Back to the  Home Page


This is the Appendix from my second edition of Roman Towns in Britain (Tempus 2003). It summarizes the specific literary and epigraphic evidence for the names and types of urban communities in Roman Britain. Figure references in bold, eg (1), refer to illustrations in the book.



Appendix 1: written evidence for towns


Evidence from Roman route maps like the Peutinger Table and Ravenna Cosmography is not included, and the reader is advised to consult ALF Rivet and C Smith, The Place-Names of Roman Britain (Batsford 1979) for full details (referred to as PNRB below. I have endeavoured to include here references in classical authors and inscriptions on stone, tile or military diplomas that help us with the status or nature of towns in Roman Britain. I have included the latest discoveries, but it will be clear that our picture is still very incomplete.




COLCHESTER (Camulodunum)

49 and 60: Colchester is testified by name as colonia by Tacitus (Annals xii.32, xiv.32)

Undated: inscription from Nomentum naming Gnaeus Munatius Aurelius Bassus, onetime censitor civium Romanorum coloniae Victricensis Camulodunum quae est in Brittannia Camaloduni, ‘Censitor of Roman citizens of the Victricensian colony at Camulodunum which is in Britannia’. ILS 2740

Undated: tombstone from London of G. Pomponius Valens of Colchester, providing part of the town's full ceremonial name as above. JRS lii (1962), 191, no. 1



Undated: tombstone, recording an anonymous dec(urio) coloniae Glev[ensis] who had died (presumably) at Bath. RIB 161

Undated: tombstone from Rome naming Marcus Ulpius Quintus, a soldier of VI Victrix, then serving as a fr(umentarius), as a member of the Nervian tribe from Gloucester. This is taken to suggest that Gloucester was instituted as a colony during the brief reign of Nerva (96-8), or perhaps under Domitian and afterwards renamed. ILS 2365

Undated: numerous tile stamps from the colony and environs are stamped RPG (R(ei) P(ublicae) G(levensium)). The stamps, some of which give abbreviated names for the annual duoviri iure dicundo, will have allowed batch and production controls as well as discouraging theft. RIB 2486-8


LINCOLN (Lindum)

237: the existence of a colony at Lincoln is also stated on the altar erected at Bordeaux by M. Aurelius Lunaris in 237 (see York below). JRS xi (1921), 102 (1)

253-9: R(es) P(ublica) L(indensis) is named on a milestone of Valerian found originally in Lincoln High Street. RIB 2240

Undated: a dedication from Mainz to Fortuna by M. Minicius Marcellinus of Lincoln, for the eagle of XXII Primigenia, is said to be evidence of Lincoln's conversion to a colony by 90. If Domitian was responsible, Nerva will later have been credited, since Domitian was subjected to damnatio memoriae after his death in 96. CIL xiii.6679


LONDON (Londinium)

161-9, or 177-80, or 198-211: dedication to Numini Augustorum and Mars Camulus by Tiberinius Celerianus, ‘citizen of the Bellovaci’ and moritix, referring to Londiniensium, ‘of the Londoners’ indicating that London may have had no formal status. B xxxiv (2003) (55)

314: described variously as civitas Londiniensium and colonia Londiniensium in different versions of the acta of the council of Arles of this year, when naming the bishop Adelphius. PNRB 49ff


YORK (Eboracum)

237: York is named as a colonia on an altar erected at Bordeaux by M. Aurelius Lunaris. The date of York's foundation as a colony is known, though suggestions have included the aftermath of the victories of Antoninus Pius in 154, and also the Severan campaigns of 208-11. Unlike other colonies York remained a legionary fortress; the military and civilian sites lay side by side. JRS xi (1921), 102 (1)

Undated: York is stated, or probably stated, to be a colony on various undatable tombstones or sarcophagi. RIB 648, 678; Brit. xviii (1987), 367, no. 5





60-1: the only recorded instance of a municipium in Britain is that of Verulamium during the Boudican revolt of 60-1. The status may have been that at the time, or when Tacitus was writing about thirty years later; nevertheless he does state quite specifically that the municipio Verulamio fell to the rebels. The Agricolan forum inscription may or may not have named the municipium (see Catuvellauni below). Tacitus (Annals) xiv.33; JRS xlvi (1956), 146-7




Belgae (central southern England)

110: diploma naming M. Ulpius Longinus, Belgus, of cohors I Brittonum. CIL xvi.163

