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|start of Cumberland|
stream, throws itself into the ocean at Wirkinton,
famous for a salmon fishery. It is now the seat of the
antient knightly family of the Curwens, who derive
their descent from Gospatrick earl of Northumberland, and
took their surname by agreement from Culwen, a family
of Galloway, whose heir they married. They have here a noble
mansion like a castle, and from them, if I may be allowed to
mention it without imputation of vanity, I derive my descent
by the mother's side.
From hence some have supposed a wall was carried for near
four miles at proper places to defend the coast, by Stilico,
in the reign of Honorius and Arcadius, when the Scots from
Ireland infested this shore. For thus Britain speaks of
herself in Claudian [p]:
Me quoque vicinis pereuntem gentibus, inquit,
Munivit Stilico, totam cum Scotus Hibernem
Movit, & infesto spumavit remige Thetis.
Me Stilicho by neighbouring nations sore distrest,
Defended well with time the Scotish rage
Hibernè moved, while with their hostile war
Old ocean foam'd.
Ehen r. Ireby.
There still remain ruins of walls at the mouth of the
Elen or Elne, as it is now called, which,
after a short course, has at its source Ierby, no
inconsiderable market town. This I take to have been ARBEIA,
where the Barcarii Tigriensis were stationed, and at
its mouth Elenborough or the Burgh on the Elen, where
was formerly quartered the cohors prima Dalmatarum
with their officer [q]. It stood on a high hill commanding a
distant view of the Irish sea; but corn now grows where the
town was, and its traces plainly appear; the antient vaults
are uncovered and many altars, inscriptions, and statues are
dug up here. All which that worthy man J. Senhous, in whose
grounds they are found, has carefully preserved and arranged
in his house. In the middle of the yard is a most beautiful
square altar, of a reddish stone, elegantly carved in the
antient manner, about five feet high, and having an
inscription in fair characters, a view of which and each of
its sides I shall here insert from a drawing by sir R.
Cotton, of Connington, knt. a great searcher into antiquity,
when we travelled together over these parts to illustrate
our native country with the highest entertainment in the
year 1599. I cannot help expressing my gratitude to the
worthy gentleman just mentioned for his hospitable
treatment, and the great care which this learned admirer of
antient literature takes to preserve these inscriptions,
which are soon broken to pieces by the ignorant people here,
and put to other uses to the great detriment of these
studies. See Pl. VIII. fig. 2, 3.
Every thing is perfectly plain on this inscription, except
that in the last line but one ET and AEDES are expressed in
abbreviations. The end is imperfect. Perhaps we are to
restore it thus DECVRIONVM ORDINEM RESTITVIT, &c. The
Decuriones were in the Municipia the same as the Senatores
at Rome and in the colonies; so called because they
discharged the offices of the Curia or Court, whence
also they were styled Curiales, from their conducting
civil affairs [*].
VOLANTIUM. Pagan altars.
On the upper ledge of the back part of this altar we may
observe these words VOLANTII VIVAS, which give me no small
difficulty, nor can I make anything of them, unless they
imply a wish of the Decuriones, knights, and commons, who
constitued the Municipium, for G. Cornelius Peregrinus, who
restored the house, temple, and Decuriones, that so
beneficent a man might enjoy life at Volantium. Hence if I
may be allowed to conjecture, I should suppose the antient
name of this place to have been VOLANTIVM. Below are carved
instruments of sacrifice, a hatchet, and a knife. On the
left side a mallet and praefericulum. On the right a patera,
a dish, and a pear, if I am right, or as others think a
water-pot: for these were vessels for sacrificing purposes,
and likewise others, as the Simpulum, Censer, Futile,
sacerdotal bonet, &s. which we see on the sides of other
altars in these parts. The 2d altar here annexed was dug up
at Old Carlisle, and is now in the house of the
Barhouses at Ilkirk, inscribed with letters of
the complicated form, happily expressed by the engraver,
which it should seem are to be read thus:
#x002A; sc. tribu. under Commodus A.D. 193.
Jovi Optimo Maximo, Ala Augusta ob virtutem appellata cui praest Publius AElius Publii filius Sergia [*] Magnus de Mursa ex Pannonia inferiore praefectus Aproniano (et) Bradua Consulibus.
The 3d altar is inscribed to the topical deity Belatucadrus,
and to be read thus:
Belatucadro Julius Civilis Optio (i.e. commander of the watch) votum solvit libens merito.
There is no difficulty with the 4th altar, which is to this
Dis Deabusque Publius Posthumius Acilianus praefectus cohortis primae Delmatarum.
These kind of altars (to mention the antient rites which our most holy religion has long since abolished), as well as the victims and sacrificers used to be crowned with leaves, and offerings of incense and wine made at them, sacrifices offered, and the altars themselves anointed. Of their demolition as Christianity prevailed, Prudentius [r] thus sings:
Exercere manum non poenitet, & lapis illic
Si stetit antiquus quem cingere suerverat error
Fasciolis aut galline pulmone rigare,
None grudge the helping hand, if chance a stone
Of antient date stood there, whom wont to crown
Was error once with garlands, or to stain
With chicken's blood. They hurl it down amain.
I also saw the following inscriptions here:
#x002A; Publius filius.
PRO SA ... ... ...
ANTONINI AV. PII F ...
P. AVLVS P. [*]F. PALATINA [sc. tribu]
PRAEF. COH. I. DALMATAR.
#x002A; Diis manibus.
#x002A; Faciendum curavit.
[*] D. M.
INGENVI. AN. X
IVL. SIMPLEX PATER
[*] F. C.
Ifid. IX. c.4.
De laudib. Stilic. II. 250.
The near resemblance of the name Elenburough with
Olenacum, where the first Herculean wing lay in
garrison in the time of Theodosius the younger, is some
motive to think that this was that Olenacum; but yet
I dare not affirm it. Holland.
|-- "Derwent, River" -- Derwent, River|
|-- "Elen, River" -- Ellen, River|
|-- "Ierby" -- Ireby|
|-- "Volantium" -- (roman fort, Maryport)|
|-- (roman wall, Maryport)|
|-- "Wirkinton" -- Workington|