Thracian Cohorts and Аla in the Roman Invasion of Britain

Our creative project ADLOCVT COH.

     This event recreated the speech of Emperor Claudius in occasion of Roman Invasion of Britain. With this ritual we celebrated the anniversary 1970 years from the event. Emperor climb on the improvised stage and readed a short speech in Latin In front of Legionnaires gathered in block. We fulfilled this ritual on Festival Natale di ROMA 2013 before the parade to start . The situation was very suitable for this occasion.

     Thracian Cohorts and Аla in the Roman Invasion of Britain. Anniversaries- 1970 years from the Claudius offensive in BRITAIN.
     Hero - the Thracian Horseman
     The Thracian Hero, also known as the Thracian Horseman, was an abstract figure. The Hero was a central figure in Thracian religion as protector of life and health of the people. The Thracian Hero was always depicted on a horse, usually slaying an object with a spear. Stone reliefs can be seen in Bulgaria's museums originating from Thracian times, through the Roman period and into the middle ages. The Christian church succeeded in hiding the Thracian religious altars and Gods, but the culture and rituals still continued. The Thracian Horseman was represented as St. George, on a horse slaying a dragon.
     Alot of Sanctuary are dedicated to the most popular Thracian god -God horseman called Heros, Heroe, God of hunting, fertility, life and death, God - Knowing and All-Hearing.
     The cult of the Thracian horseman was widespread in Roman times, as evidenced by the revival of the Thracian religion at that time - something unknown among other peoples under Roman rule!
     Auxiliaries Thracian Cohorts and Аla in Roman Britain
     Claudius annexed to the empire three regions that became important sources of auxiliary recruits: Britannia (43 AD), and the former client kingdoms of Mauretania and Thracia. The latter became as important as Illyria as a source of auxiliary recruits, especially cavalry and archers. The Flavian period also saw the first formation of large, double-size units, both infantry and cavalry, of a nominal strength of 1,000 men (cohors/ala milliaria), though they were actually mostly smaller (720 for an ala milliaria and 800 for a cohors milliaria). These were the mirror image of the double-strength first cohorts of legions also introduced at this time.
     A quote from G. Webster. The Roman Invasion of Britain. London, 1993, pp. 86-87:
     The auxiliary units
     " .. The evidence from the tombstones is limited to the monuments from Colchester, (RIB 201) and Gloucester (RIB 121), both are Thracian units, Ala I Thracum and Coh VI Thracum respectively, since both appear to belong to an early phase of the occupation. The use of these Thracian troops at the invasion period may seem strange, in view of the serious trouble in Thrace in AD 26 when some of the tribesmen revolted against the introduction of the military levy. Their main grievances were that their clan system would be disrupted, with the young men forced to serve in distant places far away from home. Seventeen years after Poppaeus Sabinus had so crushingly reduced the rebels, regular Thracian troops were part of the Roman army for some years. Longinus, the duplicarus at Colchester, had served 15 years at the time of his death, which must have been a year or so after AD 43. An auxiliary of a Thracian cohort also died at Wroxeter (RIB 291) presumably between c. AD 50 and 56, but the number of the unit has been lost in damage to the edge of the stone, so it could have been the Gloucester unit moved from here when Legio XX was transferred from Colchester in AD 48.
     The only other possible invasion units are those on the two stones at Cirencester, and one at Bath. The former two record the presence of the Ala Indiana and Ala Thracum (RIB 108 and 109), either brigaded together as a large mobile task-force, or one succeeding the other, the Thracian unit could be that from Colchester, moved forward by Scapula. The Bath stone (RIB 159) records a serving trooper of the Ala Vettonum, the unit later to occupy Brecon Gaer in Wales, but the granting of citizenship signified by the letters CR (civium Romanorum) after the man’s name seems to show that this stone cannot be earlier than Vespasian."
Resources RAT

     Cohors I Thracvm / Cohors Primae Thracum- The First Cohort of Thracians is attested on six - possibly seven - inscriptions on stone recovered from the site, two of which have dated to the end of the second century (vide supra) and the beginning of the third (vide infra). The regiment was originally recruited from among the tribes of the Roman province of Thracia, modern Bulgaria.
This regiment was originally recruited from among the tribes of the Roman province of Thrace, modern Bulgaria, and were believed to have been first stationed in Britain at the Wroxeter auxiliary fort, just to the south of the city of Viriconium, where the tombstone of a trooper in the "Thracian Cohort" was discovered. This part-mounted unit were an ideal choice to man this important crossing of the River Severn and were probably stationed here during the early campaigns of the governor Ostorius Scapula. They were involved in the building of Hadrian's Wall during the AD120's, and are later attested at the Bowes fort in county Durham in the early third century.
     Evidence for the Cohort in Britain
     Burn 95; CIL XVI.48 ; military diploma, dated: January 19th AD103.
     Burn 100; CIL XVI.65 military diploma dated: July 17th AD122.
     L' Année Épigraphique 1997.1001 diploma dated 27th February AD158,
     Wroxeter (RIB 291 tombstone with cohort numeral missing),
     Hadrian's Wall between Newcastle & Benwell (RIB 1323),
     Birdoswald (RIB 1909; B.I. shared with Cohors I Aelia Dacorum; dated: AD205-20 ,
     Bowes (RIB 730 altar AD197-202; et 732-734; et 740 AD205-208; et 741)

