Cohors Primae Cugernorum

A five-hundred strong auxiliary infantry unit recruited from the Cugerni tribe of Germania Inferior, who inhabited the lands between the Meuse and the Rhine. They were close neighbours of the Baetasii and the Batavi, who were all used by the Romans as peregrine auxiliary troops. They are attested in stone on a milestone recovered from Newbridge near Cramond, on the Firth of Forth in Scotland, close to the eastern terminus of the The Antonine Wall and contemporary with it.

It would appear likely that this unit is synonymous with Cohors Ulpia Traiana Cugernorum civium Romanorum / The Ulpian Cohort of Cugerni, Trajans own, citizens of Rome. Their first garrison in the north was possibly at Carrawburgh on Hadrian’s Wall, followed by a posting near Cramond in Scotland, before being removed back to the Hadrianic frontier at Newcastle-upon-Tyne when the Antonine barrier was abandoned.

History of the Cohors Primae Cugernorum

The cohort was stationed in the province of Britannia. She is listed on military diplomas for the years AD 103-124.

The unit may have been raised after the Batavi rebellion was crushed and then probably came to Britain with Quintus Petillius Cerialis . The first record in Britannia is based on a diploma dated 103. The diploma lists the cohort as part of the troops that were stationed in the province. Other diplomas dated 122 through 124 occupy the unit in the same province.

The soldiers of the unit were probably also used for road building, as can be seen from the inscription (RIB 2313 shown below) on a Roman milestone , which is dated 140/144. The last evidence of the cohort is based on the inscription ( AE 1980, 603 ), which is dated 213.

What does the parts ‘Cohors Ulpia Traiana Cugernorum civium Romanorum’ mean?

  • Ulpia Traiana : the Ulpic, the Trajan. The honorific refers to Emperor Trajan , whose full name is Marcus Ulpius Traianus .
  • Cugernorum : the Cugerner . The soldiers of the cohort were recruited from the Cugerner people in the Roman province of Germania when the unit was set up.
  • Civium Romanorum : of the Roman citizens. The soldiers of the unit had been granted Roman citizenship at a certain point in time. However, this did not apply to soldiers who were accepted into the unit after this point in time. They received Roman citizenship only with their honorable farewell ( honesta missio ) after 25 years of service. The addition occurs in the military diplomas from 122 to 124 and the inscription ( AE 1980, 603 ).
  • Since there is no evidence of the suffixes milliaria (1000 men) and equitata (partly mounted), it can be assumed that it is a pure infantry cohort, a cohors (quingenaria) peditata . The nominal strength of the unit was 480 men, consisting of 6 centuries with 80 men each.

Evidence for the presence of Cohors Primae Cugernorum in Britain

Roman inscriptions mentioning Cohors Primae Cugernorum

RIB 3284 - Dedication to Julia Domna - A.D. 213-7

For Julia our [Augusta, the mother of our Augustus Marcus] Aurelius Antoninus and of the army, [and the senate] and the country, out of its duty and loyalty, [under the charge of Gaius Julius Marcus,] imperial propraetorian legate, the First Cohort of Cugerni Ulpia Traiana, Roman Citizens, [erected (this)].

Iulia[e Aug(ustae)] ṇọ[strae matri] [ Aug(usti) nostri M(arci) Au-] rẹḷi Anto[nini ac] cas[tr](orum) [ ac sen(atus)] ac pat(riae)[ pro pietate] ac dev[otione] ⟦[ curante G(aio) Iul(io) Marco]⟧ leg(ato) Aug(usti) pr(o) [ pr(aetore) Coh(ors) I Ulpia] Traiana C[ugernorum] c(ivium) R(omanorum) [ posuit]
  • The governor Gaius Julius Marcus is thought to have been in office sometime around AD213, the year after emperor Septimius Severus, Julia Domna’s husband, died at York. He was propraetorian legate in 213 (RIB 905 and 2298), but his name is regularly erased in these declarations of loyalty (Birley, 203–8). There is not enough space for the name of the future Gordian I instead (compare RIB 590+add.).
  • Only the first letter survives of the cohort’s ethnic name, but the Cugerni were the only British unit to be Traiana and c(ivium) R(omanorum). This is the only evidence that it garrisoned Newcastle upon Tyne: it is not in the Notitia Dignitatum.
  • It was in Scotland under Antoninus Pius (RIB 2313), and at some date apparently at Carrawburgh (RIB 1524).

RIB 2313 - Milestone found at Newbridge near Cramond 140-144AD

For the Emperor Caesar Titus Aelius Hadrianus Augustus Antoninus Augustus Pius, father of his country, thrice consul, … the First Cohort of Cugerni (set this up). From Trimontium … miles.

I[mp(eratori) Caes(ari) T(ito)] [ Ael(io) Hadr(iano) Anto-] nino Aug(usto) Pio p(atri) p(atriae) co(n)s(uli) [I]II ⟦[---]⟧ ⟦[---]⟧ [co]h(ors) I Cugernor(um) [Tri]monti(o) m(ilia) p(assuum) [ ̣ ̣ ̣]
  1. Cohors Primae Cugernorum were a a five-hundred strong auxiliary infantry unit recruited from the Cugerni tribe of Lower Germany, who inhabited the lands between the Meuse and the Rhine, close neighbours of the Germanic tribes the Baetasii to the south and the Batavi in the north-west.
  2. Trimontium was the Roman name for the fort complex at Newstead in the Borders region of southern Scotland, which lay about thirty-six miles to the south-east of Cramond.
  3.  a.d. 208. / Although if translated would have been the date would be a.d. 209-11.

RIB 1524 - Altar dedicated to Coventina

To the goddess Coventina for the First Cohort of Cubernians Aurelius Campester joyously set up his votive offering.

  • Cubernorum, a variant for Cugernorum.
  • Cohors I Cugernorum is now attested at Newcastle in A.D. 213
  • Found in Carrawburgh (Brocolitia), In Coventina’s Well.
  • Now in Chesters Museum.

Military Diplomas referring to  Cohors Primae Cugernorum in Britain

  1. Military Diplomata 103AD (RIB 1401.1)
  2. Military Diplomata (124AD) (RIB 2401.6)
  3. Military Diplomata 122AD