- BenwellCondercum

The Temple of Antenociticus
The Temple of Antenociticus

Although there is little to see of the fort here there is, however, a temple and a vallum crossing in a nearby private housing estate and both are well maintained being kept behind open fencing. Access is via a gate for each although the Vallum crossing site requires a key from a house adjacent to it. Beware that the tenant may be out. The temple is very well preserved and has two reproduction alters on show in the positions of the originals, now in the Great North Museum at Hancock in Newcastle upon Tyne. The temple was dedicated to Antenociticus, who was a Celtic god. This was erected by the first cohort of Vangiones with a mounted detachment under the command of Marcius Cassianus. One of the alters was erected by Tineius Longus who was a praefectus equitatum. This was of the late second century and refers to the Emperors Marcus Aurelius and Commodus. This dates the alter to around 180 AD and when found it still had original red paint highlighting the lettering. The other alter gives information about the fort builders and this is the Jupiter Dolichenus alter. During excavations the head of the god’s statue was found along with three altars. Casts of the latter are currently on show at the site. The god was local and is unknown elsewhere so little or nothing is known of this deity. The temple was destroyed late in the second century, possibly quite deliberately, but was never rebuilt.

The Vallum crossing is quite unique because it is still visible today and is incredibly well preserved. Lying to the south of the fort it is a causeway that has gaps through both mounds and is of undug earth. The sides of the causeway are dressed in stone and there are drains either side of the southern part of the crossing. The opening to the gateway is 12 feet wide and would have had a double door for security opening to the north. Successive builds of roads through the gateway can be seen which look like steps on the northern side.

The Vallum Crossing
The Vallum Crossing

The fort itself has the northernmost part covered by a ‘modern’ reservoir, built in 1858 by the Newcastle and Gateshead Water Company. The main Newcastle to Carlisle road, built in the late 1700’s, cuts through the middle of the fort and the southernmost two thirds are covered by a school so ot much room for excavation. Extensive excavations were made before the school was built, however, and several inscriptions were found. The temple was discovered in 1862 within the grounds of Condercum House and further excavations were carried out in 1926-7 and 1937-8. Since then little has been done because, as stated, the fort is now almost completely covered. Being built near the top of Benwell Hill and a shade over two miles from Pons Aelius (Newcastle) this fort affords an expansive all round view. There is a concensus that it was built here and is as large as it is because Pons Aelius fort was erected to basically guard the bridge at the crossing of the River Tyne. Building of the fort was done by the second legion and is attested by a dedication now on display in the British Museum. Condercum was built to oversee the stream at Denton Burn which, to the west of the fort, flows into the River Tyne.

Garrisons known at on StreetMap Streetmap Logo link to OS map

Hadrianala quingenaria ?
Marcus_AureliuscohorsI Vangionum milliaria equitata
Commodus(Ulpius Marcellus governor): ala
3rd_Centuryala I Asturum (205 - 208) †
Notitia_Dignitatumala I Asturum †
1st_NoteThe inscriptions by legionary centurians (RIB 1327 and 1330) do not necessarily indicate the presence of a full legionary detachment under Antoninus Pius.