Publication type Article
Status Approved
Affiliation: Complutense University of Madrid
Address: Spain, Madrid

This article analyses the personal names that appear in texts inscribed on slate tablets from Visigothic Hispania (sixth to eighth centuries AD). The texts were found at rural sites clustered around the borders between the provinces of Salamanca, Ávila and the north of Cáceres, in areas about which the historical sources are largely silent. Here, I shall analyse the kind of text in which these personal names appear and how these latter are presented. In some cases, the slates simply contain lists of names, probably of farmers who worked the land, but in others they give the names of sellers, buyers, judges or witnesses to legal documents, some of whom wrote their names and signs in their own hand. I shall also analyse the origin of the names, which is mainly Graeco-Roman or Gothic. The presence of names of diverse origin in the same documents, especially in those dealing with agricultural matters, may perhaps indicate the existence of a mixed population. Lastly, I shall also consider names of Hebrew origin, which on these slates almost always refer to biblical characters or angels.

KeywordsVisigothic slates, personal names of Graeco-Roman origin, personal names of Gothic origin, Signatures and signatories, witness subscriptions, Farmers, rural society, Biblical names
Number of characters45745
100 rub.
When subscribing to an article or issue, the user can download PDF, evaluate the publication or contact the author. Need to register.
Размещенный ниже текст является ознакомительной версией и может не соответствовать печатной



The so-called “Visigothic slates” comprise a collection of mainly sixth, seventh and eighth century texts found in the Central Plateau of modern Spain, in settlements scattered around the borders between the provinces of Ávila, Salamanca and the north of Cáceres. However, slate tablets have also been found in other areas and from other periods, including two fifth century curse tablets (defixiones) discovered near Braga (Portugal), the tenth century “Carrio” slate in Asturias and several ninth century pieces in Andorra.

2 There are three types of inscribed tablet: slates with text, slates with numerical signs and slates with very varied drawings including representations of animals, buildings, agricultural tools and human figures. These latter in particular have yet to receive sufficient study.
3 Slate is a soft material on which signs can easily be inscribed or scratched and it has been used as a writing medium throughout history, although it was not the most common medium in antiquity or the Middle Ages. By way of example, inscribed slate tablets have been found at various sites in Huelva and Córdoba (dated to the first to third centuries AD), and at the Irish monastery of Smarmore (Louth Country) (thirteenth and fifteenth centuries); however, despite their interest, these still await detailed study1. 1. On this subject, see Velázquez Soriano 2020 (in press), with previous bibliography.
4 Here, I shall discuss the slate texts written during the Visigothic period in the above-mentioned area. Most of these slates were not uncovered during archaeological excavations, but instead were found on the surface in rural settings2. Although some archaeological excavations have revealed a Visigothic context, the slates have often been found without a clear location that could provide information on their function. Unfortunately, the majority are fragmentary: there are virtually no complete pieces and some retain so little text that they offer negligible information about their exact content. 2. Only two small fragments have been found in urban areas in Visigothic archaeological contexts, one of which —still unpublished— comes from the city of Ávila, while the other is from the city of Toledo. On this latter, see the edition by I. Velázquez Soriano in CIL II2/13, 78, cf. Alföldy, G., Abascal J. M. (eds.) 2019.
5 Nevertheless, these slates comprise documents of exceptional value. With the exception of conventional epigraphy, they are virtually the only original documents to survive from sixth and seventh century Visigothic Hispania, and they therefore provide us with valuable information about the type of script in use at the time. This was the “new common Roman cursive”, although some elements of the so-called “Visigothic cursive writing” are also evident3. Apart from the well-known manuscripts of Autun 27 and 1074, possibly the codex of the “Camarín de las Reliquias” (El Escorial)5, and the Verona Orational (c. 700)6, very few manuscripts in Visigothic script survive from the seventh century: most are of a later date, generally from the ninth to the twelfth centuries. Meanwhile, the only documents to have been preserved are the parchment charters discovered in the National Historical Archive and studied by Mundó7. 3. Del Camino Martínez 1990, 29-37; Alturo i Perucho 2004, 347-386; Velázquez Soriano 2006, 109-119; Velázquez Soriano 2012, 15-53.

