Itinerary VII

Chichester to London

Roman place-name Roman Miles English Miles Modern place-names Margary route number
Item a Regno Londinio m.p. sic. XCVI 97.5 From Chichester to London 421
Clausentum XX [see below] Bitterne 42b
Venta Belgarum X [see below] Winchester 42a
Calleva Atrebatum XXII 22.5 Silchester 4a
Pontibus XXII 25.5 Staines 4a
Londinio XXII 19 London 4a

Notes
Although a direct route exists from Chichester to London (Margary route 15), this Itinerary takes us around the houses. Instead of heading north towards London, we first are pointed towards Bitterne, then we go north to Winchester, then we go north-east to Silchester, then eastwards to Staines, and finally London.

We have a few problems with distances given. Chichester to Clausentum is 30 modern miles, not 20 miles, so there may be an ‘X’ missed from the entry. Secondly, then distance from Bitterne to Winchester is given as X (ten) miles – a little too short, again. It would be more like 12 Roman miles.

To solve this riddle we can modify these entries in the Iter in two ways. Firstly we modify the distances to fit the locations:

Clausentum XXX 30 Bitterne 42b
Venta Belgarum XII 12 Winchester 42a

Or, we can amend the locations to fit the distances given:

Clausentum XX 20 Wickham 421
Venta Belgarum X 10 Winchester 420

This option allows the mileages to work as inscribed in the Itinerary, but we have to modify the location of Clausentum, and make it Wickham instead (ten miles to the west of Chichester). Roman remains have been found here, and two Roman roads go through it. Also the name, according to Gelling(1), signifies a Roman Vicus, or station. But which of these locations was on the route of the Iter? Bitterne definitely has the remains of substantial walls, and several milestones with inscriptions have been found.

Margary debates this on page 86 of Volume 1:

…if road 421 were only followed to Wickham and then 420 direct to Winchester (as seems more likely), then the total mileage is only 30 1/2, in close agreement with the Antonine distance, although Clausentium itself would then be avoided. Perhaps there was some confusion in the compiler’s mind between the two routes.

Regarding the Roads
If Clausentum is Bitterne then the Iter takes us from Chichester to Bitterne on Margary 421 whereas if Wickham is meant to Clausentum then road 428 can be used which is a well made road, very straight, and goes straight to Winchester and cuts out the detour to Bitterne. After this both options follow 42a to Silchester, then the Devil’s Highway, 4a, to London via Staines.

(1)Margaret Gelling, Signposts to the Past, BCA, London, 1978, pp.67-74

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