Tablet 185

description 60 x 171 mm. Plate XI. VRR II, Plate III.
A diptych which is only partially preserved at all margins, and has lost a good deal near the top. There are two fragments with traces of writing which may belong in this area but we are not able to place them securely nor do we have any confidence in our readings of the traces. We may well have the whole account, however. The writing, particularly in the upper part, is very abraded and difficult to read and there are a number of readings and interpretations with which we remain unsatisfied. This is the more frustrating because the account has several features of interest. It seems to record expenditure for a variety of items including food, perhaps clothing, equipment for a carriage (raeda, see note to lines 20-1) and perhaps also accommodation (see note to line 24). Some of the purchases or payments are connected with place-names, Isurium (Aldborough, line 23, cf. line 6), Cataractonium (Catterick, line 24), Vinovia (Binchester, line 26, cf. line 2), and this leads us to wonder whether we have an account of expenditure incurred on a journey. It is interesting that the order in which Isurium, Cataractonium and Vinovia occur towards the end of the account is the order in which they would be reached by a traveller coming from York to Vindolanda via Corbridge. The first part of the account could relate to an outward journey (see notes to lines 2, 4, 6) and the second part to the return. It must be admitted, however, that if this is close to the mark, the account cannot be regarded as a meticulous record of expenditure such as we find in the papers of Theophanes (P.Ryl.IV 627-38), for there are no dates at all in the second half of the text.
The hand is an unremarkable cursive. In line 24 note the use of o open at the right.


'For lees of wine (?), denarii ½
July (8-13), at Isurium (?)
for lees of wine (?), denarii ¼
July (9-14), ...
5for lees of wine (?), denarii ¼
July (10-14), ...
(lines 17-29) "... 8 ..
for lees of wine (?), denarii ¼,
of barley, modius 1, denarii ½, as 1
two, for a carriage, denarii
salt and fodder (?) ..., denarius 1
at Isurium, for lees of wine (?), denarii ¼
at Cataractonium, for accommodation (?), denarii ½
15for lees of wine (?), denarii ¼
at Vinovia, for vests (?), denarii ¼
of wheat, ...
total, denarii 78¾
grand total, denarii 94¾.
20... '


1. The reading given represents traces which seemed to be visible on an earlier photograph. Only the last two traces can be seen in the Plate. If this is the beginning of the account we would expect it to begin with a date, or perhaps ratio followed by a name in the genitive, or a plus ablative (cf. 192.1, 207.1), but the traces are too exiguous to suggest a reading.

2. The first surviving letter, of which only the lower part remains, is most easily read as d; -duis might perhaps be the end of a place-name but the name Ardua is very doubtful, see PNRB 257, and we have found no other British place-name with this termination. Alternatively, it might be read as -ouis and we might have Vin]ouis, which is repeated in line 26 (for the -ouium/-ouia termination see PNRB 297, 389-90). This would fit the idea that the account records expenses on a journey from Vindolanda to York and back (see introduction), but this is very hypothetical; see also notes to lines 4 and 6.

4. We might have a date in this line but the traces are not easy to reconcile with a month-name; maias might just be possible. This makes it difficult to explain dum at the end. If it were a place-name we would expect a locative (]duis might be a possible reading but see note to line 2); Virosidum (Brough by Bainbridge) lies on the route from Carvoran to Catterick via Bravoniacum (Kirkby Thore), but that would exclude the possibility of an outward journey from Vindolanda via Vinovia.

5. faeci: we believe that the same word occurs also in lines 7, 9, 18, 23 and 25 and it presents a serious problem of reading and interpretation. It is clearly a five-letter word of which the last letter is i. The first letter is most easily read as s, especially in line 7, but elsewhere, at any rate in lines 9, 23 and 25, it could be read as f. The second letter must be a. The third might be read as c in some cases (lines 5, 7, 9, 18) but in lines 23 and 25 it is unquestionably e. The penultimate letter in all cases is most naturally read as c but the form would perhaps admit p and we note that there is no other clear example of p in this text with which to compare it. The reading which this most readily suggests is saeci, but we cannot derive any sense from this. The few Latin words beginning with saec- are all connected with saeculum. Since the form of the entries demands either accusatives or datives we cannot have a personal name (e.g. Saecus, or even Saccus). We can only suggest known Latin words if, despite the palaeographical difficulties which we have indicated, we read either faeci or saepi. The latter would be taken as the dative of saepes, meaning "fencing". This would be unexpected in the context and even if we envisaged the purchase of such an item, it is hard to see why there should be six separate purchases at different times and places. faeci, the dative of faex, normally means "lees" or "dregs" and the cheapest kind of wine is something which travellers might purchase at various stopping-places; for its various uses see Cato, Agr. 96, Horace, Sat. 2.4.55, Celsus 4.29, cf. TLL VI.1 169.42-4. Note also the use for lees of beer described by Plin., Med. 3.6, ebuli folia ... mixta cum faece ceruesiae ... in linteolo alligantur.

