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THE ROMAN ROOM OF THE HUNTERIAN MUSEUM. Part 4. – INSCRIBED STONES (continued)., J. Macdonald (Jul. 1895), pp.374-383.

“Of legionary stones belonging to the second class – distinguished from those of the first by the absence of the imperial name and titles – the Room contains only three.

(1) A Shirva Stone. – About half way between the site of Auchindavy Fort, of which not a trace now remains, and the foot of Bar-hill is Shirva, where shortly before the year 1732 a number of Roman stones was discovered. One of these is the tablet now to be described. The earliest notice of it occurs in the separately published “Additions and Corrections by way of Supplement” to the Itinerarium Septentionale (London, 1732). As the tract is exceedingly rare Gordon’s account of the stone may be read with some interest. “When,” he tells us, “I was last in those westerly parts of Scotland, taking a survey of the ground between the Forth and Clyde in order to demonstrate by a geometrical plan how easily a canal might be made between the east and west seas through that isthmus for navigating vessels, I learned that some country people had dug up stones with letters upon them, though none could tell them what they were; on which I immediately went to the place and drew them on the spot. The first was a square stone, whereon was engraven in the most beautiful letters this sculpture – VEX LEG II. AVG, viz., the Vexillatio Legionis secundae Augustae, which shows that a detachment of the Second Legion Augusta lay at that place. And the beauty of the letters on the Stone shew it to be of the higher empire and most probably of the reign of Antoninus Pius, since all the other stones found in that Wall in the name of the Second Legion Augusta are of the same beautiful workmanship.”

The tablet, which had measured 3 feet 9 ½ inches by 2 feet 2 ½ inches has been broken into four or five pieces, one of the largest of which is unfortunately lost. The greater part of its surface had been occupied by an oblong panelled space, surrounded by an ornamented border and mouldings tastefully designed and cut. In a compartment on the right is the crescent or lunette. The letters of the inscription are arranged thus:-

They are rightly expanded by Gordon and signify – a Vexillation of the Second Legion (called) the August. Along with the AV of AVG the missing portion of the Stone may have had, below these letters, F (= fecit); there is at least room for it.

Gough in his Additions to Cambden falls into a strange mistake regarding the locality of this stone. He represents it as having been “found at Bemulie and built up for a time in the wall of Calder House.” This error he has been led into by misapprehending an observation regarding it made by Horsley, who says – “I believe it has been only an honorary monument like that mentioned above at Calder House; and the inscription is nearly the same.” All that Horsley does is to call attention to a certain resemblance between the inscription on it and that on a stone, which, it may be remarked, is still to be seen in the wall of Cadder House. But the mis-statement is instructive as shewing that some of the information given in the “Additions” should be accepted as correct only after being verified. Gough’s compilation, though in many respects both valuable and meritorious, consists of materials somewhat hurriedly got together from different quarters and often without strict inquiry into their trustworthiness.

(2) A Stone – Locality uncertain. – This and the remaining stone of the second class are among the few in the Room, the locality of which cannot be fixed. In its ornamentation and inscription, except that the Emperor’s name is awanting, it has a striking likeness to No. (10) of the first class, probably found at Duntocher, noticed in a former paper. From this circumstance it has been supposed to belong to the same fort. Stuart, however, is by no means certain that it was discovered there. “Most probably,” he adds, “it belongs to some of the other stations; but as no memoranda have been preserved in regard to the time or place of its discovery, we have thought proper to mention it here (i.e., under Duntocher) on account of its singular resemblance to the preceding slab.” Hübner refers to Hodgson’s History of Northumberland, part ii. vol. iii. p. 269; but the reference is a mistake. The stone was not known to Hodgson; its existence appears to have been first recorded by Stuart. It measures 2 feet 3 ½ inches by 1 foot 7 ½ inches, and is inscribed thus:-

