An Old Friend: Coritani

There was once a time when the Coritani as a tribal name was normally found in the Iron Age literature and maps. With some compelling research, the name “Coritani” was replaced with “Corieltauvi” almost overnight. Below is a drawing of the tegula (Roman terracotta tile) with graffito that caused the name “Coritani” to be changed to “Corieltauvi” in 1983. This was the year that the tribe’s name changes in the research literature.

tegula

It reads:

[CI]VITATISCORIELTAVVOROM[…]
[…].NIOM
[…].M
[…]CESAM

By saying “civitas Corieltavvorom“, it’s not clear if that refers to a town or tribal area. Roman records are spotty, but the researcher went so far as to compare place names in manuscripts located in the Vatican. He asserts the double V is improper (i.e. vulgar). Even the English translation in Ptolemy’s Geography is arguably incorrect and should have been “Coritavi” from his original “Koritavoi“. Ptolemy wrote his Geography around AD 150.

The tile was found in 1965 during an excavation at Tripontium, near Churchover, Warwickshire. This is about fifteen miles from Ratae, the tribal capital of the Coritani, modern day city of Leicester.

The discovered inscription suggests the correct form of this tribal name is Corieltauvi. This is now generally accepted and Coritani is only used in older works.



Sources:

  • Tomlin, R S O (1983). “Non Coritani sed Corieltauvi”. The Antiquaries Journal 63.
  • Tomlin, R S O (1983). “Roman Leicester, a Corrigendum: For Coritani should we read Corieltauvi?” Transactions of the Leicester Archaeological & Historical Society 48