     Cohors II Thracvm
     Cohors Secundae Thracum - The Second Cohort of Thracians
     This unit was part-mounted and contained a nominal five-hundred men recruited from amongst the various tribes of Thrace, who inhabited the area between the Ægean and Black Seas, a region which encompassed modern southern Bulgaria, eastern Macedonia and Turkey west of the Bosporous. The regiment was probably stationed in the fort at Mumrills in the middle of the second century. They are later attested on the Cumbrian coast at Moresby in the Notitia Dignitatum, and this documentary evidence is backed-up by various undated epigraphic evidence from the fort.
     Evidence for the Cohort in Britain
Burn 100; CIL XVI.65 military diploma dated: July 17th AD122.
Mumrills (RIB 2142 tombstone),
Moresby (RIB 797 base; et 803; et 804 tombstone; Notitia Dignitatum)

     In Germany Inferior under the reigns of Nero and Vespasian. It 'attested in Britain in 71 AD, perhaps added to Legio II Adiutrix.

     Cohors VI Thracvm
     Cohors Sextae Thracum - The Sixth Cohort of Thracians
     VI THRACUM QUINGENARIA EQUITATA A Viroconium Cornoviorum in Britain until 56 AD, added to Legio XIV Gemina . A Glevum (Brit), about 60 A.D.
     This cohort recruited from among the various tribes of the Roman province of Thrace, is attested in Britain on a single undated tombstone of a horseman from the unit found at Gloucester.
Evidence for the Cohort in Britain
Gloucester (RIB 121 tombstone).

     In the later times Cohors VII Thracvm
     VII THRACUM In Britain at the beginning of the second century. In Britain during the reign of Hadrian (122). In Britain during the reign of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus. In Britannia Inferior in the third century. Prefect or tribune: Ulpius Marcianus.
Britain in mid-2nd century contained the largest number of auxiliary regiments in any single province: about 60 out of about 400 (15%).By the rule of Nero (54–68), auxiliary numbers may have reached, by one estimate, about 200,000 men, implying about 400 regiments.
Another cohort known only from diplomata.
Evidence for the Cohort in Britain
Burn 100; CIL XVI.65 military diploma dated: July 17th AD122,
L' Année Épigraphique 1997.1779b diploma dated c.AD126,
L' Année Épigraphique 1997.1001 diploma dated 27th February AD158.

     Alae Primae Thracvm
Ala I Thracum - The first Wing of Thracians
The first Wing of Thracians
     Very likely raised during the AD30's from their homelands in southern Romania and Bulgaria, and then posted to Germany, from where they were gleaned to bolster the invasion army of Claudius in 43. Considering the fate of the hapless Ninth Legion (not to mention the thriving towns of Colchester, St. Albans and London) during the Boudiccan revolt, it is possible that the unit had already been moved elsewhere by 61, and it may be significant they are next identified at Cirencester immediately afterwards. The military withdrew from Cirencester in the late 70's, and it is possible that the unit were kept in reserve in South Wales until their withdrawal to Lower Germany by the mid-second century, where they apparently were to remain.
Evidence for The Ala in Britain
Burn 95; CIL XVI.48; military diploma, dated: January 19th AD103.
CAMVLODVNVM (Colchester, Essex; RIB 201; tombstone; probably pre-AD49)
CORINIVM (Cirencester, Gloucestershire; RIB 109; tombstone; c.AD62)
ISCA SILVRVM (Caerleon, Gwent; RIB 2415.39; stamped bronze trulla; Flavian?)

Ala Gallorum et Thracum Classiana civium Romanorum - The Classian Wing of Gauls and Thracians

Resources of

Thracian soldiers in Roman Britain

Epigraphic evidence for the presence of individual Thracian soldiers, as well as for Thracian military units of the Roman army, is found in several locations in Britain. Jarrett (1969) traced the probable careers and locations of thirty-seven separate Thracian units in the Roman military, ranging from the provinces of Syria to Britannia. He noted the difficulty of determining exactly how many Thracian units were formed in total, because of the Roman military’s unmethodical habit of naming many of the newly raised units the cohors I Thracum (First Thracian Cohort), regardless of how many of these units with the same name had existed previously. These Thracian cohorts initially were raised for service (probably) in Germany; some later were assigned to service in Britain. The cohors I Thracum eq. (mounted cohort of Thracian cavalry), is recorded on a tombstone in Cologne from the first century; this unit had moved to Britain by 122 and was still there under Severus (r. 193-211). The cohors II Thracum moved from Germany to Britain between the mid-first century and CE 103, perhaps as a result of the Bouddican revolt. Only one seventh cohort is known, the cohors VII Thracum. It was attested in Britain in 122 and 135 and in Brittania Inferior (corresponding to northern England, with its capital at York) in the third century. Among the alae (“wings” of cavalry), the ala I Thracum was attested in Britain in 103 and 124; tombstones from Colchester (about CE 45) and Cirencester (CE 62) attest to the unit’s presence in Britain in the mid-first century and an engraved trulla (washbasin or ladle), possibly Flavian, places the unit in Isca Silurum (Caerleon, Gwent) in the late 1st century. 25

The unit was moved to lower Germany (Germania inferior) by the mid-second century and was still there in 219 (Jarrett, 1969, p 218).


