Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Another Postcard from the edge




A she-wolf mosaic from Isurium Brigantum, the town
Claudia Severa may have posted her letter from
Here's another postcard Claudia Severa sent to her friend Sulpicia Lepidina living in the Northumberland fort of Vindolanda around 100AD. Like Lepidina, Claudia is living in a northern fort, possibly at the location she calls Briga (shortened version of Isurium Brigantum), which is now Aldborough west of York - and was the headquarters for the Ninth Legion at the time. This is 92 miles south of Vindolanda - near modern day Bardon Mill west of Newcastle. In the letter she says she is travelling north, perhaps with her young son, to see her friend - no mean feat in 100AD, because these northern lands were barely Romanised and a journey of this distance in a carriage would have taken two very long days, or perhaps three. As I made the comparison yesterday, this would have been like crossing South Dakota in the 1860s, yet clearly her husband, Aelius Brocchus, the fort commander at Briga, thought the travel safe enough. Unfortunately this two page card is partly incomplete, but the gist of the letter is still in there...


Claudia Severa's two page postcard to Lepidina
" ... greetings. Just as I had spoken with you, sister, and promised that I would ask Brocchus of me visiting you, I asked him and he gave me the following reply "that it was always readily permitted to me, together with (missing - possibly my son) to come to you in whatever way I can." There are certain essential things which (missing) you will receive in my letters by which you will know what I am going to do (missing) I was (missing) and will remain at Briga. Greet your Cerialis from me. Farewell my sister, my dearest and most longed-for soul."

Address...

"To Sulpicia Lepidina, wife of Cerialis, from Severa, wife of Brocchus."

Another day in an army wife's life, who at the time was literally living on the edge of the known world.