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TO THE GODDESS GARMANGABIS.'
more modest modern representative. If so, what more likely than that it, too, may be filled with precious relics hidden in a moment of panic, and never returned for or recovered ? Mr. Blackmur, after finding the altar, did probe the ground in the immediate vicinity of the spot, and came to the conclusion that there were hollow places there. If the owner of the land, Mr. Fawcett of the Temple, London, would order, or permit, further researches to be made, they might eventuate in additional discoveries being effected.
The altar is one of great size. With its base it is calculated that it weighs well nigh three-quarters of a ton. It is formed out of the stone of the neighbourhood, a compact gritty freestone. I am informed that there is a quarry of the same kind of stone not far from the spot where the altar was found, and that the railway bridges at Lanchester are built of similar material.
The height of the altar, standing on its base, is five feet three inches, of which the altar itself claims four feet five and a half inches, and the base nine and a half inches. The breadth of the base is two feet six inches; of the foot of the altar, one foot eleven inches ; of the stem, one foot eight inches ; and of the top one foot eleven and a half inches. The thickness of the base is one foot five inches; of the foot of the altar, one foot one inch ; of the stem, ten and a half inches ; and of the top, one foot.
The altar is richly sculptured on three sides. The back is plain, so that it was evidently intended to stand against a wall. It is singular, too, that there is no focus or elevated ridges at the top, which is rough like the back. The prevailing style of ornamentation is circular, with rays proceeding from the centre to the circumference. There are also what seem like foreshadowings of the later cable and dog-tooth mouldings, and some of the central rays seem to suggest the later nail-head ornament. On the left hand side to one facing the altar are represented the culter or sacrificial knife, and the praefericulum or jug, and on the right the patera or dish, and a circular object, very prettily filled with curved rays from the centre, which I take to be the 'mola salsa' or sacrificial cake.
We come now to the inscription, which is decidedly perplexing. There can be very little doubt as to the lettering, but it is the exact signification, which is puzzling. I will give my reading of it :
DE Æ E GAR I differ from others only in the first word. M A NGA BI To me it appears to be certainly DEÆ, with
[G ORDI the third and fourth letters ligatured. The ANI] AVG N PR next word then begins with another E, and SAL · VEX
is EGARMANGABI. Other decipherers make RVM · LON · GOR · Vo the first word DEAE, and the second word TvM SOLVERVNT · M GARMANGABI. With this introductory ex
planation I will give the inscription as I have deciphered it. I have rery carefully investigated the stops, and give them as they exist upon the stone.
Now, how is this to be expanded? There is very little difficulty down to the word SAL. All seem to be agreed that, most likely, the name erased was GORDIANI. Why Gordian's name should be deleted is puzzling. Still it appears it must be his. I would suggest that possibly the news of his death arrived before the stone was set up, and that the erectors of it were, in consequence, in a difficulty, and that they solved it, or attempted to solve it, by erasing his name, and making the inscription applicable to the succeeding occupant of the throne. That the erasure was determined on, and executed, in somewhat of a hurry, seems indicated by the fact that the eraser began to cancel also the n preceding the emperor's name, and the AVG N following it ; but, either upon second thoughts, or upon revised orders from his employer or employers, he ultimately decided to allow them to remain.
So far, then, the inscription may be expanded thus :- Deae Egarmangabi et Numinibus Gordiani Augusti Nostri Pro Salute. In English : :- To the Goddess Egarmangabis, and to the Protecting Deities of Gordian our Augustus, in gratitude for the health and safety of
Now is the next to be vexillationis Sueborum, vexillariorum Sueborum, or vexillarii Sueborum ? And what are we to make of LON
GOR? The Suebians or Suevians have not, I believe, been heard of before in Great Britain. But LON · GOR has ; not at so great length, curt as the lettering is, but still sufficiently to enable us, I think, to affirm that it is not absolutely new.
In the library of the Dean and Chapter of Durham are two