Vindolanda 87.728

. . . . . . .
traces fecisse c..[
de brace qu.. adscribis uen-
dendam adhuc mem…em
. . . . . . . .*

to have made/done . . .
concerning the brace [grain] that you have assigned
for selling

*This passage is cited from the “Vindolanda Tablets Online” as Tablet 348, Leaf 1. © Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents, The British Museum and other copyright holders. Vindolanda Tablets Online

This leaf-shaped tablet was discovered at the Roman fort site of Vindolanda. The excavations at the site proved to be a rich resource of written materials that have provided valuable insight into the daily life of Roman soldiers and their families. Previously, BCS has provided several references to beer in these tablets and discussed the importance of the site (1, 2, 3).

Although this passage does not explicitly reference ancient beer, it mentions a relevant grain, brace , that we have discussed and defined in previous posts. By Late Antiquity, this was a grain of choice in the Gallic regions for brewing beer. In this much earlier passage (late 1st, early 2nd century CE), a grain by the same name, brace, is being sold at the Roman military fort. We learned last week from a near contemporary, Pliny the Elder, that the Gauls regularly harvested brace. He describes this grain as a type of far (hulled emmer wheat?) characterized by an abundant yield of bread per dry measure unit of grain and a shiny appearance.

Was the brace described in this tablet intended for brewing beer? This is certainly possible considering the ancient Briton’s and sometimes Roman soldiers’ preference for beer (See: a Roman soldier’s letter requesting more beer and a brewer living at the fort). Nelson argues that brace was the primary grain for brewing Celtic cervesia (beer) even in this early period (Nelson 2001, 122). Although this would not prove that the brace described above was intended for brewing, it increases the likelihood that this tablet is a possible receipt from a very early brewing supply store.

Author’s Note
Unknown (1st-2nd c. CE)

Nelson, M.C. 2001. “Beer in Greco-Roman Antiquity.” Ph.D. thesis, U. of British Columbia.
Vindolanda Tablets Online

Image Source
Wikimedia Commons, MIm42




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