Cuneus Sarmatarum

This page created 18 November 2015, and last modified: 18 November 2015


The twenty-first item listed (154.37 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 Cuneus armatarum Bremetenraco.

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

Entry 154.37 is somewhat problematic. Although a location is given, Bremetenraco (i.e. Bremetennacum Veteranorum, modern Ribchester in Lancashire), no officer is listed. This is more curious than a problem; the problem is "armatarum" has no sensible meaning. The Froben edition of 1552, edited by Rhenanus (available here), gives "CUNEUS Armaturarum Bremetenraco.", changing the ungrammatical "armatarum" to the military term armaturarum (a category of soldier, although the meaning varied with time, and could have such varied meanings as "light infantry" and "weapons instructor". However, it is modernly accepted as a mistake for Cuneus Sarmatarum Bremetenraco, as there is solid evidence that a Sarmatian cavalry unit existed in Britian. For example, we hear of a unit called an ala Sarmatarum from two inscriptions (CIL 7,229 = RIB 594: ALAE SAR; and CIL 7,230 = RIB 595: (AL SARMATA), alas now lost, found in none other than Ribchester itself - i.e. exactly where the "Cuneus armatarum" is recorded in the surviving Notitia manuscripts. Further, another inscription from the same place (CIL 7,218 = RIB 583), and dated to the year 241, gives the unit's name as the N(umerus) EQ(uitum) SAR[m(atarum)] BREMETENN(acsensium) [G]ORDIANI. Thus, the amendment to Sarmaturarum, is accepted by all commentators. Interestingly, the officer recorded in RIB 583 as commanding the unit is a centurion deputised from Legio VI victrix, so it may be the case that the lack of a (formal?) commanding officer recorded in the Notitia is not an inadvertent scribal omission, but may reflect a more-or-less permanent state of affairs in actuality.

As wih all limitanei units in the Notitia, the shield pattern of the Cuneus Sarmatarum 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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