NGRef: SJ4163
OSMap: LR117
Type: Major Settlement

Roads
Iter II: SSE (8) to Bovivm
Itinera II & XI: N (2) to Deva (Chester, Cheshire)
Possible road: SW (9) to Ffridd
Probable road: NW (12) to Pentre (Clwyd)
S (5) to Holt (Clwyd)

Excavations during 1930 and 1931 revealed a number of interesting features at Heronbridge. A large industrial complex built alongside the main road contained several furnaces, their exact function being unknown, but dating between c100-160AD. Among the more notable of the finds was a red sandstone altar found in 1931 amongst 2nd C. Roman debris at Red House Croft, Heronbridge (RIB 574 infra), now in the Grosvenor Museum, Chester.

Roman Altarstone from Heronbridge

DEABVS MATRIBVS OLLOTOTIS IVL SECVNDVS ET AELIA AVGVSTINA

"To the goddesses Ollototae, Julius Secundus¹ and Aelia² Augustina [dedicate this altar]."

(RIB 574; red sandstone altar)

  1. The name of the male dedicator may alternately be Lucius Verecundus.
  2. The female name Aelia dates this altar to the first half of the second century AD.

Various coins were also found on site, ranging from a denarius of Titus (80AD) to an as of Constans or Constantius (c.330-360AD). The site was therefore occupied from the Flavian period in the last quarter of the first century, until the first incursions of the Saxons, Scots and Picts were repulsed by Count Theodosius in 367AD, perhaps even longer.

The remains of some 19 human skeletons were found during the excavations. Animal remains included; small ox, small sheep, domestic pig, fowl, red deer and common English oyster. Other items included fragments of coarse Caistor ware, decorated and plain Samian ware, amphorae, Wroxeter-made mortaria, several pieces of glass, including window-glass and fragments of bottles and flagons. Several metal items were also present, but there was no evidence of metalworking on site.

Tombstone of Signifer of the Twentieth Legion

DIS MANIB ... STVS ... G ... SIG LEG XX V V STI... ANNOR ... H C

"To the shades of the departed [...]stus, [...] standard bearer of the Twentieth Legion Valeria Victrix, who served [...] and lived [...] his heirs set this up."

(RIB 510; slate tombstone; text restored)

In 1933 a Roman tombstone (RIB 510, vide supra) was found in an allotment just to the north of Heronbridge. The lettering on this stone closely matches that on another recovered from the north wall of Chester in 1891 (RIB 525, vide infra). It is thought that these two tombstones were contemporary, perhaps even crafted by the same stonemason, and have been tentatively dated to the late first or early second centuries AD. Both stones now reside in the Grosvenor Museum, Chester.

Memorial Stone from Chester North Wall

DIS MANIBVS
D CAPIENI VRBICI •
VOLTINA • VIENN
SIGNIFERI
STIPEND XXIIII ANNOR • XLIII
H • F • C
"To the shades of the departed
Decimus Capienus Urbicus,
of the Voltinian tribe, from Vienna,
he was the standard-bearer,
he served 24 years, and lived 44 years.
Erected by his heirs."
(RIB 525; tombstone in two parts; text restored)

Click here for the article from C.N.W.A.A.H.S. Journal, Vol. XXX, Part 1 (1933), pp.40-42.

See: 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.