Archive for the ‘Roman History’ Category

Vidoeo by Alice Goss

A Roman chariot stadium in Colchester Esssex

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The Colchester Sphinx was discovered in 1821 near the Balkerne Gate, It is a small statue of a mythical creature with a human head between its claws and was carved from British stone. It is still an object of some mystery but is probably from the 2nd century AD and most recent suggestions are that it was a ‘grave guardian’ from a military tomb. It is on display in Colchester Castle Museum.

The Romans in Colchester (3)

Posted: January 15, 2019 in Essex, History, Roman History, UK
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Another thing that stood out for me from our recent visit to Colchester Museum was the examples of locally manufactured goods, particularly Glassware and pottery.

 

 

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Also some examples of fine mosaics found locally

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Some interesting religious connections from our trip to Colchester

Butt Road Church

 

The Apse at Butt Road church.

The Apse at Butt Road church.

In the 1980’s during the building of the new police station, a cemetery of 371 graves together with a narrow building were discovered. The original building dates from 320 to 340 A.D. The original building was rectangular in shape and an apse was a later addition. Whether it was originally a Christian church or whether it was converted to this function at a later date is unclear. If the former is the correct interpretation than the date 340 would make it the earliest known Christian church in Britain.

The body of Butt Road church

The body of Butt Road church

 

An artists impression of what Butt Road church would have looked like (Colchester Museum)

An artists impression of what Butt Road church would have looked like (Colchester Museum)

Longinus originally came from the area of modern Bulgaria and was a member of the First Thracian cavalry, which had come to Britain with the original invasion force. He rose to the rank of Duplicarius, second in command of a unit of 32 men. He was 40 when he died in A.D. 55.

The tombstone of Longinus (Colchester Museum)

The tombstone of Longinus (Colchester Museum)

 

Impression of what it might have looked like when new

Impression of what it might have looked like when new

Marcus Flavonius Facilis was the centurion in the 20th legion, when he died in A.D. 43, a few years after the invasion. The style of Tombstone comes from the Rhineland, where the 20th legion had been stationed prior to the invasion of Britain.

the tombstone of Marcus Flavonius Facilis (Colchester Museum)

the tombstone of Marcus Flavonius Facilis (Colchester Museum)

 

Impression of what it might have looked like when new

Impression of what it might have looked like when new

 

The Romans in Colchester (1)

Posted: January 14, 2019 in Essex, History, Roman History, UK
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Map of Roman Colchester

Map of Roman Colchester

A trip with the History group to Colchester in Essex.

Prior to the arrival of the Romans in Britain, Camulodunum had been the Royal seat of Cunobelin, Leader of the Trinovantes. When the Roman invaded in 43AD the Emperor Claudius himself (during his brief 14 day visit) led the Roman legions into the settlement, where they proceeded to construct a legionary fortress on the high ground overlooking the Trinovantes settlement, In the initial years of the Roman conquest this newly founded Roman settlement served as the capital of the province of Britannia.

By 49AD it had become a civilian colonia named Colonia Claudia and the military presence was mostly comprised of retired soldiers. A dispute in AD60 with the Iceni following the death of their king led to his widow Boudica leading the Iceni and the Trinovantes against the colonia. It was ill-prepared and the rebels stormed through the city burning and killing. Those that could took refuge in the Temple of Claudius, on the site of the current castle. Here they held out for 2 days waiting for relief that never came and finally the rebels burnt it down and massacred any survivors.

Model of Temple of Claudius (Colchester Museum)

Model of Temple of Claudius (Colchester Museum)

Roman helmet from destruction layer of AD60 (Colchester Museum)

Roman helmet from destruction layer of AD60 (Colchester Museum)

Building Material from destruction layer of AD60 (Colchester Museum)

Building Material from destruction layer of AD60 (Colchester Museum)

The colonia was rebuilt following the suppression of the rebellion, but lost it status as provincial capital to the fast growing settlement of Londinium. During this rebuilding a city wall was added to ensure that the city would never be undefensible again.

Roman city wall

Roman city wall

Balkerne Gate, Colchester. Built as one of the entrances through the city wall. It originally had 4 arches, two for pedestrians and two for traffic. This made it the largest entrance arch found in the UK. Today only one pedestrian arch survives as part of a stretch of the Roman city wall.

Balkerne Gate, Colchester. Built as one of the entrances through the city wall. It originally had 4 arches, two for pedestrians and two for traffic. This made it the largest entrance arch found in the UK. Today only one pedestrian arch survives as part of a stretch of the Roman city wall.

Born sometime around 207 AD, Severus succeeded his cousin Elagabalus, when the latter was assassinated. He was 15 years old at the time and this made Severus the youngest of all Roman Emporers at that time.

