Height: 95.000 cm
Room 49: Roman Britain
Altar to Neptune
Roman Britain, 2nd century AD
From Lympne, Kent
Offering of a Roman admiral to the sea-god
This limestone altar, dedicated to the sea-god Neptune, was found in 1850 in the ruins of a late-Roman fort. It had probably been re-used as a building stone, but before that time it must have been exposed to the sea because it is encrusted with barnacles.
The inscription records that the person who set up the altar was Lucius Aufidus Pantera, a high-ranking military officer. From this and another inscription we know that he was praefectus (commander) of the British fleet in AD 133 or soon after, and before that had commanded a large cavalry regiment in Pannonia Superior (modern Hungary).
It was, of course, entirely appropriate that a fleet-commander should offer up an altar to Neptune, the god of the waters on which he sailed.