A selection of inscriptions and extracts from Roman writers on Britain.
1. Tombstone, London c. 61 – 64 (RIB 12)
To the spirits of the departed and of Gaius Iulius Alpinus Classicianus, son of Gaius, of the Fabian voting tribe, … procurator of the province of Britain. Julia Pacata I[ndiana], daughter of Indus, his wife, had this built
2. Stilus-tablet, London first or second century
The imperial procurators of the province of Britain issued this
3. Tombstone, London first century AD (RIB 19)
To the spirits of the departed, …r Celsus, son of Lucius, of the Claudian voting tribe, from…., speculator of the second Augustan legion, An[tonius] Dardanius Cursor, Rubricius Pudens and …s Probus, speculatores of the legion (set this up)
4. Tombstone, London third century (RIB 17)
To the spirits of the departed and to Vibius Marcianus centurion of legion II Augusta . Ianuaria Martina, his most devoted wife set up this memorial.
5. Slab, London undated (RIB 5)
To the Divine Power of the emperor, the province of Britain…
6. Statue base, London late first/early second century (RIB 21)
To the spirits of the departed and to Claudia Martina, aged 19. Anencletus, slave of the province, (set this up) to his most devoted wife. Here she lies.
7. Forum dedication, Verulamium 79 or 81
The Emperor Titus Caesar Vespasian Augustus, son of the deified Vespasian, chief priest, in his ninth year of tribunician power, hailed imperator 15 times, consul 7 times, designated consul for the 8th time, censor, father of his country, and Caesar Domitian, son of the deified Vespasian, consul 6 times, designated consul for the 7th time, leader of youth and of all the colleges of priests, through Gnaeus Iulius Agricola, governor, the city of Verulamium to mark the building of the basilica.
8. Forum dedication, Wroxeter 129/30 (RIB 288)
For the Emperor Caesar Trajan Hadrian Augustus, son of the deified Trajan, conqueror of Parthia, grandson of the deified Nerva, chief priest, in his fourteenth year of tribunician power, three times consul, father of his country, the civitas of the Cornovii (set this up).
9. Dedication, Brough-on-Humber (Petuaria) 139-144 (RIB 707)
In Honour of the Divine House of the Emperor Caesar Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius, father of his country, three times consul, and to the Divine Powers of the Emperor, Marcus Ulpius Ianuarius, aedile of the vicus of Petuaria, presented this new stage at his own expense.
10. Dedication slab, Chichester, later first century AD (RIB 91)
To Neptune and Minerva for the welfare of the Divine House, by authority of Tiberius Claudius Togidubnus, great king in Britain, the guild of smiths and those who belong to it gave this temple from their own resources, the site having been given by […]ens, son of Pudentinus
11. Dedication to Nero, Chichester, AD 59 (RIB 92)
For Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, son of the deified Claudius, grandson of Germanicus Caesar, great grandson of the deified Augustus, in his fourth year of tribunician power, four times acclaimed imperator, consul for the fourth time, by decree of the senate the vow was deservedly fulfilled.
12. Dedication slab, York late second century (RIB658)
To the holy god Serapis, Claudius Hieronymianus, legate of the Sixth Legion Victrix, built this temple from ground level.
13. Tomb, Irchester, Northants 3rd century (RIB 233)
To the spirits of the departed and Anicius Saturninus, strator consularis (junior officer in charge of horses for the governor) made this memorial to himself.
14. Altar to the god who devised roads, Catterick, AD 191 (RIB 725)
To the god who devised roads and paths Titus Irdas, singularis consularis (auxiliary seconded to governor’s bodyguard) made a vow willingly, joyfully and deservedly. Quintus Varius Vitalis, beneficiarius consularis (legionary seconded onto the staff of the governor) restored the sacred altar, when Apronianus and Bradua were consuls.
15. Base of a Jupiter column, Cirencester, third or fourth century (RIB 103)
To Jupiter Best and Greatest, his perfection Lucius Septimius…. Governor of Britain … restored this monument being a citizen of R…….
This statue and column erected under the ancient religion, Septimius, governor of Britannia Prima, renewed.
