Accession Numbers

Accession numbers are given to objects by museums when they enter a collection as part of the cataloguing process. This helps to differentiate an object from others which might be similar and help curators to locate them in the museum’s stores.

The accession numbers given to the Romano-British inscriptions in the Great North Museum is based on the system originally devised by their owners, the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne, when they began collecting objects in 1813. The first element of the number is the date of acquisition. The second part is a running number allocated each year; hence the first object to be acquired in 1960 has the accession number 1960.1, the second object 1960.2, etc. Please note, however, that artefacts with 1956 as the first element in their accession number were not necessarily acquired in 1956; this was the year that the collection moved from its first home in the Black Gate to its second home in the Museum of Antiquities and objects whose accession numbers could not be identified were given a 1956 number. A letter, such as N, after any accession number, indicates that it belongs to a private collection on loan to the Great North Museum.

If you wish to contact any museum about an inscription in its collection, it is very helpful to the curatorial staff if you can provide the accession number. If not, then please provide the number the inscription carries in Roman Inscriptions in Britain.


In Britain, the inscriptions in stone, such as building inscriptions, tombstones and altars, which were found before 1955, were gathered into a corpus by R.G.Collingwood and R.P.Wright and published as Roman Inscriptions in Britain, abbreviated to RIB, in 1965. Subsequent discoveries were published annually in the Journal of Roman Studies until 1970, when this responsibility was transferred to the journal Britannia. In 2009, Volume 3 of Roman Inscriptions in Britain was published by R.S.O.Tomlin, and includes all those monumental inscriptions found since 1955. Smaller objects with inscriptions on them, which are usually referred to as instrumentum domesticum,  have been published in the interim years between RIB 1 and RIB 3 in various fascicules of Roman Inscriptions of Britain Volume 2 compiled by various authors (see Further Reading).