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We celebrate Flavinus, Hexham’s famous Roman Cavalryman, whose 8ft tall, 2000 year old tombstone stands proudly at the foot of the Night Stair.
11.00am - 5.00pm, free to attend.
Flavinus Day will see a host of free, inclusive activities and entertainment taking place for all ages – the event appeals to young and old, avid history fans, and total Roman novices.
There will be a programme of displays, talks, demos and workshops, as well as hands on activities for children such as shield drills and flour grinding! Tours of the Abbey will be available, focusing on the incredible collection of Roman relics including the Flavinus tombstone itself.
The Refectory Cafe will be serving a special menu of Roman food for the day, recreating modern takes on the food that Flavinus and his regiment would have lived on.
The Flavinus tombstone is one of the main historical displays inside the Abbey. Flavinus himself was a signifier or standard- bearer in Candidus’s troop of the ALA PETRIANA. The tombstone probably stood once in the military cemetery near the fort of CORIA Corbridge; that was where the Petrian cavalry was based as Rome extended its grip over the Tyne Valley in the years from 79AD. How it came to be discovered in the Abbey is a mystery!
The ALA PETRIANA, the Petrian Cavalry Regiment, came from Gaul. Gaul had come under Roman rule during the 1st century BC, conquered by disciplined, heavily armed legions of citizen infantry. Once such lands were subdued the Roman army recruited auxiliary regiments from the subject peoples, to serve alongside the legions.
The ALA PETRIANA took its name from the Roman noble, Titus Pomponius Petra, who first commanded it. Auxiary cavalry regiments numbered about 500 horsemen in 16 troops (TURMAE) of some 32 men, each commanded by a decurion like Candidus. Flavinus’s regiment had a long and distinguished history, but most of it came after the young soldier’s early death. It was nearly doubled in strength to 24 troops or nearly 800 men, becoming a ‘milliary’ ala; its Gaulish warriors were awarded Roman citizenship. It was granted the title ‘Emperor’s own’ (AUGUSTA), and the whole unit was twice decorated for gallantry by the award of the coveted torque, the neck-ring. These honours were eventually reflected in the regiment’s full title: ALA AUGUSTA GALLORUA PETRIANA MILLIARIA BIS TORQUATA CIVIUM ROMANORUM. Flavinus died before these titles were added, some time before 98AD. About that time the regiment moved from Tynedale and served in southern Scotland, eventually settling at the large fort of UXELODUNUM, Stanwix, near Carlisle.
To this day the Flavinus tombstone is a reminder of the great power and skill of the Roman Cavalry Regiments. On the 28th August, Flavinus Day is set to educate and celebrate all things Roman in the town of Hexham, with specific attention paid to the elite troops housed around the area.