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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

In a similar way to Iter I, Iter II starts from an outpost fort (Birrens) some 25 miles along the road north of the wall, although in this case the heading does state that the route starts from the wall. The explanation is probably the same, in that the wall was used as an indicator of a frontier zone, rather than a linear boundary. As a route, it is like so many of itineraries, in that it is far from direct - if you wanted to get to Richborough from Birrens you do not need to go anywhere near the legionary fortresses of York or Chester, or the town of Wroxeter, yet it goes through all three and adds many days’ travel time as a result.

The stated total distance is given as 481 miles, and yet the figures add up to 502, even more when adding in the missing stage before Manchester. Some of the distances for the stages, as with Iter I, are clearly wrong, although two are easy to resolve. In the Bowes to Catterick stage an “x” has been transcribed as a “v”, leaving the distance five miles short, and from Bovio to Whitchurch the reverse has happened, leaving the distance five miles too much. This does however, leave two major problems in other areas.

The first major issue is between Tadcaster and Manchester, recorded as 38 miles in the Itinerary but in reality is at least 55 Roman miles. The obvious explanation is that a stage is missing, and Richmond and Crawford proposed that this must be Camelodunum, known to be in the vicinity thanks to Ptolemy (Richmond & Crawford, 1949, p. 43). They suggested that because Cambodunum (location unknown) and the supposed following stage Camelodunum were so similar, a scribe could easily have assumed that the latter was a repetition, and leave it out. They further suggested that the distance to Manchester, xviii in the manuscript, should have read xxiii, another instance of an “x” being misread as a “v”. This placed Camelodunum firmly at Slack. Rivet & Smith took this a little further, and proposed that the distance which should have been next to Cambodunum was also omitted, so that the “m.p. xx” that should have been next to Camulodunum, became next to Cambodunum instead. In other words, rather than look for Cambodunum twenty miles from Tadcaster, we should be looking twenty miles from the fort at Slack, Huddersfield.

The main road (RR712) between York and Manchester has always been assumed to run through the centre of Leeds, and based upon a few stray finds and the supposed discovery of a Roman ford (Faull 1981 p.162), Leeds, and in particular the long destroyed earthwork at Wall Flats became the focus of attention for Cambodunum. Rivet misquoted Bede (Rivet & Smith 1979, p. 159) as placing “Cambodono in regione quae vocatur Loidis” in the region of Leeds to back up this claim, whereas Bede’s text actually reads


References:


Itinerary Text


Itinerary Distance


Modern name

Actual Roman Miles

Error

Margary Route No.

Comment


Item a vallo ad portum Ritupis m.p. CCCCLXXXI sic (also from the wall to the port of Richborough, 481 miles, thus)


a Blatobulgio




Birrens






Castra Exploratorum


m.p. xii


Netherby

14

-2

7f



Luguvallo


m.p. xii


Carlisle

11

1

7f



Voreda


m.p. xiii


Old Penrith

14

-1

7e



Brovonacis


m.p. xiii


Kirkby Thore

14

-1

82



Verteris


m.p. xiii


Brough

13

0

82



Lavatris


m.p. xiiii


Bowes

14

0

82



Catarac tone


m.p. xvi


Catterick

21

-5

82

m.p. xvi should read m.p. xxi


Isuriam


m.p. xxiiii


Aldborough

25

-1

8b



Eburacum


m.p. xvii


York

17

0

8a



Calcaria


m.p. viiii


Tadcaster

10

-1

28c



Camboduno


m.p. xx


Adel or Leeds?

15 or 14

5

72b

m.p. xx should read xv


<Camuloduno??>


<m.p. xx>


Slack?

