Pigeon Clint Written Rock: Roman quarry inscription


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018243

Date first listed: 21-Nov-1962

Date of most recent amendment: 18-Sep-1998


Ordnance survey map of Pigeon Clint Written Rock: Roman quarry inscription
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cumbria

District: Carlisle (District Authority)

Parish: Hayton

National Grid Reference: NY 53008 57846


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

Reasons for Designation

Hadrian's Wall marks one of the frontiers of the Roman Empire. The international importance of the surviving remains has been recognised through designation as a World Heritage Site. The military importance of the Tyne-Solway route across the Pennines was recognised by the Romans during their early campaigns through northern England and into Scotland in the second half of the first century AD. At this time a military road, the Stanegate, was constructed along with a series of forts. Subsequently the Romans largely withdrew from Scotland and there is evidence that the Tyne-Solway route was being recognised as a frontier by the start of the second century AD. This position was consolidated in the early second century by the construction of a substantial frontier work, Hadrian's Wall, under the orders of the Emperor Hadrian. Hadrian's successor, Antoninus Pius, subsequently attempted to establish the boundary further north, between the Clyde and the Firth of Forth, but by c.AD 160 growing unrest amongst the native populations of northern Britain and pressures elsewhere in the Empire caused a retraction back to the Hadrianic line. Hadrian's Wall was then the frontier of the Roman Empire in Britain until c.AD 400 when the Roman armies withdrew from Britain. Stretching over 70 miles from coast to coast, Hadrian's Wall was a continuous barrier built of stone in the east and, initially, of turf in the west. The stone wall was originally designed to be ten Roman feet wide and sections of this width are termed broad wall. A change of plan shortly after construction began led to a reduction in the width of the Wall to eight Roman feet, such sections being termed narrow wall. Today, stretches of both wall types survive, including some sections of narrow wall built on broad wall foundations. For most of its length a substantial ditch on the northern side provided additional defence. Where the Wall crossed rivers, bridges were constructed to carry it across. Construction of the Wall was organised and executed by legionary soldiers. From the beginning the barrier was planned to comprise more than just a curtain wall. At regularly spaced intervals of about a mile along its length lay small walled fortlets known as milecastles. These were attached to the southern side of the Wall and most had a gateway through the Wall to the north. Hence they controlled crossing points through the Wall as well as affording space for a small stable garrison. Between the milecastles were two equally spaced towers known as turrets. Together the milecastles and turrets provided bases from which the curtain wall could be watched and patrolled. Both the turrets and milecastles are thought to have been higher than the Wall itself to provide suitable observation points. It is often assumed that a platform existed on the Wall so that troops could actually patrol along the wall top; it is however far from certain that this was the case. At the western end of the Wall a system of towers, small fortlets and palisade fences extended the frontier system another 30 miles or so down the Cumbrian coast and helped control shipping moving across the estuary of the Solway Firth. As originally planned, and apart from whatever space there was in the milecastles, provision for the accommodation of garrison troops manning the Wall was left with the line of forts which already lay along the Stanegate. At some point a fundamental change of plan took place and forts were constructed along the line of the Wall itself. There are now known to have been 16 forts either attached to the Wall or in close association with it. Some overlay earlier features such as turrets or milecastles. At this stage another linear element, the vallum, was also added to the defensive system to the south of the Wall. This was a broad flat-bottomed ditch flanked by a pair of linear banks. It shadows the course of the Wall for almost all its length, sometimes lying very close to it but sometimes up to a kilometre away from it. The vallum's main function was to act as a barrier to restrict access to the Wall from the south. It also had a function in linking the forts along the Wall with a method of lateral communication. When the forts were placed along the wall line no provision was made for a road to link them. This situation was clearly found impracticable and a metalled track was therefore provided in places along the vallum between the north mound and the ditch. Later, after the withdrawal back to the Hadrianic line from the Antonine Wall, various refurbishments were made throughout the frontier line. At this stage a new linear feature was added: the `Military Way'. This was a road linking all elements of the Wall defence, running from fort to fort within the area bounded by the Wall and the vallum. Throughout its long history the Wall was not always well maintained. It was often neglected and sometimes overrun, but it remained in use until the late fourth century when a weak and divided Roman Empire finally withdrew its armies from the Wall and Britain. It now survives in various states of preservation. In places, especially in the central section, the Stone Wall still remains several courses high and the attached forts, turrets and milecastles are also clearly indentifiable. Earthwork features such as the ditch, vallum and Military Way also survive well in places. Elsewhere the Stone Wall has been virtually robbed out and only its foundations survive beneath the present ground surface. Similarly, stretches of the earthwork remains, including sections of the Turf Wall, have been levelled or infilled and now only survive as buried features. Although some sections of the frontier system no longer survive visibly, sufficient evidence does exist for its position to be fairly accurately identified throughout most of its length.

Roman inscriptions were introduced into England by the Roman army who brought with them a long established practice of setting up inscribed stones as religious dedications and tombstones, as records of building work, and as milestones. The Romans also brought with them a tradition of inscribing weapons, tools or domestic utensils and ingots of metal, with the names of the owner. Many kinds of utensils, and also bricks and tiles, were often stamped with the name of the manufacturer. Roman inscriptions are often cut in capital letters, either monumental or rustic, but some are cursive or of graffiti form and others take the form of pictures or `doodles'. They are extremely common in the first and second centuries AD and are not uncommon later, but become rare after AD 350. After AD 400 inscriptions cease, with the exception of those on tombstones. The value of Roman inscriptions as historical material is immense. They are contemporary and authoritative documents, whose text is a first hand record, free from subsequent corruption by copyists. They are the most important single source for the history and organisation of the Roman Empire, and their cumulative value is great. Pigeon Clint Written Rock Roman inscription, in the Roman quarry flanking the River Gelt, is located in one of only a handful of the 50 or so Roman quarries in England which display Roman inscriptions. The information recorded is of particular importance because it gives the names of men and their military units. The inscription and its associated altar is also a good example of rough and unskilled work cut by poorly trained masons, and thus illuminates the contrast between this type of inscription and that produced on many public buildings, tombstones and milestones by the finest masons who used better quality tools and materials.


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


The monument includes a Roman inscription cut into the sandstone rock face of Pigeon Clint Roman quarry. It is situated close to ground level on the south side of the River Gelt. The quarry lies approximately 6.5km south of Hadrian's Wall and was used as a source of building material during repair work to the Wall in the early years of the third century AD. A small niche with a projecting altar has been cut into the quarry face and some 2.7m further north is the accompanying inscription ARA FECIT IIVSTVS LEGIONE SEXS ET AMIO translated as `Eustus made this altar - from legion Six - and Amoi.' The inscription is 1.4m long with the tallest letter being some 1.5cm high.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


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

Legacy System number: 27816

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Collingwood, R G, Wright, R P, Roman Inscriptions of Britain, (1965), 338

End of official listing