Cohors I Frixagorum

This page created 14 November 2015, and last modified: 14 November 2015


The fourth officer listed (154.20 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) under the command of the Dux Britanniarum following the subsection headed "along the line of the Wall" (item 154.16, per lineam valli), is the Tribunus cohortis primae Frixagorum, said to be stationed at Vindobala.

Disclaimer: Remember, a lot of what comes below is speculation. Hopefully informed speculation, but speculation nonetheless. Comments welcome! (lukeuedasarson "at"

The men under the Tribunus cohortis primae Frixagorum (154.20), are an auxiliary infantry unit usually attested, especially in diplomata, as cohors I Frisiavonum, although an altar from Carrawburgh (Roman Brocolitia) gives (RIB 1523) an intermediate form: CH P FRIXIAV. The unit's station in the Notitia, Vindobala (i.e. Vindovala) is the fort at modern Rudchester in Northumberland. Inscriptional evidence from Rudchester provides the names of two (presumably auxiliary) prefects (RIB 1395, RIB 1396), but, alas, not the name(s) of their units (the only units mentioned are legionary ones: either legio VI specifically, or cohorts from unidentified legions). Thus it is not known when the unit first became the garrison of the fort.

Three other units of Frisians are attested in Britain: an altar (RIB 883) dating from 242 from Papcastle (Roman Derventio) gives records a C[.]NEUM FRISIONUM ABALLAVENSIUM, i.e. "the squadron of Frisians from Aballavas", so had presumably been stationed at Aballava at some point previously (i.e. Burgh-by-Sands in Cumbria); an altar (RIB 1036) from Binchester (Roman Vinovia) records a C(uneus) FRIS(iorum) VINOVIE(nsium), i.e. "the squadron of Frisians from Binchester", while an altar (RIB 1594) from Housesteads (Roman Vercovicium) records a CUNEI FRISIORUM VER(covicianorum), i.e. "the squadron of Frisians from Housesteads". This last is particularly interesting, as it states the dedicators were CIVES TUIHANTI, i.e. citizens of Twente in what is now Holland. As all three of these units are called cunei, they are therefore cavalry units, and thus not to be identified with the cohors I Frixagorum, which is an infantry unit. Indeed, rather than being three separate units, they might all be detachments of a single unit, or even a single unit whose name simply shifted with a changing location.

The Frisiavones from which the cohors I Frixagorum was presumably originally recruited from are very obscure; they would seem to have lived somewhere around the lower Rhine; whether they were related in any way to modern Frisians is much debated.

As with all limitanei units in the Notitia, the shield pattern of the cohors I Frixagorum is not illustrated.


1. Ingo Maier; "Appendix 4: Numeration of the new edition of the compilation 'notitia dignitatum' (Cnd)"; last accessed 26 October 2015. See also for here for numbering examples. Return


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