Cohors I Tungrorum

This page created 14 November 2015, and last modified: 27 November 2015 (Nouwen reference added)


The eighth officer listed (154.24 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 Tungrorum, said to be stationed at Borcovicio.

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 Tungrorum are the unit more completely named (e.g. in CIL 16,48, from 103 AD; also RIB 1580; and RIB 1586) the cohors I Tungrorum milliaria, i.e. a larger than normal auxiliary infantry unit. The unit's station, Borcovicio (i.e. Vercovicium) is the modern Housesteads fort in Northumberland; the unit is well attested epigraphically at Housesteads, although when the unit was first established there is unknown, as none of the inscriptions can be firmly dated.

The unit's name derives from the Tungri, a people that lived in the Belgic region of Gaul, and which lives on in many modern names, most notably the city of Tongres/Tongeren; the unit was presumably recruited from them in the first century, since it is attested as being in Britain already by the end of that century (in one of the Vondolanda tablets: II.154). The form of the name contrasts with e.g. the palatine legionary unit the Tungrecani seniores (102/5.57) whose name seems to be derived via an intermediate source - the Roman district name of the Civitas Tungrorum.

Interestingly, the other unit in Britain with a similar name, the men under the Praepositus militum Tungrecanorum (132.3), under the Comes litoris Saxonici per Britanniam, has a form more similar to the afore-mentioned legionary unit, even though these men probably have an auxiliary origin, as part of the cohors II Tungrorum milliaria equitata (see putative entry 154.28.1).

The Dux' cohors I Tungrorum might well be identified with the Tungri (102/5.101) under the Comes Illyricum. It is notable that the previously-listed unit under the Comes Illyricum, the Seguntienses (102/5.100), is clearly an ex-British unit, its name proclaiming it to have been formerly based at Seguntium (Caernarfon in Wales), which might well indicate that the next unit, the Tungri, may also be British, given the Roman habit of brigading units in pairs. That the only unit attested at Caernarfon (RIB 430), cohors I Sunicorum, just happens to be a unit recruited from the the Belgic region of Gaul, just as the British-based cohors I Tungrorum was, may not be a coincidence.

If the cohors I Tungrorum is indeed the Tungri removed from Britain, it may well have left the country before most of the other British unit, since the Tungri, instead of having lowly pseudocomitatenses status like many other potentially ex-British units found in continental commands, has palatine status (albeit ranked very near the bottom of the auxilia palatina section of the Magister Peditum's list of infantry units).

As with all limitanei units in the Notitia, the shield pattern of the cohors I Tungrorum is not illustrated. That of the Illyrian Tungri is however:

Tungri shield patterns

However, even if the cohors I Tungrorum = Tungri equation is accepted, it by no means follows the pattern of the unit was as shown above while it served in Britain, as there are many indications in the Notitia that limitanei units that were assigned to field armies received new shield patterns.


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
2. Robert Nouwen; "The Vindolanda Tablet 88/841 and the Cohors I Tungrorum Milliaria"; Acta Archaeologica Lovaniensia. Monographiae 8 (1995), p 123-134; available here (last accessed 27 November 2015). Return


Return to the Notitia alphabetical unit list page.
Return to my Notitia index page.