Group 12: The West Midlands, North Wales, Cheshire and The Peak

Group 12a: The West Midlands, North Wales, Chester and The Peak







Vtriconion Cornouiorum




Forden Gaer



Caer Gai?














Deua uictris












After dealing with Kent, the Cosmographer jumps back to the west, beginning with an obscure name, perhaps to be read *Brunauis (Richmond & Crawford 1949, 26). Dillemann (1979, 67) followed by Rivet and Smith (1979, 346) connected this name with Durobriuis, Rochester, probably wrongly as this has just been named more-or-less correctly at 10637. It may instead be linked with Alauna, Alcester, Warwickshire (Rivet & Smith 1979, 244 in preference to Richmond & Crawford 1949, 22 who identify it as Alchester, Oxfordshire) rather than *Tamesis, the Thames, in which case it could well be the small town of Chesterton-on-Fosse. The third name is clearly Viroconium Cornouiorum, Wroxeter; this is the only example in the sources with the correct tribal epithet, as the Antonine Itinerary Iter XII mangles the name into <Viroconiorum> (for Virocon[io Cornou]iorum).

The identification of *Leuobrinta, which follows, is open to question, although Forden Gaer, with which both Richmond and Crawford (1949, 37) and Rivet and Smith (1979, 391) identify it, is probable. Dillemann (1979, 68) suggests that Mediolano, Whitchurch, is named twice in error; after the first naming, the Cosmographer jumped to Segontio, Caernarfon, and Canouio, Caerhun. Rivet and Smith (1979, 415) accept this suggestion. The name Mediolano is certainly fixed to Whitchurch by the Antonine Itinerary Iter II, but it is by no means certain that it is the same place as the Μεδιολανιον of Ptolemy (Geography II.3,11). This he ascribes to the Ordovices of Gwynedd. Rivet and Smith (1979, 121) dismiss his attribution of πολεις to individual tribes as occurring “merely by reference to their administrative centres” and suggest that the names on the map “attracted to themselves all the places in their area when the coordinates were read off.” It must be said, however, that there is no instance in Ptolemy where this can be shown conclusively.

Indeed, the examples cited by Rivet and Smith are open to other interpretations. Σαλιναι among the Catuvellauni is not necessarily Droitwich, as it could have lain in the Spalding region; it is not relevant to criticise Ptolemy for ascribing ‘Υδατα Θερμα, Bath, to the Belgae rather than the Dobunni on the grounds that the pre-Roman coinage of the latter shows the spa to have lain within their territory as they themselves recognise that “the British Civitas Belgarum was an artificial creation of the Roman government” (Rivet & Smith 1979, 267). That Ptolemy places Mediolanion two hundred miles from London when Whitchurch is only one hundred and sixty miles away suggests that we should seek a site farther west, indeed in the heartland of Ordovician territory. It is likely, then, that Richmond and Crawford (1949, 40) were right to take Mediomano as a separate name, although their identification cannot stand. A possible identification which suits Ptolemy’s implied distances from both London and Chester is Caer Gai, a site on flat ground in otherwise mountainous country: the name *Mediolano means ‘in the middle of the flat ground’ (cp. Rivet & Smith 1979, 416).

The name which intrudes between the second Mediolano, which surely is Whitchurch, and Deua, Chester, has been connected with the Bouio, Grafton (Waddelove & Waddelove 1984, 257), of the Antonine Itinerary Iter II by Dillemann (1979, 68). More startling, Rivet and Smith (1979, 415) see it as an incorrect emendation by the Cosmographer, based on the Gaulish Mediolanum Santonum. This last suggestion (which Rivet and Smith call “quite plain”) can be seen to be extremely fanciful when it is recalled that the Cosmographer was so bewildered by the names in front of him that he did not even recognise place-names from his own native north Italy which ought to have been familiar to him (Rivet & Smith 1979, 187). It is more likely that the name of a place to the east, probably Holditch, written to the west of the symbol on the map and misread as referring to a place on the Whitchurch-Chester road; the name may be *Santonio, ‘place on the flowing river’ or, if a connection with the nearby River Trent is accepted, *(Tri)santonio, ‘place on the Trent’. Deua *Victrix is given one of the epithets of its Legion, XX Valeria Victrix.

Beyond Chester, the ordering of names on the road eastward to the Peak District is slightly confused. There is no need to identify the Veratino of the Cosmography with the Vernemeto of the Antonine Itinerary as Rivet and Smith (1979, 495) have done, quoting a manuscript variant of the Itinerary, which is irrelevant as there is no evidence that the Cosmographer or any of his sources used or even knew the Itinerary (Rivet & Smith 1979, 191). The form given here is perfectly acceptable in British Celtic and would suit an identification with Rocester in the ordering of names (Richmond & Crawford 1949, 48). *Lutudarum is known epigraphically as the centre of the lead-mining industry of Derbyshire (Todd 1991, 19), and is perhaps to be identified with the fort at Crich; *Deruentione is clearly a site on the River Derwent, almost certainly the small town at Littlechester, Derby (Richmond & Crawford 1949, 31).

Group 12b: the Cheshire salt towns







Having returned to Chester (which is not again named), the Cosmographer lists two places not previously mentioned before returning to the east. Condate is known from the Antonine Itinerary Itinera II and X to have been at Northwich, so Salinis must either be the salt-works at Middlewich (as is usually assumed) or the lesser-known but possibly earlier settlement at Nantwich.