Bollihope Altar, image 2
A sketch showing Bollihope Roman Altar inscription, from the Roman Inscriptions of Britain website.

Bollihope Roman Altar, image 1
Bollihope Altar in Stanhope Church, © C. Ruskin.

Bollihope Common
View of Bollihope Burn from Bollihope Shield, © C. Ruskin.

Eastgate Roman Altar
Original Location: Bollihope Common nr Bollihope Shield Farm Current Location: St Thomas Church Stanhope
Theme: Religion
Period: Roman
Date: Probably 3rd Century AD

What is it?
A gritstone Roman altar 40x90cm (16x36 inches) dedicated to ‘The Divinities of the Emperors and unconquerable Silvanus.’  It was found in 1747 and placed in the garden of The Old Rectory in Stanhope in 1941. In 1993 it was transferred to the North Aisle of St Thomas Church in Stanhope. The full inscription reads:
‘To the divinities of the Emperors and unconquerable Silvanus, Caius Tetius Veturius Micianus prefect of the Sebosian cavalry regiment, on fulfilment of his vow willingly set up this for taking a wild boar of remarkable fineness which many of his predecessors had been unable to bag’.

Its exact location is unknown but Edward Hildyard from Horsley Hall in 1943 was told it had been located on the north side of Bollihope Burn just west of Bollihope Shield Farm, close to a spring that comes out of the hillside.

What is its relevance to the North Pennines?
Richmond suggests that the ala Sebosiana once occupied Binchester fort and that Micianus might have been on a visit from Lancaster where his regiment was stationed. Weardale and its forest was an ideal hunting ground for wild boar and must have been used by Roman regiments from Lanchester and Binchester  as well as attracting prefects from afar.

Why is it important?
It is important because it demonstrates the presence of Roman culture in the North Pennines. It is one of two altars dedicated to the hunt; the other is at Eastgate.

Further Information
    Text References:
  • Mackenzie E. & Ross M. 1834. An Historical, Topographical and Descriptive View of the County Vol. 2.
  • Weardale Gazette 2008 – When Romans came to Weardale.
  • Hardie C. & Hammond N. 2007. The archaeology and architecture of Weardale. The Weardale Society.

 


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