The History of Leith

August 18, 2011

The Emperor Septimius Severus and his wife Julia

The well-known Roman road at Portobello, popularly known as ” The Fishwives’ Causeway.” ” Here,” says Dr. Wilson, ” we recover the traces of the Roman way in its course from Eildon to Cramond and Kinneil, with a diverging road to the important town and harbour at Inveresk, showing beyond doubt that Edinburgh had formed a link between these several Roman sites.”
Within a few yards of the point where this road crossed the brow of the city ridge were built into the wall of a house, nearly opposite to that of John Knox, two beautifully sculptured heads of
the Emperor Septimius Severus and his wife Julia. These busts, which Maitland, in his time (1750), says were brought from an adjacent building, Wilson the antiquary conjectures were more probably
found when excavating a foundation; but under the causeway of High Street, in 1850, two silver denarii of the same emperor were found in excellent preservation.
These busts were doubtless some relic of the visit paid to the colony by Septimius Severus, for Alexander Gordon, in his “Itinerarium Septentrionale,” published in 1726, says:—”About this time it would appear that Julia, the wife of Severus, and the greatest part of the imperial family, were in the country of Caledonia; for Xephilin, from Dio, mentions a very remarkable occurrence which there happened to the Empress Julia and the wife of Argentocoxus, a Caledonian.”

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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