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Castra Priora Equitum Singularium

Castra Priora Equitum Singularium

The barracks of the equites singulares, a select corps of cavalry that served as a bodyguard for the emperor. The older barracks (Castra Priora) were built under Trajan (ca. A.D. 100); new barracks (Castra Nova) were added by Septimius Severus (ca. A.D. 200). Constantine (ca. A.D. 320) suppressed the guard, demolished the barracks, and used the land as the site of the first great Christian church in the city, the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

Castra Equitum Singularium

From Samuel Ball Platner, A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome, rev. Thomas Ashby. Oxford: 1929, p. 105.

The barracks of the equites singulares, a select corps of calvary organised about the end of the first century as a bodyguard for the emperor. Some remains of these barracks were found in 1885 in the Via Tasso, just north-west of the Scala Santa, consisting principally of the wall of a large rectangular court, in which were niches and in front of the niches inscribed pedestals (BC 1885, 137; Ann. d. Inst. 1885, 235; PT 131). These inscriptions and others found near by (CIL vi. 31138-31187) mention castra priora and castra nova or nova Severiana, and one MS. of the Notitia reads castra eq. sing. II. There were, therefore, two barracks, the later apparently erected by Severus, but they were probably adjacent structures, or even parts of the same building (HJ 246; DE ii. 2148). Other fragments of walls that probably belong to the castra have been found in front of the Lateran (BC 1913, 72-74).

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Additional source material

  • C. Buzzetti, “Castra Equitum Singularium, Singulariorum,” Lexicon Topographicum Urbis Romae, ed. E.M. Steinby, vol. 1 (Rome, 1999) 246-248.

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