From Alan Bowman and David Thomas, Vindolanda: the Latin writing
tablets London: Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies,
1983, pp. 118-120
The attributions of the texts which we have grouped under this
heading cover the pre-Hadrianic levels 2, 3, 4 and 5. In Tab.Vindol.I
we grouped military reports and accounts together under the general
heading "Documents" (Tab.Vindol.I 1-20). We now feel confident
that in almost all cases we can distinguish the military reports
and documents (127-177)
from the accounts. More precise classification of the accounts and
lists still presents difficulties, however. We are quite certain
that we have, on the one hand, accounts which relate to the administration
of the unit as a whole (e.g. 178)
and, on the other, lists which are concerned with the domestic administration
of the praetorium (e.g. 195-196).
There are, however, a great many cases in which it is impossible
to be certain to which of these categories (if, indeed, they are
exclusive) the text ought to be assigned.
We have ordered the texts, very tentatively, into three groups.
The first group consists of accounts which appear to relate to the
administration of the military unit(s) or the position and military
duties of soldiers, and accounts which relate to soldiers and personnel
outside the context of the praetorium (178-189).
The second group consists of texts which appear to relate to the
domestic administration of the praetorium and the personnel
in it (190-199).
The third, quite substantial group, includes texts which we do not
feel that we can place with confidence in either of the first two
It is important to re-emphasise that we have classified these texts
on the basis of content rather than archaeological attribution.
We might expect that tablets attributed to Periods 2 and 3 will
reflect activity in the praetorium, while those in the
barracks/workshop of Periods 4 and 5 will relate to soldiers and
personnel outside it. For reasons already explained (Vol.
II, Ch. 1)), we have used these chronological indications only
as a general guide and not as a basis for deducing the nature of
any particular text.
(a) Accounts relating to the administration of the unit etc.
The only text which explicitly relates to the administration of
the fort or the unit as a whole is 178,
recording the reditus castelli; 179
may be a text of the same type. It should be noted that, if we exclude
receipts and pay-records, of which we have no examples at Vindolanda,
the number of Latin military accounts which might properly be described
as official is very small indeed - we have noted only RMR 74, 82,
83, ChLA XI 506 and Doc.Madasa 723.
There are several accounts which clearly relate to individual soldiers
or groups of soldiers, and to people outside the context of the
praetorium. In several cases it is impossible to be sure
whether the transactions or activities which they represent should
be seen as official (relating to their position and military duties)
or personal; it may be that in reality, the distinction was not
always clear-cut (cf. the note to ChLA III 204). The most
important sub-group in this category consists of the accounts which
were found in the area which has been identified as the centurions'
quarters in the Period 4 barracks (180,
and which certainly have links with the entrepreneurial letter of
Octavius to Candidus (343)
and the petition about maltreatment (344,
written on the other side of 180).
The difficulty over the distinction between official and personal
matters may be illustrated by the fact that 180
records wheat dispensed militibus legionaribus [sic] iussu
Firmi (lines 22-3, whether regular military rations or not
it is impossible to tell) and to a certain Lucco in ussus
[sic] suos (line 30). We think it likely that this group
of accounts represents transactions involving both civilian entrepreneurs
and soldiers (and perhaps also connected non-military personnel
such as female companions and slaves). The same may be true of an
account assigned to Period 5 (184),
in which the records of purchases or sums owed for such things as
towels, cloaks and tallow (sebum) are organised by century.
A somewhat different kind of activity may be attested by 185 if
we have correctly interpreted it as a record of expenses incurred
on a journey between Vindolanda and the south, perhaps for food
and drink, clothing, stabling and axles for a carriage. The latter
invites comparison with a letter which contains an embedded account
recording the transport to Vindolanda of the components of wagons
the only text from Vindolanda with a consular date (AD 111), records
quantities of beer, nails for boots, salt, wheat and perhaps pork
and goat-meat. 187 is a cash account which probably includes the
names of a woman and a veteran, and the names in 188
suggest ordinary soldiers rather than officers.
(b) The praetorium.
The accounts which most obviously suggest the existence of a substantial
body of material relating to the administration of the praetorium
which we originally regarded as likely to relate to the military
unit. It now seems obvious that many of the accounts from Periods
2 and 3 must also be related to the praetorium. Texts which
list some of the more unusual foodstuffs and commodities (such as
192 and 193) may well belong to this category and it should be noted
that there are three letters, two probably connected with slaves
of Genialis and Verecundus respectively (301,
302), which refer to the provision of foodstuffs in this context.
A third, a copy of a letter from Cerialis (233),
seems to contain an earlier, brief account of a similar kind. Equally
interesting are the lists of household equipment and clothing, more
likely to be inventories than accounts, which presumably reflect
the possessions and the lifestyle of the equestrian officer class
these may well be written by the same hand as 191.
Two texts well exemplify the difficulties of classification which
we have mentioned. 207,
assigned to the Period 3 praetorium, contains a record
(not a cash account) of clothing, in which the highest number of
an individual type of garment is 15; the name of the supplier, Gavo,
appears in an account probably relating to the praetorium
but the quantities in 207
might suggest that these could be cloaks intended for soldiers in
a particular contubernium. Second, a fragmentary cash account
which may be a record of repayment of loan or interest thereon (206).
Such transactions between ordinary soldiers are known (cf. 312,
Tomlin (1992)), but it is equally possible that it might relate
to a slave in the commander's household or, indeed, that it relates
to a transaction between a resident of the praetorium and
a member of the unit outside it. There is another account of food
written on a tablet containing a draft letter of Flavius Cerialis
For other accounts see: 375,
We should explain the convention we have
followed in resolving symbols and abbreviations. In some cases the
text itself allows us to deduce which case of the noun we should
understand, e.g. 180.6
requires m(odii), 181.11-15
require (denarios). Where we have summa we have resolved
in the nominative case. 185.20-1
shows the use of the accusative in a list of items and on this basis
we have followed the practice of resolving symbols and abbreviations
in the accusative where we have no other indication, except in 178,
a simple list of amounts under the heading reditus castelli,
which might be a nominative plural. The accusative could be justified
on the ground that the writer of an account might normally assume
that the items and amounts in his list were objects of some unstated