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Period I - c. AD85 - c. AD92; Should this period be dated earlier?
Topic Started: Jan 22 2010, 08:04 AM (221 Views)
SacoHarry
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Hi John. Welcome to WeDig!

I'll take a first swing at this, and would love to see what Andy et al say.

AD 85 is so far the best bet for dating. The samian found in the ditch is tightly dated to about AD 85. Since it was at the very bottom of the ditch, and not deposited when it was silted up or backfilled, it shows that the Period I fort was in use about 85-86.

Now, in the late 70s Agricola was making his massive assault on Scotland. So there would be little reason or manpower to build Vindolanda while Agricola had mostly his whole army 100+ miles north. So the Period I fort was either built after the campaign was over (early to mid 80s) or before it began (early to mid 70s). To my knowledge, there hasn't been yet any residual pottery or artefact collection that would suggest a fort was there in the 70s. So the 80s still makes the best bet. (There are discussions currently that a "Period 0" fort might lie below. Vindolanda's location would have been ideal in the early stages of Agricola's campaigns. But to my knowledge the Period 0 idea is just a hypothesis, with no records or archaeology yet supporting it.)

The Cerialis connection is interesting. But the one from the Vindolanda tablets has been found to be one "Flavius Cerialis." He was commander of the fort in Period III. An enormous quantity of his personal records were discovered in a half-burnt bonfire from Period III levels in the 1990s. Thanks to them, we know more about him that about just about any other auxiliary commander of the era. He may well have been related to Petillius Cerialis (besides the name & the theatre of operation where they worked, they both were also Batavian nobility). But there's no sign that any of the Cerialis texts refer to Petillius.
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SacoHarry
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I've scoured a few books and searched the Web. But I can't find detailed info on Flavius Cerialis after his cohort, the IX Batavians, departs Vindolanda. They left about AD 105, and were next seen in Dacia fighting for Trajan later that year. I can't tell whether Flavius was still their commander then, or what happened to him.

But I wouldn't be surprised if he had later Roman connections. The documents say that Flavius had reached the Roman rank of equestrian, meaning that he had built a family fortune worth over 100,000 denarii. He or his father had gained citizenship recently under the Flavians for some significant act, which means he had already made a name for himself amongst powerbrokers. He was chief of his tribe, and had learned pretty polished Latin. So it's very easy to see him or his relatives making waves in Rome for years afterward. (I don't know about Crispinus, so can't help with him.)
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