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Location of the tribe of the Autrigones.

The Autrigones were a pre-Roman tribe settled in the north of the Iberian Peninsula, in what today is the western Basque Country (western regions of Biscay and Álava) and northern Burgos, Spain. Their territory limited with the Cantabri territory at west, the Caristii at east, the Berones at southeast and the Turmodigi at south. It is discussed whether the Autrigones were Celts, theory supported by the existence of toponyms of Celtic origin, such as Uxama Barca and other with -briga endings[1] and that eventually underwent a Basquisation along with other neighboring tribes such as the Caristii and Varduli[2]


Roman historians as Pomponius Mela and Pliny the Elder located them in the northern region of present-day province of Burgos. Pliny the Elder writes about the "ten states of the Autrigones" and says the only ones worth mentioning are Tritium Autrigonum (Monasterio de Rodilla, Burgos) and Virovesca (possibly the present-day Briviesca, Burgos; Celtiberian-type mint: Uirouiaz).[3] in the valley of Oca River. The other Autrigones' towns were Deobriga (near Miranda de Ebro, Burgos), Uxama Barca (Osma de Valdegobia; Celtiberian-type mint: Uarcaz), Segisamunculum (Cerezo del Riotirón, Burgos), Antecuia (near Pancorbo, Burgos), Vindeleia (Cubo de Bureba, Burgos), Salionca (Poza de la Sal, Burgos) and the port of Portus Amanus/Flaviobriga (Castro Urdiales, Cantabria).


The Iberian Peninsula in the 3rd century BC, the Autrigones are in the northern region, in the Celt-Aquitanian "mixed" area.

The Autrigones are mentioned for the first time on a document by Roman historian Livy in 76, describing the actions of Quintus Sertorius in the Iberian Peninsula.[4] Strabo mentions them in his book Geographica, naming them allótrigones, a word adapted from Greek meaning "strange people".

As with their neighbors, the Caristii and the Varduli, their origin is discussed, it is yet not completely known if they were a Celtic tribe or an Aquitanian one, however based on the study of their toponyms - as also happens with the Caristii and Varduli - it is likely they were a Celt tribe who eventually suffered a process of Basquisation. The known toponyms of the Autrigones are of Celtic origin, as Uxama Barca in present-day Álava, and many others ending in -briga.[5] The toponyms of rivers, as the Nervión, the anthroponyms, the archeological remains, tools and weapons relate them culturally with the Celts, but with a clear differentiation of other close Celtic tribes, as the Celtiberians,[6]


They seem to have taken no part in the Celtiberian wars though as traditional allies of the Berones helped the latter in fighting off the Roman general Sertorius' incursion into northern Celtiberia in 76 BC,[7] and remained independent until the late 1st century BC, when the mounting pressure of Astures and Cantabri raids finally forced them to seek an alliance with Rome. Despite being aggregated in the new Hispania Tarraconensis province at the early 1st century AD, the Autrigones were only partially romanized, never became Christian and continued to provide the Roman Imperial army with auxiliary troops (Auxilia) up to the late Empire. The Autrigone people survived the overthrow of the Roman Empire in Spain by the Germanic invasions of the late 4th century and briefly recreated their realm in parts of the current provinces of Burgos, Álava and Biscay which lasted for nearly two centuries, until possibly being finally absorbed by the Varduli and the later ended up being absorbed or displaced to the northern regions of Burgos by the Vascones in around AD 580.[8]


The Autrigones were culturally related to the early Iron Age "Monte Bernorio-Miraveche" cultural group of northern Burgos and Palencia provinces. Additional archeological evidence indicates that by the 2nd Iron Age they came under the influence of the Celtiberians. By the 1st century BC they were organized into a federation of autonomous mountain-top fortified towns (Civitates) on the mountain ranges of the upper Ebro, protected by stout adobe walls of the "Numantine" type.

More archeological evidence have been found, emphasizing their celtiberian culture, as the hospitality tessera, a zoomorphic shape figure with an inscription written using iberian alphabet, but describing some kind of celtiberian language. [9]



  • Ángel Montenegro et alii, Historia de España 2 - colonizaciones y formación de los pueblos prerromanos (1200-218 a.C), Editorial Gredos, Madrid (1989) ISBN 84-249-1386-8
  • Francisco Burillo Mozota, Los Celtíberos, etnias y estados, Crítica, Grijalbo Mondadori, S.A., Barcelona (1998, revised edition 2007) ISBN 84-7423-891-9

See also[edit]