LANCUM-273C82: A Roman sandstone tombstone from a cemetery site overlooking and adjacent to a Roman road from which other tombstone fragments are known probably dating to the late 2nd century AD.

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Rights Holder: The Portable Antiquities Scheme
CC License:

Rights Holder: The Portable Antiquities Scheme
CC License:

Rights Holder: The Portable Antiquities Scheme
CC License:

Rights Holder: The Portable Antiquities Scheme
CC License:

Rights Holder: The Portable Antiquities Scheme
CC License:

Rights Holder: The Portable Antiquities Scheme
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Rights Holder: The Portable Antiquities Scheme
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TOMBSTONE

Unique ID: LANCUM-273C82

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Awaiting validation Find awaiting validation

A Roman sandstone tombstone from a cemetery site overlooking and adjacent to a Roman road from which other tombstone fragments are known probably dating to the late 2nd century AD.

As regards the date of the tombstone, the three upper entries are for men of the gens Aurelia, which presumably points to enfranchisement of the family in the reign of Marcus Aurelius, perhaps at the completion of military service in an auxiliary unit. It could even be that some of the 5, 500 Sarmatians sent to Britain during the reign of Marcus Aurelius (Dio Cassius History of Rome 72.16, 2), were posted to Old Carlisle, although the known garrison of the fort in the later second century was the Ala Augusta Gallorum Proculeiana (Holder 1982, 109; 2009, 80ff). This and the fact that the names appear simply with the nomen and cognomen, without the expression of apraenomen, point to a date late in the second century AD. The absence of ligaturing of letters also hints at a date prior to the third century.

The length is 660mm and the width 400mm.See also Lancum-279651, Lancum-277A53 and Lancum-27A028 for related finds.

The inscription reads:-

AVR ● TOISIA

AVR ● MARINVS

AVR ● MARIANV[S

LVPIA ● V● A ● XXV[

V ● A ● V ● PANNO[ 5

VITALIS ● V ● A ● V[

ET ● SATVR NIN[

• •

The expanded text is: 'Aurelius (or Aurelia) Toisia [vixit annos.....] Aurelius Marinus [vixit annos.....] Aurelius Marianus [vixit annos.....] Lupia vixit annos XXV[......(name)] vixit annos V Panno[.....] Vitalis vixit annos V[......] et Satur nin[

This can be rendered as:

'(For the Spirits of the Departed)......Aurelius(a) Toisia.....Aurelius Marinus.....Aurelius Marianus....... Lupia lived for twenty-five(+?) years.........lived for five years Panno......Vitalis lived for five(+?) years.... and Saturninus(?)

David Shotter

Professor Emeritus Lancaster University

Degree: B.A., Ph.D., F.S.A.

Notes:

Although this fragment retained its original left-hand border, its top, bottom and right-hand edges were broken - evidently some time ago. This left a fragment of red sandstone, which was 66cm wide at the top and 58.5cm at the bottom, and was 40cm high. The left-hand border consisted (from left to right) of five vertical bands, 4.5, 6.4, 3.2, 2.5 and 2.5cm in width; four of these were plain, but the second from the left was decorated with a cable moulding; the innermost band of the border was 1.2cm shallower than the others. The stone was 10.2cm thick, and left rough on the rear side.

The inscribed face of the stone was recessed by 2.5cm from the surface of the carved edge. The inscription consisted of seven lines of text in capital letters, 5.8cm high, and of decent, though not the best, quality. The 'As' were unbarred, and most letters were decorated with small seriphs. There was no sign of any ligaturing of letters; words and abbreviations were separated by small, but delicately-executed, leaf-stops. The surviving elements of text were clear, with the exception of the line at the bottom, where the lettering had been damaged, leaving the final three letters very conjectural.

It was not uncommon for Roman tombstones to carry a plurality of names (e.g. RIB 594 from Ribchester and RIB 685 from York); such stones would presumably have been fixed to a wall of a house-tomb at a time when resources became available for such an expensive outlay. The names inscribed on such a stone might belong to a single family or, in a military context, to members of a burial club. In the case of the present stone, a family group seems to be more likely. However, it is not necessary to assume that all these members of a family died at the same time (from an accident or from disease); the deaths could well have occurred over a period.

As for the names, as we have seen, three contain the gentilicium, Aurelius (or Aurelia); in line 1, there are no letters immediately following TOISIA, nor is there any sign of damage to the right of the name; it should, therefore, be assumed that this name is complete.The fragmentation of the stone at this point has obviously caused the loss of the age of Toisia, although we cannot know whether the stone was sufficiently wide to accommodate another name. The name, Toisia, is not attested elsewhere, nor is it clear whether it is male or female; the expanded text might, therefore, be 'Aurelia Toisia'.

Line two commences with a fresh name, Aurelius Marinus: this cognomen is instanced elsewhere (Kajanto 1965, 81and 308; Birley 1979, 171). That the following name, Marianus, is a relative of Marinus there can be little doubt, possibly a brother or a son. The cognomen, Marianus, is also attested elsewhere (Kajanto 1965, 150). The next line gives us an undoubted female name, Lupia, which clearly derives from the root, lupus ('wolf'). Derivations from lupus are common as names - for example, Aurelia Lupula on a tombstone from Risingham (RIB 1250). The break in the stone on this line prevents us from being certain about Lupia's age; she was at least 25 years old, but not more than 29.

This entry was clearly followed by another name, now lost, of a child who died at the age of five years. We then have a partial name, Panno[...], obviously derived from the geographical name, Pannonia, though with what significance is less clear - possibly a member of the familia who originated in the Roman province of Pannonia (on the Danube). There are other examples of names with this derivation - (Pannonius: Kajanto 1965, 204; Pannonicus: RIB 3243 from Chesters). Again, it is unclear what followed this part-name, although the line will have required an expression of the age of 'Panno'.

This, of course, leaves uncertain the question of whether 'Vitalis' is part of the name of 'Panno'. Vitalis and Vitalus are both common as cognomina (ILS 2656 from Rome; RIB 156 from Bath; RIB 3016 from Southwark; RIB 3200 from York), which may leave it as more likely that 'Panno' and Vitalis should be regarded as different persons. At any rate, this Vitalis was a child, who lived to the age of at least five years, but no more than nine.

The inscription on the fragment concludes with a line, which has suffered some damage at its right-hand end. The line begins with 'and Satur'; this is followed, after a small hiatus, by three damaged letters, which might be 'NIN'. There is a space between the 'R' and the 'N', although there is no leaf-stop and no sign of damage to the stone. It would seem likely that the reason for this space would have become clearer if more of this seventh line had survived. At any rate, it is hard to resist the conclusion that the name, 'Satur-ninus', was intended.

David Shotter

Professor Emeritus Lancaster University

Degree: B.A., Ph.D., F.S.A.

Find of note status

This is a find of note and has been designated: Potential for inclusion in Britannia

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder

Chronology

Broad period: ROMAN
Subperiod from: Late
Period from: ROMAN
Date from: Circa AD 150
Date to: Circa AD 190

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 660 mm
Width: 400 mm

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Saturday 17th March 2012

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Mr Stuart Noon
Identified by: Mr Stuart Noon
Secondary identifier: Dr David Shotter

Materials and construction

Primary material: Stone
Completeness: Complete

Spatial metadata

Region: North West (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Cumbria (County)
District: Allerdale (District)
To be known as: CUNNINGARTH

Spatial coordinates


Grid reference source: Centred on parish
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 1 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Agricultural or drainage work
General landuse: Cultivated land
Specific landuse: Minimal cultivation

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: LANCUM
Created: 7 years ago
Updated: 6 years ago

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