The most famous Vindolanda tablet is an ink-leaf birthday invitation sent by one Claudia Severa to Sulpicia Lepidina, the wife of Flavius Cerialis, a commander of the fort at Vindolanda. The 14-line tablet (shown with a Latin transliteration) is characterized not only by its intimacy but also by Claudia Severa’s elegant penmanship. A few other tablets have been attributed to Severa, and these represent the earliest known Latin texts written by a woman.
The letter reads: “Claudia Severa to her Lepidina greetings. On September 11, sister, for the day of the celebration of my birthday, I give you a warm invitation to make sure that you come to us, to make the day more enjoyable for me by your arrival, if you are present. Give my greetings to your Cerialis. My Aelius and my little son send him their greetings. I shall expect you, sister. Farewell, sister, my dearest soul, as I hope to prosper, and hail.”
On the back of the tablet, Severa addressed the letter, “To Sulpicia Lepidina, wife of Cerialis, from Severa.”