NGRef: SE9326
OSMap: LR106
Type: Town, Fort

Roads
NNW (26) to Bvttercrambe Moor (nr. Stamford Bridge, North Yorkshire)
N (31) to Derventio Brigantvm (Malton, North Yorkshire)
NW (28) to Ebvracvm
NNW (15) to Hayton
Humber Ferry: S (2) to Winteringham (Humberside)
Iter I: N (17) to Delgovicia (nr. Millington, Humberside)

Petuaria - 'The Fourth'

The ancient name Petuaria is recorded both in ancient documents and on an inscription uncovered at the site. Across the River Humber (Abus Fluvius) from the minor settlement at Winteringham, other roads led south towards the Roman Colony at Lincoln also to the south-east through the fourth-century fortified burgi at Caistor and Horncastle, all these sites located in Lincolnshire.

"... on the Opportunum Sinus¹ are the Parisi² and the town Petuaria 20*40 56°40 ..."
Above quote from Ptolemy's Geography (early-2nd C.)
  1. The Opportunum Sinus or the "Gulf of Advantage" was apparently the ancient name for the large spit of land north of the Humber, mostly to the east of a line drawn from Goole on the Humber to Bridlington on the north-east coast.
  2. The Parisi tribe, then, inhabited the area of North Humberside.

The most useful source of early historical information about Brough on Humber is Ptolemy's Geography of the early second century. This work provides us with the names of a number of the local geographical features. Aside from the passage which mentions the name of the tribe, the town Petuaria, and the name of the local region of North Humberside quoted above, Ptolemy also names other local geographical features, such as the Ocelus Promontorium in the extreme south-east of the Parisi territory now known as Spurn Head, also the name of the River Humber itself, which was known in Roman times as the Abus Fluvius.

The only other literary reference for the name of this important town on the Humber is the Ravenna Cosmology (R&C#138) of the seventh century. In this work the name Decuaria is listed between the entry for Eburacum (York, East Yorkshire) and the unknown town Devovicia.

The Romano-British name for Brough-on-Humber is thought to stem from the Welsh/Gaelic word petuar, the number four - related to Welsh pedwar - in this instance perhaps meaning 'the fourth' or 'a quarter', which hints that at least three more towns of the Parisi remain waiting to be discovered.

Epigraphic Evidence on Stone

Dedicatory Inscription by an Aedile of Petuaria

OB HONOREM DOMVS DIVINAE IMP CAES T AEL HADRIANI ANTONINI AVG PII P P COS I... ET NVMINIB AVGG M VLP IANVARIVS AEDILIS VICI PETVAR PROSCAEN ... DE SVO DEDIT

"In honour of the divine house of Imperator Caesar Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius, Father of the Fatherland, consul [...] times, and the divine spirits of the emperors. Marcus Ulpius Januarius, magistrate of the urban district of Petuaria, the theatre stage [...] given out of his own funds."

(RIB 707; dated: 140-161AD)

There is a single entry recorded in the R.I.B. for Brough-on-Humber, a dedicatory inscription to the emperor Antoninus Pius (responsible for the "Antonine Wall" in Scotland) erected by a magistrate of the town (vide supra). This extremely important inscription confirms the name of the town given in the classical geographies and also records the civic status of the town as a vicus, one of only two confirmed vici in Britain, the other being Water Newton in Cambridgeshire.

Click here for the Romano-British Walled Towns page

See: The Towns of Roman Britain by John Wacher (2nd Ed., BCA, London, 1995) pp.394-401 & fig.176;
The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965).
All translations, including any inherent mistakes, are my own.