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Photo-a-day 223: Benwell Roman Temple

Hold up!

See that little date above?

This post was published years ago.

My opinions have changed over time: I think it's quite fun to keep old posts online so that you can see how that has happened. The downside is that there are posts on this site that express views that I now find offensive, or use language in ways I'd never dream of using it today.

I don't believe in airbrushing history, but I do believe that it's important to acknowledge the obvious: some of what I've written in the past has been crap. Some of it was offensive. Some of it was offensively bad. And there's may be some brass among the muck (you can make up your own mind on that).

Some of what I've presented as my own views has been me—wittingly or unwittingly—posturing without having considered all the facts. In a few years, I'll probably think the same about what I'm writing today, and I'm fine with that. Things change. People grow. Society moves forward.

The internet moves on too, which means there might be broken links or embedded content that fails to load. If you're unlucky, that might mean that this post makes no sense at all.

So please consider yourself duly warned: this post is an historical artefact. It's not an exposition of my current views nor a piece of 'content' than necessarily 'works'.

You may now read on... and in most cases, the post you're about to read is considerably shorter than this warning box, so brace for disappointment.

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This is a temple in Benwell. It isn’t very big, and there’s not much left of it, but then it is about 1,900 years old. It’s rather incongruously located on a residential street, a tiny patch of an English Heritage site sandwiched between two suburban semis.

It was (is?) a temple to the Roman or Brythonic god Antenociticus. This is the world’s only temple to Antenociticus (also called Anociticus for short), which must mean he’s a local Geordie god, I suppose, alongside the likes of Kevin Keegan and Alan Shearer. He did also get a mention in the Roman fort at Walwick Chesters.

Antenociticus’s head – or, at least, the head of his statue – was found here in 1862, and is now in the Great North Museum. Apparently, his hair style suggests either a connection to the Greek gods or a Celtic deer god. If the phrase “deer god” didn’t at least raise a wry smile, you’re a more serious, studious historian than me. It, along with a bit of approximate etymology around his name, also gives rise to his cool English epithet: “God of the antler-fringed forehead”.

If you are one of these stunningly clever people who studied A-Levels in either Classical Civilisation with OCR or Archeology with AQA, you’re more than likely laughing at my childlike fascination and misunderstanding of basic historical facts right now, as this tiny site features on the syllabi of both. It seems totally extraordinary that such a poorly understood small site in such odd modern-day surroundings could be chosen – but then, I know nothing about the subjects!

This post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, , , .

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