Numerus Nerviorum Dictensium

This page created 11 November 2015, and last modified: 2 December 2015 ("Dictentium" textual commentary added)


The sixth officer listed (154.7 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) under the command of the Dux Britanniarum is the Praefectus numeri Nerviorum Dictensium, said to be stationed at Dicti.

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

Note that Dictensium is an amendment from the manuscripts' Dictentium, cemented by Seeck in his edition of the Notitia (OC.XL.23), but had already introduced not only by Boecking in his edition but also in the printed Froben edition edited by Rhenanus.

"Praefectus numeri Nerviorum Dictensium" translates as "the prefect of the unit of Nervii from Dictum". The modern location of the prefect's station is uncertain, but might be Wearmouth in Sunderland. That the unit is neither said to be a cohors, nor given an identifying number, unlike the men under the Tribunus cohortis tertiae Nerviorum (154.36) and Tribunus cohortis sextae Nerviorum (154.39), two other units of Nervii under the Dux Britanniarum, might imply that it originated as a vexillation (detachment) of a unit of Nervii. That its officer is a prefect and not a tribune implies the detachment is either legionary, or mounted. While the Notitia does record a single unit of legionary Nervii (9.21), this is a palatine unit based in the eastern Empire, and thus an unlikely source for the numerus Nerviorum Dictensium.

Perhaps more likely is the detached mounted portion of a cohors equitata; however, none of the five units of cohors Nerviorum attested from Britain (I, II, III, IV, VI) are known to have been equitata. However, there is another possibility, the cohors I Nervia Germanorum milliaria equitata, first mentioned (CIL 16,69) on a diploma dated 17 July 122, and also on several undated inscriptions, from Burgh-by-Sands (RIB 2041), Netherby (RIB 966), and Birrens (RIB 2093, RIB 2097). A mutation of the unit's name Nervia (more frequently attested as Nervana) to the Notitia's Nerviorum (via Nervii) would not be hard to understand, since a similar change is what Seeck himself made in several places in his edition of the Notitia (Nervi to Nervii; at least 5 instances). If the unit was indeed descended from this unit, its name would have commemorated the emperor Nerva (reigned 96-98 AD) rather than the Belgic tribe called Nervii.

As with all limitanei units in the Notitia, the shield pattern of the numerus Nerviorum Dictensium 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
3. Eduard Boecking; "Notitia dignitatum et administrationum omnium tam ciuilium quam militarium in partibus orientis et occidentis", Adolph Marcus, Bonn, 3 Volumes + Index (1839-1853); Volume 1 (the East; 1839) available here; Volume 2 (the West, part 1; 1840) here; Volume 3 (the West, part 2; 1850) here; Index (1853) here and also here (last accessed 1 November 2015); at p 113 of volume 2 & p 865 of volume 3. Return


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