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Vindolanda dig unearths 2000-year-old treasure

Published on 28/07/2006

By BRIAN TILLEY


Vindolanda

TYNEDALE’S Roman past is still ringing out across the millennia.

The incredibly prolific dig at the Vindolanda fort near Bardon Mill has unearthed evidence of a 2000-year-old Entente Cordiale.

And at the same time, remains from two other Roman sites in the district have been included in a prestigious international exhibition.

The latest Vindolanda discovery is a completely intact stone dedication slab which testifies to the cordial relations between Gauls – native to modern France – and Britons in the Roman period.

Four lines of text are carved on a base which once clearly supported a statue of the goddess.

The translation reads: “The Gallic citizens, to the goddess Gallia and, in agreement, the Britons.”

Vindolanda’s director of excavations Robin Birley said: “These ‘Gallic citizens’ were surely soldiers in the Fourth Cohort of Gauls, which formed the garrison at Vindolanda from, at latest, AD 213 down to the end of Roman rule in the early fifth century.

“They evidently worshipped the goddess who was a personification of their home country.

“What makes this inscription so interesting is that it shows that Britons – presumably British recruits to the Fourth Cohort of Gauls – joined in with their Gallic fellow-soldiers in making the dedication.

“The adjective applied to the Britons, concordes, evokes the Entente Cordiale of the Edwardian era and the famous supersonic airliner.”

Vindolanda Trust’s chairman Prof. Tony Birley added: “This is the first record in Britain of the worship of a deity personifying Gaul.”

Meanwhile, Roman remains from the English Heritage sites at Chesters Roman Fort and Corbridge Roman site, have gone on show in York.

The exhibition, based on Constantine the Great, York’s Roman Emperor, takes place at the Yorkshire Museum until October 29. It marks the 1700th anniversary of the proclamation of Constantine of York as emperor, which took place in York on July 25, 306.

The exhibition illustrates the story of Constantine and his legacy to Europe, the Mediterranean and ultimately to the rest of the world.

The two exhibits currently on loan from Chesters Museum, near Chollerford, are the Milestone of Constantine I as Caesar, from Crindledykes, and a dedication slab.

The milestone is a unique piece that dates between 306-7 and gives Constantine’s full name, and also that of his father, Constantius.

The second piece is the middle portion of a dedication to the eastern god Jupiter Dolichenus, worshipped at Chesters in Roman times, and which mentions his temple.

The Corbridge Roman Site and Museum has provided the Relief of Sol to the exhibition, a large square low-relief carving showing the head of Sol, the sun-god, with rays radiating out from his head.

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