6.; if we have correctly identified the pattern of the text this might well be a place-name, and it seems just possible, though not easy, to read Isurio (cf. line 23), which would support the idea that this account records expenses on a journey from and back to Vindolanda.

10. There may be an interpunct after Iulias. The a following might again be the beginning of a place-name but we have found no attested name beginning with A- between Vindolanda and York.

17. The four digits are written much further to the right than anything else in this text. The writing which occupies the left-hand half of the line looks as if it has been erased and it must have caused the writer to put the correct version further to the right. The numeral might then be part of the quantity and there will have been room for the denarius-symbol and another numeral in the lost part at the right.

18. Everything except the denarius symbol is very abraded; the amount may well be the same as is recorded for this item in lines 7, 9, 23 and 25, ¼ denarius; if the horizontal stroke belongs with the denarius-symbol, we would read s(emissem), cf. line 5.

19. There may be an abraded flat dash over m. The digit is somewhat elongated and curved to the left. The amount after the denarius-symbol is probably to be interpreted as s(emissem) followed by a horizontal tick which we take to indicate one as, rather than s with a cross-stroke. This is important since it offers one of the few clear attestations of a price: 9 asses for a modius of barley. See further notes to lines 27-8.

20-21. For axses carrarios cf. 309.i.5 and see note ad loc. in Bowman and Thomas (1987), 142. The reading of raedam is inescapable although the d is difficult; for the term as denoting a common type of transporter see Adams (1993), 49, note 26.

22. sal this entry is difficult to elucidate. The letter after e looks like x but we think that it might well have been corrected to n. An accusative form is appropriate and it would be possible to understand sal ("salt") as an accusative and to justify the case by the fact that it is reckoned by cost rather than quantity. If we are correct in thinking that this account is concerned with travel, it would make good sense to suppose that there is asyndeton and to interpret this as a purchase of salt and fodder for animals, i.e. sal (et) auenam (cf. Dixon and Southern (1992), 209).

23. The initial i is enlarged and aligned slightly to the left. Although the writing is abraded we are reasonably confident of the reading and the site of the former capital of the Brigantes (Aldborough, Boroughbridge) is a plausible stopping-place on a journey to or from Vindolanda. The name does not occur elsewhere in the tablets.

24. For contact between Vindolanda and Cataractonium (Catterick) see 343.ii.15-6. locario: although the final letter is difficult we think that the reading is possible and that the word can be interpreted as a charge for lodging or accommodation either for people or for animals, see Varro, LL 5.15, in<de> locarium quod detur in stabulo et taberno ubi consistunt.

26. Vinouis: this must be understood as the locative form of the place-name Vinovia (Binchester). This reference is important because it clearly implies that the name is treated as a neuter plural rather than feminine singular, a possibility not envisaged in PNRB 504-5. subunc.lon.s: the reading of the second part of this word poses difficulties. The letter after c is very difficult to read as u, unless it has been corrected; perhaps o. The penultimate letter might be i or e. This yields subuncolonis or subuncolones. The beginning of the word puts us in mind of "vests" but we would expect subunculas (cf. RMLW, s.v.), subuculas or subuclas (the last occurs in 196.11). We could have either an accusative plural, or perhaps a dative (cf. line 24), but we can find no support for this form.

27-28. It seems clear that these lines contain a calculation of the price of an amount of wheat which was purchased, the total expenditure being given in line 28. Uncertainty about the details of the calculation results from the fact that the quantity in line 27 is difficult to read and the price per modius which seems to have been quoted at the end of the line is completely abraded. The reading of the quantity of wheat is doubtful but lxxi is compatible with the traces; thereafter we may have a fractional symbol, perhaps a quarter; after this perhaps m(odius) i. It seems possible to calculate orders of magnitude, however, using as a base the price of 9 asses for one modius of barley in line 19. The cost ratio of wheat to barley ought to be about 2:1, a proportion which is close to the nutritional ratio (see Bagnall (1985), 4). The price of wheat ought then to be somewhat over 1 denarius per modius (comparing well with the prices attested at Rome, see Duncan-Jones (1982), Appendix 8); calculation of any individual price always has to allow a good margin for regional or season distortion and it would not be surprising if the prices were a little higher in July, almost a year after harvest. The sum given in line 28 suggests a quantity of just over 70 modii at a price of just over 1 denarius per modius. If this is more or less correct, it will mean that a large proportion of the total account was spent on wheat. This may not simply be for provisions en route, if we are concerned with a journey; it might have been desirable or necessary to purchase wheat at the end of the season and transport it back to base.

29. For summa omnis cf. RMR 68.ii.24, iii.12.

30. The first surviving trace in the middle of the line is compatible with the top of a denarius-symbol. If so, we should have a number following (though the trace following the symbol is difficult) and it is possible that the end of the line should be read as ]vii.

Download EpiDoc version using the CC license Creative Commons License and EpiDoc Schema v.5