Vindolanda Tablets Online Tablets Exhibition Reference Help

The print publication and the online edition

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Tab. Vindol. II Introductory chapters

The Archaeological Context

The Roman Army

The format of the tablets



Tab. Vindol. II Category introductions

Tab. Vindol. II Abbreviations and Bibliography

Digitising Vindolanda

Tab. Vindol. II Addenda and Corrigenda

Tab. Vindol. I Introductory Chapters

The print publication and the online edition

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Tablets guide

The 'Tablets' area of the website is primarily based on Volume II of the Vindolanda writing tablets, published by Alan Bowman and David Thomas in 1994 (The Vindolanda Writing Tablets (Tabulae Vindolandenses II), London: British Museum Press). It also incorporates material from volume I of the writing tablets (Vindolanda: the Latin writing tablets (1983, Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies) and introduces new material. The website is now the definitive edition of the Vindolanda writing tablets published in Volumes I and II. For purposes of academic reference, the site should be referred to as:

'Vindolanda Tablets Online'

Individual tablets should be referred to using the numbering sequence begun in Volume II, e.g. Tab. Vindol. II 343.

Online editions of individual tablets may be cited in the form (Tab. Vindol. II 291)

The following text describes in more detail the relationship of the online edition to the print publications. Please note that the material taken from Volume II is the copyright of the British Museum Press and material from volume I is the copyright of the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies.

Publications Numbering and reference
Texts and notes Images and metadata
Introductory Chapters Future work



The Vindolanda ink tablets excavated in the 1970s and 1980s have been published in two volumes by Alan Bowman and David Thomas. The first volume, Vindolanda: the Latin writing tablets (1983, Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies), published the tablets excavated in the 1970s(numbers 1 to 117). In 1994 the second, The Vindolanda Writing Tablets (Tabulae Vindolandenses II, abbreviated to Tab. Vindol. II) (British Museum Press) published the tablets excavated in the 1980s (numbers 118- 573). The tablets (nos. 574-850) from excavations of the 1990s will be published by the British Museum Press in 2003 (Tab. Vindol. III).

Numbering and reference

The details of the numbering system should be noted. The tablets published in volume I were republished in volume II, since a larger corpus of texts and increased familiarity with the script demanded that many earlier readings be substantially revised. The tablets from volume I were also given new numbers in the volume II sequence. Please use the numbering sequence from Volume II (to be continued in Volume III) to refer to individual tablets. The suggested form of reference for an individual tablet is Tab. Vindol. XX, e.g. Tab. Vindol. 343.

There is also another sequence of numbers by which the tablets are sometimes referred to, those given in the Vindolanda archaeological inventory during excavation, initially in the 1970s as numbers alone, e.g. 45, 117, later prefixed by the year of discovery, e.g. 85.210. This inventory also includes blank ink tablets and stylus tablets. These archaeological inventory numbers are used in the publications that preceded the publications of volume II and III. The Tab. Vindol. II sequence is the default sequence used in the website but it is also possible to use numbers from the other sequences in searching.

Texts and notes

The text, translations and notes of each tablet are as published in Tab. Vindol. II. There are a small number of modifications. In the few cases where leaf divisions were not indicated in the print edition they have now been added, but line numbering remains the same. Some 'descripta' (i.e. tablets bearing text from which little sense could be recovered) have been reformatted so as to separate text from notes. Some changes have also been made to the representation of papyrological conventions for ease of online delivery. The appendix to volume II, discussing different readings of the texts published by A. Birley, is also included at the end of the Vol. II Introductory chapters.

In some cases new readings of the tablets published in volumes I and II have been made on the basis of the new digital images. The existence of a revised reading is explicitly indicated in the entry for the individual tablet with a link to the addenda and corrigenda. Click on the link to see these. The addenda and corrigenda may also be accessed from the side-navigation bar in the tablets database. These will also be published as an appendix to the Vindolanda Writing Tablets Volume III.

The notes pertaining to individual tablets published in volume I were not reprinted in volume II. However cross-reference was still made to them. These notes have therefore been included separately in the database. In the individual tablet entry their existence is signalled by a clickable link. Please be aware however that some of the Volume I notes are now superseded. You must therefore cross-check with the notes published in volume II and the new revised readings, based on the digital images, to determine which remain relevant. For all the descripta however (as published in Volume II) minor editorial changes have been made to amalgamate the two sets of notes.

Images and metadata

All the tablets are illustrated by new digital images, captured directly from the tablets themselves in a scanning programme at the British Museum from 2000 to 2002. Some metadata, including titles for each document, were created specifically for the website, for enabling certain types of search and for compatibility with other databases of ancient documents, including APIS and other corpora under development at the CSAD.

Introductory Chapters

The introductory chapters to volume II discuss the site and its archaeological context, the Roman army, and the format and script of the tablets. The introductions to the individual categories of documents, military reports, accounts and lists, correspondence related to particular individuals and descripta are also provided. The introductory chapters to volume I also contain discussion that is still relevant, in particular in chapters 1 (sections B, C, D), 2 and 4 and have therefore also been made available. In some respects however they have been superseded by the introduction to volume II and Adams' discussion of the Latinity. Please therefore cross-check their content with more recent discussion.

Some changes have also been made to the formatting of the introductory chapters for ease of online presentation and cross-reference. Individual chapters have been divided into separate sections and footnotes have been converted to hyperlinks. Click on the note number to open a new page which will take you to the relevant note. Cross-references to other chapters have also been turned into hyperlinks. Cross-references to tablet numbers take you to the entry for that tablet within the database. Use the back button of your browser to return you to your previous location or use the side-bar to navigate. The individual introductory chaoters are also available as PDFs for downloading and printing.

The bibliography includes the references from volume II. This may be accessed from the sidebar or from individual tablet entries. The list of abbreviations from volume I is appended to the introductory chapters from Volume I.

Future work

A full set of images of tablets from the 1990s will be made available on the website to accompany volume III. At a later date an online edition of the Volume III texts, translations and commentaries will be added to the website. The editors may also make future changes to the online edition, based for example on more plausible alternative readings, new images or new contextual material. Any change will be explicitly signalled in the site News.

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