238-44: milestone of Gordian III from Bitterne (Hants), naming the R(es) P(ublica) BI(= Bel(garum)?). RIB 2222

238-44?: milestone of Gordian III? from Wonston, Worthy Down (Hants), naming the R(es) P(ublica) B(elgarum). Brit. xvi (1985), 324, no. 3

Undated: tombstone of Julius Vitalis of XX Valeria Victrix and natione Belga, 'of the Belgic nation' - not necessarily the British Belgae. RIB 156


Brigantes (northern England, except extreme north-west)

Undated: centurial stone from Hadrian's Wall, found between Castlesteads and Stanwix, recorded as naming the civitat(is) Bricic, probably for Brig(antum) or Brig(ant)ic(ae). RIB 2022

Undated: Nectovelius, nationis Brigans, but a soldier in cohors II Thracum on a tombstone from Mumrills. This is an exceptional instance of an auxiliary origin giving a place of origin as well as his unit. Whether the fact that they differ was also exceptional, or common, is unknown for this reason. But the tribal name Brigantes is known outside Britain (PNRB, 279) so perhaps Nectovelius was not a British Brigantian at all. RIB 2142


Cantiaci/Cantii (Kent)

118: in civitate Cantiacorum, 'in the canton of the Cantiaci', appears on a wooden writing tablet from London referring to a wood called Verlucionium in the canton, and said to be owned by Lucius Julius Bellicus. This find is interesting given Ptolemy's assertion (see above) that London was a city of the Cantii (sic), though the location of the property is unknown. RIB 2443.19, revised at 2504.29

Undated: recorded on a sandstone base dedication at Colchester by Similis, ci(vis) Cant(iacus), 'citizen of the Cantiaci'. It may be assumed he was visiting or had moved. RIB 192 (and see Brit. xxv (1994), 302, no. 34)


Carvetii (north-western England, Carlisle area)

259-68: milestone/honorific pillar of Postumus (259-68) found by the Roman road at Brougham dedicated by the R(es) P(ublica) C(ivitas) Car(vetiorum). JRS lv (1965), 224, no. 11

Undated: possibly recorded on the tombstone of Flavius Martius, named as a sen(ator) of C CARVETIOR which can be expanded as c(ivitas) or c(ohors) Carvetior(um). RIB 933 (Old Penrith)


Catuvellauni (Herts, Berks, Middlesex, and Cambs)



79/81: forum dedicatory inscription from Verulamium (above). The stone is very fragmentary but enough may be read to attribute it to the governorship of Agricola (named) during the reign of Titus in 79 or 81. At least two restorations of the last line, which names the organization responsible, are possible:

[civitas Catu]ve[llaunorum], or

[municipium] Ve[rulamium]

Thus, either the Catuvellauni are named, or the town of Verulamium. JRS 46 (1956), 146-7

Undated: building stone naming Tossodio, of the civitate Catuvellaunorum on Hadrian's Wall from near milecastle 55. RIB 1962

Undated: tombstone from South Shields of Regina, liberta et coniuge, 'freedwoman and wife', of Barates the Palmyrene (Syria). Aged 30 she was natione Cat(u)vallauna, 'a Catuvellaunian by tribe'. RIB 1065


Corieltauvi or Corieltavi (East Midlands)

Undated: tile from Cave's Inn names [ci]vitatis Corieltauvorom (sic), altering the formerly-accepted Coritanorum for Coritani. RIB 2491.50

Undated: lead seal from Thorpe in the Glebe (Notts) bearing C(ivitas) Cor(i)el(tauvorum). Brit. xxiv (1993), 318, no. 18


Corionototae (Corbridge area)

Undated: recorded by Q. Calpurnius Concessinius, prefect of an unnamed unit of cavalry, on an altar. The stone celebrated his victory over and slaughter of this otherwise-unknown tribal group. As the altar was found at Corbridge, Coria, it seems likely their territory was close to the northern frontier. The stone is now only known from an eighteenth-century drawing so there is little opportunity to date it on style. RIB 1142


Cornovii (West Midlands, Welsh Marches)

129-31: forum dedicatory inscription from Wroxeter, recording civitas Cornov[iorum]. The stone is damaged but the date can be restored as between 129-31 in the reign of Hadrian, depending on whether the 13th or 14th year of tribunician power is meant. RIB 288 (24)

300s: cohors I Cornoviorum at Newcastle (unusually, a unit apparently stationed in the province in which it was raised). ND xl.34

