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Click below to move to another tombstones page:
Two Roman Tombstones
Tombstone Inscriptions to translate

deciphering tombstone inscriptions

Most Roman tombstones follow a set pattern, so if you are not put off by abbreviations or words spilling over from one line to the next, you can decipher them quite easily.

By studying tombstone inscriptions we can get to know individuals as well as learn about the movement of troops around the Roman Empire.


 This short video explains how to interpret a tombstone inscription using a Decoding leaflet which is no longer commercially available, but which contains the same information you can see if you scroll down this page.

You can use this page to help you to translate: clicking on the various sections will take you to the information lists you need .....

standard framework for tombstone inscriptions



D M
Dis Manibus = to the Underworld gods.

his or her name (1st two names if a Roman citizen)    [see list A]

- F
- Filius = son of -

his voting-tribe    [see list B]
his 3rd name if he is a Roman citizen
his birthplace    [see list B]
army rank, profession or status    [see list C]
his legion, cavalry regiment or squadron    [see list D]

VIX AN -
Vixit Annos - = he/she lived for - years    [see list E]

STIP -
Stipendiorum - = - years of paid service    [see list E]

H F C
Heres (or Heredes) Faciendum Curavit (or Curaverunt) = the heir(s) had [the stone] made OR
H P Heredes Posuerunt , OR
sometimes the heirs will be mentioned by name.

H S E
Hic Situs/Sita Est = Here he/she lies.





LIST A      first names

A   =    Aulus          G   =    Gaius
Cn   =   Gnaeus         I   =    Iulius
L    =    Lucius        M   =    Marcus
P    =    Publius        Q   =    Quintus
S    =    Spurius        SEX  =    Sextus
T    =    Titus          Ti   =    Tiberius
Val   =    Valerius


click here to return to the standard framework




LIST B      voting tribe and birthplace

There are too many voting tribes and places of birth to list here. In the case of Roman citizens the word before his 3rd name will be his voting tribe (eg POLLIA or PAPIRIA) and the one(s) after his 3rd name will be his birthplace. Both are usually abbreviated, so don't worry if you can't identify them precisely!

CIVIS    =    citizen or tribesman
PAGO    =    from the district of ...

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LIST C      rank, status or profession

BEN=BENEFICIARIUS    =    seconded for special duties
> = CENTURIO    =    centurion
EQVES    =    cavalryman
MIL = MILES    =    soldier
OPT = OPTIO    =    lieutenant
SIGNIFER    =    standard-bearer
TRIB = TRIBUNUS    =    tribune
VET = VETERANUS    =    veteran, retired soldier


F, FIL, FILIUS    =    son
DOMINUS    =    master
LIBERTUS/I    =    freedman/men
PARENTES    =    parents
PATER    =    father
PATRONUS    =    patron
SACERDOS DEAE SULIS    =    priest of the goddess Sulis Minerva


CONIUX PIENTISSIMA    =    very loyal wife
LIBERTA CONIUNX    =    freedwoman wife


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LIST D      legion, squadron or cohort

Legion     LEGIO
Several legions were given honorary names :

II AVG (AVGVSTA)    =    2nd Augustan
II ADPF (ADIVTRIX PIA FIDELIS)    =    2nd Helper, Loyal and True
VI VICTRIX    =    6th Victorious
VIIII HISP (HISPANA)    =    9th Spanish
XIIII GEM (GEMINA)    =    14th Twin
XXVV (VALERIA VICTRIX)    =    20th Courageous and Victorious


Cavalry Regiment    ALA

PRIMA TRACVM    =    Ist squadron of Thracians
VETTONUM    =    squadron of Vettones

Some are named, eg:
    PETRIANA, INDIANA


Troop of 32 men    TURMA

This would be known by its leader's name,
eg: TVR CANDIDI = Candidus' troop


Auxiliary Cohort    COHORS

COH II THR     =    2nd Thracian
CHO VI TRACVM    =    6th Thracian

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LIST E      Roman numerals

V      =    5
VI     =    6
X      =    10
XI     =    11
XV    =    15
XX    =    20
XL    =    40
L      =    50
LX    =    60

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Click below to move to another tombstones page:

Two Roman Tombstones

Inscriptions to translate