Numerus Maurorum Aurelianorum

This page created 16 November 2015, and last modified: 16 November 2015


The fourteenth item listed (154.30 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 Praefectus numeri Maurorum Aurelianorum Aballava.

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

Note that Seeck inserted (OC.XL.16) a "missing unit" between entries 154.29 and 154.30, stationed at Luguvallii (i.e. Luguvalium, modern Carlisle). He seems to have done this on the basis that this station was missing from an apparently ordered sequence of stations reported in the Notitia, but his sequence is now known to be false: in his day, Petrianis was identified with Castlesteads, not Stanwix; Aballaba with Papcastle; Congavata with Moresby, not Drumburgh; and Axeloduno with Ellenborough (i.e. Maryport), not Stanwix.

The men under the Praefectus numeri Maurorum Aurelianorum (154.30), said to be stationed at Aballaba (i.e. Aballava, modern Burgh-by-Sands in Cumbria) are evidently the Numerus Maurorum Aurelianorum Valeriani Gallienique; the units is attested there in the 250s (RIB 2042; "N MAVRRUM AVR VALERIANI GALLIENI"). Interestingly, this inscription calls the praepositis ("commander") of the unit a tribune, rather than a prefect as in the Notitia. It also calls the unit both a cohort and a numerus, which would make the unit, at least in the 250s, either a plain auxiliary infantry unit or a part-mounted cohors equitata. The latter would appear to be more likely, because the unit is also likely to be equated with the Equites scutarii Aureliaci under the Comes Britanniarum (102/5.252), in which case the mounted component must have to come increasingly to the fore with time. In the Notitia, tribunes command auxiliary infantry cohorts, while mounted units, naval units, and legionary units are commanded by prefects. However, under the Principate, auxiliary infantry cohorts were, if of regular size, commanded by prefects, as were mounted units; tribunes commanded either legionary units or milliaria-sized auxiliary infantry cohorts (although these latter could occasionally be commanded by prefects instead). Thus, RIB 2042 apparently coincidentally records the ranking system in place in the Notitia, due to the unit's different organization at the time.

As with all limitanei units in the Notitia, the shield pattern of the numerus Maurorum Aurelianorum 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
2. Otto Seeck (Ed.); "Notitia Dignitatum accedunt Notitia urbis Constantinopolitanae et Latercula prouinciarum", Weidmann, Berlin, 1876; available here (last accessed 26 October 2015). Return


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