button to main menu  Gents Mag 1744 p.369

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Gentleman's Magazine 1744 p.369

  roman inscription

Roman Inscription, Lanercost

Carlisle, June 8, 1744.
THE following Roman Inscription, being the Head-stone of the upper Passage betwixt the Pillars and the Out-wall of the old Abbey of Lennercost, has escaped the Observation of all Antiquaries by its obscure Situation. It was discovered by two Masons at Work there, who informing me of it, I went this Day to examine it, and by help of a Ladder noted down these Characters

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button see 1858 part 1 p.418
The Rest had been obliterated by the Workmen at building the Abbey. To understand it, we are to consider, that besides the legionary Troops employ'd in the Roman Service, there were ten auxiliary Cohorts, which made a Legion, of foreign Troops, and assumed the Name of the conquer'd Province to which they belong'd, and sometimes added another Title in Honour of some of their Emperors, under whom they were probably inlisted. This Cohort was then called AElia Dacica; AELIA, in Honour of Adrian, who was stil'd Titus AElius Hadrianus, and DACICA, from their Country, Dacia comprehended all that Tract of Ground North of the Danube to the Carpathian Mountains, betwixt the Rivers Tibiscus and Pruth, comprehending now good Part of Hungary, all Transilvania, Moldavia and Walachia. We have many other Stones which mention this Cohort, particularly at Burd-oswald, the Roman Amboglana; here the Notitia, which was written under Theod. junior, places this Legion which seems to have succeeded the Legio Sexta victrix, and very likely garrison'd this Place to the final Departure of the Romans from Britain. The Name of the Tribune is different from that on any other of the Stones ascribed to this Cohort. Whilst I was copying this Stone, the Farmer's Son who resides at the Abbey, told me there were some kind of Letters over a Stair case in an old Tower, belonging to their House, which excited my curiosity to visit them. I found it a Piece of as valuable Inscription as any yet discovered in Britain, whether we attend to the odd Irregularity of the Letters, the Shape, or Variety of them; for there are Roman, Runic, and Saxon, sometimes in the Compass of a single Word; and 'tis hard to say which of the Alphabets of these three Nations has the greatest Share in the Composition. 'Tis great Pity that it is not compleat, the Workmen having cut it to adjust it to the Place, so that Part is covered by the adjoining Stones which cannot well be remov'd.
The Form of the Letters is exactly as below

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In my Opinion we are to read it
Regni nostri primo mense tertio Anno Domini Millesimo Trecentesimo Septimo.
Edward II. began to reign that very Year 1307, July 7, so that the third Month after would still happen in that Year specify'd, and seems to be a Grant for building the Out-conveniences to the said Abbey. The Singularity of the Method of Writing in that obscure Century renders it very remarkable; for in the single Word Trecentesimo, 'tis difficult to say which Alphabet the Latter T belongs to, but it mostly resembles the Celto-Scythic, R is Roman, E is Runic, M, the old Gothic, and in other Words some are Saxon.
Abbey Lennercost stands on the North-Bank of the River Irthing, and is of its Kind as near a Gothic Structure as any left. It was built by Hubert de Vallibus to expiate a Murder, but fell several Times into the Hands of the Scots, who often plunder'd it of its Treasures. The Roman Wall which passes just above it has furnished the principal Materials for this Edifice, which contains Inscriptions on Monuments of the next Century to Edward's, but these have an Uniformity of Characters, and are not so barbarously confounded as the above. I shall send you one or two as Specimens soon, but have already exceeded the Bounds of a Letter.
Yours, &c. G. SMITH.
(See the Inscription p.340)
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button -- Lanercost Priory

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