ELHAS News - April 2017

Meeting Report April 2017

In April an audience of 58 members and guests enjoyed an illustrated talk by Mike Turpin entitled "Roman Aldborough and the Antiquities". Mike is a former teacher who, when he retired from teaching ran his own IT training company. When he retired fully, he discovered his interest in 'all things Roman'. He is Vice Chair of South Leeds Archaeology and regularly hosts guided tours round the Aldborough Roman town site, which is situated close to Boroughbridge in North Yorkshire.

He began his talk by explaining how Aldborough became named as Isurium Brigantum by the romans in the first century following the invasion. Cartismandua, Queen of the Brigantes welcomed the Romans who perceived little threat from them, and Brigantia became a 'client kingdom' under roman control. The settlement was built in 79AD, and is situated on the river Ure. The first part of the name Isurium, (Is), could refer to the Egyptian goddess Isis, as many of the occupying troops were from the North Africa region and followed the cult of Isis. The name Brigantum refers to the Brigantes tribe who occupied all of the north of England at that time.

Mike pointed out that it was unusual that the town had developed from where it was situated, as there was no evidence of a military encampment there. The nearest roman fort was at Roecliffe, west of Aldborough, and it would appear that the town developed as a trading post to supply the fort, with goods being shipped up the river Ure from Eboracum (York) as far as Isurium, then moved overland to the fort.
Isurium Brigantum had substantial buildings with stone walls and four gates which were added later. The town flourished with the building of elaborate houses of some status, some with fine, decorative mosaic floors. In 410AD, the romans left quite quickly and little evidence of their occupation remains, and by the 7th century the Anglo-Saxons had taken over the area.

Mike described how the first mosaic to be discovered, dating from the 2nd century, was found in 1832 when the landlord of the Aldburgh Arms decided to bury a calf at the end of his garden. Further mosaics were discovered but unfortunately these were spoiled by Victorian souvenir hunters. Today, these mosaics are protected by modern buildings and visitors can view them very clearly through an open doorway, only a few feet away from the mosaics.

Mike also showed us photos of parts of the site, which is a mixture of short sections of wall surrounded by earthwork banks. He followed this with slides of artefacts contained in the small museum, which has a good display of roman finds from the site. He ended his talk by saying that the roman site at Aldborough was well worth a visit, and encouraged us all to visit the site and enjoy time in the tranquil village of Aldborough.







Fifty people stayed behind to enjoy our annual pie and pea supper, which is a lovely social occasion with many of the audience saying how much they had enjoyed Mike's talk.

The next meeting on Monday 26th June 2017, will be an illustrated talk by Kat Baxter, Archaeology Curator at Leeds Museums &Galleries, entitled "Kirkstall Abbey - History, Excavation and Conservation".


Photos courtesy of Mike Turpin