This Roman altar is dedicated to the Roman hero and god Hercules. It is made of a buff sandstone and is inscribed 'DEO HERCU LENTI' (To the God Hercules). It was found at High Rochester Roman Fort, High Rochester, Northumberland in around 1729.
Hercules is the Roman name for the Greek hero Herakles. The Roman adapted Greek myths and the iconography of Herakles into their own myths and legends and gave him Roman characteristics. By the 5th century BC mythological tradition was well established that Hercules had visited Rome during his tenth labour.
Hercules was a popular demi-god, who had many human characteristics and who could suffer like everyone else. Hercules was a kind of super-powered everyman who suffered joy and disappointments and like everyone had good days and bad.
At the bottom of the stone are three x’s which have been painted onto the stone, these were most likely added at the start of the 20th century. They are a reference number that was added to the stone most likely by archaeologist, Francis J. Haverfield (1860-1919). Haverfield was a pioneer in Romano-British archaeology and from 1914 began to publish annual surveys of Roman inscriptions of Britain. He initiated the project to create published resources of the entire corpus inscriptions found in Britain from the Roman period. The first volume, Inscriptions on Stone, was then edited by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright with an addendum by R.S.O. Tomlin. It was first published in 1965, with a new edition in 1995. This stone is Haverfield ###.
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