the section to the west of the River Irthing where turf was originally used instead, for unknown reasons. Milecastles in this area were also built from timber and earth rather than stone, but turrets were always made from stone.

The Broad Wall was initially built with a clay-bonded rubble core and mortared dressed rubble facing stones. This seems to have made it vulnerable to collapse, though, and repair with a mortared core was sometimes necessary.

Corbridge Fort
Corbridge Fort

The milecastles and turrets were of 3 different designs, depending on which Roman Legion built them. Inscriptions from Legio II Augusta, Legio VI Victrix and Legio XX Valeria Victrix show that all were involved in the construction.

The turrets were about 539 yds apart and measured 150.9 square ft internally.

Construction was divided into lengths of about 5 mi. One group of each Legio would excavate the foundations and build the milecastles and turrets, then other Cohortes would follow with the wall construction.

Early in its construction, just after reaching the North Tyne, thewall_sections width of the wall was narrowed to 8.2 ft or even less (the Narrow Wall). However, Broad Wall foundations had already been laid as far as the River Irthing, where the Turf Wall began, demonstrating that construction worked from east to west.

Within a few years it was decided to add a total of 14 – 17 full-sized forts along the length of the Wall, including Vercovicium (Housesteads) and Banna (Birdoswald), each holding between 500 and 1,000 Auxilia troops. After construction, no Legions were posted to the wall.

The eastern end of the wall was extended further east from Pons Aelius (Newcastle) to Segedunum (Wallsend) on the Tyne estuary. Some of the larger forts along the wall, such as Cilurnum (Chesters) and Vercovicium, were built on top of the footings of milecastles or turrets, showing the change of plan.Housestead_Latrine

An inscription mentioning early Governor Aulus Platorius Nepos indicates that the change of plans took place early on. Also, sometime during Hadrian’s reign the Wall west of the Irthing was rebuilt in sandstone to about the same dimensions as the limestone section to the east.

Construction was largely completed in 6 years, beginning in the east (between milecastles IV and VII) and proceeded westwards. The Wall was finished in AD 128.

Once its construction was finished, it is thought to have been covered in plaster and then whitewashed. Its shining surface would have reflected the sunlight and been visible for miles around.

Vindolanda_bathhouseSimon Schama says that our understanding of everyday life for soldiers at the wall forts & the population around them have been “transformed” by “one of the most astonishing finds of recent Roman archaeology”: the excavations at Vindolanda and the Vindolanda tablets. Schama cites an inspection on 18 May between AD 92 – 97 where only 456 of the full quota of 756 Dutch and Belgian troops were present, the rest being sick or otherwise absent.Vindolanda Tablets

Much of the wall has now disappeared. Long sections of it were used for roadbuilding in the 18th Century, especially by General Wade to build a military road to move troops to crush the Jacobite insurrection.

The preservation of much of what remains can be credited to John Clayton. He became enthusiastic about preserving Hadrian’s Wall after a visit to Chesters.

To prevent farmers taking stones from the wall, he began buying some of the land on which the wall stood. In 1834, he started purchasing property around Steel Rigg near Crag Lough.

Eventually, he controlled land from Brunton to Cawfields. This stretch included the sites of Chesters, Carrawburgh, Housesteads, and Vindolanda.Route

Clayton carried out excavation at the fort at Cilurnum and at Housesteads, and he excavated some milecastles. Successfully managing, and improving, the land and livestock on his farms helped produce a cash-flow, which could then be invested in future restoration work.

Workmen were employed to restore sections of the Wall. The best example of the Clayton Wall is at Housesteads.

After Clayton’s death the National Trust eventually began acquiringClayton_painting the land on which the wall stands. At Wallington Hall there is a painting by William Bell Scott which shows a Centurion (with the face of John Clayton) supervising the building of the wall.

In 1987 Hadrian’s Wall was declared a World Heritage Site, and in 2005 it became part of the transnational “Frontiers of the Roman Empire” World Heritage Site which also includes sites in Germany. A significant portion of the wall still stands and can be followed on foot along the adjoining Hadrian’s Wall Path.

We hope you enjoyed today’s journey, and maybe have been inspire to make the trip yourself. In any case, we look forward to having you back again for further adventures.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Breeze, David J. Handbook to the Roman Wall (14th – November 2006 ed.). Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne, 1934. ISBN 0-901082-65-1.

Breeze, D.J.; Dobson, B. Hadrian’s Wall (4 ed.). London: Penguin Books, 2000. ISBN 978-0140271829.

Everitt, Anthony. Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome. Random House, 2009. ISBN 0-8129-7814-5.

Frere, SheppardBritannia. Routlege & Kegan Paul, 1980. ISBN 0-7100-8916-3.

Johnson, Stephen. Hadrian’s Wall. Sterling Publishing Company, 2004. ISBN 0-7134-8840-9.

Simpson, F.G.; MacIntyre, J. “Report of the Cumberland Excavation Committee for 1932”. Transactions of the Cumberland & Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society, new series. Titus Wilson & Son, 1933.

Schama, SimonA History of Britain. BBC Worldwide Ltd, 2000. ISBN 0-563-38497-2.

Woolliscroft, D. “Signalling and the design of Hadrian’s Wall”. Archaeologia Aeliana 5th Series, 1989.

The Districts of Turin: Highlighting Circoscrizione 3 (San Paolo, Cenisia, Pozzo Strada, Cit Turin and Borgata Lesna)

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

A week ago we explored Turin in From The Districts of Turin: Highlighting Circoscrizione 1 (Centro & Crocetta). It was a great time, but did not include all in which the city is about or has to offer.

That is why today we are headed back to northern Italy as we explore Circoscrizione 3: San Paolo – Cenisia – Pozzo Strada – Cit Turin – Borgata Lesna!Turin

Turin is split up into 10 Boroughs, locally called Circoscrizioni. These do not necessarily correspond to the historical districts of the city, which are rather called QuartieriRioniBorghiBorgate or Zone.

