Hadrian’s Wall Exploration 15 – Corbridge Museum and Store

On Thursday 12 May 2016, English Heritage were offering “hands on” Romans exploration at Corbridge as part of the “Museums by Night” season. My evening photos on the last blog were taken before it started. When I booked, and you phone a national number, I checked there was disabled access – when we got there, there wasn’t. Rather annoying. The hands-on session was led by the lass who is Curator and she was very good. She showed us, and usually let us handle, a variety of things.

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The two right hand photos are of the remains of a small statue – as it is broken you can see the maker’s finger prints in the clay.

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There were some lovely rings – including a key ring – and a metal toggle.

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Glass too – some of it very fragile.

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Pottery – the top one is a curly beard – and these have been drilled.

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They have a collection of stones from here and the other EH Wall forts.

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I wonder what’s in all these boxes.

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They have an early photo album (but I can’t remember who the photographer was) – here is Chesters bathhouse and Vindolanda’s milestone.

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The most beautiful thing was this bronze enamelled vase, one of the grave goods from a cremation cemetery along the line of Dere Street that was excavated in 1974 during the creation of the A69 bypass.

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On our final day in Northumberland (Sunday 3 July) Julie and I paid a visit to Corbridge. My other photos of the site were from that date, and here are some Museum photos. Several of the pieces of the Corbridge Horde are behind glass in the museum, and others are in boxes in the stores. Buried in the first half of the C2 it was discovered in 1964.

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A lovely selection of coins and pottery.

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Lots of lovely stones. The inscription below was dedicated to Sol Invictus by a detachment (vexillation) of the Sixth Legion. Sol was an eastern god whose worship spread through the army from the C1 and was especially encouraged by the Emperor Elagabalus (AD 218-222). After his death Elagabalus was subjected to a damnation memoria – essentially an eradication of his public memory – and the first line of the inscription has been chiselled out.

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An elaborately carved building stone with columns flanking a wreath and joined by garlands. A wild boar of the Twentieth Legion appears at the bottom. The inscription on the columns and in the wreath states that work was achieved by the century of Tullius Capito (TC) in the sxth cohort (COHVI) of the legion. The text is massively abbreviated with letters running together (ligatured) to save space.

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This corbel most likely depicts the eastern god Jupiter-Ammon, derived from the Greco-Egyptian combination of Zeus/Jupiter (the Greco-Roman god of sky and thunder) and the Egyptian Amun (king of gods and patron of Thebes). The carving style makes it more likely to be the Egyptian deity than a native Romano-British horned god. According to the caption there is little evidence for Ammon’s worship elsewhere in Britain and so this is a another indication of the multi-cultural makeup of Corbridge’s population.

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This is a relief of two goddesses, Fortuna and Ceres. Fortuna is the goddess of fate and chance, she holds a cornucopia, a horn of plenty, and a rudder, with a globe by her right foot symbolising how she gave plenty to the empire and guided people towards good fortune. Ceres is the goddess of cereal crops, who appears to hold a long flaming torch and a loaf of bread. She is the corn-mother and the lighter of darkness.

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This picture is a little sad. The Tombstone of Vellibia Ertola, who lived “most happily for four years and sixty days”. I wonder if the ball was one of her favourite toys. I remember visiting Corbridge with Theo, my little lad – we had a wonderful afternoon watching Roman cavalry troops.

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Let us end with a final photo of the wonderful lion.

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One Response to Hadrian’s Wall Exploration 15 – Corbridge Museum and Store

  1. Tacitus says:

    Remarkably, good Sir, we were both at the Corbridge finds handling event! I am the fellow with glasses and a brown checkered shirt in one or two of your pix!
    ‘Tis a small world indeed.


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