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Fiona Watson has just sent note that the Vindolanda dig news has been updated. Quite a few artifacts are shown, including a portion of a soldier's hair moss crest (originally brown they say), the sole of a lady's shoe with intricate nail pattern, among other things. <p>Aulus<br>
Legio XX
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Anonymous

Regarding this dig, A.K.Bowman must by now have completed and published his transcription of (and commentary on) the written materials found over the past decade or so at this site. I'd recommend his "Life and letters on the Roman Frontier" (1994), which gives a sensitive, scholarly and non-speculative account based on materials found. No histrionics but good solid historical research! There's something in it for almost every query on this site (and no, I'm not the author's *agente in rebus*!) - regarding the lives of slaves, rankers, officers and families. There's the now well-known, casual and very dismissive reference to us as "wretched little Brits" (Britunculli); also a very elegant letter by the wife of the Batavian commander to a close friend. There's also some firsthand epigraphic evidence that the soldiery may have engaged heavily in trade even while on (nominally!) active service. <p></p><i></i>
Quick questions:<br>
1) how large did the Vindolanda community (soldiers+civilian) become?<br>
2) is there any estimate of the density of "barbarian" population on the other side of the wall?<br>
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Anonymous

Salute goffredo...<br>
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unfortunately, that's quicker to ask than to answer. For the military, the easiest way is to give a population snapshot from the only period for which there's epigraphic evidence; a single day in fact.<br>
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On 18th May, in some year (almost certainly CE92-97), a strength report of the 1st cohort of Tungrians gives this auxiliary unit a total nominal strength of 752, including 6 centuriones but presumably not counting the commander (in this case a Praefectus rather than tribunus) or their beneficiari. Presumably, principali were included in the general count (?)<br>
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However, those listed as actually present on that day were 295 (infantry) and 1 centurion. 46 were away, acting as singulares legati for "Ferox", who was probably legate in command of 9th Hispania at Eburacum. 337 others were seemingly at Coria (Corbridge), on tours of duty (?) along with either 1 or 2 of the centuriones. 1 (probably another centurione) was at Londinium. Some small groups (of 6, 9, 11 and 45 men) are listed as being elsewere but the place-names are not legible in the text.<br>
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Of those present at the fort on 18th May, 31 were unfit for service (15 sick, 6 wounded and 10 with inflammation of the eyes -which seems to have been a very common problem in the Roman world..). Makes a good snapshot, doesn't it...<br>
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Bowman suggests; that 800 or so would have been around the total strength to suit the size of the previous (period 1) fort and that at the time of forts enlargement (period 2) to almost double its former size, the Tungrians may have begun to share the fort with a unit of Batavians (9th cohort), which may have numbered around 500 and probably included a cohors equitata. Both units (or substantial detatchments) may have vacated around CE103, because the unit names are recorded near Dacia, prior to the war of 105-6. Things get a little vague after this; except its known that the remaining (or returned) Tungrians were reduced to a quinquegenary for a while. A few years after, we hear of a single equites Vardulli (cohors l Hispania?) and a "militibus legionaribus" (sic!) - this guy presumably in connection with starting the building of the Wall, CE122. I guess that after this date, the whole pattern changes entirely, with a reduction in numbers (and increase in comfort) of those on semi-permanent stations and the redeployment of many of the other poor sods at or along the Wall, its milecastles and fortlets. Personally I'd rather have been at home in Tungria...<br>
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As to civilians (whether friendly or hostile), evidence is much thinner. "Friendly"-wise, the vicus that grew up next to fort is big (for a Wall-fort vicus), and seems to have been nearly twice the size of the fort at maximum - though this estimate doesn't take account of flimsy wooden buildings which may have existed and left no trace, nor of stratification overlays.. Beyond the wall itself... really is guesswork, and yours would be as good as anyone's. The Britons to the north were scattered but mounted and mobile. It seems reasonable to assume that any threats were efficiently met in terms of numbers, resources, superior organisation, technology and extraordinary mobility of Roman troops. To put it another way.... pre-Wall, whoever wrote the "brittunculi" note (see below) doesn't seem to have had much respect for the opposition. Once the Wall was complete, native British movements could be successfuly regulated with a relatively small number of men; and Roman presence thereafter was extended way beyond. Little credence is given these days to the notion that the Wall or any of its forts were overrun by the Britons, Caledonii or the Pictish hordes; or even to the Wall as a frontier in the true sense... at least not until Rome had virtually withdrawn from the province, by which time they had urgent business elsewhere... but for later info on the life of the fort (which I find rather less interesting),try the various Vindolanda sites.<br>
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"...nenu...[,]n. Brittones. nimium multi.equites gladis .non utuntur equites . nec residunt Brittunculi . ut. iaculos mittant"<br>
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"the Britons are unprotected by armour(?). There are very many cavalry. The cavalry do not use swords, nor do the wretched little Britons mount in order to throw javelins"<br>
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(statistical info., quote & trans. from Bowman, AK. 1994)<br>
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