Cenisia is bordered by Corso CastelfidardoCorso Vittorio Emanuele IICorso Trapani and Corso Peschiera. This small district is mainly significant for hosting the recent expansion of Turinese Institute of Technology Politecnico.Turinese Institute of Technology Politecnico

The Institute’s expansion was possible after under-grounding the railway under Corso Castelfidardo and the subsequent disposal of the old buildings dedicated to the train maintenance present in this area. Politecnico expanded its facilities through 2 huge overpass buildings over the avenue, linked to new buildings on the west side.

GMThis cluster of buildings forms an evocative square with a unique architectural style. The main building on the west side hosts a General Motors research center, the General Motors Global Propulsion Systems (formerly known as General Motors Powertrain Europe).

Politecnico area extends till Via Boggio with further facilities hosted in the former OGR facilities. The Institute plans to further build new facilities in the current parking area.Officine Grandi Riparazioni

North of Politecnico facilities, the main building of the OGR former cluster, which consists of 3 joint parallel buildings, became recently a big open space which hosts temporary exhibitions and during the hot seasons. Its external spaces became a fashionable site to have a typical Italian aperitivo.

Le NuoveNorth of OGR, a former prison complex called Le Nuove is a significant example of old European prison building. The complex was built between 1857 and 1869 during the reign of Victor Emmanuel II, but was changed into a museum during the 1990s.

Former WestinghouseAn example of contemporary art is the heating plant in Corso Ferrucci, which has been covered with aluminum panels. Another 19th Century building, now abandoned, is the former Westinghouse factory of train brakes situated in Via Borsellino.

The remaining part of the District is mainly formed by residential buildings with not significant architectural value. The District had its development mainly after the World War II, following the industrial development of the town.

Palazzo LanciaThe expansion of Lancia automotive factories in the Borgo San Paolo neighborhood, culminated in the construction of Palazzo Lancia in 1954. Industrialization led to consequent population growth in the nearby areas, including Cenisia.

Main avenues which are crossing the district are Corso Ferrucci and Corso Racconigi. This last one is hosting a huge daily open market, the Mercato di Corso Racconigi.

Cit TurinCit Turin (Little Turin in Piedmontese language) is the smaller district of the city. This small triangle surrounded by Corso Vittorio Emanuele IICorso Francia and Corso Inghilterra hosts some high rated residential buildings and is regarded as a prestigious residential neighborhood by local people.

This District features many buildings in Art NouveauArt Deco and Neo-Gothic style. Architect Gottardo Gussoni created the Casa Della Vittoria here, and it is considered one of the area’s most impressive and well-known buildings.Casa Della Vittoria

Another notable example is Casa Fenoglio. Both buildings face Corso Francia.

Piazza BeneficaThe District is well known for its commercial vocation mainly in its 2 main streets, Via Duchessa Jolanda and Via Principi d’Acaja, ideally crossing each other among the Giardino Luigi Martini gardens. The gardens hosts another popular open market locally called Piazza Benefica.

The District is also characterized by 2 massive recent buildings, the Palazzo di Giustizia and the Torre Intesa Sanpaolo.Palazzo di Giustizia

The Palazzo di Giustizia is Turin’s new courthouse built in the 1990s, and the Torre Intesa Sanpaolo houses the headquarters of one of the major Italian private banks.

Thank you for stopping in today and we look forward to have you back. Check us out again for more on the Districts of Turin, along with lots more throughout the Roman Empire.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Parenti, Anthony. “Turin’s History”. Italianrus.com.

Pinto, Marta. “Turin Background Report” (PDF). Concordia Discors.

“Turin – Culture & History”Sydney Morning Herald.

“Torino – Turin Italy City Profile”.

“The city’s history”. Turismo e promozione. Città di Torino. Archived from the original.

Encyclopædia Britannica. “Turin (Italy) – Britannica Online Encyclopedia”. Britannica.com.

Commodus as Hercules

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Not too long ago we took a look at Roman Emperor who inherited the Purple since he was the biological son, unlike his father who had been adopted as an adult by the reigning Emperor to become the successor. If you care to see more about this, you can check out Like Father Not Like Son: Marcus Aurelius & Commodus.

In any event, since there’s too much crazy for just one sitting today we bring to you Commodus as Hercules!Gilded statuette of Commodus as Hercules

Commodus ruled from AD 180 to 192 and was the son of the previous Emperor, Marcus Aurelius. During his sole reign, he came to associate himself with the Greek hero, Herakles. In Rome, the myths were adopted under the name Hercules.

The macho fantasies that Commodus immersed himself in extended farther than his identification with Hercules. He was obsessed with gladiatorial contests, and was desperate to be involved in them himself.

The Emperor loved to take on wild beasts as well as human gladiators. Unlike the gladiators who would go through the motions with Commodus and let him win, the dumb animals didn’t understand that he was the Emperor and that they were supposed to let him win.commodus-in-gladiator-arena

Amongst the 12 titles that Commodus had bestowed upon himself was Herculeus (Herculean). The Emperor did not just identify with Hercules, but presented himself in public as the deified superhero.

Commodus_Musei_Capitolini_BustCommodus eventually had a bust depicting him as the hero, also known as The Bust of Commodus as Hercules, created near the end of his reign around early AD 192. This marble portrait sculpture is presently housed in the Capitoline Museums in Rome, Italy.

The sculpture was originally discovered in 1874 in the underground chambers of Horti Lamiani. It has become one of the most famous examples of Ancient Roman portraiture to date.

Here, the Roman Emperor has taken on the guise of the mythological hero, Hercules. He has been given the attributes of the hero.

The skin of the Nemean lion has been placed over his head as he clenches a club in his right hand, and the golden apples of Hesperides in his left. Each of these objects has been placed as a reminder of the hero’s accomplishments, as well as also allowing the Emperor to associate and refer to himself as the Roman Hercules.

Base of BustAt the base of the sculpture, carved into the globe are the zodiacal signs of TaurusCapricorn, and Scorpio. The meaning behind these symbols has been somewhat debated since the discovery of the sculpture, with interpretations ranging from purely astrological to calendric.

