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Military ranks


Auxiliary units

Military ranks


Dates and events


Weights and measures

The following entries only include those terms which are mentioned in the Vindolanda tablets.


Legatus Augusti or consularis: the title of the provincial governor of Britain (and of the other provinces to which the emperor made direct appintments) was legatus Augustus pro praetore. The governor of Britain was always a person who had held the consulship and the term consularis is frequently used as an alternative form of reference (abbreviated to cos).

Legatus legionis: the commander of a legion, a man of senatorial status normally with the rank of ex-quaestor or ex-praetor (two of the positions in the senatorial career held before the consulship, at the ages of about 25 or 30 respectively). The term clarissimus uir is applied to individuals of senatorial status (abbreviated to c u).

Centurio regionarius: a centurion, normally from a legion, appointed to the military and administrative supervision of a particular geographical area.

Praefectus cohortis: the equestrian officer in command of an auxiliary cohort. Milliary cohorts were normally commanded by tribuni but the Tungrian cohorts seem exceptionally to have had praefecti in command (abbreviated to praef).

Beneficiarius: a soldier seconded for special duties to a higher-ranking officer. Those most commonly found with this title are adjutants of the provinical governor (beneficiarii consularis) but praefecti of auxiliary cohorts and legati legionis also had them.

Centurio: the officer in command of a centuria of infantrymen (often symbolised, like centuria, by an abbbreviation resembling a 7).

The symbol for centuria or centurio, not dissimilar to a 7. The dot in the angle of the symbol is particular to this tablet The visible text reads (centuriae) Felicionis

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The symbol for centuria or centurio, not dissimilar to a 7. The dot in the angle of the symbol is particular to this tablet The visible text reads (centuriae) Felicionis

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Curator: in the context of an infantry unit, as at Vindolanda, it may denote responsibility for a specific task rather than a rank. In a cavalry unit it denotes the soldier in charge of provisioning a turma.

Decurio: the officer in command of a turma of cavalrymen.

Optio: the second-in-command in a centuria of infantrymen.

Principalis: a military rank in which were grouped a number of posts, junior and senior staff officers, optiones, standard-bearers etc.; holders of these posts received either double the basic pay (duplicarius) or pay-and-a-half (sesquiplicarius)

Duplicarius: an officer receiving double the basic pay; the term is sometimes used to designate the second-in-command in a century or turma.

Singularis: a soldier in the guard of the governor (singularis consularis or singularis legati). A provincial governor's guard consisted of 500 pedites and 500 equites. The singulares of Britain's governor are thought to have been based in the Cripplegate fort in London.

Cornicularius : a senior rank below the rank of centurion, the cornicularius was the chief clerk, in charge of the tabularium

Tesserarius: one of the senior officers below the rank of centurion, literally the officer responsible for the daily watch-word, possibly in charge of those on sentry duty and 'fatigue parties'


Miles: a soldier, usually an infantry soldier

Commilito: 'comrade', usually a fellow soldier

Contubernalis: a soldier in the same conturbernium of an infantry cohort, used affectionately in the sense of 'mess-mate'. The term can also mean a partner, concubine or de facto wife/husband.

Eques: a cavalry trooper

Conturmalis: a trooper in the same turma of an ala

Aquilifer: the senior standard bearer in the legion, in charge of the legionary eagle and the pay-chest.

Vexillarius: the standard bearer for the cohort.

For further information see the exhibition sections Military routines and Officers and men, families and traders in the exhibition.

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