THE ROMAN EMPEROR FLORIAN DIED
And what on earth does that have to do with Waterfurlong you may ask? Well, Waterfurlong follows the exact line of Roman Ermine Street and every mile along the route was marked by a milestone dedicated to the Emperor of the day. One milestone has been found eight miles from Stamford at the Roman town of Durobrivae (close to modern-day Water Newton) inscribed:
IMP CAES M ANNIO FLORIANO P F INVICTO AVG M P I
Imperator Caesar Marcus Annius Florianus Loyal and Unconquered Augustus. A thousand paces.
As Ermine Street was built from south to north and at the approximate rate of half a mile a day, our section must have been constructed in late summer 276, during or immediately after the Emperor Florian's brief 88 day reign.
WHO WAS FLORIAN?
Marcus Annius Florianus Augustus, widely known as Florian, was born 19 August 232, the maternal half-brother of Tacitus, who was proclaimed Emperor in late 275. In July 276 Tacitus was assassinated in a military plot and Florian
proclaimed himself Emperor. Although his action was tolerated by the Senate and the armies of the West, the legions in Syria promoted their own general, Probus. Civil war broke out and Florian led his troops to Probus's base at Tarsus in modern-day Turkey. His men were unused to the sweltering heat and fell ill. On learning of this Probus launched raids around the city to weaken their morale even further. The tactic proved successful and Florian's men rose up and killed him. Probus was proclaimed Emperor and generally considered a successful one until 282 when he too was assassinated.