Evidence pointing towards the later of these 2 ideas has been presented by Professor Robert Hannah of The University of Waikato. He has pointed to the thought that these signs could represent the month of October, which the Emperor had renamed after Hercules during his rule:

commodusIn this way, the signs are interpreted as an indication of the month of October. October figured prominently at various stages of Commodus’ life, and indeed was renamed after Hercules by the Emperor. This calendric interpretation can therefore be seen to emphasize the Herculean aspect of the portrait.

Other sources argue that the 3 signs instead are linked to the foundations of the city of Rome. In this case, Taurus represents the founding of Rome under Romulus (traditionally on 21st of April), Capricorn represents Augustus (who regarded the sign as his), and finally Scorpio would represent the Emperor himself (as the 3rd “founder” of Rome).

This popular theory also can be seen as Commodus once more emphasizing his association with Hercules. Scorpio would fall into the month of October, which he had renamed after Hercules.

Further decoration can be found surrounding the globe, from the kneeling Amazons to either side (one of which has been lost), to the cornucopia entangled with a peltarion. Believed to be for the purpose of celebration, this idea is furthered by the inclusion of 2 Tritons, which are believed to represent his deificatio (making divine).

Commodus-as-Hercules-1630s-bronze-RC-Charles-IThere is speculation of the Emperor’s intent by creating depictions of himself as a godlike figure. While some sources say it was Commodus’s desire not to be the protege of Hercules, but to be a god, the incarnation, the realization of Hercules. Others claim that instead Commodus simply desired to be the center of attention, and show his intense appreciation for games and spectacles.

The line was definitely blurred between Commodus as a regular man, and him as a hero. Fact of the matter was that Commodus was the only person who failed to realize the only power he possessed was political as Emperor, he was never a great warrior or athlete.

We hope you enjoyed today’s look at a very troubled individual. Be sure to stop by soon to check out what else we have in store.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Adams, Geoff W. The Emperor Commodus: Gladiator, Hercules or a Tyrant? 2013.

Hannah, Robert. “The Emperor’s Stars: The Conservatori Portrait of Commodus”. American Journal of Archaeology. 1986.

Hekster, Olivier. “Commodus: Rome’s third maddest emperor.” 2000.

Hekster, Olivier. “The Roman Empire after His Death.” A Companion to Marcus Aurelius. 2012.

Kerrigan, Michael. A Dark History: The Roman Emperors From Julius Caesar to the Fall of Rome. Sterling Publishing, 2008.

Newby, Zahra. “Displaying myth for Roman eyes.” A Companion to Greek Mythology. 2011.

Penny Small, Jocelyn. “Was Alexander the Great left-handed?.” Laterality. 2006.

Rostovtseff, Michael, and Harold Mattingly. “Commodus-Hercules in Britain.” Journal of Roman Studies. 1923.

Speidel, M. P. “Commodus the God-emperor and the Army”. The Journal of Roman Studies. 1993.

Boudica – Warrior Woman

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

About a month ago we shared a story Boudica: From Roman Client to Enemy of the StateNow we are going to share the show that inspired us to discuss this notable woman.

That is why today we bring you Warrior Women – Boudica!

In order to share the whole episode, we must break it up into 5 parts. Please enjoy the story of Boudica.

We hope you enjoyed today’s journey and visual presentation of a person deemed important by history. We look forward to you joining us again real soon.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Cologne Cathedral

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today we head to Germania to explore the Cologne Cathedral!

Begun in 1248, the building of this Gothic masterpiece took place in several stages and was not completed until 1880. Over 7 centuries, its successive builders were inspired by the same faith and by a spirit of absolute fidelity to the original plans.

Apart from its exceptional intrinsic value and the artistic masterpieces it contains, Cologne Cathedral bears witness to the strength and endurance of European Christianity. No other Cathedral is so perfectly conceived, so uniformly and uncompromisingly executed in all its parts.

Cologne Cathedral is a High Gothic 5-aisled Basilica (474 ft long), with a projecting transept (283 ft wide) and a tower façade (516 ft high). The nave is 143 ft high and the side-aisles 65 ft.

The western section, nave and transept begun in 1330, changes in style, but this is not perceptible in the overall building. The 19th Century work follows the medieval forms and techniques faithfully, as can be seen by comparing it with the original medieval plan on parchment.

The original liturgical appointments of the choir are still extant to a considerable degree. These include the high altar with an enormous monolithic slab of black limestone, believed to be the largest in any Christian church, the carved oak choir stalls (1308-11), the painted choir screens (1332-40), the 14 statues on the pillars in the choir (c. 1300), and the great cycle of stained-glass windows, the largest existent cycle of early 14th Century windows in Europe.

There is also an outstanding series of tombs of 12 Archbishops between 976 and 1612. Cologne’s medieval builders had planned a grand structure to house the reliquary of the Three Kings and fit its role as a place of worship for the Holy Roman Emperor.

How This Relates To Ancient Rome:

The earliest urban settlement on the grounds of modern-day Cologne was Oppidum Ubiorum, founded in 38 BC by the Ubii, a Cisrhenian Germanic tribe. In 50 AD, the Romans founded Colonia on the Rhine and the city became the provincial capital of Germania Inferior in 85 AD.

The city was named Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium in 50 AD. Considerable Roman remains can be found in present-day Cologne, especially near the wharf area, where a notable discovery of a 1900-year-old Roman boat was made in late 2007.

From 260 to 271 Cologne was the capital of the Gallic Empire under Postumus, Marius, and Victorinus. In 310 under Constantine a bridge was built over the Rhine at Cologne.

Roman Imperial Governors resided in the city and it became one of the most important trade and production centers in the Roman Empire north of the Alps.

Maternus, who was elected as Bishop in AD 313, was the first known Bishop of Cologne. The city was the capital of a Roman province until occupied by the Ripuarian Franks in AD 462.

We hope you enjoyed today’s trip and look forward to having you back. Make sure to tell your friends and family about us on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

Lucius Tarquinius Priscus: The Elder King (#5)

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Over the past few weeks we have taken a closer look at the 7 Reges Romae. We have already seen Ancus Marcius: 4th King of RomeLucius Tarquinius Superbus: Last King of RomeNuma Pompilius: Rome’s 2nd Rex, Servius Tullius: 6th King and 2nd Etruscan, and Tullus Hostilius: 3rd Warrior King.

