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Roman Silver Coins from Westgate

Roman Silver Coins from Westgate

History

Roman
The Roman occupation of Britain began in AD43 and, during the latter half of the first century, a network of Roman roads, studded with forts and marching camps, was constructed to enable troops to pass unhindered across northern England.

The so-called Maiden Way crossed the high ground between the forts at Kirkby Thore and Carvoran (on the Stanegate) passing close by Alston where the fort of Whitley Castle – Epiacum - was constructed, presumably to oversee lead and silver mining in the region. Two 2nd-century altars were found at Epiacum and are now in the Great North Museum.

In addition, two 3rd-century altars dedicated to Silvanus, a woodland god often associated with hunting, have been found in Weardale, at Eastgate and on Bollihope Common: both incorporate inscriptions relating to hunting expeditions from Lanchester Fort. These suggest that, although much of valley was settled and farmed, many areas retained a woodland cover and were perhaps reserved for elite hunting expeditions in search of wild boar and other beasts.

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