Vindolanda tablets

Vindolanda tablets

Infobox Artifact
name = Vindolanda tablets

image_caption =
material = Wood with ink writing
created = 100 AD
discovered =
location = British Museum

The Vindolanda tablets are fragments of wooden leaf-tablets with writing in ink [Bowman, 1994] containing messages to and from members of the garrison of Vindolanda Roman fort, their families, and their slaves. For example there is a famous letter (Tablet 291) written around 100 AD from Claudia Severa, [Birley, 2002] the wife of the commander of a nearby fort, to Sulpicia Lepidina, wife of the commandant of Vindolanda, inviting her to a birthday party. [Hogan, 2007] First discovered by Robin Birley in the 1970s, pages continue to be found.

Until the discovery of the tablets, historians could only speculate on whether the Romans had a nickname for the Britons. "Brittunculi" (diminutive of "Britto"; hence 'little Britons') found on one of the Vindolanda tablets, is now known to be a derogatory, or patronizing, term used by the Roman garrisons that were based in Northern Britain to describe the locals.

Another of the tablets confirms that Roman soldiers wore underpants ("subligaria") [ [
] , and also testifies to a high degree of literacy in the Roman army.

The tablets are held at the British Museum, and a selection of them is on display in its Roman Britain gallery (Room 49).

The tablets were number 1 in the list of British archaeological finds selected by experts at the British Museum for the 2003 BBC Television documentary "Our Top Ten Treasures" which included an interview with Birley.

Line note references


* Birley, A., "Garrison Life at Vindolanda: A Band of Brothers," Stroud: Tempus, 2002
* Bowman, A.K., "Life and letters on the Roman frontier : Vindolanda and its people", London: British Museum Press, 1998, 2003
* Bowman, A.K. and J.D. Thomas, "The Vindolanda Writing Tablets", London: The British Musum Press, 1994
* Bowman, A.K. and J.D. Thomas, "The Vindolanda Writing Tablets III", London: The British Musum Press, 2003
* Hogan, C. Michael, "Vindolanda Roman Fort", The Megalithic Portal, ed. A. Burnham (2007) []

External links

* The tablets are currently being digitised and made available online at []

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