Longinus Sdapeze, a junior officer in a cavalry regiment The cavalry tombstone (Pl 19) is equally fine and significant. It portrays the trooper, a duplicarius (i.e. he had double pay as an NCO), on his large horse somewhat shortened to squeeze it onto the stone.
His face has been sliced away by a blow from one of Boudica’s followers and his lance has vanished, but this could have been made of bronze
and decayed in the soil. He wears a cuirass of large scales, a small hairy Celt crouches in terror beneath the towering horseman, symbolizing victory over death.
     The inscription tells us his name, Longinus Sdapeze, and that of his father, Matygus. The trooper’s name is half-Roman and half- Thracian, difficult for the western tongue, but typical of Thrace, his country of origin, since his birthplace is given as Sardica, more commonly Serdica, which is now Sofia, capital of modern Bulgaria. His unit was the crack cavalry regiment Ala I Thracum.
Aerial reconnaissance has recently revealed a fort of a size suitable for this type of unit, near the religious site at Gosbecks1. This may have been the first military post on the site of the British capital, to be replaced, or supplemented by the Legio XX, when all the initial resistance has been overcome.
     Longinus died between AD 43-49 while the Roman Army was stationed in Colchester.


     Reconstruction of Roman history reenactors in UK

     The evidence for this rests solely on the tombstone of Rufus Sita (P1; RIB 121) found in 1824 at Wotton, where there must have been a military cemetery on this route. It gives us the name of the unit (Coh VI Thracum) and presumably the fort is below the fortress of Legio XX at Kingsholm. The other fort which there is some certainty is at Cirencester (No 62, Corinium Dobunnorum) at the crossing of the Fosse Way. There are two tombstones of differerent units, Dannicus was a trooper of the Ala Indiana (P1 RIB 108) and Sextus Valerius Genialis, a trooper of the Ala Thracum (Pl RIB 109).

      "Sextus Valerius Genialis, a cavalryman of the Thracian Wing, a citizen of the Frisiavones, from the Turma of Genialis. Forty years old with twenty years service. He lies here. The cavalry were responsible for the making [of this memorial]."


     Cirencester: Sextus Valerius Genialis
     Tombstone of Sextus Valerius Genialis from Cirencester. Detail of the inscription (RIB 109), which reads Sextus Vale/rius Genialis / eq(u)es alae Trhaec(um) / civis Frisiaus tur(ma) / Genialis an(norum) XXXX st(ipendiorum) XX / h(ic) s(itus) e(est) (h)e(res) f(aciendum) c(uravit), or 'Sextus Valerius Genialis, trooper of the ala Thracum, Frisian citizen, in the turma of Genialis, lived 40 years, served 20, lies here; his heir set this up'.
Resources From

     At Camulodunum there is an auxiliary fort of ala size at Stanway,38 (No 7) clearly sited near Gosbecks the presumed site of the British capital (see p 131 above). It has been furthermore suggested that this was the fort of the Thracian Ala. and may be earlier than the legionary base if the XXth was needed by Plautius in his reduction of the rest of the province in the first years of occupation.

      Roman Military Diploma of MARCUS AURELIUS & his son COMMODUS, 23 March, 178 A.D., under the consulship of Sergius Scipio Orfitus and P. Velius Rufus, Britannia under the governor Ulpius Marcellus, to the cavalryman Thiophorus, a Dacian of the VII Thracian cohort, under the command of Ulpius Marcianus. (from the Axel Guttmann collection)
     Typical Roman auxiliary troops in the composition of auxiliary cohorts from the German limes, before being mobilized for offensive against Britain by Imp. Claudius 1970 years ago.

     During our participation at the festival Natale di Roma 2013 we realize our creative project ADLOCVT COH. This event recreated the speech of Emperor Claudius. In occasion of Roman Invasion of Britain. With this ritual we celebrated the anniversary 1970 years from the event. Emperor climb on the improvised stage and read a short speech in Latin In front of Legionnaires gathered in block. The situation was very suitable for this occasion.We fulfilled this ritual one hour before start of the parade.
     The significant event 1970 years from the Roman Invasion of Britain at the time of Emperor Claudius. Participated Legions : legio II Augusta, IX Hispana, XIV Gemina, XX Valeria. In the campaign involved and the future emperor Vespasian commander of the Legio II Augusta . Army troops general in quantity about to 40 000 legionnaires and auxiliary.

     Emperor Claudius celebrated the conquest of Britain with triumph in Rome.

     Belt plate representing most likely a Thracian horseman warrior. Very suitable for Roman cavalry reenakting. described as 1 century A.D. Published in a private auction