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The Legionary Fortress at Lincoln

  • Graham Webster


Lincoln occupies a commanding position on the north side of the gap made in the north-south limestone escarpment by the River Witham as it turns in its course towards the Wash. The escarpment is part of the continuous upland link between the Humber and the Severn, forming a natural boundary to prehistoric occupation in south-east England; to the north-west lies the damp, low, midland area, the human penetration of which was never in early times on an extensive scale.



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1 Fox, Personality of Britain (4th ed. 1943) 59.

2 The very slight evidence for the campaigns which brought the army to this position is summarized by Pryce, T. Davies in Antiq. Journ. XVIII, 29 ff. The only evidence for the progress of Legion IX Hispana is a stamped tile, discussed below (p. 60, n. 47), and, possibly, the fort at Castor on the R. Nene, revealed by air-photography; see Hawkes, C. F. C., Antiquity, 1930, 274 ff.

3 Collingwood, , JRS XIV, 252; Collingwood, and Myres, , Roman Britain and the English Settlements, 1937, 91 ff.

4 Miller, , JRS xv, 1925, 183 f.

5 Richmond, , JRS XXXIV, 36.

6 Eph. Ep. IX, IIII.

7 CIL VII, 184; Eph. Ep. v, p. 219, and IX, p. 556.

8 CIL VII, 183, and Arch. Journ. CIII, 148, for details of the findspot.

9 CIL VII, 188 and 196; see also Eph. Ep. IX, P. 557.

10 No. 4 is considered to have been found in the Monson Street area, Arch. Journ. XVII, 19; CIII, 48.

11 CIL VII, 185.

12 CIL VII, 186; Eph. Ep. IX, p. 557.

13 Eph. Ep. IX, 1112.

14 Built into a mediaeval wall near Pottergate, in the rear of the garden of Greestone House.

15 This vessel is now in the British Museum and I am indebted to Mr. R. L. Bruce Mitford for the drawing. For the discovery see Arch. Journ. XIII, 173; CIII, 49. The type is rare in Britain, cf. Camulodunum (Soc. Ant. Research Rep. no. XIV, 1947). Form 95; Richborough III (ibid, no. x, 1932), no. 286, with an indecipherable stamp (B. 3, p. 159) on the underside of the base. Fragments from Wroxeter (1913 (ibid, no II, 1914), fig. 19, no. 59) may be survivals from earlier levels. The rarity and the occurrence of a stamp seem to indicate an imported vessel.

16 Arch. Journ. XVII, 21, fig. 14; for its dating to c. A.D. 70 by E. Birley, see ibid, CIII, 49, n. 168.

17 Lincoln Museum, no. 37.11.

18 Linc. Notes and Queries XI, 225-6.

19 Lincoln Museum, no. 38.11.

20 Mrs. C. R. C. Harding possesses a grey rustic jar, containing cremated remains, found in Lincoln.

21 B.M. Guide to the Antiquities of Roman Britain (1922), fig. 103.

22 Found in the Castle on the Gaol site, 1846.

23 Provenance in Lincoln not known. BM 66, 12-3, 202.

24 Provenance in Lincoln not known. BM 75, 6-25, 2.

26 Lincoln Museum no. 775.10. Nos. 5-13 are from the Water Tower site, 1910.

26 ibid. no. 759.10, cf. Camulodunum pl. CII, 6.

27 ibid. no. 760.10, cf. T. May, The Roman Forts of Templebrough near Rotherham (1922) pl.xv, B, 9.

28 ibid. no. 756.10, cf. Camulodunum pl. CII, 3, and p. 336; also Mainzer Zeitschr. XII/XIII, 174, Abb. 5.

29 Lincoln Museum no. 758.10.

30 ibid. no. 761.10; cf. Hofheim Taf. XIV, 19; also Templebrough pl. XVI, 15.

31 ibid. no. 493.11.

32 ibid. no. 771.10; cf. Hofheim Taf. XVI, 35; also Camulodunum pl. c, 5 an d 6.

33 ibid. no. 491.11; cf. Hofheim Taf. XVI, 22, 23, 25, 26.

34 ibid. no. 59–63.30, found at Westgate Reservoir 1847-8; cf. Hofheim Taf. XIV, 2 and 8, also Camulodunum pl. CIII, 13.

35 ibid. no. 490.11 found at Newport, 1911.

36 ibid. no. 7.15; cf. Camulodunum pl. CII, 24-7.

37 ibid. no. 370.08 found in the Castle ditch 1853; cf. Camulodunum pl. c, 1 and 2.

