Ala Secundae Asturum

The Ala was probably formed around 19 BC. It was probably moved to the Rhine under Augustus. Around 42/43 AD the unit then appears in the province of Pannonia, where it was probably used to monitor the Danube border between Aquincum and Intercisa. The first evidence in the province of Britannia is based on diplomas dated 122 so we can assume that they arrived in Britain at some unspecified date before 122.

First attested in Britain in AD122 (CILXVI.69), and recorded at Ribchester on an undated altar to the Matres or Mother Goddesses, which is probably of the second century.

They probably were at Chester-le-Street (Concangios), as seen on the inscription below.

RIB 1049 - Dedication to Caracalla

“[…] the knights of the Antoninian Wing¹ […] the territorium² […] the aqueduct leading to the bath-house […] constructed from its foundations, during the administration of […]dianus, pro-praetotian legate of the emperor, when Sabinus – for the second time – and Anullinus were consuls.³”

[...] EQ
[...] [...]NIANAE
[...  ]ERRITO
[...]OLO IN
[...  ...]DIANI LEG
[...  ...]VLLIN COS
  1. The identity of the Ala Antoniniana is discussed below.
  2. The land attached to the fort under military administration.
  3. Publius Catius Sabinus and Publius Cornelius Anullinus were consules ordinarii in the year 216AD (a.u.c.969), and after whom this year was named in the Roman calendar. This was the second time that Sabinus had served as consul, which was a great distinction for one outside the imperial family. The text also contains the sole record, though corrupt, of the name of the British governor at the time, one […]dianus.

By 181 they were stationed at Chesters (Cilurnum) on Hadrian’s Wall, and there they remained, until the end of Roman occupation in Britain. The appearance of a third century tombstone of a veteran at Lincoln (Colonia Lindum) is no evidence that the unit were ever posted there.

The diplomas list the Ala as part of the troops (see Roman forces in Britannia ) that were stationed in the province. Further diplomas dated 127 through 130/131 occupy the unit in the same province.

The unit was last mentioned in the Notitia dignitatum with the designation Ala secunda Asturum for the Cilurnum site. She was part of the troops under the command of the Dux Britanniarum, under the direction of a prefect .

Evidence for the presence of Ala Secundae Asturum in Britain

  1. Burn 100; CIL XVI.65 military diploma dated: July 17th AD122.
  2. L’Année Épigraphique 1997.1779a diploma dated c. AD126.
  3. Bremetenacum (Ribchester, Lancashire; RIB 586; 2nd C. AD)
  4. Cilurnum (Chesters, Northumberland; RIB 1463 et 1464; c. AD181-4)
  5. ?Lindum (Lincoln, Lincolnshire; RIB 266; tombstone; 3rd C. AD)
  6. Cilurnum (Chesters, Northumberland; Notitia Dignitatum xl.38; c. 4th/5th C. AD)

Epigraphic Evidence for Ala Secundae Asturum

RIB 1466 - Imperial dedication of the ala II Asturum

While the Emperors are safe, fortunate is the Second Cavalry Regiment of Asturians, styled Antoniniana.
The Valour of the Emperors.

For the use of felix as a predicate of the unit see RIB 1337.The two emperors, of whom one is here deleted, are Elagabalus and Severus Alexander, A.D. 221-2.

RIB 586 - Altar dedicated to the Mother Goddesses

To the Mother Goddesses Marcus Ingenuius Asiaticus, decurion of the Second Cavalry Regiment of Asturians, willingly, gladly, and deservedly fulfilled his vow.

[...  ...]RIB[...]
[...] S L L M

No commentary.

RIB 1453 - Dedication to the Mother Goddesses

To the Mother Goddesses everywhere abiding, for the welfare of the decuria of Aurelius Severus ..

[...  ]VR SEVERI

1.  For the Matres Communes see RIB 1541. Addenda from RIB+add. (1995): Abandon RIB’s translation of decuria as ‘squadron’: the ala did not have a sub-division equivalent to the modern ‘squadron’. Note that it is conjectural. E. Birley, loc. cit., suggested that Severus was the decurion commanding a turma (‘troop’), but admitted that he knew of no other inscription in which decuria was used in this sense.

RIB 1480 - Funerary inscription for Aventinus

To the spirits of the departed (and) to Aventinus, curator of the Second Cavalry Regiment of Asturians, of 15 years’ service his heir Aelius Gemellus, decurion, had this set up.


Huebner, following Mommsen, thinks curator means acting-commander of the regiment (cf. CIL iii 6025, ILS 2615, Syene) Birley suggests curator turmae (troop-curator) or summus curator alae, an administrative post junior to decurion (see Pap. Hamb. 39 in Meyer, Griechische Papyrusurkunden …; Lesquier L’armée romaine d’Égypte, 152).

RIB 1481 - Funerary inscription for Marcus Aurelius Victor

To the spirits of the departed: Marcus Aurelius Victor lived 50 years.


No commentary.

Ala Secundae Asturum deconstructed

  • Asturum : the Asturian . The soldiers of the Ala were recruited from the Asturian people in the area of ​​the conventus Asturum (with the capital Asturica Augusta ) when the unit was formed.
  • Antoniniana : the Antoninian. An honorific referring to Caracalla (211–217) or Elagabalus (218–222). The addition occurs in the inscriptions (RIB 1465, 1466).
  • Since there is no evidence of the suffix milliaria (1000 men), the unit was an Ala quingenaria . The nominal strength of the Ala was 480 men, consisting of 16 turmae , each with 30 horsemen.

Members of the Ala Secundae Asturum

The following members of the Ala are known:


  • Aelius Longinus , a prefect
  • Cornelius Qu[], [A 2] a prefect ( CIL 6, 3514 )
  • Septimius Nilus , a prefect


  • Ael(ius) Gemellus, ein Decurio (RIB 1480)
  • Albanus, [A 3] ein Reiter ( CIL 13, 2613 )
  • Aurelius Severus, ein Decurio (RIB 1453)
  • Aventinus, a curator (RIB 1480)
  • Marcus Aurelius Victor (RIB 1481)
  • M(arcus) Ingenuius Asiati[cus], ein Decurio (RIB 586)
  • Received, ein Sesquiplicarius ( CIL 3, 14349,08 )
  • [Ti(berius)] Claudius Pint[am]us, ein Reiter ( AE 1992, 1458 )
  • T(itus) Julius Bellicus, ein Decurio ( CIL 3, 15205,3 )