Undated: tombstone from Ilkley names Ved[.]ic[...], of c(ivis) Cornovia. RIB 639


Dobunni (Gloucestershire Cotswolds, Hereford and Worcs, Oxon)

105: diploma from Pannonia recording Lucconi Treni F(ilio) Dobunn, 'Lucco the Dobunnian, son of Trenus’, then serving with cohors I Britannica. CIL xvi.49

283-4: milestone from Kenchester with an abbreviation restorable as R(es) P(ublica) C(ivitatis) D(obunnorum), erected during the reign of Numerian (283-4). RIB 2250

Undated: tombstone from Templeborough of Verecunda Rufilia, coniugi karissima[e], 'beloved wife', of Excingus. Aged 35 she was a cives Dobunna, 'citizen of the Dobunni'. The unit testified at the fort is cohors IIII Gallorum (see Chapter 2). RIB 621


Dumnonii (Devon and Cornwall)

Undated: Aemilius, civis Dumnonius, recorded on his tombstone at Cologne as having served with classis Germanica. AE 1956.249

Undated: centurial stones from Hadrian's Wall between Carvoran and Birdoswald, naming civitas Dum(no)ni(orum). RIB 1843-4

Undated: tombstone of [....] Carinus, civi [D]om(nonio), 'citizen of the Dumnonii' from Dorchester (Dorset). The former restoration as a citizen of Rome is now rejected. RIB 188 (see RIB95, note to RIB 188, p. 760)


Durotriges (Dorset and Somerset)

Undated: centurial stones from Hadrian's Wall (near Cawfields mc 42), naming c(ivitas) Dur(o)tr(i)g(um) [L]endin(i)e(nsis), 'the civitas of the Durotriges at Lindiniae (Ilchester)'. RIB 1672-3


Silures (south-east Wales)

pre-220: explictly named at Caerwent as civit(atis) Silurum dedicating a statue to T. Claudius Paulinus, then commander of II Augusta at nearby Caerleon. By 220 Claudius Paulinus was governor of Britannia Inferior (RIB 1280), which means that this dedication must precede 220. RIB 311


Vici and others

Vicus was a semi-formal rank awarded to towns which were considered worthy of self-government. In reality this extended from significant, even walled, towns like Water Newton to the villages which straggled along the roads outside forts. Nowadays the term is frequently applied to any settlement outside a fort though in reality only a small number are officially testified to have been of this status. The practice of self-government ranges from the high end at Brough, where the sole aedile from Roman Britain is testified, to simple bodies of vicani, 'villagers'.


vicus Durobrivae (Water Newton)

Undated: mortarium stamps reading Cunoarda vico Durobr(ivis), 'Cunoarda [made this] at the vicus of Durobrivae'. Said to be of third/fourth century date.  See also colour plate 24


vicus Petuariensis (Brough-on-Humber or North Ferriby)



THE BROUGH INSCRIPTION. Left – as it survives. Right – digitally restored


140-61: named as vici Petu[ar(iensis)] on a slab found at Brough-on-Humber commemorating the gift of a new stage to the vicus of Petuaria by the aedile Marcus Ulpius Januarius during the reign of Antoninus Pius. The findspot is difficult to reconcile with the military archaeology. North Ferriby, 4 km (2.5 miles) to the east has been suggested as the slab's original home. RIB 707 (28)


curia Textoverdi

Undated: on an altar to the goddess Sattada from, or from near, Vindolanda, named as curia Textoverdorum, 'assembly of the Textoverdi'. RIB 1695


vicani castello Veluniate

Undated: named on an altar to Jupiter Optimus Maximus at Carriden as vikani castello Veluniate, 'The vicus dwellers at the fort of Velunia'. JRS xlvii (1957), 229-30, no. 18.


vicani Vindolandesses

Undated: altar from Vindolanda is a dedication to Vulcanus and the Numina Augustorum by vicani Vindolandesses, 'villagers of Vindolanda'. RIB 1700


vicani ('villagers') of unnamed vici

Undated: named on a dedication from Old Carlisle to Jupiter Optimus Maximus and Vulkanus (sic) for the welfare of Gordian III by vik(anorum) mag(istri), 'masters of the villagers'. RIB 899

Undated: dedication from Housesteads reputedly records the d(ecreto) vica(norum), 'decree of the villagers'. The very incomplete and unparalleled nature of the text means that the restoration of decreto is dubious. A name is as likely. RIB 1616


Back to the  Home Page