NGRef: SS8978
OSMap: LR170
Type: Settlement, Milestone

Roads
None identified

Roman Milestones in Glamorgan

A number of Roman milestones have been found on the coastal road between Neath and Cardiff. One lies to the immediate south-west of the Nidum fort at Melincryddan (SS7496), and others have been unearthed further along the same stretch of road at Aberafon (SS7588), Port Talbot (SS7887), Margam (SS8184) and Pyle (SS8282). In the texts below, the full names and titles of the emperors have been added in translation, displayed within [square brackets] for clarification.

Pyle, 11 miles SE of Neath, Mid Glamorgan

IMP C M C PIAVONIO VICTORINO AVG

"Imperator Caesar Marcus Piavonius Victorinus¹ [Pius Felix Invictus Augustus]"

(RIB 2251; milestone; dated: 269-271AD)

  1. Emperor Victorinus of the short-lived breakaway Gallic Empire. He succeeded Marius to power after a short interregnum of perhaps 2 days in the Autumn of 269AD and was to rule until early 271 when he was killed for making improper suggestions to the wife of one of his officials. He was replaced by his cousin Tetricus.

Port Talbot, West Glamorgan

IMP C M A GORDIANVS AVG IMP CAES DO NO VAL LICIN P F AVG
"Imperator Caesar Marcus Antonius Gordianus [Pius Felix] Augustus¹" "Our Lord Imperator Caesar [Gaius] Valerius [Licianus] Licinius Pius Felix [Invictus] Augustus²"

(RIB 2252; milestone; dated: 238-244AD)

(RIB 2253; milestone; dated: 308-324AD)

  1. The emperor Gordian III, was 13 years old when he was proclaimed emperor by the praetorians in May 238AD and he ruled until February 244, when, aged just 19, he was murdered by his own soldiers on the orders of the usurper Philip the Arab.
  2. Licinius was co-ruler with Constantine from November 308AD until his abdication in December 324. He was executed at Thessalonica in early 325, publicly hanged by the order of Constantine.

Aberafon, West Glamorgan

IMP C FLA¹ VAL MAXIMINO INVICTO AVG

"Imperator Caesar Galerius¹ Valerius Maximinus [Pius Felix] Invictus Augustus²"

(RIB 2254?; milestone; dated: 309-313AD)

  1. This emperor was of the Galerian family, not the Flavian.
  2. The emperor Maximinus Daia, who became Caesar in May 305AD and Imperator (in the East) in May 310. He committed suicide at Tarsus in July or August 313 after being defeated in battle at Hadrianopolis in Thrace by Licinius.

Margam, 10 miles SE of Neath, West Glamorgan

IMP C M C L POSTVMO AVG G IMP C DIOCLETIANO ET MAXIMINI INV AVG
"Imperator Caesar Marcus Cassianus Latinius Postumus [Pius Felix Invictus] Augustus¹" "For their Imperial Caesars [Gaius Aurelius Valerius] Diocletianus,² and [Marcus Aurelius Valerius] Maximianus,³ [loyal, faithful and] Unconquered Emperors"

(RIB 2255; milestone; dated: 258-268AD)

(RIB 2256; milestone; dated: 286-305AD)

  1. The emperor Postumus was the founder of the short-lived, breakaway 'Gallic Empire' which controlled much of the western half of the Roman world during the third quarter of the third century. While governor of Lower Germany for the emperor Gallienus (sole rule 260AD - 268), he defeated a large raiding force of Alemanni and was afterwards proclaimed emperor by his troops in Autumn 260AD. He then went on to defeat other raiding parties of Frankish tribesmen throughout the western provinces and by the end of 261 was master of all of Gaul (Gallia Lugdunensis, Narbonensis & Aquitania), the two Germanies (Superior & Inferior), Belgium, Spain and Britain. When he refused to march on Rome in February 269 he was murdered at his capital Augusta Treverorum (Trier, West Germany) by one of his own generals, Cornelius Laelianus, who succeed him as emperor of the Gallic Empire, which was to exist as a separate state for almost 15 years before being absorbed back into the Roman Empire proper during the early reign of Aurelian.
  2. The emperor Diocletian. He was commander of the Household Cavalry of emperor Carus during the Persian expedition of 283AD which came to an unexpected halt upon the untimely death of the emperor - killed by a 'lightning bolt' it was said - whereupon Carus' sons succeeded to the Empire. Carinus the the elder son won a victory over the Quadi in 283 and campaigned in Britain in 284, while in the east the younger son Numerian continued with the Persian campaign of his father, capturing Ctesiphon in late 283. During the winter of 283/4 Numerian was almost blinded by an eye infection and confined to a litter in which he was to travel back to Rome and in which he was murdered by the praetorian commander Lucius Flavius Aper outside Nicomedia in November 284. Aper was tried by a military tribunal and publicly executed, whereupon the Roman army in the East declared their general Diocletian emperor. The following year Diocletian defeated Carinus at the Battle of the River Margus (now the Morava near Belgrade), and was to rule for 20 years before abdicating in favour of Galerius in May 305. He starved himself to death in relative obscurity sometime in December 311.
  3. The emperor Maximian, who was appointed Caesar by Diocletian in 285 and became joint Augustus in April the following year. Diocletian then ruled over the eastern half of the empire from his palace at Spalato (Split, Croatia) while Maximian ruled in the West. He had Britain wrested from his control by the usurper Carausius in late 286 and tried - unsuccessfully - to recover the island in 289. On the request of Diocletian he adopted Flavius Valerius Constantius in March 293 with the title of Caesar at the same time as Diocletian adopted Galerius in the East. Caesar Constantius defeated Carausius and captured Gesoriacum (Boulogne, France) in summer 293, forcing the pretender to retreat across the Channel where he was killed by his advisor Allectus. Britain was finally recovered by Constantius during the campaign season of 297. Maximian abdicated together with Diocletian in May 305, and was succeeded in the West by Constantius. He committed suicide at Massilia (Marseilles, France) in July 310.

All of these milestones show that there was a considerable amount of road-building or resurfacing work going on in Britain during the latter half of the third century and the early part of the fourth.

See: Chronicle of the Roman Emperors by Chris Scarre (Thames & Hudson, London, 1995);
Chronology of the Ancient World by E.J. Bickerman (Thames & Hudson, London, 1980);
The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965);
All English translations, including any inherent mistakes, are my own.