Today we continue on regal tour as we take a look at Rome’s 5th King, Lucius Tarquinius Priscus!Tarquinius-Priscus

Also known as Tarquin the Elder, according to Livy the King came from Etruria. Livy claims that his original Etruscan name was Lucumo, but since Lucumo (Etruscan Lauchume) is the Etruscan word for “King”, there is reason to believe that Priscus’ name and title have been confused in the official tradition.

After inheriting his father’s entire fortune, Lucius attempted to gain a political office. He had been prohibited from obtaining political office in Tarquinii because of the ethnicity of his father, Demaratus, who came from the Greek city of Corinth.

Tarquin_and_the_EagleDisgruntled with his opportunities in Etruria, Tarquin migrated to Rome with his wife Tanaquil, at her suggestion. Legend has it that upon his arrival into Rome in a chariot, an eagle took his cap, flew away and then returned it back upon his head.

Tanaquil, who was skilled in prophecy, interpreted this as an omen of his future greatness. In Rome, he attained respect through his courtesy.

The present king, Ancus Marcius, himself noticed Tarquinius and, by his will, appointed Tarquinius guardian of his own sons.

Although Ancus Marcius, the Roman king, was the grandson of Numa Pompilius, Rome’s 2nd King, the principle of hereditary monarchy was not yet established at Rome. None of the initial 3 Kings had been succeeded by their sons, and each subsequent King had been acclaimed by the people.

Upon the death of King Marcius, Tarquin addressed the Comitia Curiata and convinced them that he should be elected King over Marcius’ natural sons, who were still only youths. In one tradition, the sons were away on a hunting expedition at the time of their father’s death, and were thus unable to affect the assembly’s choice.

Whatever the case, Tarquin was King of Rome from 616 to 579 BC.

According to Livy, Tarquin increased the number of the Senate by adding 100 men from the leading minor families. Among these was the family of the Octavii, from whom the original Roman EmperorAugustus, was descended.

Most ancient writers regarded Tarquin as the father of Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the 7th and final King of Rome, but some stated that the younger Tarquin was his grandson. As the younger Tarquin died about 496 BC, more than 80 years after Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, chronology seems to support the latter tradition.

According to the Fasti Triumphales, Tarquin’s first war was wagedConsulting Attius Navius against the Latins prior to 588 BC. King Lucius took the Latin town of Apiolae by storm and took great booty from there back to Rome.

His military ability was then tested by an attack from the Sabines, who received auxiliaries from 5 Etruscan cities. Tarquin doubled the numbers of Equites to help the war effort.

The Sabines were defeated after difficult street fighting in the city of Rome. In the peace negotiations that followed, Tarquin received the town of Collatia, and appointed his nephew, Arruns Tarquinius, better known as Egerius, as commander of the garrison there.

Tarquin returned to Rome and celebrated a triumph on 13 September 585 BC. Subsequently, the Latin cities of Corniculum, old Ficulea, Cameria, Crustumerium, Ameriola, Medullia and Nomentum were subdued and became Roman.

Since Tarquin had kept the captured Etruscan auxiliaries prisoners for meddling in the war with the Sabines, the 5 Etruscan cities who had taken part declared war on Rome. Seven other Etruscan cities joined forces with them.The Elder

The Etruscans soon captured the Roman Colonia at Fidenae, which thereupon became the focal point of the war. After several bloody battles, Tarquin was once again victorious, and he subjugated the Etruscan cities who had taken part in the war.

At the successful conclusion of each of his wars, Rome was enriched by Tarquin’s plunder.

Tarquin is said to have built the Circus Maximus, the foremost and largest stadium at Rome, for chariot racing. Raised seating was erected privately by the Senators and Equites, and other areas were marked out for private citizens.Circus_Maximus_in_Rome

There the King established a series of annual games. According to Livy, the opening horses and boxers to participate were brought from Etruria.

After a great flood, Tarquin drained the damp lowlands of Rome by constructing the Cloaca Maxima, Rome’s great sewer. He also constructed a stone wall around the city, and began the construction of a temple in honor of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline Hill with funds plundered from the Sabines.Domitian-Cloaca-Forum

Rendering to Florus, Tarquin celebrated his triumphs in the Etruscan fashion. Riding in a golden chariot drawn by 4 horses, while wearing a gold-embroidered toga and the tunica palmata, a tunic upon which palm-leaves were embroidered, the King was cheered by the people of Rome.

Tarquin also introduced other Etruscan insignia of civilian authorityLictory Carrying Fasces and military distinction: the Sceptre of the King, the Trabea, the Fasces carried by the Lictors, the Sella Curulis, the toga praetexta, the rings worn by Senators, the Paludamentum, and the phalera. Strabo reports that Tarquin introduced Etruscan sacrificial and divinatory rites, as well as the tuba, a straight horn used chiefly for military purposes.

Tarquin is said to have reigned for 38 years. The sons of Ancus Marcius believed that the throne should have been theirs and arranged Tarquin’s assassination.

Disguised as a riot, Tarquin received a fatal blow to the head. Queen Tanaquil gave a statement that the King was merely wounded, and took advantage of the confusion to establish Servius Tullius as regent.

CoinWhen the death of Tarquin was confirmed, Servius Tullius became King, again leaving Marcius’ sons without the royal position. Interesting of note is that Tullius even kept Tarquin’s own sons from inheriting the throne.

We hope that you enjoyed today’s look at the Elder King, and look forward to having you back soon. Make sure to come back in a week though to see who the remaining King will be.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

(and Happy Birthday to my Big Brother Nathan!)


Chisholm, Hugh. “Tarquinius Priscus, Lucius“. Encyclopædia Britannica. Cambridge University Press, 1911.

Eutropius. Breviarium Historiae Romanae.

FlorusEpitoma de Tito Livio bellorum omnium annorum.

LivyAb Urbe Condita.

Forum of Jerash (#22)

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Today we continue examining the list of 52 Ancient Roman Monuments which had been claimed as a “must see” by Touropia Travel Experts. The last location we had checked out was #23 – The Tower of Hercules.