38 C. H. V. Sutherland, Romano-British Imitations of Bronze Coins of Claudius I (American Numismatic Society, Numismatic Notes and Monographs no. 65), see also Camulodunum p. 156.

39 B.M. Guide to Roman Britain (1922) fig. 66.

40 Antiq. Journ. XXV, 156, nos. 3 and 4.

41 Now in the British Museum, cf. Lydney 74 (Soc. Ant. Research Rep. no. IX, 1932).

42 Lincoln Museum no. 757.10, found at the Water Tower, 1910; cf. Camulodunum type XVII.

43 Lincoln Museum no. 59-63/30 found at West-gate Reservoir; cf. Camulodunum type v.

44 Lincoln Museum Publications no. 16 (1913), nos. 47, 50, and 51, all from Bailgate Chapel, 1879.

45 ibid. no. 17; Pryce, T. Davies, Antiq. Journ. XVIII, 33 mentions two examples of the stamp ALBVS FE in Lincoln Museum, but they cannot be traced. It is possible that one of them might refer to this broken fragment, which Dr. F. Oswald took to be ALBVSFE (Index of Potters' Stamps on Terra Sigillata, 1931, 12), although Haverfield in a letter, now in Lincoln Museum, refers to it as ALB[VCIVS] or the like.

46 Lincoln Museum no. 702.10.

47 Myres, , Antiq. Journ. XXVII, 47 ff. In Peterborough Museum there is a voussoir tile of IX Hispana from Hilly Wood, in the parish of Ashton, Northants, where it was found covering the top of a cremation urn in 1867, immediately east of King Street (see VCH Northants 1, 214; Assoc. Archit. Soc. Reports IX, 156; Arch. Journ. XXXI, 356; Eph. Ep. III, 142; Antiq. Journ. XVIII, 46 (with wrong find-spot) and fig. 3, no. 6). The full significance of the shape of this tile has only lately been realized. Irvine, J. T. (Arch. Journ. XLI, 92) describes it as ‘resembling the seat of a chair’.

48 In the interpretation of the natural strata I am much indebted to Professor H. H. Swinnerton and Dr. P. E. Kent.

49 Padley's survey of 1842 shows the whole north-west corner of the Roman enclosure and ditch clear of buildings. The date of erection of the cottages (1844–8) is to be implied from documents filed with the deed of conveyance to Lincoln Corporation, now in the City Archives (Packet no. 1080).

50 Itinerarium Curiosum (1724) 83, pl. 88.

51 Baker, , Roman Lincoln (Publ. of Lincoln Branch of Hist. Assoc., 1938) 15, pl. IV; Gents. Mag., 1836 (1) 583; Arch. Journ. CIII, 34; reproduced in colour in I. A. Richmond, Roman Britain (Britain in Pictures Series, 1947), 41.

52 By Mr. C. H. Friskney, the Head Master of the Junior Boys' School.

53 It is impossible to acknowledge individually all the help received throughout this excavation. But for Dr. I. A. Richmond's guidance and encouragement, the complexities of the site would have remained for the most part unsolved. Dr. Richmond has also revised this report for the Lincoln Archaeological Research Committee. Mr. F. T. Baker has been a great source of help and strength in the Museum and outside. In the field, Mr. Norman Booth acted as an able assistant, with many others. The Committee are also indebted to the Lincoln Education Committee for permission to explore the site.

54 The ‘jumper’ is an iron bar with a flattened semi-circular cutting edge. It is operated by moving it up and down, with a slight turn at each blow, giving a sort of screw action. Water is poured into the hole to wash out broken fragments of rock.

55 Bradford, and Goodchild, , ‘Excavations at Frilford, Berks, 1937-8,’ Oxomensia IV, 1939, 18, fig. 6, no. 23.

56 Corder and Romans, Excavations at the Roman Town at Brough-Petuaria (1937), 18 f.

57 There is no evidence yet to disprove the theory that this stone pitching might even belong to the legionary period.

58 Similar corduroys were found at Caerleon; Nash Williams ‘Report on the Excavations carried out in the Prysg Field, 1927-9’, Arch. Cambrensis, 1931, 101 ff., figs. 4 and 6; at York : Miller, , JRS XV (1925), 187, and Ribchester, JRS XVIN (1928), 198.

59 The superstructure of the tower must remain conjectural. The reconstruction shows log-sheathing, but as Dr. Richmond, remarks (Arch.Journ. CII, 28), it might have been a fighting platform held aloft by unenclosed posts, like the towers of Quintus Cicero (Caesar, BG v, 48) or those so frequently illustrated upon Trajan's Column (PBSR XIII, 28).

