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stones, are comprehensively stated by Mr. Horsley, in words to the following effect :-" The occasions on which the Romans erected inscriptions were various. Many altars, with their proper inscriptions upon them, were consecrated for sacrifice. Such are the votive altars, upon many of which we meet with the words pro salute, that is, for the preservation, or welfare, of the emperor, or some other person, or of the parties theinselves who dedicated these altars.
“ There are other inscriptions which proceeded not from any act of devotion, but were erected upon various occasions; such are honorary monuments, in compliment to the emperor or some other great person, especially after any success or victory obtained. And, sometimes, such inscriptions were erected upon finishing some considerable work, or a part of it. Of this kind are the centurial inscriptions,* placed in Severus’s wall, and those inscriptions found upon the wall in Scotland.
“ Altars are generally inscribed to gods and goddesses; and sometimes to the emperors. A great number of these, in Bri. tain, are inscribed to several of the principal gods of the Romans; but many, likewise, to local deities, or such as were supposed to preside over particular places. In honorary monuments and inscriptions, the emperors are often complimented in the 'most servile manner, and sometimes deified. But some inscriptions are only set up as memorials of finishing a considerable work, or public structure, and directed to no person.”+ It will be recollected that the custom of raising commemorative
* Inscriptions erected by the legionary cohorts, or their centuries, and thence termed centurial by Mr. Horsley.
+ It is justly observed by Mr. Horsley, that "inscriptions were erected by persons of all ranks and degrees in the army, from the highest officers down to the common soldiers. The commanders and governors of forts, more especially, pleased themselves with perpetuating their names, by such monuments. But we have many inscriptions, also, by other tribunes; and seve. ral by whole legions, or their vexillations; and many others by cohorts and ibeir centurions."-Brit. Rom. p. 181.
inscriptions prevailed chiefly in the time of the later emperors. Dr. Fleetwood, speaking of the antiquities of the Roman empire generally, observes " that, amongst the many thousand inscriptions to the succeeding emperors, we have scarce six or seven to Julius Cæsar, though all their exploits put together scarce equal. led those of Julius Cæsar alone.” And thus, in regard to the Roman antiquities of Britain in particular, it is stated by Mr. Horsley, “ that, notwithstanding the descent of Julius Cæsar, the exploits and conquests of Claudius and Vespasian in this island, and the wars that were carried on here under some others who succeeded them, yet we have not one inscription in Britain, that undoubtedly belongs to any of the first twelve Cæsars. Hadrian is the first emperor whose name occurs in any of our British inscriptions; and we have but very few of his, although he built a rampart quite across the country; and the few erected to him are simple and short. In the following reigns, especially under some of the Antonines, they become more numerous, as well as more pompous; but, after the reigu of Constantine the Great, when the Roman power began to decline, they very much decrease again. No emperor's names are mentioned in any inscriptions after that reign; nor the names of consuls, or any other determinate dates."*
Roman SepulchrES, AND FUNERAL Vessels. Sepulchral vestiges of the Romans have been discovered in several parts of Britain; and the vessels in which they sometimes deposited the ashes of the deceased, together with other articles relating to their funeral ceremonies, form some of the most interesting speci.
• Britannia Romana, Book II. chap. 1 and 11.--It will be observed that few Roman inscriptions have been discovered in the south and east, or southeast parts of this island. The principal altars and inscriptions, which have hitherto appeared, have been found in Moomouthshire; the northern counties of England; and near the wall is Scotland. The county of Northurn. berland is particularly rich in Roman antiquitjes.
mens of ancient custom which are contained in public depositaries or in the cabinets of curious individuals.*
It is clearly ascertained that the Romans used, at the same time, the two different modes of consuming the body by fire, and of burying it entire. The former custom chiefly prevailed; but instances of both methods of funeral deposit have been found in Britain, although not in any great abundance. It is observed by Mr. Douglas that the “ burial places of the Romans, in this kingdom, are very rarely discovered, owing to their custom of interring the dead at no great distance from their stations, by the side of the public road, and in such situations as have been occupied by a succeeding people to modern times. Their principal towns and cities are the actual residence of the present generation; hence, throngh the various changes of different people and different customs, their traces have been long destroyed; and it is now only to accident we are indebted for the few remains which this country has preserved.”+
The situation of the burial places of the Roinans is explained in the above extract. Their prevailing characteristics and peculiarities might furnish subject for numerous pages, which could scarcely fail to be curious and interesting, as such a comprehensive statement is not, I believe, presented, at a single view, in any English publication.
