Antonine Iter XV

The first two columns of the table below show route Iter XV in the Antonine Itinerary.

The Roads of Roman Britain, Iter XV, Mike Haken, CC 2.0.

Based on the interpretations of the placenames as given in column three, it appears to be the most corrupted of the routes. For example, the total distance is said to be 136 (cxxxvi) miles whereas the distances between the modern places names add up to 126. However, with the addition of three stations, shown in red in the table below, the distances in the document can no longer be considered as largely erroneous bearing in mind that they are rounded to the nearest Roman mile.

Iter XV Roman miles
Statute miles Location Location distance
Calleva Silchester
Vindomi 15 13.8 Egbury Castle 14.1 -0.3
unknown name 3 2.8 Devil’s Ditch 3.2 -0.4
Venta Velgarum 21 19.3 Old Sarum 18.9 0.4
Brige 11 10.1 Bokerley Ditch 10.6 -0.5
unknown name 4 3.7 Cursus 3.2 0.5
Sorbiodoni 8 7.4 Badbury Rings 7.8 -0.4
Vindocladia 12 11.0 Weatherby Castle 11.2 -0.2
Durnonovaria 8 7.4 Dorchester 8 -0.7
Muriduno 36 33.1 Seaton 32 1.1
unknown name 8 7.4 Sidford 7.0 0.4
Isca Dumnoniorum 15 13.8 Exeter 14 -0.2

Col. 1: Itinerary name.
Col. 2: Itinerary distance in Roman miles given in Hindu-Arabic numerals.
Col. 3: Itinerary distance converted into statute miles.
Col. 4: Modern name for the suggested location.
Col. 5: Distance to the suggested location in statute miles.
Col. 6: Discrepancy between the itinerary and location distances in statute miles.

Note, the distance from Silchester to Exeter is now 141 (cxxxxi) Roman miles. This would suggest that the AI cxxxvi was the result of the final x being misread as a v. A major reinterpretation is of Venta Velgarum being identified with Salisbury instead of Winchester. Sorbiodoni is Badbury Rings, the site of the battle of Badon, see Badbury Rings. The name possibly is a derivation of Caer Vadon. Vindocladia’s identification with Weatherby Castle gains support from its description on Pastscape:

“The earthwork remains of Weatherby Castle, a small multivallate hillfort comprising two roughly concentric ramparts and ditches, which enclose an irregular area on the highest part of a chalk spur.”

3.1 statute miles from Weatherby Castle is Winterborne Whitechurch a name which seems to contain the component Vindo-. Muriduno is located at Sidford with the nearby harbour at the mouth of the River Sid.

The Tyrrhenian sea

Tyrrhenian sea.

Our understanding of the name of this sea is that it is an area of the Mediterranean enclosed by the Italian peninsula and the islands of Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica. However, its use in the Historia Brittonum suggests a different body of water.

HB 15:
“He was expelled and wandered through Africa for 42 years and came to the Altars of the Philistines, past the Salt Lake and through Rusicade to the Mountains of Azaria and by the River Malva and through Mauretania to the pillars of Hercules, and sailed over the Tyrrhenian Sea and came to Spain, and there they lived for many years, and grew and multiplied exceedingly.”

This is a reference to the wanderings of a Scythian nobleman who had been expelled by the Egyptians for not having pursued the Israelites when they crossed the Red sea. His forces were intact whereas theirs were not and so the Egyptians feared he may exploit the situation. This chapter deals with the eventual colonisation of Ireland. The ‘ad Hispaniam’ of the text is an error for ‘ad Hiberniam’. The document suggests the Tyrrhenian Sea sea lay outside the Mediterranean.This chapter continues thus:

“After they had come to Spain and 1002 years after the Egyptians had been drowned in the Red Sea, they came to the lands of Darieta, at the time when Brutus was ruling amongst the Romans, with whom the consuls began, and then the Tribunes and the Plebs and the Dictators. The consuls, however, held the state for 447 years, which had previously suffered the rule of kings.”

Although the above translation of ‘Hibernia’ is given as ‘Spain’, it should have been ‘Ireland’ as was done in the first sentence of this chapter:

“If anyone wants to know when Ireland was inhabited and when it was deserted, this is what the chroniclers of the Gaels have told me.”

The territory called Darieta takes alternative forms in different versions of the Historia Brittonum:
C,D and L: dalrieta
G: dalriata
Q: dalricta
P: dalriete
This is clearly a reference to Dalriada, that is the Gaelic kingdom of Dál Riata. This would suggest the Tyrrhenian Sea is what is now known as the Irish sea, the body of water between Ireland and Britain. The fact that is surrounded by land masses may provide a basis for the name, for although it was called ‘Tyrrenum’ in the quoted version, other transcriptions had:
H, Mb: terrenum
Ma: terrenam[1]
L. Terrenus (adj.) means ‘earthly’.
This stretch of water is referred to again in HB 19:

“Then Julius Caesar, who had been the first to receive and hold sole power, was extremely angry and came to Britain with sixty keels and made land in the Thames estuary, where his ships suffered shipwreck, while he was fighting with Dolabella, who was Proconsul to the British king whose name was Belinus son of Minocan, who occupied all the islands of the Tyrrhenian Sea, and Julius returned without victory, his soldiers killed and his ships wrecked.”

The islands referred to as being ruled by Beli Mawr would have included the Isle of Man and some off the coast of Britain. The description of the Irish sea as surrounded by areas of land occurs at the end of HG 5:

“… ipse est uero olitauc dimor meton uenditus est.”
“He is in fact from Llydaw. He was sold to [the lands of] the Middle sea.”

This reference to Confer, the earliest name in that list of the rulers of Ystrad Clud, that is Strathclyde, in that list. OW meton gave MW mewn which can mean ‘(partly) enclosed by’, a fitting description for the Irish sea. Note, MW for the Mediterranean sea was Y Mor Canol.[2]

[1] Mommsen, T., 1898, 157.
[2] Evans, N., 2008, 28 n. 99.

Y Gogledd

The term Y Ogledd, the North, is taken to cover N. England and S. Scotland. The document BGG has a number of pedigrees unrelated to these areas. The obvious instance is the last one which includes Amlawdd Wledig. However, there are others like the one for Rhydderch Hael and Elffin and, therefore, I believe the term would have covered places like Gwynedd. It is claimed that the Welsh took stories from N. Britain and transferred them into Wales. This conjecture is incorrect as Y Gogledd would have included N. Wales.