Today we’re headed to out of Europe, but remaining within the Roman Empire as we to bring to you #22 – the Forum of Jerash!forum-oval-plaza-gerasa-jerash-jordan-forum-beginning-colonnaded-street

Jerash is the site of the ruins of the Greco-Roman city of Gerasa, also referred to as Antioch on the Golden River. It is sometimes misleadingly referred to as the “Pompeii of the Middle East or Asia”, referring to its size, extent of excavation and level of preservation (though Jerash was never buried by a volcano).

Ancient Greek inscriptions from the city claim the city was founded by Alexander the Great or his general Perdiccas, who settled aged Macedonian soldiers there. This took place during the spring of 331 BC, when Alexander left Egypt, crossed Syria and then went to Mesopotamia.

The city’s claims are also supported by literary sources from both Iamblichus and the Etymologicum Magnum. Jerash is considered one of the most important and best preserved Roman cities in the Near East.

ReconstructionAfter the Roman conquest in 63 BC, Jerash and the land surrounding it were annexed by the Roman provincia of Syria, and later joined the Decapolis cities. In AD 90, Jerash was absorbed into the Roman provincia of Arabia, which included the city of Philadelphia (modern day Amman).

The Romans ensured security and peace in the area. This enabled its people to devote their efforts and time to economic development, while also encouraging civic building projects.Jordan Half Dinar note 1959

In the latter half of the 1st Century AD, the city of Jerash achieved great prosperity. In AD 106, the Emperor Trajan constructed roads throughout the province, and more trade came to Jerash.

The Emperor Hadrian visited Jerash in AD 129-130, and a triumphal arch (or Arch of Hadrian) was built to celebrate his visit. A remarkable Latin inscription records a religious dedication set up by members of the Equites Singulares Augusti (Personal Cavalry of the Emperor) wintering there.Imperial Horseguards

The city finally reached a size of about 956,792 square yards within its walls. The Persian invasion in AD 614 caused the rapid decline of Jerash, and a major earthquake in AD 749 destroyed most of what was left.

The Forum at Jerash was the center of commercial and public affairs. It was used for everything from victory processions and elections to public speeches or criminal trials, and even gladiatorial matches were held there.

Unique to Jerash, this impressive oval-shaped plaza lies below theoval-forum-and-cardo-maximus-in-ancient-jerash-jordan Temple of Zeus and marks the southern end of the Cardo Maximus. Measuring about 295 ft in length and 262 ft in width, the Forum is surrounded by a colonnade of 56 Ionic columns.

The ground is paved with limestone in a pattern that traces the oval shape of the Plaza. It is thought to have been constructed in the early half of the 2nd Century AD, but its function has been debated.

Jerash_cardo-maximusInitially it was believed to be the Agora or Forum, but most historians now agree the Oval Plaza was an extension of the Temple of Zeus. This means religious processions would have arrived after traversing the length of the Cardo Maximus and before entering the enclosure of the Temple.

It also served as an aesthetic solution to the challenge posed by the misalignment of the Temple of Zeus with the Cardo Maximus. The best views of the Oval Plaza are from the highest terrace of the Temple of Zeus.Jerash

Excavation and restoration of Jerash has been almost continuous since the 1920s. Aside from the Forum, remains of Greco-Roman Jerash include: Numerous Corinthium columns; a Hippodrome; 2 large temples dedicated to Zeus and Artemis; a scattering of small temples; the Large South Theatre and smaller North Theatre; 2 communal baths; a large Nymphaeum fed by an aqueduct; an almost complete circuit of city walls; a water powered saw mill for cutting stone; and 2 large bridges across the nearby river.

Roman_Army_&_Chariot_Experience,_HippodromeThe Jerash Heritage Company puts on daily spectacles known as the “Roman Army and Chariot Experience”, with 45 “Legionaries” in showing off battle tactics in armor, gladiators battling, and a 7-lap race in Roman chariots.

The Jerash Festival of Culture and Arts is an annual celebration of Arabic and international culture during the summer months held within the ancient ruins of the city. Jerash is located about 29 mi north of the capital city of Amman. Jerash Festival features poetry recitals, theatrical performances, concerts and other forms of art.Roman city of Gerasa and the modern Jerash (in the background)

We realize we extended ourselves past the boundaries of Europe, but we wanted to continue to share the list. We hope you enjoyed today’s expedition and look forward to having you back real soon.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Schneider, I. and SoKnmez, S. “Exploring the Touristic Image of Jordan”. Tourism Management, 1999.

Jerash Festival. McClatchy – Tribune Business News, 19 June 2011.

Oval Plaza. 31 October 2012.

Jerash Festival of Culture & Arts

The Ruins of Jerash

The Districts of Turin: Highlighting Circoscrizione 1 (Centro & Crocetta)

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

About 2 weeks ago we shared a visual expedition of Turin in From Augusta Taurinorum to Modern Torino (Turin): A Place Like No Other. It was a great time, but seemed to not include all in which the city is about or has to offer.

That is why today we are headed back to northern Italy as we explore The Districts of Turin!Turin

Turin is split up into 10 Boroughs, locally called Circoscrizioni. These do not necessarily correspond to the historical districts of the city, which are rather called QuartieriRioniBorghiBorgate or Zone.

Since there are a couple handfuls worth of Districts to explore, and there’s lots to focus on in each, we’ll start at the beginning. So here is Circoscrizione 1: Centro – Crocetta.

Centro is home to Turin’s historical architecture, which is predominantly Baroque, and was developed under the Kingdom of Savoy. Nonetheless the main street of the City Center, Via Roma, was built during the Fascist era (from 1931 to 1937) as an example of Italian Rationalism, replacing former buildings already present in this area.

Via Roma runs between Piazza Carlo Felice and Piazza Castello squares. Buildings on the portion between Piazza Carlo Felice and Piazza San Carlo were designed by rationalist architect Marcello Piacentini.Via Roma

These blocks were built into a reticular system, composed by grim buildings in clear rationalist style, such as the impressive Hotel Principi di Piemonte and the former Hotel Nazionale in Piazza CLN. Porches are built in a continuous entablature and marked with double columns, to be consistent with those of Piazza San Carlo.

