A cavalry fort on Hadrian’s Wall
This delicate cast copper-alloy phalerae, found in the barracks, is from a horse’s harness or a soldier’s belt. Its delicate openwork design would have glittered in the sun, as it was originally silvered or tinned on the surface. Horse harnesses and soldiers’ belts could be decorated to personal taste.
John Clayton inherited Chesters Roman Fort in 1832, and excavated all the remains that can be seen today.
By the time he died in 1890 he owned almost 20 miles of Hadrian’s Wall and five Roman forts. He excavated at many of them, as well as protecting them from quarrying, stone robbing and other damage. His finds from Chesters and other sites fill the site museum. A small selection of objects is shown here.
The upper is of one piece – originally there would have been a seam down the centre front of the foot. The upper was originally closed by lacing – there are two plain loops for fastening over the bridge of the foot, and further fastening loops attached to the front and side of the upper, in an openwork design.
This ornate cast copper alloy mount is probably from a piece of furniture. In Roman mythology, maenads (a Greek word meaning a mad or raving woman) were known as Bassarids, Bacchae or Bacchantes, as the followers of Bacchus often wore a fox-skin (bassaris).
Bacchus was the Roman name for the Greek god Dionysus, god of wine, and maenads were associated with the god in both cultures. During rituals, maenads would wear ivy wreaths and dance and drink themselves into an ecstatic frenzy.
This is one of two incense burners, or thuribles, found in Coventina's Well, a shrine outside Carrawburgh Roman Fort.
The thuribles are among many votive offerings found at the shrine to Coventina, a mysterious goddess unknown before this discovery.
The altars dedicated to Coventina found at the shrine were carved with great skill, but these thuribles appear to have been made by an amateur – the name of the goddess is spelt differently on each one.
Offerings of this kind were a relatively inexpensive way for a devotee to offer something to the goddess.
Frances McIntosh, Andrew Roberts, Rose Arkle