The Honoriani Atecotti iuniores

This page created 3 August 2014, and last modified: 29 October (Frankfurt fragment image added)


One of the auxilia palatina units in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster is called the Honoriani Atecotti iuniores; it is assigned to his Italian command under the name Atecotti Honoriani iuniores. Its shield pattern in various manuscripts, under the label Atecotti iuniores, is as shown below:

Shield patterns

Disclaimer: remember, I'm not an expert in the field of Notitia studies, so take my comments with a grain of salt...

The pattern has a red rim (yellow in W) and a red boss (yellow in B); the odd shape of the boss in O, P, & B may indicate an attempt to represent a spiked boss. The main field is indigo-purple, faded to maroon in M & W, and almost to white in Ff. The shield also features a yellow version of the twin-headed zoomorphic motif that is extremely common in the Notitia (over a dozen examples), especially amongst auxilia palatina. In addition to its numerous appearances in the Notitia, the twin-headed zoomorphic motif is known from a range of sources in northern Europe, such as on the ca. 6th century Torslunda bronze die from Sweden shown below:

Torslunda die
Public domain image taken from 1903 book

The name Honoriani refers to the emperor Honorius, who succeeded his father Theodosius I in 395, around the time the Notitia was first compiled. Note that Honorius had however, been declared co-Augustus two years earlier, at the age of 7, so the presence of units bearing the name Honorius does not therefore prove they must have been entered into the document so-named at 395 at the earliest. Nonetheless, the presence of large numbers of units named after Honorius in the western half of the Notitia, compared to very few in the east, is one of the clearest indications the eastern portion was not amended much, or even at all, after the death of Theodosius, while the western half was extensively updated.

The name Atecotti is a tribal one, indicating an obscure people from the north of the British Isles; Ammianus records they raided Roman Britain in the late 4th century; while St Jerome, a contemporary of Ammianus, notes that they took their wives in common. Three other units bearing the name are found in the Notita:

AtecottiAtecotti, a unit of auxilia palatina under the Magister Militum per Illyricum
Honoriani Atecotti seniores, a unit of auxilia palatina in the Magister Equitum's Gallic command
Atecotti iuniores Gallicani, another unit of auxilia palatina in the Magister Equitum's Gallic command
While it is evident that the patterns for many of the western auxilia platina units may been shifted from their proper place as the distribution part of the Notitia was updated, the fact that the three western units all have similar patterns would seem to indicate that these patterns may well be in their correct places, as can be seen from a comparison of the following patterns taken from the Parisian manuscript:

Shield patterns

The pattern of the eastern unit bears no strong relationship with those of the western units, although it does at least share their main field colour.


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