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CATARACTONIUM (Catterick Bridge) Yorkshire, England.

A fortified settlement on the road (Dere Street) from Eburacum to Corstopitum where it crossed the river Swale. Listed in the Antonine Itinerary (465.2; 468.2; 476.2) and the Ravenna Cosmography and one of the principal coordinates for Ptolemy's survey of Britain (Geog. 2.3.16).

The earliest structures were related to a fort built by Cn. Julius Agricola ca. A.D. 80, S of the river and a short distance W of the main road. It seems likely that the garrison were also responsible for running a large military tannery. The fort appears to have been evacuated ca. A.D. 120. Shortly afterwards, a mansio was constructed E of the fort; the fort bath was rebuilt on a larger scale and incorporated into the new building. The fort was reoccupied ca. A.D. 160, and the mansio was demolished by the end of the 2d c. In the last 40 years of that century a vicus grew up E and SE of the fort, and more civilian development took place N of the Swale, chiefly shops and houses lining both the main road and the side road leading to the fort. It is not known when the fort was finally evacuated, but when a defensive stone wall was erected early in the 4th c. round the central part of the vicus, it was extended to include the area originally occupied by the fort. The new area covered ca. 6.3 ha.

About A.D. 370 part at least of the vicus was requisitioned for a cavalry unit, perhaps of laeti or gentiles, which led to the conversion of shops and houses into barracks and other buildings. The duration of this military occupation is not known, but it probably ended before A.D. 400. Later some rebuilding of low standard occurred, probably implying a return to civilian occupation in the early 5th c., but the settlement was deserted before the main Anglo-Saxon immigrations reached this part of Britain.

The only part of the site still visible is a section of the E defensive wall on Catterick race course. Aerial photographs (1949) showed the extent of the fortified enclosure, as well as streets and buildings within it. The most impressive building was excavated in 1959: a small bath never completed, of early 4th c. date, constructed on the site of the demolished mansio baths. The walls in places stood 3 m high. In 1972 excavations N of the river revealed a Hadrianic fort and a small 4th c. temple.

Most of the finds are in The Yorkshire Museum, York.


E.J.W. Hildyard & W. V. Wade, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 37 (1950) 402-19PI; 39 (1958) 224-65PI; J. K. St. Joseph, JRS 43 (1953) 90I; J. S. Wacher, ibid. 50 (1960) 217-18PI; id., in R. M. Butler, ed., Soldier and Civilian in Roman Yorkshire (1971) 167-74PI; J. S. Wacher, Britannia 4 (1973) 279P.


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