CORBRIDGE (Village) ENGLAND
Corstopitum (Corbridge) Northumberland, England.
On the river Tyne 28 km W of Newcastle, 0.8 km W of Corbridge village, 4 km S of Hadrian's Wall (NY 983647). Bridgehead site on the N bank of the river, where the Roman road from York into Scotland (Dere Street) met the road W to Carlisle (the Stanegate). The name is as given in the Antonine Itinerary. It is apparently not Celtic, and may be corrupt--if not pre-Celtic. The Roman occupation lasted from the Flavian period to ca. A.D. 410 or perhaps later in the 5th c.
The earliest permanent occupation probably dates to Agricola's second campaign (A.D. 79). It was a timber fort with turf ramparts of ca. 2.8 ha, and cavalry were probably included in its garrison (RIB 1172). This fort, after some slight modification, was destroyed by fire ca. A.D. 105, and replaced by a fort of ca. 2.5 ha, also with timber buildings and turf ramparts. Rebuilt for a short occupation under Hadrian (probably in the earliest stages of the occupation of Hadrian's Wall, ca. A.D. 122-125), the fort was reoccupied in 139 (RIB 1147) in support of the advance of Lollius Urbicus into Scotland. It was garrisoned (probably by auxiliaries) until ca. A.D. 160, and its timber buildings (but not its ramparts) progressively replaced by stone. The headquarters building and commander's house, both of stone, are still visible.
Some military buildings remained in use after A.D. 160. The granaries were rebuilt and reused during the Severan campaigns of A.D. 209 and 210 (RIB 1143, 1151) and were probably still in use in the 4th c. They are still visible N of the E-W road (the via principalis). But the construction of temples (still visible) was permitted within the former fort area, S of the E-W road. A large square monumental building of uncertain purpose (still visible) was planned and begun E of the granaries, probably in the late 2d c., but was never finished. Its S range was later converted into shops, facing on the road.
Also probably in the second half of the 2d c., two military compounds (still visible) were constructed S of the E-W road, on either side of what had been the via praetoria of the fort, ingeniously fitting in behind, but not disturbing, the existing temples. Each compound, garrisoned by a legionary detachment (RIB 1154), had its own headquarters building, the W one with an underground strongroom, still visible. There was iron working in the W compound, probably to supply units stationed along the Wall. A water channel, probably of 3d c. date, supplied an ornamental fountain E of the granaries. The two compounds were combined, perhaps at the beginning of the 4th c., and military occupation of the compounds and granaries apparently continued to the end of the Roman period.
Outside the fort area, a large early bath house and a later mausoleum have been excavated some distance to the W. To the S, between the fort area and the river, a large corridor house with ornamental pool (embellished with a vigorous piece of sculpture, the Corbridge Lion, now in the museum on the site), perhaps an official rest house or mansio, lay near the road from the bridge. None of these outlying buildings can now be seen, nor can the shops and houses of the town that grew up around the site (an area of ca. 14 ha, perhaps eventually enclosed by a rampart and ditches).
While the fort was still garrisoned the settlement must have been an important market center, a role it continued to fill to the end of the Roman period. The presence of legionaries probably gave the site a more sophisticated character than that of most frontier settlements, accentuated by the activities of merchants and others from as far away as Phoenicia (RIB 1124, 1129) and Palmyra (RIB 1171). Cults attested include those of the local Apollo Maponus (RIB 1120-22) and the Syrian Jupiter Dolichenus (RIB 1131), with only slight evidence of Christianity. Stones from the site were reused in the church (tower arch) and other buildings in Anglo-Saxon and mediaeval Corbridge, and in the 8th c. church at Hexham (RIB 1120, 1122, 1151, 1169, and 1172 are still to be seen in Hexham Priory).
J.C. Mann, 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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