The section of the street between Piazza San Carlo and Piazza Castello was built in eclectic style, with arcades characterized by Serliana-type arches. To this day Via Roma is the street featuring the most fashionable boutiques of the city.

Via Roma crosses one of the main squares of the city. The pedestrianized Piazza San Carlo was built by Carlo di Castellamonte in the 17th Century, hosting the most ancient cafes of the city such as Caffé Torino and Caffé San Carlo.

Piazza San Carlo and the equestrian monument to Emmanuel PhilibertIn the middle of the square stands the equestrian monument to Emmanuel Philibert, also known as Caval ëd Brons in local dialect (Bronze Horse). The monument depicts the Duke sheathing his sword after the Battle of St. Quentin.

On the northern edge of Via Roma stands Piazza Castello, regarded as the heart of the city. The half-pedestrianized square hosts some significant buildings suchPiazza Castello with Palazzo Reale as Palazzo Reale (Former Royal House of Savoy), the Palazzo Madama (which previously hosted the Savoy senate and, for few years, the Italian senate after Italian unification), the former Baroque Teatro Regio di Torino (rebuilt in modern style in the 1960s, after being destroyed by fire) and the Biblioteca Reale (Royal Library) which hosts the Leonardo da Vinci self-portrait.

Torre LittoriaMoreover, Piazza Castello hosts a Fascist era building, the Torre Littoria, a sort of skyscraper which was supposed to become the headquarters of the Fascist party, although it never served as such. The building’s style is quite different from the Baroque style of Piazza Castello. The square regularly hosts the main open space events of the city, live concerts included.

As for the southern part of the street, Via Roma ends in Piazza Carlo Felice and in its Giardino Sambuy, a wide fenced garden right in the middle of the square. Across from Piazza Carlo Felice stands the monumental façade of Porta Nuova railway station, the central station of the city built between 1861 and 1868 by the architect Alessandro Mazzucchetti.

The passengers building was renovated to host a shopping mall and more efficient passenger service offices. However, it is still an example of monumental architecture, with its stately foyer and some Baroque sights, such as the Sala Reale (the former Royal waiting room).

Some of the main streets of the City Center converge in Piazza Castello. Among them one of the most significant is the arcaded Via Po, built by Amedeo di Castellamonte in 1868 and featuring some interesting buildings, such as the first and original building of the University of Turin and the historical Caffè Fiorio, which was the favorite cafe of the 19th-Century politicians.University of Turin

Via Po ends in Piazza Vittorio Veneto (locally called Piazza Vittorio), the largest Baroque square in Europe and today heart of Turin nightlife. Piazza Vittorio features the most fashionable bars and not far from here, along the Po riverfront, the Murazzi docks used to host several bars and nightclubs open till the morning.

Parallel to Via Roma are 2 other popular pedestrian streets, namely Via Lagrange and Via Carlo Alberto, which cross the old town from Via Po to Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. Their recent pedestrianizing has improved their original commercial vocation.

In particular, Via Lagrange has recently increased the presence of luxury boutiques. This street also hosts the Egyptian Museum of Turin, home to what is regarded as one of the largest collections of Egyptian antiquities outside of Egypt.Museo Egizio

Via Lagrange and Via Carlo Alberto cross 2 significant squares of the city. The former crosses Piazza Carignano, well known mainly for the undulating “concave – convex – concave” Baroque façade of Palazzo Carignano.

This building used to host the Parlamento Subalpino (the Royal Parliament and later the Italian Parliament) and today houses the Museum of the Risorgimento. The square also features the Teatro Carignano, a well-conserved Baroque theatre.Museum of the Risorgimento

Via Carlo Alberto crosses Piazza Carlo Alberto, a big square hosting the rear façade of Palazzo Carignano, in eclectic style. On the other side stands the monumental Biblioteca Nazionale (National Library).

Mole AntonellianaNot far from Via Po stands the symbol of Turin, namely the Mole Antonelliana, so named after the architect who built it, Alessandro Antonelli. Construction began in 1863 as a Jewish synagogue.

Today it houses the National Museum of Cinema and it is believed to be the tallest museum in the world at 548 feet. The building is depicted on the Italian 2-cent coin.

Just behind Piazza Castello stands the Turin Cathedral, dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, which is the major church of the city. It was built during 1491–1498 and is adjacent to an earlier bell tower (1470).

Shroud of TurinAnnexed to the cathedral is the Chapel of the Holy Shroud, the current resting place of the Shroud of Turin. The Chapel was added to the structure in 1668–1694, designed by Guarini.

The Basilica of Corpus Domini was built to celebrate an alleged miracle which took place during the sack of the city in 1453, when a soldier was carrying off a monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament. The monstrance fell to the ground, while the Sacrament remained suspended in air. The present church, erected in 1610 to replace the original chapel which stood on the spot, is the work of Ascanio Vitozzi.

Next to the Turin Cathedral stand the Palatine Towers, an ancient Roman-medieval structure that served as 1 of 4 Roman city gates along the city walls of Turin. This gate allowed access from north to the Cardo Maximus, the typical 2nd main street of a Roman town.Palatine Towers

The Palatine Towers are among the best preserved Roman remains in northern Italy. Close to this site, the 552,189-square-foot Piazza della Repubblica plays host to the biggest open market in Europe, historically known as either Porta Palazzo or Porta Pila.

West of the Porte Palatine stands the Quadrilatero Romano (Roman Quadrilateral), the old medieval district recently renewed. The current neighborhood is characterized by its tiny streets and its several medieval buildings and today it is popular for its aperitivo bars and its small shops run by local artisans. The hub of the Quadrilatero is Piazza Emanuele Filiberto.

Piazza StatutoSouth of the Quadrilatero Romano stands Via Garibaldi, another popular street of the city. It is a pedestrian street running about a half mile between Piazza Castello and Piazza Statuto which features some of the old shops of the city. Large Piazza Statuto is another example of Baroque square with arcades.

