sailor's diploma
Sailor’s diploma; Durham County Council CC license

We’re very pleased to report that our unique Roman sailor’s discharge diploma (DUR-C3E4FE) has been bought by Palace Green Museum in Durham City and is now on permanent display.
The diploma was discovered in 2016 near Longovicium Roman Fort (Lanchester, Co. Durham) by Mark Houston, an experienced detectorist. He and the then FLO, Ellie Cox, recognised that the find was almost certainly a veteran’s discharge diploma, of which around 20 examples have been found in Britain, conferring Roman citizenship on him, his wife and children. It consisted of two bronze sheets, about A5 size, held together with wire loops, which had been folded over and deliberately buried. Consequently, it had corroded along the folds into 8 pieces.
After cleaning and conservation at Durham University, the text was deciphered by Roger Tomlins of Oxford University and John Pearce of King’s College, London, and it became obvious how special the discovery was. It had been issued to a man named Velvotigernus, most probably in AD150. What makes the diploma unique and so important is that Velvotigernus had served 26 years with the Classis Germanica and so this is the first example of a sailor’s discharge diploma to be found in Britain.
This amazing artefact is now on permanent display at Palace Green Museum. You can read more about it – and other archaeological projects in the County – in the current issue of the Archaeology magazine published by Durham County Council.