4. Robinson 1939.

5. Codex written in uncial script, containing some fragments written in Visigothic cursive. Held in the El Escorial Library (without number). See Lowe 1966, vol. 11, no. 1628b.

6. Vivancos 2006, 121-144.

7. Mundó Marcet 1970. Recently edited in Calleja-Puerta, Ostos-Salcedo, Pardo Rodríguez and Sanz Fuentes 2018, nos. 1-5.
6 Another reason why these slate texts are so important is that they offer an exceptional insight into the agricultural economy and everyday life of Visigothic Spain. They include sales documents, court statements and other legal documents (placita) and even a private letter (epistula). Others are of a religious nature —generally psalms— and may have served an educational purpose, and there are also defixiones and texts of an apparently magical nature. Some list the names of animals, agricultural products and even clothing, while another large group of slates gives the names of farmers, who must have paid taxes in kind or have received some products.
7 These texts also provide evidence of the value ascribed in the Visigothic period to scriptura and thus to written legal documents. This is already attested to by Visigothic laws8 and formularies9, but the legal documents preserved on slate demonstrate that it was common practice to record private transactions in writing. In the words of P. Riché10: 8. Leges Visigothorum (= LV), cf. Zeumer 1902. See LV 2.1.5, 2.1.6, 2.5, 5.4.3. See also Codex Euricianus (= CE 286) cf. D’Ors 1960. On this subject, see Zeumer 1944, 166-170; Petit 1983, 168-169; Marlasca 1998, 563-584.

9. Formulae Visigothicae, cf. Zeumer 1886; Gil 1972.

10. Riché 1962, 60.
8 D’autres faits montrent que l’écrit joue toujours un rôle important dans la vie de ces royaumes barbares… Dans le domaine commercial les échanges exigent toujours un minimum d’écritures et lorsqu’il arrive que des marchands soient illettrés, ils ont des ecribes qui les aident dans leurs comptes et leur correspondance. Les ventes, comme les donations et testaments, ne se conçoivent pas sans la rédaction d’un acte dont la valeur n’est plus simplement probatoire, mais tend à devenir dispositive.



We do not know the names of those who inscribed the texts, the scriptores or scribae, and in some cases, several hands appear in the same document. In contrast, however, the names of the signatories of the legal documents are sometimes given, enabling us to identify the people involved in the transactions being recorded. It is highly likely that many of the people whose names are recorded on the slates were unable to read or write, and of these we know only their names or the minimal references given in the texts.

10 The Visigothic kings can be identified, but their names are always included as part of the dating clause, not as part of the text content. Biblical names —nomina sacra— also appear in texts of a religious or magical nature, phylacteries and defixiones. Sometimes, individuals’ professions are indicated, as in the case of the iudices or uicarii, but for most people mentioned on the slates, we have no further information other than their names. However, the context in which these names are transmitted tells us something about the reasons why they were recorded on the slates.

1. Alföldy, G – Abascal, J.M. (eds.) 2019: Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum II. Inscriptiones Hispaniae Latinae. Editio altera. Pars 13, fasciculus primus: Pars septentrionalis conventus Carthaginiensis. Berlin.

2. Alturo i Perucho, J. 2004: La escritura visigótica. Estado de la cuestión, Archiv für Diplomatik. Schriftgeschichte Siegel- und Wappenkunde 50, 347-386.

3. Ast, R. 2016: Latin Ostraca from North Africa. In: J.L. Fournet, Papaconstantinou (eds.), Mélanges Jean Gascou. Textes et études papyrologiques. Paris, 7-32.

