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The Antonine Itinerary (Latin: Antonini Itinerarium) is a register of the stations and distances along the various roads of the Roman empire, containing directions how to get from one Roman settlement to another. According to the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, the Antonini Itinerarium is seemingly based on official documents, probably of the survey organized by Julius Caesar, and carried out under Augustus. Due to the scarcity of other extant sources of this information, it is a very valuable source. Nothing is known with certainty as to the date or author. It is considered probable that the date of the original edition was the beginning of the 3rd century, while that which we possess is to be assigned to the time of Diocletian. Although traditionally ascribed to the patronage of Antoninus Augustus, if the author or promoter of the work is one of the emperors, it is most likely to be Antoninus Caracalla.[1]

Iter Britanniarum

The British section is known as the Iter Britanniarum, and can be described as the 'Road Map' of Roman Britain. There are 15 such itineraries in the document.

The itinerary measures distances in Roman miles, where 1,000 Roman paces equals one Roman mile. A Roman pace was two steps, left plus right. Roman paces were not everywhere the same, and conversion to modern units is imprecise, but 1 Roman mile approximately equals 4,690 feet, or 0.888 mi (1.429 km).

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Examples

Below is the original Latin for route 13[2] followed by a translation with a possible (but not necessarily authoritative) name for the modern site.[3] A transcriber omitted an entry, so that the total number of paces does not equal the sum of paces between locations.

Iter XIII (Itinerary 13)
Item ab Isca Calleva mpm cviiii sic A route from Isca Silurum to Calleva Atrebatum 109,000 paces thus
Burrio mpm viii Usk, Gwent, 8,000 paces
Blestio mpm xi Monmouth, Gwent 11,000 paces
Ariconio mpm xi Bury Hill, Weston under Penyard, Herefordshire 11,000 paces
Clevo mpm xv Gloucester, Glocestershire 15,000 paces
(no entry) perhaps Corinium Dobunnorum at modern Cirencester, Gloustershire
Durocornovio mpm xiiii perhaps Wanborough, Wiltshire 14,000 paces
Spinis mpm xv Speen, Berkshire 15,000 paces
Calleva mpm xv Silchester, Hampshire 15,000 paces

Below is the original Latin for route 14[4] followed by a translation with a possible (but not necessarily authoritative) name for the modern site.[5]

Iter XIV (Itinerary 14)
Item alio itinere ab Isca Calleva mpm ciii sic An alternate route from Isca Silurum to Calleva Atrebatum 103,000 paces thus
Venta Silurum mpm viiii Caerwent, Monmouthshire 9,000 paces
Abone mpm xiiii Sea Mills, Gloucestershire 14,000 paces
Traiectus mpm viiii perhaps Bitton, near Willsbridge, Gloucestershire 9,000 paces
Aquis Solis mpm vi Bath, Somerset 6,000 paces
Verlucione mpm xv Sandy Lane, Wiltshire 15,000 paces
Cunetione mpm xx Mildenhall, Wiltshire 20,000 paces
Spinis mpm xv Speen, Berkshire 15,000 paces
Calleva mpm xv Silchester, Hampshire 15,000 paces

A confounding factor

De Situ Britanniae (made available ca. 1749, published 1757) was a forgery that provided much spurious information on Roman Britain, including "itineraries" that overlapped the legitimate Antonine Itineraries, sometimes with contradicting information. Its authenticity was not seriously challenged until 1845, and it was still an authority up to the late nineteenth century. By then, its false information had infected almost every telling of ancient British history, even working its way into the Ordnance Survey maps,[6] as General Roy and his successors believed it to be a legitimate source of information, on a par with the Antonine Itineraries. While it was no longer cited when its authenticity became indefensible, it was also not systematically rooted out of past and present works.

Fortunately, some authors such as Reynolds, while never challenging the authenticity of the forgery, nevertheless took care to note its discrepancies and challenge the quality of its information.[7][8] This was not always so, even after the forgery was debunked.

See also

Citations

  1. ^ Chisholm 1910:148 Antonini Itinerarium
  2. ^ Parthey 1848:232-33 in Britannia
  3. ^ Codrington 1918 In Roman Roads in Britain
  4. ^ Parthey 1848:233 in Britannia
  5. ^ Codrington 1918 In Roman Roads in Britain
  6. ^ Redmonds, George (2004), Names and History: People, Places and Things, Hambledon & London, pp. 65–68, ISBN 185285426X   A Major Place-Name Ignored
  7. ^ Reynolds 1799 Iter Britanniarum
  8. ^ Dyer 1816 Vulgar Errors, Ancient and Modern

Bibliography

External links


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