16. Building Stone, Housesteads, Hadrian’s Wall undated (RIB 1673)
Ci(vitas) Durotragum Lendinie(n)sis
17. Building Stone Carvoran, Hadrian’s Wall undated (RIB 1843)
18. Decree, Caerwent c. 220 (RIB 311)
To Tiberius Claudius Paulinus, legate of the Second Legion Augusta, proconsul of the province of Narbonensis, by decree of the council, the commonwealth (respublica) of the civitas of the Silures (set this up).
19. Tile, Cave’s Inn, Warwicks. (Tripontium) Undated
20. Milestone, Brougham, Cumbria 258-268
To the Emperor Caesar Marcus Cassianus Latinius Postumus Augustua Pius Felix, the republic of the civitas of the Carvetii (set this up).
21. Milestone, found one mile south of Chesterton, Hunts (Durobrivae) 276
for the Emperor Caesar Marcus Annius Florianus Pius Felix Invictus Augustus one mile
22. Milestone, Thurmaston, two miles south of Leicester AD 119-120 (RIB2244)
The Emperor Caesar Trajan Hadrian Augustus, son of the deified Trajan, conqueror of Parthia, grandson of the deified Nerva, father of his country, in his fourth year of tribunician power, three times consul. From Ratae two miles.
23. Altar, Chesterholm (Vindolanda) (RIB 1700)
For the Divine House and the Divine Powers of the emperor, the people of Vindolanda (Vindolandesses) ( set up this) sacred offering to Vulcan , willingly and deservedly fulfilling their vow under the charge of ……
24. Altar, Old Carlisle (RIB 899)
To Jupiter greatest and best and to Vulcan, for the welfare of our lord Marcus Antonius Gordianus Pius Felix Augustus, the leaders of the villages (vikani) dedicated this from money contributed by the villagers
25. Tombstone, York third century (RIB 674)
To the spirits of the departed (and) of Flavius Bellator decurion of the colony of York. He lived for 29 years … months.
26. Plinth, Lincoln undated (RIB 270)
The … ward of the guild of Mercury
27. Dedication slab, Silchester 2nd or 3rd century (RIB 69)
…of Atticus… without their offerings or contributions, gave from their own resources, this gift entrusted to them by the gild of peregrini (non-citizens or immigrants from other cities) dwelling at Silchester
28. Altar, Bath, unknown date (RIB 152)
This holy place, wrecked by insolent people and cleansed afresh, Gaius Severius Emeritus, centurion in charge of the region, has restored to the Virtue and Divine Power of the Emperor.
29. Dedication slab, Combe Down, Bath AD 212-217 (RIB 179)
For the welfare of the Emperor Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Pius Felix Invictus Augustus, Naevius imperial freedman, procurator’s assistant, restored from ground level these ruined headquarters.
30. Stone honouring a judicial official 80’s AD (From Nedinum, Dalmatia)
For Gaius Octavius Tidius Tossianus Iavolenus Priscus, legate of the Fourth Legion Flavia, legate of the Third Legion Augusta, judicial official of the province of Britain, governor of the province of Upper Germany, governor of the province of Syria, governor of the province of Africa, priest: Publius Mutilius Crispinus, son of Publius, of the Claudian voting tribe, ordered this to be set up under his will, to his dearest friend.
31. Altar, Bordeaux, AD 237
To the goddess Tutela Boudiga, Marcus Aurelius Lunaris, sevir Augustalis (priest of the Imperial Cult) of the colonies of York and Lincoln in the province of Lower Britain set up the altar which he vowed when he set sail from York; he fulfilled his vow willingly and deservedly in the consulship of Perpetuus and Cornelianus.
32. Stone coffin, York 3rd or 4th century (RIB 675)
Marcus Verecundius Diogenes, sevir of the colony of York, seafarer and citizen of Bituriges Cubi, set this up to himself in his lifetime.
33. Dedication to the goddess Sattada, Beltingham, Northumbs, 2nd or 3rd century (RIB 1695)
To the goddess Sattada, the assembly of the Textoverdi fulfilled its vow willingly and deservedly
34. Tombstone, Corbridge 3rd century (RIB 1171) (see below)
To the spirit of the departed, Barates of Palmyra, trader in ensigns, lived 68 years.