That is Leg(io) Secunda Aug(usta) f(ecit) p(edes) or (passus) quatuor (millia) centum et quadraginta: The Second Legion (called) the August raised four thousand one hundred and forty feet or paces (of the Vallum). The inscription is cut in an oblong compartment in the centre, which is surrounded by a border of the same design as the corresponding compartment in (1). Above this compartment is the sea-goat, below it a Pegasus, at either side the semi-circular ornament with eagles’ heads, and in the four corners roses – all as if repeated from No. (10), already referred to. A comparison of these two stones shews how easy it is, by the addition of a few letters in any part of the ornamented border where there happens to be room for them, to turn a stone of the second into one of the first legionary class. It seems at the same time to indicate that all legionary stones found along the Antonine Wall constitute really one class, primarily intended to commemorate the completion of a certain portion of work or the erection of some structure by a particular legion or vexillation of a legion; most of them bearing in addition the name and some of the titles of the Emperor in whose reign the work was undertaken.

(3) A StoneLocality also uncertain. – The existence of this stone, which measures 30 inches by 24 inches, was first noted by Hodgson. It is also recorded by Stuart, but his description is brief and his figure of it is poor. “We have some reason,” he adds, “to believe that it was found in the neighbourhood  of Duntocher.” Contained in a square space surrounded by a plain double edging which has a slight attempt at ornamentation on each side, is the following inscription:- 

To be read probably thus:- Vexillationes Leg(ionis) Secundae Aug(ustae) e(t) Leg(ionis) Vicesimae V(aleriae) V(ictricis) f(ecerunt). That is – Vexillations of the Second Legion (called) the August and of the Twentieth Legion (called) the Valerian and the Victorious erected (this).

The formation of the letters on this stone is somewhat peculiar. They may be shortly described as tall and slender. The differences between I, L, E, and F are very slight, while the shape of G though not inelegant is uncommon.

Whatever work the tablet commemorates was performed, it will be observed, by Vexillations or detachments of two legions – the second and the twentieth. Separate mention is made of these Vexillations – of the second on (1) as above, of the twentieth on six other Antonine Wall stones; and a Castlecary altar was dedicated to Fortune by Vexillations of the Second and the Sixth.

Besides these legionary stones there is another which should have been included among those of the first class, and which brings up the number of that class to sixteen. It was found in 1789 a short distance to the east of Kirkintilloch. The inscription, to the right of the lower part of which is a boar advancing towards a tree, appears to intimate that the Twentieth Legion raised where the stone had stood 3304 feet (of the Vallum). But the true reading of the numbers is somewhat uncertain.

Circumstances having made it necessary that this paper should be the last of the series, the Altars and Sepulchral Stones must be very briefly dealt with.

Of the ten altars in the Room only six are entire.

(1) A Castlehill Altar. – Dedicated to the Woodland (Deities or Mothers) and to Britannia by Q. Pisentius Justus, Prefect of the Fourth Cohort of Gaulish auxiliaries.

(2) An Auchindavy Altar. – Dedicated by M. Cocceius Firmus, a centurion of the Second Legion, to Jupiter and Victory for the safety of his Emperor and himself.

(3) Another – Same locality. – Dedicated by the same to Diana and Apollo.

(4) AnotherSame locality. – Dedicated by the same to Mars, Minerva, the Woodland (Deities or Mothers), Hercules, Epona, and Victoria.

(5) AnotherSame locality. – Dedicated by the same to the Genius of Britain.

These five altars were all discovered in 1771, near the old fort of Auchindavy, by workmen employed in cutting the Forth and Clyde Canal, and presented to the University by the Canal Commissioners.

(6) A Castlecary Altar. – Found by the same workmen near the fort of Castlecary, in what was supposed to be an old quarry. It is dedicated to Fortune by Vexillations of the Second and Sixth Legions. Several altars dedicated to the same goddess have been found along the Southern Wall.

The letters on the fragments of the four remaining altars are so weather-worn that they may be passed over without remark.

Three of the four Sepulchral Stones were found at or near Shirva, which appears to have been the site of a cemetery.

