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Lancaster Roman Tombstone

Lancaster Roman Tombstone (image/jpeg)

First discovered in Lancaster late in 2005, the tombstone tentatively dates back to 100 AD.

The Lancaster Roman Tombstone is actually a memorial and was found with no burial remains. It is thought to date from AD 75 to AD 120. It is a 'Reiter' or 'rider' type that bears a depiction of a mounted cavalryman in action with a decapitated barbarian at his feet. The fact that the cavalryman holds a sword and that the barbarian depicted is decapitated make this stone unique.

Below the carving is an inscription which has currently been translated as:

'To the shades of the dead. Insus son of Vodullus, citizen of the Treveri, cavalryman of the ala Augusta, troop of Victor, curator. Domitia his heir had this set up'.

This gives us clues as to the identity and background of the rider. The fact that Insus was from the Treveri tribe places him as coming from western Germany. The curator title has been taken to mean he was a junior officer of the Roman army.

The tombstone is an iconic piece of Lancaster's dramatic past and gives a crucial insight into the history of the county.

This acquisition was made possible by generous assistance from The Art Fund and the V&A/MLA Purchase Grant Fund.