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Illustration of Roman Army H.Q. at York Minster Undercroft.

York, in North East England, was established as ‘Eboracum’ around AD71 and from thereon functioned as a combined Roman military and civilian base for the succeeding 300 years or so. In fact, in AD208 the Emperor Septimus Severus established his Imperial Court here and ruled the Empire from York for a period of three years whilst campaigning in what is now Scotland.

Images in the post illustrate archaeology and connections with the Roman period at York.

High quality painted plaster in York Minster Undercroft

Roman column in York Minster Undercroft.

Roman Street in York Minster Undercroft

Part Roman Multangular Tower at York

Roman Baths at Sampsons Square, York

Illustration of the Roman garrison city at York

Roman mosaic in Yorkshire Museum

Roman defences at York

Roman column outside York Minster

Bootham Bar. Located on site of one of four main entrances to Roman York

Artist’s impression of Chesters Roman Fort during Roman period.

This evening, I am posting information on Chesters Roman Fort (Cilurnum) on Hadrian’s Wall in northern England. This is located about 36 miles east of Carlisle.

Chesters was one of a number of principal forts built to enhance defences of the Wall and provide a base for offensive, northward strikes into enemy territory to the north. The Wall straddled the fort with three of the fort’s gates facing north.

The state of preservation and on-site museum is attributed to Victorian landowner, John Clayton who was also active in preserving sections of the Wall itself and other sites.

The fort is contemporary with Hadrian’s Wall which was constructed around the period AD 122-138. More information:-

  • Chesters was home to a cavalry unit for most of its operational life, initially the 500 strong ala Augusta ob virtutem appellata and then ( from around AD 178-84) ala II Astorum (2nd Asturans) from northern Spain.
  • The fort was built to a standard ‘playing card’ design. Principal features are:
    • Four gates, North, South, East and West.
    • Barracks block.

Barracks

Artist’s impression of barracks block.

  • Headquarters building.
  • Commanding Officer’s House.

Commanding Officer’s Quarters

  • Bath House. This is very well-preserved. It was built for soldiers’ recreation and hygiene and located outside the east gate, close to the river. Here the bather could choose between a hot, dry sauna type experience or a Turkish style steam bath.
  • Bath House at Chesters. 

  • On opposite side of the North Tyne River can be seen the remains of a bridge abutment which carried Hadrian’s Wall over the river. Over the intervening 1800 years the course of the river has moved slightly leaving the abutment remains isolated.

Location of river crossing

Artist’s impression of bridge.

  • The site includes an excellent museum which has been in operation for over 100 years and holds many finds from Chesters and other forts on Hadrian’s Wall.

Video clip of museum

  • There is no evidence of continued occupation of the site following collapse of Roman power in the early 5th century.

Temple of Mithras at Carrawburgh on Hadrian’s Wall

Tonight I am posting information on two temples of Mithras from the Roman period (1st-5th centuries AD) which are from the same time period but about three hundred miles apart.

In London can be seen the high-tech display based on archaeology at Bloomberg offices whilst still in situ at Carrawburgh on Hadrian’s Wall is an original still exposed to the elements.

Roman Mithraeum at Bloomberg Offices, London

Mithraeum at Bloomberg Offices, London

Mithras was a pagan god the worship of whom was predominantly the preserve of senior officers in the Roman army. There are between three and five temples dedicated to Mithras worship at forts on Hadrian’s Wall. Mithraism was an adaption of ancient religion from the East, centring on the struggle between light and darkness, good and evil. The central scene in every mithraeum features the slaying of a bull as an act of redemption.

The Mithraeum at Carrawburgh, comprised a nave with benches on either side with a sanctuary at one end and a narthex at the other. The latter being an ante-room for uninitiated adherents. It is believed that members of the cult progressed through various grades via a succession of ordeals.

Altars at Carrawburgh