21 or 19.4


712

Stage missing from text


Mamucio


m.p. xviii


Manchester

23

-5

712

m.p. xviii should be m.p.xxiii


Condate


m.p. xviii


Northwich

21

-3

7a



Deva leg. XX Vici


m.p. xx


Chester

20

0

7a



Bovio


m.p. x


Grafton

11

-1

6a



Medialano


m.p. xx


Whitchurch

10

10

6a

m.p. xx should read m.p. x


Rutunio


m.p. xii


Harcourt Mill

11

1

6a



Uriconio


m.p. xi


Wroxeter

11

0

6a



Uxacona


m.p. xi


Red Hill

11

0

1h



Pennocrucio


m.p. xii


Water Eaton

12

0

1h



Etoceto


m.p. xii


Wall

14

-2

1h



Manduesedo


m.p. xvi


Mancetter

16

0

1g



Venonis


m.p. xii


High Cross

11

1

1g



Bannaventa


m.p. xvii


Whilton Lodge

19

-2

1f



Lactodoro


m.p. xii


Towcester

12

0

1f



Magiovinto


m.p. xvii


Dropshort

15

2

1e



Durocobrivis


m.p. xii


Dunstable

12

0

1e



Verolamio


m.p. xii


St. Albans

13

-1

1e



Sulloniacis


m.p. viiii


Brockley Hill

9

0

1d



Londinio


m.p. xii


London

13

-1

1d



Noviomago


m.p. x


Crayford

13

-3

1c



Vagniacis


m.p. xviiii


Springhead

8

11

1c

should read m.p.viii


Durobrovis


m.p. viiii


Rochester

9

0

1c



Durolevo


m.p. xiii


Sittingbourne

12

1

1b



Duroruerno


m.p. xii


Canterbury

16

-4

1b



ad portem Ritupis


m.p. xii


Richborough

13

-1

10



Itinerary total


m.p.dii








Calcaria


viiii


Tadcaster

10

-1



Camboduno


xiv


Adel

14

0

m.p. xiv replaces  m.p. xx


Camuloduno


xx


Slack

21

-1

stage added


Mamucio


xxiii


Manchester

23

0

m.p. xxiii replaces m.p. xviii

The next area of concern on Iter II comes at Bovio, some 10 Roman miles from Chester. It used to be thought that Bovio was Holt. However Holt is some distance off the road (RR 6) and the discovery of a roadside settlement at Grafton, west of Tilston, strongly suggested that this “new” settlement was actually Bovio. Grafton is about 11 Roman miles along RR6 from Chester, which fits well enough with the stated ten miles. From Grafton, the next staging point is Mediolano, ie Whitchurch, given as 20 miles but it is actually only just under ten miles. Clearly an extra “x” has been added during copying. Rutunio, the next staging point, is from its name presumably a site near the river Roden, but the location is not known with any certainty. Its traditional identification is a site which has yielded a few sparse Roman finds at Harcourt Mill (Rivet & Smith 1979, p160), but is only eleven Roman miles from Whitchurch, one short of the recorded xii m.p. of the Itinerary. A site at Moreton Corbet (SJ 55532325) has also been suggested but with only limited evidence from aerial photographs, though that site fits the distance better. From here, all placenames are known as far as London, and the itinerary agrees reasonably well with the actual distances on the ground.

South east of London the route would appear to now follow RR1, as do Iters III and IV  and a route shown on the Peutinger table. Because of the relationships between the three itineraries and their interpretation, the route is discussed fully on the page for Itinera III & IV. It is sufficient to say that the discrepencies in distances can all be explained by Town zones around London & Canterbury, and two copying errors. The distance from Noviomago to Vagniasis has somehow acquired an extraneous ‘x’ and ‘i’, making the original viii (eight miles) appear to be nineteen and in addition the distances next to Durolevo and Duraruerno have been transposed. The interpretation by Rivet  of Noviomagus and Duralevo as Crayford and Sittingbourne respectively is confirmed as fitting the distances better than any other proposed alternatives.

