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a

Gazetteer

  ©RRRA, 2018

Home Gazetteer of Roads Margary's Numbering Itineraries & Sources Glossary/Biography RRRA Website
The Crossing from Gaul to Britain Iter I Iter II Iter III & Iter IV Iter V Iter VI Iter VII Iter VIII Iter IX Iter X Iter XI Iter XII Iter XIII Iter XIV Iter XV The Maritime Itinerary

The Antonine Itinerary - Iter 1

From Bremenio (High Rochester, Northumberland)

To Praetorio (Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire)

The Antonine Itinerary De situ Britanniae - an 18th Century Hoax The Peutinger Table The Ravenna Cosmography Ptolemy's Geography The Notitia Dignitatum


Durham, A (2018 a); Abona; http://www.romaneranames.uk/a/abona.htm

Durham, A (2018 b); Traiectus;  http://www.romaneranames.uk/t/traiectu.htm

Haverfield, F. (1906); Romano-British Somerset: Part 3, Other Locations; in Page, W. (1906) A History of the County of Somerset: Vol. 1; Victoria County History, London pp. 289-356; British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/som/vol1/pp289-356 [accessed 3 November 2017].

Pastscape Mon. 200844 (2017); Trajectus; http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=200844  [accessed 3 November 2017]

Pastscape Mon. 1325732 (2017); Roman road from Bitton to the Mendip Hills (Compton Martin); http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=1325732 [Accessed 3 November 2017]

Rivet, A.L.F. & Smith, Colin (1979); The Place-names of Roman Britain; B.T. Batsford Ltd., London

References:


Itinerary Text


Itinerary Distance


Modern name

Actual Roman Miles

Error

Margary route number

Comment


Item alio itinere ab Isca Calleva, m.p. ciii (also, an alternative route from Caerleon to Silchester, 103 miles)


Venta Silurum


m.p.viiii


Caerwent

9

0

RR60a



Abone


m.p. xiiii


Sea Mills or Bitton

14 or 15

0 or -1

RR 60a&aa

These two entries may possibly have been transposed


Traiectus


m.p. viiii


Bitton or unknown

9

0

RR 54


Aquis Sulis


m.p. vi


Bath

6

0

RR 54



Verlucione


m.p. xv


Sandy Lane

15

0

RR53



Cunetione


m.p. xx


Mildenhall

18

2

RR53



Spinis


m.p. xv


Speen

15

0

RR53 & RR41b



Calleva


m.p. xv


Silchester

16

-1

RR41a



Itinerary total


m.p. ciii







There is, however, a problem: Traiectus (referring to a water crossing) appears after Abone, not before it. In the itineraries, the word traiectus has three subtly different uses;

  1. In a maritime itinerary for a long sea crossing, measured in stades,
  2. In a land itinerary for a short sea crossing as part of a long route, and is measured in miles, or as a link between two different routes, when it is measured in stades.
  3. In a land itinerary as the name of a place at a river crossing (Rivet & Smith 1979, p.177)

Haverfield summed up the issue, and dismissed the obvious solution (Haverfield, 1906, pp. 347-8)

“It would at first sight seem natural to identify Traiectus with Bitton and Abone with Seamills. This solution, however, raises serious difficulties. Seamills is indeed not much more than nine miles from Bitton. But Bitton is ten or eleven, not six, Roman miles west of Bath, and no 'station' except Bitton exists on this part of the route. Again, no 'traiectus' worth the name occurs near Bitton nor indeed anywhere on the route except at the crossing of the Severn.”

Unfortunately, he was wrong on two counts. Firstly, there is a probable traiectus across the R. Avon just to the south of Bitton, on RR546, a road which was confirmed in March 2017 as part of the Stanton Drew Environs Aerial Mapping Project (Pastscape, Mon. 1325732 2017). Secondly, Bitton is just over six Roman miles from Bath so where Haverfield got “ten or eleven miles” from is anyone’s guess! Rivet postulated that a settlement at Bitton could have borrowed the name Traiectus from a short ferry or ford across the Avon, which we now know must have existed, so he may have been right. The settlement is poorly understood, but is apparent from the plethora of finds in the area of ST 6820 6940 (Pastscape Mon. 200844, 2017). Partly in an attempt to explain why there is no mention of a traiectus across the Severn, and to make up the five miles that he reasoned needs to be deducted from a stage later on, Rivet also suggested (Rivet & Smith 1979, p.178) that there must be a missing stage of Sabrinae Traiectus (ie Severn Crossing) with a distance of m.p. v, between Venta and Abone. This is hard to comprehend, as there is no space for it in the Iter, Abone being between 14 & 15 Roman miles from Venta, depending on the route across the Severn.

Another possible explanation has been proposed by Anthony Durham (Durham 2018, a&b), who suggests that the second and third lines, the entries for Abone and Traiectus, have been transposed, so that Traiectus is a ferry terminal on the Severn estuary somewhere north east of Avonmouth, and Abone is Bitton, which is on the R.Avon and would therefore fit the name. In theory, this explanation works just as well as the one proposed above, however no such site on the Severn is yet known, and neither is the required road linking it to RR54 somewhere near Sea Mills. Without any known archaeological evidence to support it, this explanation has for the time being to be considered less likely, but cannot be ruled out.

The mileage that Rivet thought needed to be removed is between Verlucione (Sandy Lane) and Cunetione (Mildenhall). The listed distance of twenty miles is more than the measured actual distance of just over eighteen Roman miles (not 17 as stated by Rivet & Smith 1979, p.176), in other words two miles more than it should be. Removing five miles however, as Rivet suggested, would leave the stage three miles short which, even with small town zones, would be just as bad. An explanation for the error is hard to find so it is perhaps best to assume that it was simply an error of measurement and as the sum of the distances matches the given total, leave it as it stands.

The identification of Spinis is dealt with more fully in the account of Iter XIII, but is most likely to be an unlocated settlement in or near Speen, Berkshire. The final stage from Spinis to Calleva, is a mile short, as would be expected if measurement were from the edge of a town zone. It would seem therefore, that apart from the error of 2 miles at Cunetione (Mildenhall), there may not actually be any issues with Iter XIV after all, unless Durham is correct and the second and third lines have been transposed.

Iters XIII and XIV are two alternative routes between Caerleon and Silchester, both previously regarded as having issues.

In Iter XIV,  the mileages add up correctly to the stated 103 miles and all the place-names are generally accepted, although doubt has recently been expressed about Abone and Traiectus (Durham 2018 a & b). The first stage to Caerwent along RR60a is without issues, and from there the route continues east as far as Crick, where a side road branches off (RR60aa) to head down to Sudbrook, where there was a ferry terminal to cross the Severn estuary. The port of Abone (or Abona), on the other side of the Severn, is almost certainly Sea Mills, on the edge of modern Bristol, about four miles up the R. Avon from its confluence with the Severn estuary. Its name is borrowed, like so many Roman names, from the adjacent river, in this case the R. Avon. The journey may have been entirely by ferry to Abone (Sea Mills), or as Rivet & Smith assume, part ferry and part road (Rivet and Smith, 1979, p.177). Either way, the journey from Venta to Abone is just over 14 miles, possibly a little further to navigate around possible obstructions in the estuary, so this fits the distance given perfectly.

Entry written and compiled by Mike Haken, last revised: 18 April 2018