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'Robin of Risingham' Roman Rock Carving

A Scheduled Monument in Corsenside, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.165 / 55°9'54"N

Longitude: -2.1562 / 2°9'22"W

OS Eastings: 390143.244414

OS Northings: 585647.097111

OS Grid: NY901856

Mapcode National: GBR F8CQ.Z8

Mapcode Global: WHB1C.VFDR

Entry Name: 'Robin of Risingham' Roman Rock Carving

Scheduled Date: 28 November 1932

Last Amended: 4 January 1991

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012133

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13433

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Corsenside

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Corsenside St Cuthbert

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument consists of the lower half of a figure cut in relief on a
rock outcrop. It is located in an alcove formed by a retaining wall on a
steep incline immediately below a south-westerly spread of spoil from
Woodburn Quarries.
The carving, which has been identified as a native hunting god, was
recorded in the early 18th century by Horsley and other antiquarians
before being partially destroyed by the then landowner who thereby
attempted to stop people wishing to view it from trespassing on his
lands. Originally the figure stood 4ft high and had a panel, perhaps for
an inscription, above his head. The god holds a bow and a small animal,
possibly a hare, in his hands, and is dressed in a tunic and cloak, with
a square block or altar opposite his right knee.
A half size replica of the original was erected adjacent to the parent
rock by the Redesdale Society in 1983.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Roman religion had adopted wholesale the classical pantheon of the
Greeks. To this the Romans grafted their own Italic or Estruscan beliefs
frequently associated with fertility and vegetation, and thus with the
conquest of Britain AD 43-410 brought to the province classical deities
covering a wide range of functions. The indigenous population of Britain
had already evolved a comprehensive mythology of its own, based partly
on the worship of natural phenomena and partly on the worship of those
aspects of life it considered vital - prosperity, fertility, war and
death. Roman toleration of native religions enabled the deities of both
conqueror and conquered to intermingle by means of a process of
identification known as syncretism. The Roman god Mars, for example,
originally an Italic deity associated with fertility and untamed
woodlands, became linked with Celtic warrior deities such as Cocidius
along Hadrian's Wall. Another Roman deity, Silvanus, was the woodland
god worshipped under his own name and in identification with native gods
in the northern frontier region.
"Robin of Risingham" Roman rock carving is the only known example of a
Roman statue cut out of solid rock in Northumberland. The bow and the
hare would associate the figure with hunting and the depiction has been
identified as the Roman deity Silvanus, god of woodland, in the guise of
the Celtic god Cocidius. This carving illustrates well the process of
syncretism as practised in the frontier region of northern England
during the Roman occupation.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Bruce, J C, The Roman Wall, (1978)
Hodgson, J, The Victoria History of the County of Northumberland, (1840)
Horsley, J, Britannia Romana, (1732)
Carmicheal, R.H., AM 107, (1982)

Source: Historic England

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