Cataractonium

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Cataractonium
Cataractonium is located in England
Cataractonium
Shown within England
Alternate name Caturactonium
Cactabactonion
Location Catterick, North Yorkshire, England
Region Brittania
Coordinates 54°23′3″N 01°38′59″W / 54.38417°N 1.64972°W / 54.38417; -1.64972Coordinates: 54°23′3″N 01°38′59″W / 54.38417°N 1.64972°W / 54.38417; -1.64972
Type Fortification and settlement
Length 135m
Width 135m
Area 1.8ha
History
Builder Quintus Petillius Cerialis
Founded 71
Periods Roman Imperial

Cataractonium (Grid Ref:SE228228) was a fort and settlement in Roman Britain. The settlement evolved into Catterick, located in North Yorkshire, England.

Etymology[edit]

The place was also known as Katouraktonion around 150 AD and Catrice around 1086 AD in the Domesday Book.[1] It took its name form the Latin word 'cataracta meaning waterfall. This is likely to have been a misinterpretation of the original Celtic place-name meaning (place of) battle ramparts.[2][3][4][5] It is also mentioned in Ptolemy's Geography as Caturactonium and as Cactabactonion in the Ravenna Cosmology.

Origins[edit]

There is considerable evidence for Pre-Roman activity in the environs of the eventual Roman settlement.[6] Evidence on both sides of the Swale suggests both Bronze Age and Iron Age activity. The Bronze Age remains take the form of a chambered cairn some 500m south-east of Catactonium, a ceramic vessel 200m north and a bronze rapier 150 north-east.[6] The cairn has associated domestic occupation which continues into the Iron Age in the form of a multi-period roundhouse.[6]

Though there is no definitive date for the building of the fort, it is likely to have been around AD 70 during the governorship of Quintus Petillius Cerialis to support the campaign of Agricola in Scotland. It was also likely to have been in use during the Brigantes revolt in AD 155 under the governorship of Gnaeus Julius Verus. The first site appeared to be little more than a timber hill fort, but the later and bigger settlement was constructed in stone and had a civilian population too.[7]

Military[edit]

No direct evidence exists of which military units may have been stationed at the fort, but it is likely that an auxiliary unit from Bremetenacum Veteranorum (Ribchester) would have been posted here. Tiles found nearby were stamped BSAR. This would suggest that over the years of occupation, soldiers from the Ala II Asturum, Numerus equitatum Sarmatarum and Cuneus Sarmatarum armies were used as detachments for the fort.[8]

Culture[edit]

Among the artifacts excavated at the site was a theatrical mask, suggesting there may have been a theatre or small amphitheatre.

Economy[edit]

A 1995 project that mapped the site from the air, located at least sixteen identifiable buildings and the partial remains of several others. These were likely to have been shops.

Roads[edit]

Iter.Britanniarum.jpg

The Anotonine Itinerary mentions Catterick three times. In the first Itinerary it known as Cataractoni, located 12 miles (19 km) from 'Vinovium (Binchester) and 24 miles (39 km) from Isvrium (Aldborough, North Yorkshire). In the second Itinerary it is known as Cataractone, 16 miles (26 km) from Lavatris (Bowes) and again 24 miles (39 km) from Isurium. In the fifth Itinerary it is known again as Cataractone, but the distance to Lavatris is reported as 18 miles (29 km), and Aldborough is called by its full name Isurium Brigantum.

It is fed by the major trunk road of Dere Street, leading from Eboracum (York) and Isurium Brigantum (Aldborough) to the south, heading north towards Morbium (Piercebridge).

Rivers[edit]

The fort was located to the south of the River Swale. The early fort was used as a marching camp for patrols in the area and as defence for the bridge crossing that carried Dere Street.

Archaeological remains[edit]

Little can be seen above ground as most of the area is now covered by Catterick Racecourse and the A1(M) road. The most visible is a section of wall. There was evidence of at least four altars of worship. They were dedicated to Veterus, an ancient German ancestral god, Suria, another name for Ceres, the third to Matribus Domesticae, the mother goddess of the house and lastly to an unnamed god of roads and pathways.

The 1995 aerial study of the area around Catterick, identified several possible remains in and around the site of the Roman fort. On the north banks of the river are crop marks running parallel to the course of Dere Street that could be a wall.[9] The same survey also confirmed the existence of a temporary fort about a quarter of a mile east of the main camp. The north and east walls have been identified, but the west part of the camp now lies under the nearby racecourse. The north wall is about 540 feet (160 m) in length with a gate and traverse, whilst the east wall is about 850 feet (260 m) long. The walls are connected by a curved structure.[10] Some of the early excavations unearthed two carved stone lions, an aureus of Nero, two cruciform gilt Saxon fibulae and a very large Bronze urn. The buildings that have been uncovered range from the second century to the third. There is evidence that the entire layout of the camp was altered in the fourth century.[11]

An excavation by Sir William Lawson around 1840 revealed the foundations to the walls of the fort.[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Catterick in the Domesday Book. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
  2. ^ Bulmer's Topography, History and Directory (Private and Commercial) of North Yorkshire 1890. S&N Publishing. 1890. pp. 392–397. ISBN 1-86150-299-0. 
  3. ^ Rivet & Smith, ( Ed. 1979-1982), Place-Names of Roman Britain
  4. ^ Watts (2011). Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-names. Cambridge University Press. p. 120. ISBN 978-0521168557. 
  5. ^ A.D. Mills (1998). Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford Paperbacks. p. 103. ISBN 978-0192800749. 
  6. ^ a b c Wilson, P. 2002. Cataractonium - Roman Catterick and its hinterland: Excavations and research 1958-1997. Part 1 (CBA Research Report 128). York: Council for British Archaeology. pp8-10
  7. ^ "Roman fort". Retrieved 15 November 2013. 
  8. ^ "Military Units". Retrieved 15 November 2013. 
  9. ^ "Monument 1496578". English Heritage. 2007. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  10. ^ "Monument 52337". English Heritage. 2007. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  11. ^ "Monument 52316". English Heritage. 2007. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  12. ^ "Excavation of 1840". Retrieved 15 November 2013.