Cohors Tertiae Nerviorum

This five-hundred strong infantry regiment were recruited from among the tribesmen of the Nervii from central Belgica. They are named on an undated altar to Victorious Mars from Chesterholm on Hadrian’s Wall, and although this unit is named on a tombstone from Maryport on the Cumbrian coast, the person interned apparently requested in his will that his memorial stone be placed there, therefore, we cannot presume that Cohors III Nerviorum were ever stationed at the Alauna fort. Their final posting in Britain was as the late-fourth century garrison of Lancaster (Calunium) in north-west England, where they are listed in the Notitia Dignitatum.

What can we tell from the name Cohors Tertiae Nerviorum?

  • Cohors : The cohort was an auxiliary infantry unit in the Roman army .
  • III : The Roman numeral stands for the ordinal number third ( Latin tertia ). Therefore, the name of this military unit is pronounced as Cohors tertia ..
  • Nerviorum : the nerve . When the unit was formed, the soldiers in the cohort were recruited from the Nervii tribe in the territory of the Roman province of Gallia Belgica .
  • civium Romanorum : of the Roman citizens. The soldiers in 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. They only received Roman citizenship upon their honourable farewell ( Honesta missio ) after 25 years of service. The addition appears in the military diploma from 140/154.
  • Since there is no evidence of the suffixes milliaria (1000 men) and equitata (partly mounted), it can be assumed that this is a Cohors quingenaria peditata , a pure infantry cohort. The target strength of the unit was 480 men, consisting of 6 centuries with 80 men each.

Evidence for the presence of Cohors Tertiae Nerviorum in Britain

  1. Military Diplomata 122AD
  2. Military Diplomata – 124AD (RIB 2401.6)
  3. Maryport (RIB 879a tombstone).
  4. Chesterholm (RIB 1691 altar?).
  5. Lancaster (Notitia Dignitatum).