'Robin of Risingham' Roman Rock Carving


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012133

Date first listed: 28-Nov-1932

Date of most recent amendment: 04-Jan-1991


Ordnance survey map of 'Robin of Risingham' Roman Rock Carving
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This copy shows the entry on 17-Dec-2018 at 04:42:57.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Corsenside

National Grid Reference: NY 90143 85647


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Roman religion had adopted wholesale the classical pantheon of the Greeks. To this the Romans grafted their own Italic or Estruscan beliefs frequently associated with fertility and vegetation, and thus with the conquest of Britain AD 43-410 brought to the province classical deities covering a wide range of functions. The indigenous population of Britain had already evolved a comprehensive mythology of its own, based partly on the worship of natural phenomena and partly on the worship of those aspects of life it considered vital - prosperity, fertility, war and death. Roman toleration of native religions enabled the deities of both conqueror and conquered to intermingle by means of a process of identification known as syncretism. The Roman god Mars, for example, originally an Italic deity associated with fertility and untamed woodlands, became linked with Celtic warrior deities such as Cocidius along Hadrian's Wall. Another Roman deity, Silvanus, was the woodland god worshipped under his own name and in identification with native gods in the northern frontier region. "Robin of Risingham" Roman rock carving is the only known example of a Roman statue cut out of solid rock in Northumberland. The bow and the hare would associate the figure with hunting and the depiction has been identified as the Roman deity Silvanus, god of woodland, in the guise of the Celtic god Cocidius. This carving illustrates well the process of syncretism as practised in the frontier region of northern England during the Roman occupation.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument consists of the lower half of a figure cut in relief on a rock outcrop. It is located in an alcove formed by a retaining wall on a steep incline immediately below a south-westerly spread of spoil from Woodburn Quarries. The carving, which has been identified as a native hunting god, was recorded in the early 18th century by Horsley and other antiquarians before being partially destroyed by the then landowner who thereby attempted to stop people wishing to view it from trespassing on his lands. Originally the figure stood 4ft high and had a panel, perhaps for an inscription, above his head. The god holds a bow and a small animal, possibly a hare, in his hands, and is dressed in a tunic and cloak, with a square block or altar opposite his right knee. A half size replica of the original was erected adjacent to the parent rock by the Redesdale Society in 1983.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 13433

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Bruce, J C, The Roman Wall, (1978)
Hodgson, J, The Victoria History of the County of Northumberland, (1840)
Horsley, J, Britannia Romana, (1732)
Carmicheal, R.H., AM 107, (1982)

End of official listing