- Great ChestersAesica
The Aesica Brooch
Covering only three acres this is a relatively small fort on the Wall and it does not sit astride it. Another unusual fact is the fort lies longer east to west unlike the likes of Housesteads which lie with the longer length north to south. It is believed that one of the buildings contained within the fort, the fort hall, still stood at approximately 13 feet high in 1724 according to a visitor at that time. The purpose of this fort was to guard the Caw Gap, a name given to the Haltwhistle Burn in this area. The south wall and ditch are virtually complete. Excavations in 1893 uncovered the Headquarters Building with strongroom (still visible today) and barrack block. An inscription mentioning Hadrian was found in the east gateway but the gate today is lost.
Finds on the site include a hoard of jewellery which includes the somewhat famous piece, the Aesica Fibula. This is a Celtic-Romano gilt bronze broach made in the late second century. One description of this brooch is: "Of its kind it is probably the most fantastically beautiful creation that has come down to us from antiquity." Civilian tombstones have also been found in the vicus.
There is also a bath house here which lies to the south about 100 yards from the fort and to the east of the farm road. An aqueduct was recorded in writings of Dr John Lingard in 1807 and the actual length of it is six miles as it winds to its destination but it can be measured as a straight line of two miles. It is marked on OS maps if you wish to trace its path.
Large sections of the Wall lie to the west of Aesica toward Carvoran and the ditch and Vallum are also well preserved. There are crossings here, 10 in succession, traversing the ditch and these are complete.
Garrisons known at on StreetMap
|Hadrian||cohors VI Nerviorum ?|
|Marcus_Aurelius||cohors - Raetorum (166 - 9) †|
|3rd_Century||cohors II Asturum (225), † Raeti gaesati ?|
|Notitia_Dignitatum||cohors I Asturum (presumably error for II Asturum) †|