The first three corrections to distances, plus the missing stage, have added five miles at Cataractonio, lost five miles at Adel (Cambodunum), added twenty miles at Cameloduno (Slack) and added five miles at Mamucio (Manchester). Ten miles were then deducted at Mediolano (Whitchurch) and eleven miles at Vagniasis (Springhead), having the net effect of adding four miles to the sum of the stages, so it now totals 506 miles. It is difficult to see how the resulting dvi could have ever been mis-copied as the cccclxxxi, although there is a logical and very simple explanation. It is highly unlikely that all the errors happened at once, and it is suggested here that the last two, at Mediolano and Vagniacis, occurred later than all the others. After the errors as far as Manchester had occurred, the sum of the stages would have been 25 miles less than the original document, which is 506-25=481, the same as the cccclxxxi that was given as the total distance on the surviving medieval copies. At some point, at least two stages of copying before that when the source manuscript of the surviving copies was created, a scribe had realised that the given total of dvi did not match the sum of the stages, and not knowing where the errors had occurred he simply altered the given total to match the sum, cccclxxxi, and it remained the same even after the errors at Whitchurch and Springhead occurred.

Bede; Historia Ecclesiastica; in Sellar, A. M. (1907), Bede's Ecclesiastical History of England; A Revised Translation With Introduction, Life, and Notes; George Bell & Sons, London. Available at https://www.gutenberg.org/files/38326/38326-h/38326-h.html#toc109  accessed 18/4/18

Faull, M (1981); Leeds and Cambodunum in Moorhouse, A. & Faull, M. (Eds), West Yorkshire and Archaeological Survey Vol. 1, West Yorkshire Metropolitan County Council, Wakefield pp. 157-162

Foreman, K (1965);  in Ramm, H. G. (Ed.), Yorkshire Archaeological Register , YAJ vol 41, Leeds, p.331

Haken, M. (2012); Cambodunum – a re-appraisal, Roman Yorkshire 2, pp. 8–15

Richmond, I.A., and Crawford, O.G.S. (1949): The British section of the Ravenna Cosmography; Archaeologia 93, pp. 1–50

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

Wilson, Pete (2016); The Roman Period Name for Adel; Britannia vol 47, pp. 280-285

Entry written and compiled by Mike Haken, last updated: 19 April 2018    

  Unfortunately for Leeds, it is only 18.6 Roman miles from Slack, and not the 20 miles stated by Rivet & Smith (Rivet & Smith 1979, p. 159) so it seems unlikely. It is important to note that whilst RR712 has been assumed to go through the centre of Leeds, the road has never actually been found over the near twenty eight miles from Thorner, where the road supposedly leaves RR29, to the area just north of Huddersfield, where it has recently been observed on lidar imagery (see RR712 in this gazetteer). Not only that, but no Roman site is known along that stretch. This passage pretty much rules out any chance of Cambodunum being Slack as has been claimed by many writers over the years, as there is no evidence or likelihood of there having been a “villa regia” at the windswept and inhospitable site of Slack, right on the southern edge of Elmet. However, there is another intriguing possibility. What if the road, or at least that followed by the itinerary, did not go through Leeds at all, but branched off the Ilkley to Tadcaster road (RR72b) at the known Roman settlement near Adel, north of Leeds, and that Adel is Cambodunum (Wilson, 2016 p.284 & Haken 2012)? Adel is 14.6 Roman miles from Tadcaster, and would be about 21.5 Roman miles from Slack along the likeliest route. This might at first seem a stretch, but actually there is more evidence for this theory than there is for the route through Leeds. Not only do we have a known settlement of clear local importance, in the right place, but there is also a double ditched feature just south of the Adel settlement which appears to be a Roman road heading SSW, not yet investigated (see RR72b in this gazetteer).

It is therefore suggested that this section of the original itinerary read.

“Attamen in Capodono, ubi tunc etiam villa regia erat, fecit basilicam, quam postmodum pagani, a quibis Eduini rex occisus est, cum tota easem villa seccenderunt; pro qua reges posteroires fecere sibi villam in regione quae vocatur Loidis”

But in Campodonum, where there was then a royal township, he (Saint Paulinus) built a church which the pagans, by whom King Edwin was slain, afterwards burnt, together with all the place. Instead of this royal seat the later kings built themselves a township in the country called Loidis.

Bede, Historia Ecclesiastica, Book II, chapter XIV