The Gallus Frontier – Brigantia against the Romans

The Gallus Frontier – Roman Rig and associated Iron Age Forts

Brough-on-Noe Leicester Lincoln Owmby Hibaldstow Old Winteringham High Cross Mancetter Willoughby-on-the-Wolds Margidunum Thorpe-by-Newark Brough Owston on the Trent Doncaster Chester Camp Farm Whitchurch Wall Pennocrucium Flint Scraptoft Crossing of the Poulter Templeborough Littlechester Chesterfield Mid-point Rocester/Brough-on-Noe Rochester Trent Vale Northwich Wilderspool Mid-point Wall/Littlechester Mid-point Northwich/Brough-on-Noe Broxtowe Marton Pentrich Almondbury Hill Fort Barwick in Elmet Hill Fort Osmathorpe Newton-on-Trent Rossington Bridge Roman Rig Carl Wark hill fort Wincobank hill fort Scholes Coppice Camp



The Gallus frontier, outlined in blue, south of the line, the Roman fortifications, to the north, Venutius’ kingdom.

The Frontier changes made by Gallus

In “Rome against Caratacus” Graham Webster put forward the proposal that Gallus was forced to remodel the existing Plautian northern frontier on the Humber-Trent line in order to protect Roman interest in the unstable Brigantia. He did this Webster suggested, by moving forward a network of forts towards and into the southern border of Brigantia. It should be noted that specific dating evidence is not available for all forts, and Websters proposal, and our interpretation are based on as much deduction as knowledge.

The above illustration shows the possible northern Roman frontier attributed to Gallus c.57 A.D. At Sheffield, along a significant stretch of this possible frontier, within a couple of miles of the front line forts there is a defensive dyke and possible fort system which has been suggested by some archaeologists as representing the Southern border for an anti Roman section of the Brigantes at in the first century AD. In short, Roman Rig may well have been Venutus’ defence against the Romans in preparation for the Roman invasion C69-71AD.

This research article aims to collate any related research so that a clear body of evidence can either prove or disprove this theory. Currently, there are a small number of positive findings with regards to Roman Rig and the associated Brigantian forts, as well as the Roman counterparts, some evidence is relatively new and still being investigated. However the lack of negative evidence gives a good indication that this key element to the Brigantian jigsaw – Venutius’ south eastern border 69AD.

To investigate the evidence currently to had click on the site indicators that are clickable, this will lead to individual site reports.

The Dyke is built to defend against the south and runs from Sheffield, past Templeborough and carries on almost to Doncaster. If this is an Brigantian dyke it would certainly add weight Websters definition of the border.

By accepting that this dyke may be a Brigantian counterpart to the defences set up in the period of Gallus’ governorship, we may examine the implications of the dyke as belonging to Ventutius or Cartimandua, and thus we can place a possible border for one of the two adversaries at a particular time..

One conclusion could be that the dyke belonged to Cartimandua, built as part of her defences against Venutius. If this were the case then this would date the age of the Dyke to c. 69AD when Venutius is believed to have overthrown Cartimandua and taken control of Brigantia.

The other conclusion is that the dyke belonged to Venutius, in the same period, but built against the Romans as part of his defences after he ousted Cartimandua.

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