Thursday, 9 April 2015

Tombstone of Ammonius, Glasgow, Scotland

This evening, I am departing from my usual fare and reporting on a tombstone which dates from the 1st century AD. This can be viewed at the Hunterian Museum, Glasgow.

The tombstone dates specifically from around AD80-AD90 and was found at Ardoch Roman Fort, near Braco in Perthshire, central Scotland.
The inscription reads:
"To the spirits of the departed Ammonius, son of Damio, centurion of the First Cohort of Spaniards, of 27 years service. His heirs had this erected."
The Ardoch fort pre-dates both Hadrian's Wall and the Antonine Wall and formed part of the very early Gask Frontier (AD 79-87) established during the Flavian period ( Emperor Vespasian and his sons). In essence Gask would have been a very exposed and isolated line deep in enemy territory.
Particular points of note in regards to Ammonius:
  • Of Spanish origin. Roman army units were recruited from all parts of the Empire and as such a Spanish unit was not unusual.
  • He served 27 years compared to standard term of service of 25 years. Centurions had the right to extend their service.
  • He would have commanded a unit of 80 men.
The Ardoch fort is about 40 miles N.E. of Glasgow. Outlying parts of modern-day Glasgow were occupied during the Roman period, in particular during the time of the Antonine Wall (AD 139-165).

This ancient tombstone does serve to provide a direct link with an identifiable person in Scotland dating back about 1,925 years.

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