Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Our First Named Sailor; Incredible Find Charts Career of North East Seafarer

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Our First Named Sailor; Incredible Find Charts Career of North East Seafarer

Article excerpt

Byline: TONY HENDERSON Environment editor tony.henderson@ncjmedia.com @hendrover

THE North East has a proud tradition of seafaring and naval service - and a metal detectorist's stunning find has just back dated that by almost 2,000 years.

A Roman fleet diploma, detailing the 26-year naval career of its holder, was found on land near Lanchester Roman fort in County Durham by Mark Houston.

The individual who was presented with the copper alloy diploma on his honourable retirement is Britain's first named sailor.

And the find is the first complete fleet diploma to be discovered in this country.

On July 20 the diploma will be unveiled in Durham City as part of the National Festival of Archaeology.

It will go on show at Durham University's Museum of Archaeology in Palace Green library.

It records how the holder, named Tigernos, served in the Classis Germanica - the Roman fleet in Germany.

How a young man, from what is now County Durham, came to spent a large chunk of his life on Roman ships in Germany, is one of the intriguing questions raised by the discovery - as is the sort of reception he received on returning 26 years later.

When issued around AD150 by the Emperor Antonius Pius, the diploma would have consisted of two rectangular bronze plates which were attached together with metal wires.

Inside would be details such as the career record of the holder, who he served under and what he did, while on the outside was a summary with a list of witnesses. This diploma lists seven witnesses.

Similar diplomas were issued to Roman soldiers after 25 years of army service.

They granted the holder and his children Roman citizenship and the legal right of marriage.

Pieces would be broken off and given to the children to prove their rights, which is why finding complete examples is so rare.

The diploma granted to Tigernos was found stacked in eight pieces. It has been undergoing conservation treatment and research by Dr Roger Tomlin from Oxford University.

The name Tigernos means "king" or "master" and his father is referred to as Magiotigernus, which means "great master". …

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