Alae Britanniarum – The Auxiliary Cavalry Wings of Britain

Usually the units were, ‘five hundred strong’ (quingenaria), but there were also some units ‘one thousand strong’ (milliaria). A quingenaria infantry cohort was, like a standard legionary cohort, divided into six centuries of eighty men, and this does indeed produce a unit around ‘five hundred strong’. A milliaria infantry cohort, however, had only ten centuries, which falls considerably short of being ‘one thousand strong’. Similarly, a quingenaria cavalry wing comprised sixteen squadrons (turmae) of thirty or thirty-two (it isn’t clear which) troopers, giving a unit size about ‘five hundred strong’, whilst in a milliaria cavalry wing there were only twenty-four squadrons, so it too falls quite a way short of its advertised strength. There were also auxiliary units where the infantry was supplemented by a small cavalry force: cohortes equitatae. In this case, a quingenaria cohort seems to have comprised the usual six centuries of infantry, but with the addition of four squadrons of cavalry, hence it exceeded its nominal size. A milliaria cohort, seemingly comprising ten centuries of infantry plus eight squadrons of cavalry, was comfortably ‘one thousand strong’. The horsemen of the cohortes equitatae were apparently not as well equipped, nor, indeed, as well paid, as those of the alae.

1 Ala Hispanorum Vettonum civium Romanorum – The Spanish Wing of Vettones, citizens of Rome
2 Ala Augusta Gallorum Petriana – The August Petrian Wing of Gauls
3 Ala Augusta Gallorum Proculeiana
4 Ala Primae Hispanorum Asturum – The First Spanish Wing of Astures
5 Ala Secundae Asturum – The Second Wing of Astures
6 Ala Augusta ob virtutem appellata – The Augustan Wing, so named by reason of their virtue
7 Ala Gallorum Picentiana – The Picentine Wing of Gauls
8 Ala Augusta Sebosiana – The August Wing of Sebusiani
9 Ala Primae Herculaea – The First Herculean Wing
10 Ala Nerviorum – The Wing of Nervii
11 Ala Primae Pannoniorum Sabiniana – The First Sabinian Wing of Pannonians
12 Ala Primae Pannoniorum Tampiana Victrix – The First Victorious Wing of Pannonians, from Tampiana
13 Ala Primae Sarmatarum – The First Wing of Sarmatians
14 Ala Primae Tungrorum – The First Tungrian Wing
15 Ala Gallorum Indiana – Indus’ Wing of Gauls
16 Ala Primae Thracum – The first Wing of Thracians

Roman Sites to visit in South East England