Another main street of downtown is Via Pietro Micca, which starts in Piazza Castello and ends in the large Piazza Solferino. The street continues in Via Cernaia up to Piazza XXV Dicembre, which features the former Porta Susa passengers building, relocated in 2012 a little more southward.Piazza Statuto

The new and larger passengers building is situated between Corso Bolzano and Corso Inghilterra and is an example of contemporary architecture, being a 980-foot long and 62-foot high glass and steel structure. Porta Susa is currently the international central station of the city (high speed trains to Paris) and it is becoming the central hub of railway transportation of the city, being the station in which local trains (so-called Ferrovie Metropolitane), national trains and high-speed national and international trains converge.

CittadellaClose to Via Cernaia stands the Cittadella (Citadel), located in the Andrea Guglielminetti garden. What remains of the old medieval and modern fortress of the city, it is a starting point for a tour into the old underground tunnels below the city.

South of Centro stands the Crocetta District. Due to the high rated residential buildings it considered one of the most exclusive districts of the city.Crocetta District

Heart of the district is the partially pedestrianized area crossed by Corso TriesteCorso Trento and Corso Duca D’Aosta, containing plenty of notable residential buildings in eclectic, Neo-Gothic and Art Nouveau style. The area was built between 1903 and 1937 replacing the old parade ground, which was moved in the Southern part of the city.

Galleria d'Arte ModernaNorth of this area stands the Galleria d’Arte Moderna (GAM), 1 of the 2 Museums of Modern Art of the Turin Metro area. This Museum stands in front a huge monument situated in the center of the roundabout between Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and Corso Galileo Ferraris.

The Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II, a King of Savoy statue, is situated on a 128-foot high column. Next to the Museum, another significant residential building hosts the head office of Juventus, 1 of the 2 main Turin football clubs.

West of this area the main building of Polytechnic University of Turin stands along Corso Duca Degli Abruzzi. The 1958 building, a 1,313,197-square-foot complex, hosts approximately 30,000 students every year and is considered a major Institute of Technology of the country.Polytechnic University of Turin

The consideration is mainly due to the vocation of the city for the industrialization, pushed by the automotive sector. This institute recently expanded in the western district of Cenisia with additional modern buildings.

Crocetta is crossed by large and modern avenues, such as Corso Duca degli AbruzziCorso Galileo Ferraris, and Corso Einaudi. These avenues feature endless rows of trees which are a symbol of Turin’s typical urbanity.

Mercato della CrocettaThe most popular avenue, however, is the Corso De Gasperi, even though smaller than other avenues of the district, hosts one of the most fashionable open markets of the city. The so-called Mercato della Crocetta, in which it is possible to find some discounted branded clothing among the more popular ones.

The Western border of Crocetta is instead an example of contemporary architecture. The huge avenue, made up of Corso Mediterraneo and Corso Castelfidardo, is part of Spina Centrale boulevard and was recently built over the old railway (now undergrounded).

Mario Merz Igloo fountainAs a result of the construction, the avenue is very large (up to 200 feet) and modern, having been rebuilt with valuable materials, including a characteristic lighting system supported by white high poles. This avenue hosts some examples of contemporary art, such as Mario Merz‘s Igloo fountain or the Per Kirkeby‘s Opera per Torino monument in Largo Orbassano.

The East side of the district is also known as Borgo San Secondo and was so named after the church of the same name standing in Via San Secondo, a major street in the neighborhood. This area is located near Porta Nuova railway station and is actually older than the rest of the district, featuring several apartment buildings from the late 19th Century.Borgo San Secondo

A local open market is held in Piazza San Secondo and along Via Legnano. The market square also hosts the former washhouse and public baths of the neighborhood, among the oldest examples of their kind in Turin.

One of the main thoroughfares crossing Borgo San Secondo is Via Sacchi, which serves as an ideal gate to the City Center.

Ospedale MaurizianoIts Serlian arcades on the west side of the street host some significant boutiques and hotels, such as the historic Pfatisch pastry shop and the Turin Palace Hotel (totally refurbished and reopened in 2015). South of Via SacchiOspedale Mauriziano is one of the ancient and major hospitals of the city. Going further southwards, it is possible to appreciate an interesting residential cluster of old public housing gravitating around Via Arquata.

We appreciate you sticking around to explore this highly popular, and rather large, District of Turin. Come back soon to see some of the other Districts, along with more about the Roman Empire.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Parenti, Anthony. “Turin’s History”. Italianrus.com.

Pinto, Marta. “Turin Background Report” (PDF). Concordia Discors.

“Turin – Culture & History”Sydney Morning Herald.

“Torino – Turin Italy City Profile”.

“The city’s history”. Turismo e promozione. Città di Torino. Archived from the original.

Encyclopædia Britannica. “Turin (Italy) – Britannica Online Encyclopedia”. Britannica.com.



Pons Aelius: More than a Bridge in Britannia Inferior

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

Outside of Rome itself, we’ve come to find that there is an extensive amount of Roman historical sites in Britannia. Most of the sites end up having some connection to Hadrian’s Wall.

Having said that, today we journey to Britannia Inferior (northern England) to explore the Pons Aelius!Reconstruction

Also known as the Aelian Bridge, or Newcastle Roman Fort, was an auxiliary castra and small Roman settlement on Hadrian’s Wall in the Roman Provincia of  Britannia Inferior.

Situated on the north bank of the River Tyne,  Newcastle Roman Fort lies close to the center of present-day Newcastle upon Tyne. Now occupied by The Castle – Newcastle, Pons Aelius was at the original eastern end of Hadrian’s Wall.Bridge and Fort

When Emperor Hadrian visited Britain in AD 122 he recognized the need for a frontier wall. The Emperor’s family Nomen (Clan Name) was Aelius, so the wall and bridge were named in the Emperor’s honor.

The total length of the Roman bridge from bank to bank is estimated to have been 768 ft. Today however the precise location of the Roman bridge is not known.

The population of the town was estimated at around 2,000. The fort is estimated to have been 1.53 acres in size, quite small by usual Roman standards.

As Pons Aelius was a walled fort, a military road led from it and followed the Wall. The via would link together all of its forts and milecastles that made up the Wall.Wall Map

The bridge and its fort were built at the northern end of a road, Cade’s Road, which is speculated to have run from Brough-on-Humber, passing through Eboracum (York) and the fort of Concangis. Although the fort was to be the eastern end of the wall, it was not long before the wall was extended to Segedunum (Wallsend).

