NGRef: SJ4054
OSMap: LR117
Type: Pottery, Tile Kiln, Industry
SE (3) to Bovivm
Possible road: W (8) to Ffridd
N (5) to Heronbridge

There are currently only five inscriptions on stone recorded for Holt in the R.I.B.; three centurial stones recording the constuction of various buildings (vide RIB 439, 440 & 441 infra), an altarstone to either the War god Mars or the Merchantile god Mercury (RIB 442 etiam infra) and another stone inscribed simply C "A hundred" (RIB 443).

Centurial Stones from the Holt Tile Works

Inscription Togo-Translation RIB
> CESONIANA "The century of Cesonianas [made this]." 439
> P P "The century of the Primus Pilus┬╣ [made this]." 440
> RVFI SABIGNAT LV "The century of Rufus Sabinus Egnatius [has made] fifty-five [feet?]" 441
  1. The primipilus was the most experienced centurion in the legion; his title is literally translated 'first spear'.

Altarstone Dedicated by a Centurion

M... > S FOGVA XIII M...

"For Mars┬╣ [...] the centurion Sextus Fogua [and] thirteen soldiers [...]"

(RIB 442; altarstone)

  1. The altar may equally have been dedicated to the god Mercury.

The Legionary Tile Works

"A large legionary tile and pottery factory, run presumably by men of the Twentieth Legion, has been examined at Holt in Denbighshire, which includes, as well as workshops, barracks and a bath-house for the legionary craftsmen." (Birley, p.129)

It is thought that the pottery and tile kilns unearthed here represent the main legionary pottery works of Legio XX Valeria Victrix who were housed in the legionary fortress at Deva (Chester, Cheshire), about seven miles to the north. The military tilery here produced various wares, such as flat hypocaust tiles to support underfloor heating and box-flue tiles for conducting the central-heating gases in bath-houses, also imbrex and tegula roofing tiles and roof antefixes. Many of these products were stamped LEG XX V V "[Property of] the Twentieth Legion Valeria Victrix", while others also sported the Legion's boar emblem.

During excavations over the years at the Holt tilery a number of animal bones have been uncovered, including those of Ox, Sheep, Pig, Red Deer and Boar; the latter two animals very likely being hunted and killed for sport. In addition, shellfish such as Oysters, Mussels and Swan Mussel were part of the soldiers' diet, also Edible Snails.

The main road from Mediolanum (Whitchurch, Cheshire) to Chester runs for 20 miles north-north-west via the settlement at Bovium (Tilston), about half way between the two. The Holt potteries lie some two miles from this road on the suspected route of a branch road running west from Bovium to the fort at Ffridd. It is probable that another road or track directly connected the Holt potteries with the crossing of the Dee at Heronbridge, without the need for a 'dog-leg' via Tilston.

See: The Roman Military Diet by R.W. Davies, in Britannia ii (1971) pp.122-142);
Life in Roman Britain by Anthony Birley (London 1964);
The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965);
A Pottery and Tilery of the Twentieth Legion at Holt by W. Grimes in the Cymmrodorian Society Transactions vol.XLI (Cardiff 1930).
All English translations, including any inherent mistakes, are my own.
Page Citation: Kevan White (2018) "Roman Britain: HOLT"