Currently on display in the new cases in the King’s Bath corridor are several of these tablets, included one named ‘Sanction against perjury”. This is an almost-whole example, no more than 7.5cm by 5.5cm, inscribed with a text from a practiced hand.....
Sanction against perjury - BATRM1983.13.b.12
'Uricalus, Docilosa his wife, Docilis his son ans Docilina, Decentius his brother, Alogiosa: the names of those who have sworn
at the spring of the goddess Sulis on the 12th April. Whosoever has perjured himself there you are to make him pay for it to the goddess Sulis in his own blood.'
However, as the title suggests, this is a text of a different nature. Instead of detailing a past crime, it is a record of an oath sworn to prevent a future one. Witnessed by “Uricalus, Docilosa his wife, Docilis his son and Docilina, Decentinus his brother, Algiosa”, it states, “Whosoever has perjured himself there you are to make him pay for it to the goddess Sulis in his own blood.”
Perjury is the crime of lying under oath; this and the fact that it is close relations who are listed means that the tablet probably concerned a family matter, most likely the division of inherited property. The language used is fairly formal, hinting at a legal-document style. These people believed in the goddess so much that they were willing to put legal matters at her feet, and their faith meant that they wouldn’t go against their word, for the imagined punishment would be severe. After all, who wants to “pay for it…in his own blood”?
Livi Dunlop - work experience placement in the Collections Department.