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Pigeon Clint Written Rock: Roman quarry inscription

A Scheduled Monument in Hayton, Cumbria

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.9131 / 54°54'47"N

Longitude: -2.7345 / 2°44'4"W

OS Eastings: 353008.281

OS Northings: 557846.250002

OS Grid: NY530578

Mapcode National: GBR 9CBM.SL

Mapcode Global: WH7ZZ.ZR0X

Entry Name: Pigeon Clint Written Rock: Roman quarry inscription

Scheduled Date: 21 November 1962

Last Amended: 18 September 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018243

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27816

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Hayton

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Hayton St Mary Magdalene

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle

Details

The monument includes a Roman inscription cut into the sandstone rock face of
Pigeon Clint Roman quarry. It is situated close to ground level on the south
side of the River Gelt. The quarry lies approximately 6.5km south of Hadrian's
Wall and was used as a source of building material during repair work to the
Wall in the early years of the third century AD. A small niche with a
projecting altar has been cut into the quarry face and some 2.7m further north
is the accompanying inscription ARA FECIT IIVSTVS LEGIONE SEXS ET AMIO
translated as `Eustus made this altar - from legion Six - and Amoi.'
The inscription is 1.4m long with the tallest letter being some 1.5cm high.


MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Hadrian's Wall marks one of the frontiers of the Roman Empire. The
international importance of the surviving remains has been recognised through
designation as a World Heritage Site.
The military importance of the Tyne-Solway route across the Pennines was
recognised by the Romans during their early campaigns through northern England
and into Scotland in the second half of the first century AD. At this time a
military road, the Stanegate, was constructed along with a series of forts.
Subsequently the Romans largely withdrew from Scotland and there is evidence
that the Tyne-Solway route was being recognised as a frontier by the start of
the second century AD. This position was consolidated in the early second
century by the construction of a substantial frontier work, Hadrian's Wall,
under the orders of the Emperor Hadrian. Hadrian's successor, Antoninus Pius,
subsequently attempted to establish the boundary further north, between the
Clyde and the Firth of Forth, but by c.AD 160 growing unrest amongst the
native populations of northern Britain and pressures elsewhere in the Empire
caused a retraction back to the Hadrianic line. Hadrian's Wall was then the
frontier of the Roman Empire in Britain until c.AD 400 when the Roman armies
withdrew from Britain.
Stretching over 70 miles from coast to coast, Hadrian's Wall was a continuous
barrier built of stone in the east and, initially, of turf in the west. The
stone wall was originally designed to be ten Roman feet wide and sections of
this width are termed broad wall. A change of plan shortly after construction
began led to a reduction in the width of the Wall to eight Roman feet, such
sections being termed narrow wall. Today, stretches of both wall types
survive, including some sections of narrow wall built on broad wall
foundations. For most of its length a substantial ditch on the northern side
provided additional defence. Where the Wall crossed rivers, bridges were
constructed to carry it across. Construction of the Wall was organised and
executed by legionary soldiers. From the beginning the barrier was planned to
comprise more than just a curtain wall. At regularly spaced intervals of about
a mile along its length lay small walled fortlets known as milecastles. These
were attached to the southern side of the Wall and most had a gateway through
the Wall to the north. Hence they controlled crossing points through the Wall
as well as affording space for a small stable garrison. Between the
milecastles were two equally spaced towers known as turrets. Together the
milecastles and turrets provided bases from which the curtain wall could be
watched and patrolled. Both the turrets and milecastles are thought to have
been higher than the Wall itself to provide suitable observation points. It is
often assumed that a platform existed on the Wall so that troops could
actually patrol along the wall top; it is however far from certain that this
was the case.
At the western end of the Wall a system of towers, small fortlets and palisade
fences extended the frontier system another 30 miles or so down the Cumbrian
coast and helped control shipping moving across the estuary of the Solway
Firth.
As originally planned, and apart from whatever space there was in the
milecastles, provision for the accommodation of garrison troops manning the
Wall was left with the line of forts which already lay along the Stanegate. At
some point a fundamental change of plan took place and forts were constructed
along the line of the Wall itself. There are now known to have been 16 forts
either attached to the Wall or in close association with it. Some overlay
earlier features such as turrets or milecastles. At this stage another linear
element, the vallum, was also added to the defensive system to the south of
the Wall. This was a broad flat-bottomed ditch flanked by a pair of linear
banks. It shadows the course of the Wall for almost all its length, sometimes
lying very close to it but sometimes up to a kilometre away from it. The
vallum's main function was to act as a barrier to restrict access to the Wall
from the south. It also had a function in linking the forts along the Wall
with a method of lateral communication. When the forts were placed along the
wall line no provision was made for a road to link them. This situation was
clearly found impracticable and a metalled track was therefore provided in
places along the vallum between the north mound and the ditch.
Later, after the withdrawal back to the Hadrianic line from the Antonine Wall,
various refurbishments were made throughout the frontier line. At this stage a
new linear feature was added: the `Military Way'. This was a road linking all
elements of the Wall defence, running from fort to fort within the area
bounded by the Wall and the vallum.
Throughout its long history the Wall was not always well maintained. It was
often neglected and sometimes overrun, but it remained in use until the late
fourth century when a weak and divided Roman Empire finally withdrew its
armies from the Wall and Britain.
It now survives in various states of preservation. In places, especially in
the central section, the Stone Wall still remains several courses high and the
attached forts, turrets and milecastles are also clearly indentifiable.
Earthwork features such as the ditch, vallum and Military Way also survive
well in places. Elsewhere the Stone Wall has been virtually robbed out and
only its foundations survive beneath the present ground surface. Similarly,
stretches of the earthwork remains, including sections of the Turf Wall, have
been levelled or infilled and now only survive as buried features. Although
some sections of the frontier system no longer survive visibly, sufficient
evidence does exist for its position to be fairly accurately identified
throughout most of its length.

Roman inscriptions were introduced into England by the Roman army who brought
with them a long established practice of setting up inscribed stones as
religious dedications and tombstones, as records of building work, and as
milestones. The Romans also brought with them a tradition of inscribing
weapons, tools or domestic utensils and ingots of metal, with the
names of the owner. Many kinds of utensils, and also bricks and tiles, were
often stamped with the name of the manufacturer. Roman inscriptions are often
cut in capital letters, either monumental or rustic, but some are cursive or
of graffiti form and others take the form of pictures or `doodles'. They are
extremely common in the first and second centuries AD and are not uncommon
later, but become rare after AD 350. After AD 400 inscriptions cease, with the
exception of those on tombstones. The value of Roman inscriptions as
historical material is immense. They are contemporary and authoritative
documents, whose text is a first hand record, free from subsequent corruption
by copyists. They are the most important single source for the history and
organisation of the Roman Empire, and their cumulative value is great.
Pigeon Clint Written Rock Roman inscription, in the Roman quarry flanking the
River Gelt, is located in one of only a handful of the 50 or so Roman quarries
in England which display Roman inscriptions. The information recorded is of
particular importance because it gives the names of men and their military
units. The inscription and its associated altar is also a good example of
rough and unskilled work cut by poorly trained masons, and thus illuminates
the contrast between this type of inscription and that produced on many public
buildings, tombstones and milestones by the finest masons who used better
quality tools and materials.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Collingwood, R G, Wright, R P, Roman Inscriptions of Britain, (1965), 338

Source: Historic England

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