Type: Fort, Temple Or Shrine, Temple Or Shrine
|NE (18) to Binchester (Binchester, Durham)
Itinera II et V: E (5.5) to Greta Bridge (Durham)
W (13) to Verteris (Brough-under-Stainmore, Cumbria)
W (11) to North Stainmore
W (6.5) to Rey Cross
The Roman name for the Bowes fort is well documented, being recorded in three of the major classical geographical sources. It occurs twice in the Antonine Itinerary, as Lavatris in Iter II (from Hadrians Wall to Richborough in Kent) and as Levatris in Iter V (from London to Carlisle on the Wall), in both cases appearing between the entries for VERTERIS (Brough Castle, Cumbria) and CATARACTONIVM (Catterick, North Yorkshire). The distance to Brough Castle is recorded as fourteen Roman miles whereas the distance to Catterick is variously reported as sixteen miles in Iter II and eighteen miles in Iter V.
The name appears as Lauatres in the Notitia Dignitatum, where it is listed among the forces commanded by the 'Duke of the Britains', between the entries for CONCANGIS (Chester-le-Street, Durham) and Brough Castle. In the Ravenna Cosmology (R&C#135) it appears as Lavaris, between the entries for VINOVIVM (Binchester, Durham) and Catterick.
The only building inscriptions recovered from the Lavatris fort are those of auxiliary regiments, which is unusual because it is thought that all Roman auxiliary forts were built by the highly trained citizen troops of the Roman legions, not by the auxiliary soldiers themselves. In all likelyhood, the absence of any legionary stones at Bowes is probably due to the fact that they still remain to be discovered, perhaps re-used within the walls of one of the old farms in the area.
|IMP CAESARI DIVI TRAIANI DIVI NERVAE NEPOTI TRAIANO AVG PONTIFICI MAXI COS III P P COH IIII F SVB IVLIO SEVERO LEG AVG PR PR|
"For the emperor, the descendant of the divine Trajan and the divine Nerva, Trajanus (Hadrianus) Augustus, high priest, consul for the third time, father of his country, the Fourth Cohort of F...? (made this) under Julius Severus, pro-praetorian legate of the emperor."
(RIB 739; dedicatory inscription; 130-3AD)
The name of this unit is incomplete, appears only in a single stone text (vide supra) and cannot be reconciled with any other known auxiliary regiment in Britain. The inscription above places the regiment at the Bowes fort shortly after Hadrian's Wall was first completed; where they were posted after this remains unknown, likewise their origins.
It is possible, however, that this unit may be identified with the Cohors IIII Breucorum who were known to be the garrison of VINDOMORA (Ebchester, Durham; RIB 1101) during the Severan campaigns of the early third century.
|DAE FORTVNAE VIRIVS LVPVS LEG AVG PR PR BALINEVM VIIGNIS EXVSTVM COH I THRACVM RESTITVIT CVRANTE VAL FRONTONE PRAEF EQ ALAE VETTO|
"For the Goddess Fortune, Virius Lupus, legate of the emperor with pro-praetorian power, the baths having been destroyed by fire, were restored by the First Cohort of Thracians under the direction of Valerius Fronto, cavalry prefect of the Vettonian Wing.¹"
(RIB 730; altarstone; 179-202AD)
The First Cohort of Thracians is attested on six - possibly seven - inscriptions on stone recovered from the site, two of which have dated to the end of the second century (vide supra) and the beginning of the third (vide infra). The regiment was originally recruited from among the tribes of the Roman province of Thracia, modern Bulgaria.
|IMPP CAESS L SEPTIM SEVERO PIO PERTINACI ARAB ADIAB PART MAX ET M AVR ANTON PIO AVGG [ET P SEPT GETAE NOB CAES] IVSSV L ALFENI SENECIONIS LEG AVGG PR PR COH I THRAC EQ|
|"For their Imperial Caesars Lucius Septimius Severus Pius
Pertinax, greatest in Arabia, Adiabene and Parthia, and Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Pius Augustus (and Publius Septimius
Geta, noble Caesar),¹ by order of Lucius Alfenus Senecio, pro-praetorian legate of the emperors, the First Cohort of
Thracians (made this)."
(RIB 740; 205-8AD; dedicatory inscription)
This auxiliary regiment has also been identified - together with Cohors I Aelia Dacorum - on a building inscription from CAMBOGLANNA (Birdoswald, Cumbria; RIB 1909; 205-208AD) that dates to a period concurrent with a stone from Bowes (vide supra); it is possible that the unit was split between the two sites, though it is more likely that the building work here at Lavatris was completed first, and the unit then moved en masse to Birdoswald.
The unit is also attested on an undated building stone from Hadrian's Wall (RIB 1323), close to milecastle-4 in the centre of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
|...VS AEMILIANVS LEG AVG PR PR COH I THRACVM INS ...LLO PRAEF ... FECIT|
"[...]us Aemilianus,¹ pro-praetorian legate of the emperor, the First Cohort of Thracians made this, on the instructions of [...]llo the prefect."
(RIB 741; 2nd/3rd C.)
|Praefectus numeri exploratorum, Lauatres|
"The prefect of the Company of Scouts at Lavatris."
|(Notitia Dignitatum xl.25; 4th/5th C.)|
The Numerus Exploratorum were an irregular, part-mounted unit and are recorded only in this single classical reference. Other units of exploratores are known from inscriptions at BREMENIVM (High Rochester, Northumberland; RIB 1262) and HABITANCVM (Risingham, Northumberland; RIB 1235), and another unit is reported at PORTVS ARDAONI (Portchester, Hampshire) in the Notitia.
|MARTI CONDATI ARPONATVS VSLM|
"To Mars Condatus, Arponatus willingly and deservedly fulfilled his vow."
(RIB 731; altarstone)
Of the thirteen inscriptions on stone recorded in the R.I.B. for the Bowes area, ten are altars to the gods. The British god Vinotonus is the best represented with four altars verified, two of which are dedicated to Vinotonus Silvanus. These altars were found in two rural temples which lie about 2 miles to the south of the Lavatris fort on Scargill Moor, together with a further probable altar (RIB 734) and another three possibilities. There were then, possibly eight altars to this god at Bowes, while the classical gods were represented only by single altars to Fortuna (vide RIB 730 supra) and Mars Condatus (vide supra), found in the vicinity of the fort itself.
|IMP C M ANNIO FLORIANO P F AVG||IMP C M AVRELIO PROBO P F AVG|
|"For Imperator Caesar Marcus Annius Florianus Pius Felix Augustus¹"||"For Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius Probus Pius Felix Augustus²"|
(RIB 2280; milestone; primary; dated: 276AD)
(RIB 2280; milestone; secondary; dated: 276-282AD)
|IMP C M AVR CARO P F AVG M|
"For Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius Carus Pius Felix Augustus [Pontifex] Maximus³"
(RIB 2281; milestone; dated: 282-283AD)
NZ993135 - The principia and buildings to the immediate north were examined in 1970 and revealed six phases of development, two in timber and four in stone, the first stone buildings appearing during the Hadrianic period. Other buildings within the central-range of the fort displayed evidence of metal-working during the 3rd century.