button to main menu  Camden's Britannia, edn 1789

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Page 171:-
  Wirkinton. Culwen, commonly Curwen.
stream, throws itself into the ocean at Wirkinton, famous for a salmon fishery. It is now the seat of the antient knightly family of the Curwens, who derive their descent from Gospatrick earl of Northumberland, and took their surname by agreement from Culwen, a family of Galloway, whose heir they married. They have here a noble mansion like a castle, and from them, if I may be allowed to mention it without imputation of vanity, I derive my descent by the mother's side.
  roman wall
From hence some have supposed a wall was carried for near four miles at proper places to defend the coast, by Stilico, in the reign of Honorius and Arcadius, when the Scots from Ireland infested this shore. For thus Britain speaks of herself in Claudian [p]:

Me quoque vicinis pereuntem gentibus, inquit,
Munivit Stilico, totam cum Scotus Hibernem
Movit, & infesto spumavit remige Thetis.

Me Stilicho by neighbouring nations sore distrest,
Defended well with time the Scotish rage
Hibernè moved, while with their hostile war
Old ocean foam'd.
  Ehen r. Ireby. ARBEIA.
  roman inscription

There still remain ruins of walls at the mouth of the Elen or Elne, as it is now called, which, after a short course, has at its source Ierby, no inconsiderable market town. This I take to have been ARBEIA, where the Barcarii Tigriensis were stationed, and at its mouth Elenborough or the Burgh on the Elen, where was formerly quartered the cohors prima Dalmatarum with their officer [q]. It stood on a high hill commanding a distant view of the Irish sea; but corn now grows where the town was, and its traces plainly appear; the antient vaults are uncovered and many altars, inscriptions, and statues are dug up here. All which that worthy man J. Senhous, in whose grounds they are found, has carefully preserved and arranged in his house. In the middle of the yard is a most beautiful square altar, of a reddish stone, elegantly carved in the antient manner, about five feet high, and having an inscription in fair characters, a view of which and each of its sides I shall here insert from a drawing by sir R. Cotton, of Connington, knt. a great searcher into antiquity, when we travelled together over these parts to illustrate our native country with the highest entertainment in the year 1599. I cannot help expressing my gratitude to the worthy gentleman just mentioned for his hospitable treatment, and the great care which this learned admirer of antient literature takes to preserve these inscriptions, which are soon broken to pieces by the ignorant people here, and put to other uses to the great detriment of these studies. See Pl. VIII. fig. 2, 3.
Every thing is perfectly plain on this inscription, except that in the last line but one ET and AEDES are expressed in abbreviations. The end is imperfect. Perhaps we are to restore it thus DECVRIONVM ORDINEM RESTITVIT, &c. The Decuriones were in the Municipia the same as the Senatores at Rome and in the colonies; so called because they discharged the offices of the Curia or Court, whence also they were styled Curiales, from their conducting civil affairs [*].
  VOLANTIUM. Pagan altars. Pl.VIII. F.4.
On the upper ledge of the back part of this altar we may observe these words VOLANTII VIVAS, which give me no small difficulty, nor can I make anything of them, unless they imply a wish of the Decuriones, knights, and commons, who constitued the Municipium, for G. Cornelius Peregrinus, who restored the house, temple, and Decuriones, that so beneficent a man might enjoy life at Volantium. Hence if I may be allowed to conjecture, I should suppose the antient name of this place to have been VOLANTIVM. Below are carved instruments of sacrifice, a hatchet, and a knife. On the left side a mallet and praefericulum. On the right a patera, a dish, and a pear, if I am right, or as others think a water-pot: for these were vessels for sacrificing purposes, and likewise others, as the Simpulum, Censer, Futile, sacerdotal bonet, &s. which we see on the sides of other altars in these parts. The 2d altar here annexed was dug up at Old Carlisle, and is now in the house of the Barhouses at Ilkirk, inscribed with letters of the complicated form, happily expressed by the engraver, which it should seem are to be read thus:
  #x002A; sc. tribu. under Commodus A.D. 193.

Jovi Optimo Maximo, Ala Augusta ob virtutem appellata cui praest Publius AElius Publii filius Sergia [*] Magnus de Mursa ex Pannonia inferiore praefectus Aproniano (et) Bradua Consulibus.
  Pl.VIII. f.5.
The 3d altar is inscribed to the topical deity Belatucadrus, and to be read thus:

Belatucadro Julius Civilis Optio (i.e. commander of the watch) votum solvit libens merito.
  Pl.VIII. f.6.
There is no difficulty with the 4th altar, which is to this effect:

Dis Deabusque Publius Posthumius Acilianus praefectus cohortis primae Delmatarum.
These kind of altars (to mention the antient rites which our most holy religion has long since abolished), as well as the victims and sacrificers used to be crowned with leaves, and offerings of incense and wine made at them, sacrifices offered, and the altars themselves anointed. Of their demolition as Christianity prevailed, Prudentius [r] thus sings:

Exercere manum non poenitet, & lapis illic
Si stetit antiquus quem cingere suerverat error
Fasciolis aut galline pulmone rigare,
Frangitur ---

None grudge the helping hand, if chance a stone
Of antient date stood there, whom wont to crown
Was error once with garlands, or to stain
With chicken's blood. They hurl it down amain.
I also saw the following inscriptions here:
  #x002A; Publius filius.

PRO SA ... ... ...
P. AVLVS P. [*]F. PALATINA [sc. tribu]
  #x002A; Diis manibus.

  #x002A; Faciendum curavit.

[*] D. M.
[*] F. C.
171.*   Ifid. IX. c.4.
[p] De laudib. Stilic. II. 250.
[q] The near resemblance of the name Elenburough with Olenacum, where the first Herculean wing lay in garrison in the time of Theodosius the younger, is some motive to think that this was that Olenacum; but yet I dare not affirm it. Holland.
[r] [blank]
M. D.
gazetteer links
button -- "Derwent, River" -- Derwent, River
button -- "Elen, River" -- Ellen, River
button -- "Ierby" -- Ireby
button -- "Volantium" -- (roman fort, Maryport)
button -- (roman wall, Maryport)
button -- "Wirkinton" -- Workington
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