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Oldest Handwriting in the UK - and its a Demand for Late Payment

June 04 2016


You may have noticed in the news that a remarkable collection of wooden tablets dating from Roman Britain was recently uncovered during excavation work for the foundations of the new Bloomberg Building in the City of London. They contain the oldest handwriting ever found in the UK and also the earliest recorded mention of London.

The tablets were the notepads or emails of the day back in AD60, a recess in the tablet was filled with beeswax and the words scraped out with a metal stylus. The archaologists working on the tablets have painstakingly reconstucted some of the messages from the scratch marks left in the wood behind the wax, and these give an insight into daily activity in what was then a small frontier town of the Roman Empire.

One that caught our eye was asking for the repayment of a debt of 36 denarii. The writer was clearly aggrieved at being owed after doing the recipient a favour:

I ask you by bread and salt that you send as soon as possible the 26 denarii in Victoriati and the 10 denarii of Paterio.

Another also referred to people who were boasting that they had borrowed money and not paid it back:

" because they are boasting through the whole market that you have lent them money. Therefore I ask you in your own interest not to appear shabby you will not thus favour your own affairs"

So it seems that late payment is probably about as old as trade itself, a disappointing fact perhaps. Giving credit is an entrenched part of doing business in modern society, but alas, paying late is too often considered part of it too. That was never part of the deal though and My Credit Controllers are here to help you get paid on time.

Here at My Credit Controllers we pride ourselves on being able to collect on debts, no matter how old they are. For example we recently collected a late payment for a client that was 926 days overdue.

We considered dropping “Natrium the Salt Seller”* a line to see if we could help recover his denarii from “Gratuitum Prandium the blagger”**. At 713,940 days overdue though, even My Credit Controllers might struggle to collect on that one.

You can find more details of this tremendous archaeological find here

* We made that name up
** Gratutitum Prandium is Latin for ‘free lunch’ and we know there’s no such thing.


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