AttestedTraiectus on iter 14 of the Antonine Itinerary

Where:  A ferry embarcation point on the English side of the river Severn, somewhere near the end of the modern M4 bridge, perhaps up a former small creek that has silted up somewhere around the site of Seabank Power Station.  Old Ordnance Survey maps show “Roman Road” heading along a County and Parliamentary Boundary heading straight for Holesmouth Junction railway signalling box, where modern maps show Stup Pill.  That puts the likely embarcation point somewhere near ST530817.

Name origin:  Latin trajectus ‘crossing’ is well known for ferry crossings elsewhere in the Roman Empire, which contributed to the modern names Utrecht and Maastricht, plus probably a Domesday place name Tric, near Skegness, Lincolnshire.

Notes:  The beginning of iter 14 has long been a puzzle: it reads Venta Silurum – 14 – Abone – 8 – Traiectus – 6 – Aquis Sulis.  The first and last points can be confidently assigned to Caerwent and Bath, while the second-to-last site must be at or near Bitton, which is exactly 6 Roman miles by road from Bath.  The difficulty can best be resolved by transposing two lines, so that it should read Venta Silurum – 8 – Traiectus – 14 – Abone – 6 – Aquis Sulis.  Presumably a parenthetical or marginal note saying something like “mileage includes ferry trip” confused a manuscript copyist who did not know the area.  The ferry probably departed on the Welsh side from the head of a creek at Portskewett (probably Iupania) and if it continued in a straight line towards Bristol it would have reached the English side of the Severn at approximately the right distance.  Presumably Roman soldiers would have found rowing a boat (under a captain who understood the fierce tides of the Severn) a pleasant change from footslogging.  This analysis upsets people who still cling to the idea that Abona, was at Sea Mills, the sea port for Bristol, whereas it is far more likely to have been at Bitton.

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Last edited 1 February 2022     to main Menu