Tuesday, October 4, 2016

A Sub-Roman Christian Inscribed Stone from Castlesteads/Camboglanna

RIB 2331 from Castlesteads Roman fort

RIB 2331 Reversed

A carved stone dated roughly 466-599 CE was found at Castlesteads. Because in the past the inscription has been read wrongly, i.e. upside down as ‘BEDALTOEDBOS’, this has been considered a corrupt attempt at the divine name BELATUCADROS, altars to whom were found here in a Roman context.

However, once I reversed the stone I was able to parse the inscription as actually reading ‘SUB DEO LAUDIB[US]’, which according to Professor David Howlett of Oxford, an expert in early medieval Latin, can be translated as ‘with the accompaniment of praises of God’. Thus this stone clearly denotes a Christian presence at Castlesteads during the time of Arthur.  I have elsewhere made a case for St. Patrick having been born at the Birdoswald Roman fort nearby.

The following description of Castlesteads Roman fort is from 


The site of the Roman fort of Castlesteads. It was excavated in 1934, and now survives as fragmentary earthworks. The archaeological history of Castlesteads fort (at NY 5120 6350), identified as CAMBOGLANNA, has been summarised by Birley. It has suffered massive damage not only from natural causes, primarily by the erosion of the river cliff to the north-west, which has destroyed the north-west defences, but mainly by the creation of gardens and the landscaping of the area in the late 18th century, which has almost totally obliterated the remains. Almost 50% of the fort interior is overlaid by a walled garden, in which nothing has survived above ground, and the greater part of the rest is planted with deciduous trees. This was originally ornamental woodland but is now managed to a relatively low level. Part of the severely mutilated south-west defences, and possibly some barely discernible remains of the north-east rampart, can still be seen in the old woodland as an outward-facing scarp, up to 1.2m high. There is a further scarp running alongside the south-east boundary of the walled garden. The best preserved section is of the south angle in the rose garden, where the scarp is 1.6m high, but affected by landscaping. From the excavations of 1934, the fort was found to measure about 114m northeast/southwest, and, from the juxtaposition of the gates, it was seen to face north-west. Assuming that the dimension through the main axis was as long or longer than the width, then at least 25m of the fort has been lost over the edge of the river cliff. Some 60m to the north-east of the fort, in the woods, is a low scarp, 0.4m maximum height, forming a right angle. It may be the remains of a larger Roman fort, or possibly an annexe. Inscriptions show the fort was occupied by the fourth cohort of Gauls in the second century AD, and the mounted second cohort of Tungrians in the third century AD.

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