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IULIOBRIGA (Retortillo) Santander, Spain.

In the Cantabrian mountains 3 km E of Reinosa, in one of the best passes from the plateau to the sea. It was the first Roman establishment in Cantabria and the main one, settled probably between 29 and 19 B.C. Its name indicates its founding by Augustus, perhaps during the Cantabrian wars. Pliny (HN 3.21) calls it an oppidum, meaning that it enjoyed privileges similar to those of a colony. It was the principal Roman city in the limes of N Hispania, and was probably destroyed during the invasions of the 5th c.

It must have occupied ca. 1 sq. km, but only a small part has been excavated. The principal discovery is a building (79.4 x 29.5 m) whose SE side consisted of an enclosed portico, probably a loggia or private gallery rather than a porticoed street. The building has two parts each ca. 40 m long, one a residence with rooms around a peristyle, the other apparently an outbuilding with servants' quarters and storerooms. The finds are in the Museum of Prehistory in Santander.


A. García y Bellido, Iuliobriga, ciudad romana de Cantabria. Las nuevas excavaciones (1953); id., “Excavaciones en Juliobriga y exploraciones en Cantabria. II Relación. Campaña de 1953 a 1956,” ArchEspArq 29 (1956); id., Excavaciones y exploraciones arqueológicas en Cantabria (1970).


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    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.21
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