A Roman soldier’s altar in Britain

His name was Aelius Victor and he was probably from Germania somewhere. He made his goddesses a promise that he’d build them altar and so he did. Now, 2000 years later, it’s been found in excellent condition.

A Latin inscription on the altar says: “To the mother goddesses Hananeftis and Ollototis, Aelius Victor willingly and deservedly fulfils a vow.”[…]

Evidence suggests it may have been constructed in the latter part of the first century AD and later discarded, as it was found on top of an ancient rubbish pit.

The existence of a number of pits and ditches in the area suggest it was cleared for farming use.

This is only the second time an artifact that actually names a Roman soldier stationed in Manchester has been found. The first time was 400 years ago, and the last time archaeologists found a stone inscription of any kind in the area was 150 years ago.

Incidentally, if I had been that farmer, I would have found something to do with the altar besides dumping it, but then again, it wouldn’t be in such great condition today if he had.

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4 Comments »

Comment by Dina
2008-04-12 03:11:10

Oh I love these so human touches in archaeology. How many of us today ever thank our God or gods in writing or with some visible marker? And Aelius Victor chiseled his in STONE.

Comment by livius drusus
2008-04-12 07:18:14

So true. Religious rituals and sacrifices were such a major part of daily life for Roman people. It’s easy to forget about that when you read about military and political history, but these sorts of finds really bring home the realization that everyday people going about their business were constantly in communication with their deities.

“I swear to God” wasn’t just a throwaway phrase for them. They really meant it, and they had the pigeons/carvings/burnt offerings to prove it.

 
 
Comment by Clutch
2008-04-13 16:05:22

I love this story. You guys already said why.

Comment by livius drusus
2008-04-13 16:16:16

Clearly you are a man of refined tastes.

 
 
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