60 cf. Richmond, , ‘The four Roman camps at Cawthorn in the North Riding of Yorkshire,’ Arch. Journ. LXXXIX, 30, pl. VII.

61 Thanks are due to the City Engineer, Mr. A. Adlington, A.M.I.C.E., for facilities during this excavation.

62 Nash-Williams, ‘Prysg Field,’ Arch. Cambrensis, 1931, 106 ff.

63 ibid. 120 ff.

64 Richmond, Arch.Journ. CIII, on the evidence of the Mainz inscription (CIL XIII, 6679), places the foundation date in the reign of Domitian.

65 I am indebted to Dr. Felix Oswald for his opinion on some of these pieces.

66 F. Oswald, ‘Index of Figure-Types on Terra Sigillata,’ Liverpool Annals of Arch, and Anthrop. XXIII and XXIV, cited as O.

67 Knorr, Verzierte Terra Sigillata des ersten Jahrhunderts (1919), Textbild 8, no. 3 N.

69 I am greatly indebted to Mr. M. R. Hull for a full discussion on the coarse wares.

70 C. F. C. Hawkes and M. R. Hull, Camulodunum (Report of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries, London, no. XIV, 1947), cited as C.

71 W. F. Grimes, ‘Holt, Denbighshire, The Works-Depot of the Twentieth Legion at Castle Lyons,’ Y Cymmrodor XLI, cited as Holt.

72 Mitt, der Altertums-Kommission für Westfalen (1909) 146 f.

73 Oswald and Pryce, An Introduction to the Study of Terra Sigillata, cited as O. and P.

74 R. E. M. and T. V. Wheeler, Verulamium, a Belgic and two Roman Cities (Report of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries, London, no. XI, 1936), cited as Verulamium.

75 Ritterling, E., ‘Das frührömische Lager bei Hofheim im Taunus,’ Annalen des Vereins für Nassauische Altertumskunde und Geschichtsforschung XL (1913), cited as Hofheim.

76 Bushe-Fox, J. P., Third Report on the Excavations… at Richborough (Research Reports of the Society of Antiquaries, London, no. X, 1932), cited as Richborough.

77 Oswald, F., ‘Pottery from a Claudian Well,’ JRS XIII (1923), 114, and The Commandant's House at Margidunum (1948) pl. VIII, no. 2.

78 Miller, S. N., The Roman Fort at Balmuildy (Glasgow, 1922), cited as Balmuildy.

79 Catal. of Roman Pottery in the Brit. Mus. 1908, pl. XLIV, p. XXV, cited as Walters, see also B.M. Guide to Roman Britain 1922, fig. 3.

80 Corder, and Romans, , Excavations at the Roman Town at Brough, Yorks, E. (Hull, 1936), cited as Brough.

81 Colchester Museum, Annual Report 1929, pl. VIII, no. 302.

82 cf. also from Rudston, , Yorks Arch. Journ. XXXIII (1938), 334, fig. iv, 2.

83 Corder, P., ‘A Roman Pottery of the Hadrian-Antonine Period at Verulamium,’ Appendix 2, Antiq. Journ. xxi, 296.

84 For Gaulish material see Chenet, La Céramique Gallo-Romaine d'Argonne du IVe siicle (1941).

85 Heywood Sumner, The New Forest Potteriet (1927) 12 ff.

86 P. Corder and J. L. Kirk, A Roman Villa at Langton, near Malton, E. Yorkshire (1932).

87 Verulamium p. 128.

88 Whiting, , Hawley, , and May, , Report on the Excavation of the Roman Cemetery at Ospringe, Kent (Report of the Research Committee of the Soc. of Antiq., London, no. VIII, 1931).

89 Arch Cant, LIII (1941), 134.

90 Hull, M. R., ‘The Pottery from the Roman Signal Stations on the Yorkshire Coast,’ Arch.Journ. LXXXIX, fig. 6, etc.

91 Harden, Roman Glass from Karanis, Michigan, 1936, cited as Karanis.

92 Röm. Gläser aus Köln (2nd ed., 1939), pl. 14 and 23.

93 Das Glas in Altertume (Leipzig, 1908).

94 Niessen Cat. (1911) no. 714, p. 49, pl. LV.

95 Miss M. V. Taylor has drawn my attention to Haverfield, British Academy Supplemental Papers 2 (Roman Britain, 1913), 29 f., who cites one inscribed VECTIGAL PATRIMOI from Chester, and other possible examples from Densworth (Sussex) and Bath as well as numerous examples from foreign sites. I have recently seen another in Chesters Museum.

96 Mattingly an d Sydenham, The Roman Imperial Coinage.


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