35. Tombstone, South Shields 3rd century (RIB1065)
To the spirits of the departed and to Regina his freedwoman and wife, a Catuvellaunian, aged 30, Barates of Palmyra set this up.
(in Palmyrene script): Regina, the freedwoman of Barates, alas
36. Tombstone, Nomentum, Italy early second century (CIL XIV, 3955)
Gnaeus Munatius Aurelius Bassus, son of Marcus, of the Palatine voting tribe, Procurator of Augustus, Prefect of Engineers, Prefect of the 3rd Cohort of archers, Prefect again of the 2nd cohort of Asturians, Census Officer for Roman citizens at the colnia Victricensis [Colchester] in Britain at Camulodunum, Curator of the Nomentum road, Patron of this same town, Priest for life, Aedile with magisterial power, Dictator four times.
37. Dedication to the Goddess Fortuna, Mogontiacum (Mainz), Germany late first century (CIL XIII 6679)
Marcus Minicius Marcellinus, son of Marcus, of the Quirine voting tribe, from Lindum [Lincoln] for the honour of the eagle of the XXII Legion Primagenia Pia Fidelis …. The goddess Fortuna
38. Tombstone from Rome early second century (CIL VI, 3346)
To the spirits of the departed and Marcus Ulpius Quintus of Nervia Glevi [Gloucester] frumentarius ( soldier responsible for corn supply) of the VI Legion Victrix, Calidus Quietus, his colleague had this made for his respected, most dutiful and deserving brother.
Documentary Sources: a selection of extracts from Roman writers on Britain.
39. Tacitus on the Boudiccan Rebellion, Annals, XIV, 31-33
Their bitterest hatred was directed against the veteran soldiers recently settled in the colony of Camulodunum, who were driving the natives from their homes, forcing them off their land, and calling them prisoners and slaves…….. Nor did it seem a difficult task to destroy a colony that was unprotected by any fortifications..…… a clamour was heard in their senate house, the theatre had resounded with wailing.
Suetonius made his way undaunted through the midst of the enemy to London, a town which, while not distinguished by the title of colony, was a very important and busy centre for traders and goods…….. The same disaster befell the municipium of Verulamium since the natives, with their relish for plunder and wish to avoid hard work, steered clear of the forts and military garrisons and made for places rich in spoil but unprotected by any defending force.
40. Tacitus: Agricola, 14
Certain tribal areas were given to King Cogidubnus – he in fact remained totally loyal down to our times
41. Tacitus: Agricola, 21
Agricola gave private encouragement and official assistance to the building of temples, public squares and private mansions. He praised the keen and scolded the slack, and competition to gain honour from him was as effective as compulsion. Furthermore he trained the sons of the chiefs in the liberal arts and expressed a preference for British natural ability over the trained skill of the Gauls. The result was that in place of distaste for the Latin language came a passion to command it.
42. Letter from the Emperor Vespasian to the city of Sabora, Spain
Vespasian confirmed the taxes ‘ which you say you received from Augustus, but if you wish to introduce any new ones you should approach the governor about them, for I cannot make any decision if I have no advice on the matter.’
43. Letter of the Emperor Trajan to the city of Prusa, Pontus-Bithynia
if the construction of the new baths will not burden the resources of Prusa, we can grant their request; only let no special tax be levied nor let any less revenue in the future accrue to them for their necessary expenses.
44. Ulpian: On the Census, Book III
Name of each farm, in what city it is and in what district, and the two nearest neighbours; arable, how many iugera, (iugerum= 0.25ha) which have been sown in the last ten years; vineyards, how many vines; olive yards, how many iugera and how many trees; meadows, how many iugera, which were mown in the last ten years; pasture, how many iugera approximately; also woods. The person who makes the declaration must estimate everything… A man who has land in another city must make a declaration in the city in which the land is, since the tribute for land must be raised in that in whose territory it is occupied.
[ RIB = Collingwood, R.G. & Wright, R.P. (eds) 1965 The Roman Inscriptions of Britain Vol 1 Inscriptions on Stone; CIL = Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (with appropriate volume number)]