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Local government Web-Sites

City of York Council


The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites

Eboracum or Eburacum or Eburaco

Eboracum or Eburacum or Eburaco (York) Yorkshire, England.
A legionary fortress and colonia. (Ptol. Geog. 2.3.16; It. Ant. 466.) The revolt of the Brigantes against their pro-Roman Queen Carturandua deprived the Roman province of Britain of a friendly buffer state on the N, and in the emergency the governor and commander in charge Pet. Pius Cerialis advanced Legio IX Hispana from its base at Lincoln to a position on the E bank of the Ouse. Roman remains still standing are the W corner tower of the 4th c. fortress and the curtain wall facing the river in the Museum gardens, portions of the 4th c. NW wall in the garden of the Public Library and off Exhibition Square, and the 2d c. E corner tower behind the Merchant Taylors' Hall in Aldwark. Most of the fortress lies some 6 m below modern ground level and is covered by later buildings, but the modern streets are based on the fortress plan: Petergate is the via principalis, and Stonegate the via praetoria. Portions of a large headquarters building have recently been discovered below York Minster, and there are foundations of a 4th c. bath house below the Mail Coach Inn in St. Sampson's Square.
  The original fortress, covering some 200 ha, had an earthen rampart faced with turf; it was later strengthened by Julius Agricola, who constructed a clay rampart faced with turf which probably had wooden interval towers. Under Trajan the three British fortresses were rebuilt in stone; the rebuilding of York can be dated to 107-8 by an inscription found in King's Square and now in the Yorkshire Museum. This is the last dated record of Legio IX (though mortaria stamps found at Nijmegen suggest that it was moved to the Lower Rhine); ca. 120 it was replaced by Legio VI Victrix. In the early 3d c. the emperor Severus made Eboracum his headquarters, and died here in A.D. 211. He strengthened the defenses of the fortress with a stone wall 1.8 m thick, and the barrack blocks within the fortress seem also to have been rebuilt in stone at this time. There was another rebuilding at the end of the 4th c. by Constantius I, who also died here. The towers were replaced by projecting bastions; towards the end of the century the defenses became neglected and the protective ditch was used by squatters.
  Very little is known of the history of the colonia on the W bank of the Ouse, though the inscription on the altar dedicated by M. A. Lunaris to the Guardian Spirit of Bordeaux shows that it existed as a colony by A.D. 237. There was a Temple of Mithras (altarpiece in the Yorkshire Museum) and a Temple of Serapis. Outside the colonia lay the cemeteries.

G.F. Wilmot, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites, Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Feb 2006 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.

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