In regard to the external marks by which the burial place of the Romans may be distinguished from that of any other nation connected with this island, it would appear that we have no direct evidence of their ever constructing barrows over the re
. Sepulchral vestiges of the Romans are noticed in various parts of the Beauties of England. Some interesting discoveries occur in the following pages: Beauties for Durham, p. 184; for Hampshire, p. 16; for Kent, p. 671; 689; 1016; 1164; (and other places in the same county, men. tioned in the index, under the head of Roman Antiquities ;) for Lincolnshire, p. 599–600; ibid. 640; for Lancashire, p. 53-4; for London and Middlesex, Vol. I. p. 86–91; for Oxfordshire, p. 462–4; for Yorkshire, p. 67).
+ Nenia Britannica, p. 142.
mains of the deceased, except such as were raised over the pro. miscuous bodies of those who fell in battle ; a custom which has been traced, in a previous page, down to the time of our fathers, and which has been practised by nearly all nations at different periods.
. In opposition to such a remark, it may, however, be noticed that many articles, apparently of Roman workmanship, have been found, in conjunction with human remains, beneath tumuli in Britain. But the following passage of an author who has investigated the subject of funeral tumuli with laborious care, will, perhaps, account in a satisfactory way for such contradi tory ap. pearances : “ Where Roman insignia have been found, we have very great reason to believe that the barrow, or cairn, was the sepulture, not of Romans, but of British officers, or chieftains, in the Roman service. We do not find that the Romans ever raised barrows over the sepulchres or ashes of their great men, either in Italy or in any other part of the world; and, therefore, there can be no proper authority for supposing them to have done so in this country."*
It is certain that sepulchres, decidedly Roman, and such as may be adduced as specimens the most strongly marked, are discovered, without the least indication of any super-incumbent barrow. The general exterior characteristics of a Roman place of interment in Britain, would appear to consist simply of the plain grave, with one or more stone pillars, bearing an inscrip. tion, and sometimes a sculptured device. Roman sepulchral inscriptions on stone have, indeed, been found in most parts of this island which are visited by a Roman road, although they most frequently occur in the vicinity of a known station. These are generally, though not invariably, inscriptions to military men; and the stones are sometimes charged with the effigies of the deceased, and embellished with garlands, or other pieces of sculplure, rudely executed. +
• Munimenta Antiqua, Vol. I. p. 267. + The letters D. M. or the words Dix Manibus, constantly oecur in the
The aspect exhibited by the interior, necessarily depends on the nature of the solemnities practised at the funeral. When cremation, or burning, was used on the decease of distinguished persons, it will be recollected that the body was placed on a couch, or bed, and burned upon a pile composed of light and resinous wood. As it was thought that the ghosts delighted in blood, a number of beasts were killed, and thrown upon the pile, to accompany the human body through the process of the flames. Various presents were also cast into the fire, by surrounding relatives; and military persons had usually their arms burned with them. When the pile was burned down, they extinguished the remains of the fire by sprinkling wine, that the bones and ashes might be collected with greater ease. These last fragments of mortality were then carefully gathered, and placed in the urn, which was immediately consigned to the sepulchre.
It will scarcely be deemed superfluous to have reminded the reader of these particulars, as it is necessary to hold them in close remembrance while noticing the interior of a Roman burial place. The urn, containing the human ashes, was deposited upon a pavement within the sepulchre; and round it were placed several vessels, of different size and shape, which were usually of earthenware, but were sometimes of metal, or of glass.
Among these may be noticed Pateræ, or broad bowls, which were used in sacrifices to receive the blood of victims, and in which were placed the consecrated meats offered to the gods, or the wine and other liquors used as libations at funerals. Vessels,
funeral inscriptions of the Romans. On this subject Mr. Ward communicated to Mr. Horsley the following remarks: “ The ancients were not agreed in their opinions concerning the Dii Manes; some taking them for the same as the dei inferi; others for the ghosts of persons deceased; and others, again, for the same as the genii, or familiar spirits, which attended persons from their birth, through this world into the next. When they are mentioned upon inscriptions, they sometimes seem to be taken for the ghost of the deceased person to whom the monument is erected, and at other times not." Britannia Romana, p. 199.