(1) A Shirva Stone. – This stone is broken in two, but complete. It is 3 feet 8 inches in height and 1 foot 5 inches in breadth. At the top in the centre is a laurel crown with a rose (?) and a palm branch on either side. Nearly all the rest of the surface is enclosed within a border formed by a single line at the top and bottom and by the cable pattern at the sides. The inscription, which fills only a part of it, is to this effect:- 

(Sacred) to the Divine Manes of Salmones, (who) lived fifteen years. Salmones [probably his father] placed (this here). 

(2) Another – Same locality. – The breath of this stone is 1 foot 6 ¼ inches, and when it was entire its height was probably some inches over 3 feet. In a triangular space at the top is a laurel crown, and outside this space, in each corner, a rose (?). The stone has been broken, but the two remaining fragments contain all the inscription, which ran thus:- 

(Sacred) to the Divine Manes of Verecunda.

(3) AnotherSame locality. – Only a part of this Stone is left. It had been about 1 foot 5 ¾ inches broad. There is at the top a rudely ornamented triangular space within which is a rose, and outside this, roses in each corner as in (2). The inscription seems entire and runs thus:- 

(Sacred) to the Divine Manes. Flavius Lucianus, a soldier of the Second Legion (called) the August.

All that is known about the discovery of (1) and (2) is that they belong to Shirva. (3) was found in a building that has been described as a tomb. The Stone is said to have been brought to light along with some uninscribed stones to be noticed immediately, by country people who had opened a tumulus, situated close on the line of the Wall, in the course of a search for stones.

(4) The Ardoch (?) Stone. – In some respects this stone surpasses in interest any in the Room. Sibbald states quite distinctly in his Historical Enquiries (Edinburgh, 1707), that it was found “in the Roman Camp at Airdoch.” In a Latin treatise published a year earlier than the Enquiries he speaks of it as dug up in the praetorium of the “Roman Camp” at Ardoch. At the time Sibbald wrote the stone was at Drummond Castle, then the seat of the Earls of Perth. On the  Monumenta Plate it is also said that it was found at Ardoch and had been given by his neighbour, Stirling of Ardoch, to the noble owner of Drummond Castle who in his turn gifted it to the University of Glasgow. It is added on the Plate that this is the only stone bearing a Latin inscription that has been found north of the Forth. This evidence for its original locality has been hitherto deemed unimpeachable. There would seem, however, to be some ground for doubting it. But the limits within which the remarks made on the stone now fall to be confined are too narrow to allow room for the discussion of this question, which must await another opportunity.

The stone is 2 feet by 1 foot 10 ½ inches. It is unornamented, and almost the whole of the surface is occupied by the inscription, which is as follows:-

This is probably to be rendered (Sacred) to the Divine Manes. Ammonius Damionis (or son of Damon), centurion (?) of the First Cohort of Spanish Auxiliaries, (a soldier) of twenty-seven years’ service. His heirs caused (this stone) to be erected.

There may be some doubt as to whether the blank space between the S and C in the third line is due to a fault in the stone or to an attempt to cut on the hard slab one of the usual marks for centurio. An examination of it under a lense rather favours the latter supposition.



AS works of art the Uninscribed Stones in the Room are of a very common-place character. Most of them, however, now present so defaced and weather-worn an appearance that we can hardly judge of what they were when fresh from the sculptor’s hand. They are eight in number.

(1) and (2) Sepulchral Slabs – Shirva. – These slabs were found in the tumulus referred to in the notice of Sepulchral Stone (3). They were lying close to opposite sides of what seemed to be a tomb of singular construction. It was of a semi-circular or rather elongated horse-shoe shape, and consisted of seven or eight courses of hewn stone with a cross-bar if whinstone near its open end. It measured from 8 to 9 feet in length by 4 ½ feet in width. The figures of the deceased, much obliterated, rest in a reclining posture. At the feet of the one and on the left hand of the other is a dog. Figures in a similar position have been found in England and on the Continent.1 Besides the Sepulchral Stone (3), there was discovered at the same time (1728), in or near this building.

