Cohors II Tungrorum

This page created 15 November 2015, and last modified: 26 December 2015 (Davies reference added)


Entry 154.28 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme, listed 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 Aeliae Dacorum, said to be stationed at Amboglanna. As detailed on my page for the cohors I Aelia Dacorum, this has caused problems for commentators on the Notitia.

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

In 1976, M.W.C. Hassall suggested that there was a lucuna in the Notitia's list reading:

154.27 Tribunus cohortis secundae Dalmatarum Magnis
154.28 Tribunis cohortis primae Aeliae Dacorum [Banna
154.28.1 Tribunis cohortis secundae Tungrorum C]amboglanna
154.29 Praefectus alae Petrianae Petrianis
which has become widely accepted, not least because it supplies the missing-from-the-Notitia but otherwise well-attested cohors II Tungrorum in addition to the also-missing station of Banna.

That Banna (the modern Birdoswold fort in Cumbria) is missing from the list of the stations "along the line of the wall" in the Notitia is particularly ironic given that it is the only fort along the wall for which clear evidence exists of occupation well into the 5th century. In the third century, the stationed is well-attested as being occupied by the cohors secundae Tungrorum milliaria equitata, although in the 2nd century the unit was stationed north of the wall, at Blatobulgium, modern Birrens in Dumfriesshire, Scotland.

Various inscriptions (RIB 1981, RIB 1982, RIB 1983, RIB 2092, RIB 2104, RIB 2110) relating the name of the unit uniquely append the letters CL. This has in the past been interpreted as "civium Latinorum", which inspired me to hypothesize the unit might be equated with the Latini (98/9.69) under the Comes Illyricum. There were many difficulties with this hypothesis, and I no longer entertain it, not least because, in any case, a much better explanation for CL has been advanced by H. Wolff: that it abbreviates "coram laudata, i.e. 'publically praised' (cf. AE 1956,124).

As with the men under the Tribunus cohortis primae Tungrorum (154.24), the unit's name derives from the Tungri, a people that lived in the Belgic region of Gaul. Another unit of Tungri are attested in Britain in the Notitia: the men under the Praepositus militum Tungrecanorum (132.3), at Dubris (modern Dover) under the Comes litoris Saxonici per Britanniam; this may well correspond to the mounted portion of the cohors secundae Tungrorum milliaria equitata, while the putative entry 154.28.1 [Tribunis cohortis secundae Tungrorum C]amboglanna corresponds to the infantry portion. Indeed, it is known that the unit had been split in the past, for in the second century, a vexillation served in Raetia for many years, and the unit may have been permanently split from the 3rd century.

Elsewhere in the Notitia, a unit of auxilia palatina called the Tungri (98/9.93) is found in the apparently newly-created force under the Comes Illyricum; these might well be the same men as (formerly) found under the Tribunus cohortis primae Tungrorum, or, for that matter, under a Tribunus cohortis secundae Tungrorum. The latter might make more sense if Hassal's lacuna is not in fact a lacuna, but a genuinely excised unit and location, due to the unit having been withdrawn from the frontier before its neighbours.

Although there is evidence that ethically-named auxiliary units tried to replenish their ranks with men from their "homeland" as well as locals (e.g. RIB 3332 regarding cohors IIII Gallorum; 154.25), cohors II Tungrorum milliaria equitata provides evidence for recruits outside these two sources, as an altar stone (RIB 2100 = CIL 7,1068) from Birrens mentions soldiers serving in the unit who were Raetians (i.e. men from the region of modern Austria): the C(ives) RAETI MILIT(antes) IN COH(orte) II TUNGR(orum). The presence of Raetians is unsurprising given the time a vexillation of the unit spent in Raetia in the second century (see above).

As mentioned above, the Dux' putative cohors II Tungrorum might be identified with the Tungri (102/5.101) under the Comes Illyricum. However, this unit is more likely to be equated with cohors I Tungrorum for the simple reason that Birdoswald can be shown to have been occupied past the end of the 4th century, while Housesteads can not. Thus if either of the units departed Britain around the end of the 4th century, it makes sense for it to have been cohors I Tungrorum.

Since the shield patterns of limitanei units are not illustrated in the Notitia, the shield pattern of the cohors II Tungrorum would presumably not have been illustrated even if the unit had been listed in the original compilation.


1. Maier, Ingo; "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

2. Hassall, M.W.C.; "Aspects of the Notitia Dignitatum", Oxford, 1976; at p 113. Return

3. Wolff, Hartmut; "Die cohors II Tungrorum milliaria equitata c(oram?) l(audata?) und die Rechtsform des ius Latii"; Chiron, vi (1976) 267-288. Return

4. Davies, R.W.; "Roman Scotland and Roman auxiliary units"; Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 108 (1976-7), pp 168-173; available here (last accessed 26 December 2015). Return

5. R.S.O. Tomlin, R.P. Wright, & M.W.C. Hassall; "The Roman Inscriptions of Britain, Vollume III, Inscriptions on Stone"; Oxbow, Oxford (2009); at p 321-2. Return


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