The Roman Inscriptions of Britain

By Guy de la Bédoyère



Corpus of writing tablets (including curses, by Project Directors - Dr. A.K. Bowman FBA, Prof. J.M. Brady FRS FEng., Dr. R.S.O. Tomlin FSA, Prof. J.D. Thomas FBA  Research Assistant - Dr J. Pearce)

One of the most important sources for Roman Britain is the series of inscribed stones which record buildings, events, people and places. There aren't very many (less than 3000) and most are brief and/or damaged. They're scattered all over the museums of Britain but some are long lost and known only from drawings made hundreds of years ago.

Back in 1965 R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright published all the inscribed stones found up to the end of 1954 in The Roman Inscriptions of Britain Volume 1, and always known as RIB. Every stone is illustrated and enormous efforts had been made to restore the complex texts and understand their contents. The vast majority come from northern Britain, mainly the forts of Cumbria, Northumberland and along Hadrian's Wall. Very few of the great Roman towns of the south, such as Verulamium (St Albans) and Calleva Atrebatum (Silchester) have produced more than a handful. Even when they do, a substantial proportion turn out to have belonged to the early history of the towns when they were forts. In other words, the Roman army in Britain was keener on inscriptions than anyone else in this remote province.

Since then, new discoveries have appeared in the Journal of Roman Studies (1955-69) and Britannia (1970 on). Collingwood and Wright’s great volume has been reissued, with an essential appendix of revisions by R.S.O. Tomlin, by Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd ISBN 0 7509 0917 X. It's a bit pricey but try for a discounted copy. You can e-mail them too at

Also available are all the various day-to-day items like graffiti on pots, military diplomas, and metal ingots, in a series of fascicules in the series RIB Volume 2.

The inscriptions are such an important source I have transcribed the texts of Volume I into the computer. You can access them at INSCRIPTIONS. These are the texts of the stones only. You need to see the book for all the editorial matter.

If you are interested in the lead ‘curse’ tablets these can be accessed on the web at this site: Corpus of writing tablets

The texts run in geographical order in a numbered series. The more interesting post-1954 discoveries have been added in the geographical order with references to the journals.

Gods and Goddesses

However you can also access my catalogue of the Gods and Goddesses of Roman Britain , which is based on Chapter 8 of my Companion to Roman Britain (Tempus 1999)

The Roman army

Full details of the evidence for each unit of the Roman army in Britain are at Legions and Auxilia, based on Chapter 2 of my Companion to Roman Britain (Tempus 1999).




RIB 66, an altar dedicated to Neptune by L. Aufidius Pantera, prefect of the Roman fleet in Britain, the classis Britannica. Now on display at the British Museum, the altar was found at the late-third-century fort of Lympne in Kent but it had been reused. Pantera is known from a military discharge certificate to have commanded a cavalry unit in the province of Upper Pannonia in the year 133 (during the reign of Hadrian) at a different point in his career, proving the Lympne altar to be much earlier than the late fort.



People of Roman Britain provides brief biographies of the most significant emperors, governors, soldiers, and ordinary people of the province.


For more information about books go to Roman Britain

Anther useful link is for the magazine Current Archaeology

And try Anne Dicks’ useful site with a special page devoted to Roman inscriptions at


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