4. Del Camino Martínez, C. 1990: Los orígenes de la escritura visigótica: ¿otras posibilidades para su estudio?. In: Actas del VIII Coloquio del Comité Internacional de Paleografía Latina. Madrid, 29-37.

5. Canellas López, A. 1979: Diplomática hispano-visigoda. Zaragoza.

6. Codex Euricianus, see D’Ors 1960.

7. Calleja-Puerta, M., Ostos-Salcedo, P., Pardo Rodríguez, Mª L., Sanz Fuentes, Mª J. (eds.) 2018: Chartae Latinae Antiquiores, vol. CXIV: Spain III. Portugal. In: G. Cavallo – G. Nicolaj (eds.), Chartae Latinae Antiquiores, 2nd series. Dietikon-Zürich.

8. Courtois, CH. R., Leschi, L., Perrat, Ch. and Saumagne, Ch. 1952: Tablettes Albertini. Actes privés de l'époque vandale (Fin du Ve siècle), Paris.

9. Díaz Martínez, P. C., Martín Viso, I. 2011: Una contabilidad esquiva: las pizarras numerales visigodas y el caso de El Cortinal de San Juan (Salvatierra de Tormes, España). In: P. C. Díaz Martínez, I. Martín Viso (eds.), Between taxation and rent. Fiscal problems from Late Antiquity to Early Middle Ages. Bari, 221-250.

10. Díaz y Díaz, M. C. 1975: Consideraciones sobre las pizarras visigóticas. In: Actas de las Primeras Jornadas de Metodología de las Ciencias Históricas, vol. V: Paleografía y Archivística. Santiago de Compostela, 23-29.

11. D’Ors, A. (ed.), 1960: El Código de Eurico. Edición, palingenesia e índices. Roma-Madrid.

12. Fernández Nieto, F. J. 1997: La pizarra visigoda de Carrio y el horizonte clásico de los χαλαζοφυλάκες. In: La tradición en la Antigüedad Tardía. Serie Antigüedad y Cristianismo, XIV. Murcia, 259-286.

13. Formulae Visigothicae, see Zeumer 1886.

14. García Moreno, L. A. 1974: Prosopografía del reino visigodo de Toledo. Salamanca.

15. Gil, J. 1972: Miscellanea wisigothica. Sevilla.

16. Gómez Moreno, M. 1966: Documentación goda en pizarra. Estudio y transcripción por M. Gómez Moreno. Revisión, facsímiles y fotografías por M. Casamar. Madrid.

17. Jiménez Sánchez, J. A. 2018: Una pizarra visigoda de carácter mágico cristiano procedente de Santibáñez de la Sierra (Salamanca). Anuari de Filologia. Antiqua et Medievalia 8, 385-399.

18. Kampers, G. 1979: Personengeschichtliche Studien zum Westgotischenreich in Spanien. Münster.

19. Kremer, D. 2004: El elemento germánico y su influencia en la historia lingüística peninsular. In: R. Cano (ed.), Historia de la Lengua Española, Madrid, 133-148

20. Knibb, M. A. 1978: The Etiopik Book of Enoch. A new edition in the light of the Aramic Dead Sea Fragments. London.

21. Lowe, E. A. (ed.) 1966: Codices Latini Antiquiores. A palaeographical Guide to Latin manuscripts prior to the ninth century. Part XI: Hungary, Luxembourg, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, The United States, and Yugoslavia. Oxford.

22. Leges Visigothorum, see Zeumer 1902.

23. Marlasca, O. 1998: Algunos requisitos para la validez de los documentos en la lex Visigothorum. Revue internationale des droits de l’Antiquité 45, 563-584.

24. Martín Viso, I. 2006: Tributación y escenarios locales en el centro de la Península Ibérica: algunas hipótesis a partir del análisis de las pizarras visigodas. Antiquité Tardive 14, 272-273.

25. Martín Viso, I. 2013: The Visigothic slates and their archaeological contexts. Journal of Medieval Iberian Studies 5:2, 145-168.

