ANCIENT Roman writing tablets found near Hadrian's Wall, suggest public officials were on the take 1,900 years ago.
No floating duck ponds, second homes allowances or bath plugs in sight -but sinew, ears of grain, high priced leatherware and lavish entertainment.
Writing tablets, dating from the Second Century, uncovered at Vindolanda - the Roman encampment near Hadrian's Wall - detail hundreds of expenses claims and receipts concerning the soldiers stationed there and lavish parties thrown by their Commanding Officer.
Five of the tablets - translated by Professor Tony Birley - contain 111
lines detailing entertainment claims at the camp.
Among the items detailed are a hundred pounds of sinew, hobnails for boots, bread, cereals, hides, and pigs.
One official or merchant makes an urgent plea for funds: "As to the 100 pounds of sinew from Marinus-I will settle up. From when you wrote about this he has not even mentioned it to me.
"I have written to you several times that I have bought ears of grain, about 5,000 modii, on account of which I need denarii-unless you send me something, at least 500 denarii, I will lose what I have given as a down payment, about 300 denarii, and will be embarrassed, so I ask you: send me some denarii as soon as possible."
More than 400 tablets were discovered at the site and are the earliest
example of the written word in Britain.