Malt, maltsters and malting in VindolandaArticle 6 of 8 Beer and drinking manners at the Vindolanda fort

6 - Brewers in Vindolanda and the surrounding cities.


6.1 The beer brewing and trade of beer (tablets 182 and 482)


A brewer is named by the tablet 182.14. Atrectus ceruesar[ius is Atrectus the brewer. A cerues-arius is a merchant or brewer of ceruesa. The derived suffix in -arius often designates an individual who sells, trades or manufactures the object denoted by the basic term (e.g. subsellarius = maker of subsellia, ceruesarius = brewer, tabernarius = he who works or tends the tavern, sumptuarius = responsible for household expenses, horrearius = superintendent of a horreum, etc.). )1. Atrectus acts as a civilian, brewer and beer merchant. Atrectus is a common name in Britannia and Belgian Gaul. Other ceruesarii are quoted in Roman texts, for example a soldier of the Roman Rhine fleet who makes profession of negotiator ceruesarius. The two lines 15-16 after the name probably refer to payments made by Atrectus for purchases of iron and fat from pigs.


Tablet 182
1  [..., bugler, for the price of a
2  ... 15 modi, 12 denarii, 1_ asses ]]
3  likewise, for sundries, 2 denari, 2 asses
4  [[Sabinus from Trier, 38 denarii, 2 asses]]2
5  Ircucisso, as part of the price of bacon, 13_ denarii
6  Felicio the centurion, bacon, 45 pounds
7  Idem, bacon-lard, 15_ pounds
8  total, 60_ pounds, 8 denarii, 2 asses
9  likewise, he (?) has received for sundries 6 denarii, 2 asses
10  Vattus ...
11  [[Victor ...]]
12  [[for the price of a horse ...]]
13  [[Exomnius the centurion, denarii ...]]
14  Atrectus the brewer,
15  as part of the price of iron, denarii
16  for the price of pork-fat, 11 denarii 2 asses
17  Andecarus, denarii
18  Sanctus, denarii
19  …


The fragment of tablet 482 seems to show the test of the beer delivered. The expression "of gustis ceruesarum" could mean "of the taste of beer".


Tablet 482
4   de · gustis · ceruesa
5   rum



  6.2   The sale of spent brewing grains (dregs) to travellers (tablet 185)

Tablet no. 185 records travel expenses. Several locations are located: Isurium (Aldborough), Cataractonium (Catterick) and Vinovia (Binchester). The traveller(s) had to travel from York to Vindolanda via Corbridge and back. Travel expenses include food, accommodation, transport equipment, fodder for draught animals. In addition to raw barley, fodder includes spent brewer's grains (faeci). The same word appears in lines 7, 9, 18, 23 and 25, and implies that the spent brewing grains were provided in each place and on different dates by some kind of lodging or hostelry.

Faex (dative faeci) means "dregs", "sediment", a kind of cheap wine, or brewing residues after fermentation, used in some medical practices (Pliny, Med. 3.6, ebuli folia ... mixta cum faece ceruesiae ... <... in linteolo alligantur). However, each item listed by the account 185 belongs to the field of animal feed, not human food. We prefer to see in the faex the grains exhausted by brewing, reconverted into animal feed after mixing with barley, in short, the spent grains from the brew.


Tablet 185
1-5  traces  (lines 5-10). traces
5  faeci (denarii) s(emissem)  for brewing dregs, denarii _
6  [.] Idus Iulias  July (8-13) à Isurium (?)
7  faeci (denarii) (quadrantem)  for brewing dregs, denarii _
8  I]dus Iulias traces  July (9-14) ...
9  faeci (denarii) (quadrantem)  for brewing dregs, denarii _
10  [..] Idus Iulias a[  July (10-14), ...
11  traces of six lines  ...
17  [[ c.12 ]]c[c.3] traces viii[  (lines 17-29) ... 8 ...
18  faeci (denarii) (quadrantem)  for brewing dregs _ denarii,
19  hordei m(odium) i (denarii) s(emissem) (assem i)  for barley, 1 modius, _ denarii, 1 as
20  axes carrarios  wagon-axles,
21  duos ad raedam (denarios) iii s(emissem)  two, for a carriage, 3_ denarii
22  sal (denarium) i  salt and fodder (?) ..., 1 denarius
23  Isurio faeci (denarii) (quadrantem)  at Isurium, for brewing dregs, denarii _
24  Cataractonio locario (denarii) s(emissem)  at Cataractonium, for accommodation (?), denarii _
25  faeci (denarii) (quadrantem)  for brewing dregs, denarii _
26  Vinouis subunc.lon.s (denarii) (quadrantem)  at Vinovia, for vests (?), denarii _
27  frumenti traces  for wheat, ...
28  fiunt (denarii) lxxiix s(emis) (quadrans)  total, 78_ denarii
29  summa omnis (denarii) lxxxxiiii s(emis) (quadrans)  grand total, 94_ denarii ...

The tablet 581 provides further information. It mentions twice a brewer (581 a.6, b.17) in a poultry supply account (chickens, geese). The brewer seems to be able to raise them because he can feed them with the spent grains from his brews.


1 Cf. ueterin-arius, the designation of a veterinarian in English, veterin-aire in French.

2 This is the only Vindolanda text which specifies the origin of an individual. Trier is particularly appropriate for the Batavian and Tungrian units which are known to have been at Vindolanda in the pre-Hadrianic period.

Malt, maltsters and malting in VindolandaArticle 6 of 8 Beer and drinking manners at the Vindolanda fort