Altar dedicated to Jupiter Tanarus

5 September 2019

Chester's Grosvenor Museum has welcomed the return to the city of a Roman altar dedicated to Jupiter Tanarus.

The altar was found on Eastgate Street in 1653 and donated to the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, by Sir Francis Chomondley, a local land owner.

Councillor Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: "I'd like to thank the Ashmolean Museum for loaning this unique Roman find; it is now on display in our Roman gallery until January.

"Sir Francis Chomondley donated the altar to the Ashmolean in 1675, at the time; this was the only museum of note in the country."

The Grosvenor Museum in return has lent three Roman tombstones from their collection showing banqueting scenes for a major exhibition 'Last Supper in Pompeii' which features wonderful finds from Pompeii, Herculaneum and the Bay of Naples. This exhibition is on at the Ashmolean until January 2020.

The red sandstone altar is 45cm tall, dedicated in AD 154 to a Romano-Celtic god by a high-ranking officer of Spanish origin serving in the Roman legion XX Valeria Victrix.

The inscription translated from Latin reads: To Jupiter Tanarus, Best and Greatest, Lucius Elufrius Praesens of the Galerian voting-tribe, from Clunia, princeps of the Twentieth Legion Valeria Victrix, willingly and deservedly fulfilled his vow in the consulship of Commodus and Lateranus

The 20th legion Valeria Victrix was stationed at Chester from the late-first century AD. The princeps of a legion was the second centurion in seniority, next in command after the primus pilus.

Jupiter Tanarus is a god of thunder, combining Roman and Celtic forms. This is the only known dedication to this God from Britain.

Chester Roman Tours with altar
Chester Roman Tours with altar.

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