Full Version: Brocolita: Nymphaeum Altar
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
Can anyone help me with a picture of the Nymphaeum altar found at Carrawburgh/Brocolita?

I've hunted on line and in the JRS 1961 article (one side photo in long shot, but not of the inscription) , and no joy so far.

The altar is this one below , RIB 1563a. I'm unsure where it is currently housed.

From ( a resource I am always grateful for)


Nymphis et Genio
Loci Marcus Hispanius
Modestinus Praefectus
Cohortis Primae Batavorum pro se
et suis libens merito (posuit)

"To the Nymphs and the Genius
of this place, Marcus Hispanius
Modestinus, Prefect
of the First Cohort of Batavians, on behalf of himself
and his (family), willingly and deservedly (set this up)."

(RIB 1563a; JRS li (1961), p.193, no.9; altarstone)

This shrine was discovered in 1957 to the immediate rear of the Mithraeum. Excavations by Dr. D.J. Smith in 1960 revealed a small altar resting on a pedestal, a stone-lipped well and an apsidal stone bay. The lightweight nature of the structural remains suggest that it was not intended to support a roof, and was open to the air. The altar is carved from sandstone and bears the same inscription front and rear, obviously meant to be read from either side, again suggesting that it stood in the centre of an open shrine. The Brocolitia Nymphaeum was probably built sometime during the third century and seemingly fell into disuse early in the fourth. There are two altarstones dedicated to the Water Nymphs at Carrawburgh, one by a detachment of Leg VI Victrix (vide RIB 1547 supra), which was uncovered at Coventina's shrine, and the other by Coh I Bat shared with the Guardian Spirit (vide RIB 1563a supra) found at the site of the Nymphaeum.

Thanks for your help- you know you're desperate when you start trawling Flickr and Picasa and expanding pictures....
Quote:The altar is this one below , RIB 1563a.
This is not a recognised RIB number. (Someone has just added an "a" to the number of the last inscription from Carrawburgh in RIB vol. I!)

Quote:I'm unsure where it is currently housed.
The inscription was, indeed, published in JRS 1961, which was after the cut-off for inclusion in RIB vol. I. However, it has now appeared (in RIB III) as RIB 3316. It is now in the Museum of Antiquities, Newcastle upon Tyne, Acc. No. 1960.35.1.

The front-face photo in RIB is not great:
[attachment=1:5hnykf5q]<!-- ia1 RIB_3316_Carrawburgh_Photo.jpg<!-- ia1 [/attachment:5hnykf5q]
Your transcription is not quite right, owing to the fact that there are several ligatures (which are difficult to type on RAT!) but you got the gist of it.
Here is Roger Tomlin's drawing of the front face -- the same message also appears on the rear --, apparently a tidied-up version of an original drawing by R.P. Wright:
[attachment=0:5hnykf5q]<!-- ia0 RIB_3316_Carrawburgh_Sketch.jpg<!-- ia0 [/attachment:5hnykf5q]
The (expanded) Latin reads:
Nymphis et Genio
Loci M(arcus) Hispanius
Modestinus Praef(ectus)
Coh(ortis) I Bat(avorum) pro se
et suis l(ibens) m(erito)

The missing verb may well be posuit, as in your version. But the stonecutter has perhaps omitted the supplementary phrase v(otum) s(olvens), which appears on another of the Carrawburgh altars.

Altars were pledged to the deity (in this case, "the nymphs and spirit of the place") as part of a deal, and subsequently erected to acknowledge that the deity had done his/her part. That's why they usually state that the dedicator v(otum) s(olvit) l(aetus) l(ibens) m(erito), "gladly, willingly, deservedly fulfilled his pledge". In other words, it wasn't really the setting-up that was done "willingly etc.", but the fulfilling of the promise.

RIB 1526 (Carrawburgh) has a variation on this, stating pos(uit) pro se et suis v(otum) s(olvens) l(ibens) m(erito), "set this up for himself and his family, willingly and deservedly fulfilling his pledge". The stonecutter of our altar (RIB 3316) perhaps intended the same (but missed out the crucial v s at the end).

Hope some of this helps ... until you can get along to the Museum of Antiquities in Newcastle!

You're a star- many thanks!

I've only got to the Museum of Antiquities once- many years ago. Looks like a new visit is in order!


Quote:You're a star- many thanks!
Now, what's the point in knowing stuff if you can't share it? :wink:
Thanks again- and here's the first cut of a reconstruction done today. Hope you like it.
[Image: IMG00078-20100828-1803.jpg]
Its painted on rather than engraved. A further question- decorations/ painted other sections, or left plain?
Nice job! (The original seems to be quite plain, but -- as you probably know -- other altars were decorated.)
Quote:I've only got to the Museum of Antiquities once- many years ago. Looks like a new visit is in order

It no longer exists. All the stuff is now in the Hancock Museum (Great Northern Museum) I was in there on Saturday!!

Took lots of photos Paul, so tell me which you need.
Thanks Peronis. email sent.
Quote:It no longer exists. All the stuff is now in the Hancock Museum (Great Northern Museum) I was in there on Saturday!!
Aha --

Is the virtual Mithraeum still there, Adrian?
Yes Duncan it is there. The quality of the film is a bit poor though. They do have a lot of finds associated with the Carrawburgh Mithraeum even the wicker seating and ceremonial iron shovel! The stones on display are fantastic!

What I did notice is that the original altar stone from Carrawburgh, dedicated by the Prefect M. Simplicius Simplex (RIB 01546 = AE 1951,00125c) is completely different from the copy in place at the Mithreum itself. The copy only has three points of the radiate crown which can be illuminated from behind, but the original has the entire crown cut away, making it much more impressive!

The museum is well worth a visit though. It has a nice Greek and Egyptian section too. They have an early Corinthian helmet as well as a lovely Illyrian type.