There is evidence to suggest that the fort was rebuilt in stone around AD 193-211, probably during the reign of the Emperor Septimius Severus. It is also suggested that Pons Aelius may have been built to replace an earlier fort at the south of the Tyne at Gateshead.

The fort is mentioned once in the Notitia Dignitatum in the 4th/5th Centuries. This is the only known literary reference of Pons Aelius.

Wood from the Bridge
Wood from the Bridge

The bridge was the only bridge outside Rome named after an Emperor, suggesting a particular importance. Strategically, the fort was sited here to guard the important river-crossing, the first major encampment being nearby at Condercum (Benwell, Tyne & Wear).

It would have given the Roman Army an excellent view of the surrounding areas and more importantly it commanded an excellent position at the northern bridgehead. Pons Aelius is also unusual among other forts in being placed at the point at Newcastle since this would allow only use of the west gate for dispersion of troops, while normally all 4 gates would be used.

Wall TodayDespite the bridge, the settlement of Pons Aelius was not particularly important among the northern Roman settlements. The most important stations were those on the highway of Dere Street running from Eboracum through Hadrian’s Wall and to the lands north of the Wall.

Corsopitum (Corbridge), being a major arsenal and supply center, was much larger and populous than Pons Aelius. The fort was abandoned around AD 400 and the site was then built on by the Anglo-Saxons.

Legio VI VictrixA possible detachment of the Legio VI Victrix (Sixth “Victorious” Legion) may have resided here. They were probably only responsible for building or rebuilding the fort in stone, and this is known from altar stones.

Legio VI is also mentioned on a dedicatory inscription which recorded reinforcements from provinces in Germania, along with Legio II Augusta and Legio XX Valeria Victrix. These supplementary troops were necessary to bolster the island’s garrison after losses incurred around AD 150 when the northern tribes revolted.Legio II and XX

The dedication stone also mentioned that these troops arrived in the train of the Governor Gnaeus Julius Verus, circa AD 158. A commitment to Emperor Hadrian’s mother, Domitia Paulina, attests however to the presence of the Cohors Ulpia Traiana Cugernorum civium Romanorum (The Cohort of Ulpian Cugerni, Trajan’s Own) as evidently being stationed at Pons Aelius at the beginning of the 3rd Century.

This particular unit was in Britain by AD 103 and was a unit of roughly 500 men consisting of 6 Centuriae, although there is doubt that it would have had the additional 4 cavalry troops of a Cohors Eques (Equestrian Cohort). They were originally recruited from the Cugerni tribe of the Rhenus Inferior in Germania.Legions

The Notitia Dignitatum records the Cohors I Cornoviorum (The First Cohort of Cornovii) as being present at the fort in the beginning of the 5th Century. These were raised from among the Cornovii tribe who inhabited Cheshire and Shropshire, and were the only native British unit known to have been stationed on Hadrian’s Wall.

They could have replaced the Cohort listed above as this disappears from the records around this time. This unit above could well have been stationed here until the Roman withdrawal from Britain.

Anglo-Saxon GravestoneExcavations in the 1970s to 1990s found over 600 Anglo-Saxon graves. Much of the fort remains buried underneath the medieval Castle Keep.

HQVery few excavations have taken place and there is very little to see due to the castle and surrounding city center buildings being built over the layout of the fort. However, the Praetorium, Principia (Primary Buildings) and 2 granaries of the fort are known to be in the vicinities of the castle and adjacent to the castle keep.

A stone tablet was found on the south side of Hanover Square in Newcastle that records the work of Cohors I Thracum on the Vallum, but it is thought unlikely that this unit was ever permanently stationed here. If not they could have been stationed at a possible fort on the south side of the River Tyne, if such a fort existed at this time.

The remains of an original milecastle were found behind the Newcastle Arts Centre, just off the A186 Westgate Road. The precise line of Hadrian’s Wall in the vicinity of the fort has not yet been found, so it is not known if the fort was actually attached to the Wall or not.

Outside the Castle KeepExcavations around the castle keep and dredging of the Tyne yielded finds typical of Roman encampments. They include pottery shards, engravings, 7 altar stones, around 11 building inscriptions (one recording possible restoration of a bath-house outside the fort) and more recently a stone dedicated to Empress Julia Domna dated AD 213. The collection is housed at the Great North Museum: Hancock.

The altar stones and inscriptions suggest that gods worshipped included Jupiter (2 altar-stones), mother goddesses, of which one relief shows 3 seated female figures, and Silvanus. Water-related gods such as Neptune and Oceanus have also been recovered, probably worshipped because of the fort’s close proximity to the river.

Some remains of the bridge were thought to have been discovered in 1872 during the construction of the Swing Bridge over the Tyne. There were 2 stone abutments and so far, only 2 piers have been located although 10 are estimated to have existed.OldTyneBridge

Recovered inscriptions may once have adorned the bridge. Two large altars are thought to have stood to either side of the road on the central pier of the bridge, while a monumental inscription is thought to have been erected on a small archway under which all traffic on the bridge had to pass.

Pons_Aelius_overheadThese altar-stones were dredged up from the mud of the Tyne and are in remarkably good condition. This has led some scholars to believe that they may have been ceremoniously dropped into the water from the bridge during some sort of dedication ceremony.

We hope you enjoyed today’s travel to Britain and the exploration of Pons Aelius. We hope this may inspire you to visit the site on your own in future travels.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!



Middlebrook, Sydney. Newcastle upon Tyne, Its Growth and Achievement. SR Publishers Ltd, 1950. ISBN 0-85409-523-3.

O’Connor, Colin. Roman Bridges, Cambridge University Press, 1993. ISBN 0-521-39326-4.

Archaeologia Aeliana – Fifth Series, Volume XXXI – The Roman Fort at Newcastle Upon Tyne. The Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne, 2002.

Pons Aelius Brief History

Welcome to the Castle Keep, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK. The Castle Keep Timeline

Roman and Anglo-Saxon”. Newcastle Castle.