26. Martín Viso, I. 2015: Huellas del poder: pizarras y poblados campesinos en el centro de la Península Ibérica (siglos V-VII), Medievalismo 25, 285-314.

27. Martín Viso, I 2018: El asentamiento fortificado de Lerilla. In: Fortificaciones, poblados y pizarras. La Raya en los inicios del medievo. Ciudad Rodrigo, Salamanca, 298-312.

28. Morlet M. T. 1971-1972: Les noms de personne sur le territoire de l'ancienne Gaule du VIe au XIIe siècle. Vol. I: Les noms issus du germanique continental et les créations gallo-germaniques. Vol.II: Les noms latins ou transmis par le Latin. Paris.

29. Mundó Marcet, A. 1970: Los diplomas visigodos originales en pergamino. Transcripción y comentario con un regesto de documentos de época visigoda. Barcelona (Doctoral Thesis unpublished).

30. Pérez-Prendes Muñoz-Arraco, J. M. 2005: Resonancias jurídicas en las pizarras visigóticas. In: I. Velázquez – M. Santonja (eds.), En la pizarra: los últimos hispanorromanos de la Meseta. Burgos, 127–141.

31. Petit, C. 1983: Fiadores y fianzas en derecho romanovisigodo. Sevilla.

32. Piel J. 1956: Sobre a formação dos nomes de mulher medievais hispano-visigodos: In: Estudios dedicados a Menéndez Pidal, Madrid, vol. VI, 111-150.

33. Piel, J. 1960: Antroponimia germánica. In: Enciclopedia lingüística hispánica. Madrid, 421-444.

34. Piel, J., Kremer, D. 1976: Hispanogotisches Namenbuch. Heidelberg.

35. Riché, P. 1962: Éducation et culture dans l’Occident barbare. Vie-VIIe siècles. Paris.

36. Robinson, R. P. 1939: Manuscripts 27 (S. 29) and 107 (S. 129) of the Municipal Library of Autun. Roma.

37. Thesaurus Linguae Latinae 1934-1964: Leipzig.

38. Velázquez Soriano, I. 2000: Documentos de época visigoda escritos en pizarra (ss. vi-viii). Col: Monumenta palaeographica medii aevi. Turnhout.

39. Velázquez Soriano. I 2004: Las pizarras visigodas. Entre el Latín y su disgregación. La lengua hablada en Hispania, siglos VI-VIII. Madrid-Burgos.

40. Velázquez Soriano, I. 2006: Die Entstehung der westgotischen Schrift im Spiegel der Schiefertafekn. In: P. Erhart – L. Hollenstein (eds.), Mens und Schrift in frühen Mittelalter. St. Gallen, 109-119.

41. Velázquez Soriano, I. 2012: La escritura visigótica en su periodo primitivo. In: J. Alturo, M. Torras , A. Castro (eds.), La escritura visigótica en la Península Ibérica: nuevas aportaciones. Barcelona, 15-53.

42. Velázquez Soriano, I. 2020 (forthcoming): The “Habit” of Writing on Slate in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. In: R. Ast, T. Licht, and M. C. Scappaticcio (eds.), Uniformity and Regionalism in Latin Writing Culture in the First Millennium of the Common Era, Wiesbaden.

43. Vivancos, M.C. 2006: El oracional visigótico de Verona: notas codicológicas y paleográficas, Cuadernos de Filología Clásica. Estudios Latinos 26.2, 121-144.

44. Zeumer, K. (ed.) 1886: Formulae merovingicae et karolini aevi, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Leges V, Berlin.

45. Zeumer, K. (ed.) 1902: Leges Visigothorum, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Leges. Sectio I, tomus I. Hannover-Leipzig.

46. Zeumer, K. 1944: Historia de la legislación visigoda, trans. C. Clavería. Barcelona, 166-170.

Система Orphus