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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

West Front

This evening, I am posting summary information on Wells Cathedral in Somerset, England.

  • Built between 1175 and 1490 in the Gothic style.
  • Features included iconic West Front and ‘scissor arches’ supporting the central tower.
  • Home to one of the largest collections of stained glass in England, including the 14th century Jesse window.
  • Treasures include the famous Wells Clock (which is considered to be the second oldest clock mechanism in Great Britain), the fascinating octagonal Chapter House and one of only four chained libraries in the UK.

Detail-West Front

Nave

Lady Chapel

Scissor Arches

Tower.