Epigraphy – Past and Present

Since Georg Fabricus (C16), the importance of epigraphs (monumental inscriptions) has been fully recognised as has its relationship with literature. He edited versions of Virgil, Horace and Terence, and collected epigraphic material (Encyclopædia Britannica Eds., 1911). The field of transcription is particularly advanced in epigraphy where there is little context and fewer characters, and errors in transcription are therefore fatal to translation attempts. In this project this applies to Roman and Celtic inscriptions, written in Latin, Ogham or perhaps Greek. [Ref Thomas Celtic Britain p?]? Many inscriptions follow a particular formula, such as:

  • Well-known formulae ..hic iacet.. (here lies) and ..filius.. (son of),
  • Certain abbreviations such as the praenomina c. (Gaius) and fl. (Flavius) and,
  • Titles including imp. (Imperator), presbit. (Presbyter).

This codification may often simplify and clarify likely readings, providing clarity as to the beginning, end and completeness of any personal names contained within the epigraph.

Significant surveys of epigraphic material have been completed over the past 200 years including Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (CIL), chiefly led by Theodor Mommsen (1817–1903), and also Corpus Inscriptionum Insularum Celticarum (CIIC) by R.A.S. Macalister (1870-1950), both of which are relevant to this study and are extensively referenced by others. In addition an index of names found on domestic wares in Britain has been produced by Collingwood, Wright, & Frere (1995). So far as Gaulish is concerned (and it is of interest for Britain since it supplies additional and relevant name elements) Gaulish Personal Names (GPN) (Ellis Evans, 1967) is also widely referenced. Lujan (2003) provides an important update, collating additional names from other sources and placing in the same format as Ellis Evans. Jackson and others all use CIL, CIIC and GPN and the reconstruction of Brittonic relies significantly on these sources.

Coming fully up to date, the twin volumes by Raybould & Sims-Williams are, without doubt, the last word in cataloguing Celtic-language epigraphs. A Corpus of Latin Inscriptions of the Roman Empire containing Celtic Personal Names (Raybould & Sims-Williams, 2007) contains the full text of each inscription, whilst the Introduction and Supplement to the Corpus of Latin Inscriptions of the Roman Empire containing Celtic Personal Names (Raybould & Sims-Williams, 2009) contains a full breakdown of first, second and third elements of each name together with a latitude and longitude. Their list of names and elements (ibid., p.9) is particularly useful.


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