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Altar to 'Fortune the Preserver', Roman Manchester, 2nd-3rd century AD

The capital and base of this sandstone altar have been trimmed off, suggesting that it was re-used as a building stone, but most of the inscription survives, and can be translated "To (the goddess) Fortune the Preserver. Lucius Senecianus Martius Centurion of the sixth Legion Victrix [set this up]. " On the sides are carved the shallow dish and jug used for pouring offerings. The sandstone was originally a dark red, and the panels were whitened so that the inscription could be picked out in colour.
The stone was discovered in 1612 under the root of an oak in Medlock near Knott Mill. This was outside the Roman Fort and the altar was probably set up in the changing room of the Roman Baths. Lucius Senecianus Martius may have commanded the unit of Raetians and Noricans, for the legionary centurions were sometimes given command of such auxiliary units.
Around 30 other altars to Fortune are known from Roman Britain. She was an important goddess for soldiers, perhaps especially so in this remote province of the Roman Empire. When Augustus was planning a visit to Britain in 27 BC, the poet Horace wrote and Ode to Fortune, in which he prayed that "she would keep safe our Emperor, on his journey to the Britons at the uttermost ends of the earth."


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