Severus Alexander (Liverpool Museum)

He was an able administrator and most of his reign was a prosperous time for the empire. He had an open opinion on religion and reformed the rights of soldiers.

In 231, the Sassanids invaded the eastern empire. The accounts of the campaign are contradictory. Herodian records a number of defeats for the Romans, but Historia Augusta and Severus own dispatches record great victories. However, Severus did recover the lost territory and prevent further incursion into the empire, at least for the present. In 234 the German tribes crossed the Rhine and Danube borders. Concerned that his army was not in a fit state to face the invaders, Severus sought a diplomatic solution and if this should fail, bribery.

This didn’t sit well with the legions, who felt such an approach dishonoured them and their abilities. There had been a growing discontent amongst the legions and this was the final straw. He was assassinated by a group of soldiers on 19th March 235 and the legion acclaimed Gaius Lulius Verus Maximus, a soldier from Thrace, as Emporer. Severus had reigned for 13 years and most of these had been prosperous for the empire.

Many historians see the assassination of Severus as the beginning of a crisis in the empire which would last for 50 years. It would be a time of invasion, civil war and economic failure. In the next 50 years, there would be 26 claimants to the throne of the Emporer. It would see the establishment, and subsequent fall, of a number of independent regions within the empire and would only end when Diocletian gained the throne in 284. It is interesting to note that although immediately after his death Severus was condemned by the Senate, within a few years of Maximus’ death in 238, they had deified Severus, recognising, in hindsight, the stability he had bought to the empire.

Roman Emporers: Gaius Caesar

Posted: November 21, 2018 in History, Roman History
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In this case a nearly Emporer. Gaius was the Grandson of Augustus Caesar and the son of Marcus Agrippa and was the nominated heir to the purple. He was both a skilled politician and military leader and was an almost ideal candidate to succeed his grandfather, talented and much loved by the Roman people. He led successful military campaigns in Parthia, Arabia and Armenia.

In 2AD, during the Armenian Campaign, the rebel leader sent a message that he wanted to negotiate a truce. Unfortunately it was a trick and when Gaius showed up, he and his attendants were attacked by the rebels. Gaius was wounded. Initially he seemed to recover and his forces went onto defeat the rebels.

Within a year things took a turn for the worse. Long-term effects of his wound began to take their toil. evetually at the age of twenty-three he resigned his commision and retired to Syria. He sent his grandfather a letter in which he told him he wanted to resign from public life. Augustus, no doubt hoping this was a temporary setback and the Gaius would recover, tried to convince him to return to Italy and the court, but Gaius refused. By February of 4 AD, he was dead.

We are told that the whole Empire was shocked and saddened by the death of this much loved leader. He was granted many posthumous honours ny the Roman state.

Both Tacitus and Cassius Deo writing years later suggest that it was not the wound that killed him but that he was poisoned. The main candidate for this was Livia, Gaius’ step-mother, whose son Tiberius became the heir on the death of Gaius.

Marcus Aurelius, Emporer and Philosopher, reigned from 161 to 180 AD. He was born in 121 in the province of Iberia (Modern day Spain) into a patrician family. In 136 Emporer Hadrian adopted Marcus’ father in law as his successor, but he died only 2 years later. The Emporer then appointed Aurelius Antoninus, Marcus’ uncle, as his new heir and Antoninus adopted Marcus and Lucius Verus as his heirs. Hadrian was very sick at this time and only 6 months after making the appointments he died and Antoninus took the Imperial throne in his place. In 139 and 140, Marcus served as Consul, having avoided the normal route of advancement by being the heir of the Emporer. Marcus the consul struggled with the life and duties of court yearning for time for his reading and studies. Antoninus died in 161 and Marcus he became co-Emporer with Lucius Verus, even though the Senate wished him to be sole ruler. Lucius Verus died in 169 and Marcus roled as sole Emporer. During his reign, he defeated the Parthian Empire and was successful in the Marcomanic Wars against the Germanic tribes. But he still found time to write about his philosophical beliefs. In addition to his military and scholastic renown, he was also a good administrator and lawyer. Marcus died in March 180 and was succeeded by his son, Commodus, with whom he had ruled jointly since 177. Marcus Aurelius is regarded as being the last of the 5 Good Emporers and many historians take his death and the ascension of his son as being the start of the decline of the Roman Empire.

Views of York (2)

Posted: September 7, 2018 in History, Roman History, UK, York
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Column from Roman headquarters building (4th century AD)

Column from Roman headquarters building (4th century AD)

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The birthplace of Guy Fawkes

The birthplace of Guy Fawkes

York Minster

York Minster

York Minster close

York Minster close