(3) A Figure in low relief. – This figure is very much defaced but appears to represent a man, probably a traveller or a soldier with a staff or a spear in his right hand and an object in his left about which there is some doubt. Very similar figures, with the same basket-like appendage of unknown purpose, have been found on the top of large monumental stones in England.2

This and all other Shirva antiquities were presented to the University shortly after their discovery by Thomas Calder, Esq. of Shirva, merchant in Glasgow.

(4) Small Figure in NicheCastlecary. – Discovered in 1771 among the ruins of ancient buildings. It measures only 15 inches in height. The sculpture which is rude is in high relief. The left hand of the figure supports a cornucopia, while the right leans on an instrument of a nondescript kind.

(5) Slab with Two Figures in low reliefLocality uncertain. – This slab, which is 17 inches square, is so much defaced that it is now impossible to form any conjecture as to what the figures are intended to represent.

(6) Mutilated Female FigureLocality also uncertain. – Of this figure it can only be said that it shews Roman or other foreign influence. It is 23 inches in height. On the upper part of each arm is what seems to be a bracelet.

(7) Square Base of PillarCastlehill. – Discovered in 1847, lying near an inscribed stone of undoubted Roman origin. Estimated from the dimensions of the base the Pillar when entire may have been about 10 feet high. It is ornamented in low relief with what has been taken for “a row of bay leaves, underneath which are the initial letters V V in pairs,” but running into each other.

(8) Miniature Stone Bust of a Soldier in cuirass. – Found along with an earthen vase, now lost, at Auchentoshan between West Kilpatrick and Duntocher. It is 11 inches high and 8 ½ inches in breadth. 



THOUGH not belonging to the Antonine Wall and placed in the end Hall of the Museum proper, this flagon may in the meantime be included in these lists as being “very generally regarded as a specimen of Roman workmanship” (Stuart). It was discovered nearly ninety years ago in the parish of Lesmahagow and presented to the University by the Rev. Mr. Dow, formerly minister of Cathcart, near Glasgow. A description with an engraving is given in the Archaeologia3 and in Caledonia Romana. The spot where it was found is described as being “in a farm called Sadlerhead, about half way between the parish church and Douglas Miln Inn, and only a mile distant, in a south-west direction, from the post road.” It was lying in the bottom of a small burn, forming the boundary between that farm and an extensive moss, embedded in a stratum of clay which formed the channel of the burn. By the washing away of the clay the flagon became exposed; and, before it was observed, the side that lay uppermost suffered considerably by pressure from the feet of the cattle as they passed from one side of the stream to the other. This beautiful vessel, to use the words of Stuart, “is 12 inches in height, of rather elegant shape, and perfectly plain, with the exception of the handle, which is ornamented with several embossed figures… In the lower part of it a female figure, in simple drapery, stands near a Grecian pedestal, with a bird in her hand, which bears some resemblance to an owl. Above her is seen a helmet, similar to that of Minerva, and over it a naked (winged?) figure, as if in the act of running, with a cloak or toga flowing loosely behind; surmounting all is a circular shield, with drapery suspended round it. The design is elegant and well executed and has a decidedly classic appearance.”4

In concluding these papers, I have to express my best thanks to Professor Young, M.D. and Dr. John Young, F.G.S., assistant-keeper of the Hunterian Museum, for facilities afforded and much aid received in gathering the necessary materials. 



1 Bruce, Lapidarium Septentrionale, ,p. 367 and p. 752; Caumont, Abécédaire D’Archéologie: Ére Gallo-Romaine, p. 513.
2 Bruce, Lapidarium Septentrionale, p. 294; cp. p. 237. See also Wellbeloved, Eburacum, pp. 113-114, and Hand-book of York Museum, p. 49.
3 Archaeologia, vol. xvi. pp. 350-352, and plate li.
4 Caledonia Romana (2nd ed.) pp. 220-221, and plate vi. fig. 4 and 5.
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