The Norman church (1)

The one detail about Tickenham church which was impressed upon us as schoolchildren as being Very Important, and which we were taken in a party to examine, was the “Norman arch”. The chancel is considered to be the oldest part of the existing building and the arch leading from the nave into the chancel is dated to around the year 1100 AD; which, it will not pass unremarked, was not very long after the Conquest of 1066.

Late Victorian photograph of the interior of Tickenham church with the chancel arch (our family pew on the extreme right, three rows back)

At the time of the Conquest, Tickenham consisted of two separate manors. The Domesday Book records that in 1066 the lords of the larger manor (the land around Tickenham Court) were Saewulf and Theodulf. More precisely, they had been lords Tempore Regis Edwardi – in the time of Edward the Confessor. For the Normans, Edward was the last English king, Harold having been no more than an opportunist usurper, and so expunged from the records. By 1086, William, Count of Eu, is tenant-in-chief, that is, he held the manor directly from King William I.

So what is known about William II of Eu? He held about 78 manors in 1086, mainly scattered around Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Somerset and Dorset as well as a number in what is now Hertfordshire. His personal association with Tickenham was therefore unlikely to have been a close one. King William I died in 1087 to be succeeded by his son, William II, Rufus. The following year, Count William of Eu was one of a group of rebels plotting against the new king and later, in 1097, he was again part of a conspiracy, this time to murder the king and set his cousin, Stephen, Count of Aumale, on the throne.

William Rufus holding an arrow, symbolising his death in 1100 while hunting in the New Forest

It failed. The Normans had particularly harsh judicial punishments, and when William of Eu was defeated in a trial by combat for treason, he was sentenced to blinding and  castration. One might presume that in those circumstances the tenant-in-chief and lord of the manor of Tickenham was rather too occupied to be closely involved with the building of a new church at around the turn of that century – or anything else relating to a scattered West Country village, other than receiving revenues.

The following details are mainly from Collections for a Parochial History of Tickenham, by a former rector of the parish, Joseph Byrchmore. This was published in 1895, with a note from the author that begs indulgence for ‘this, his first attempt at making collections for a Parochial History’. The text is not always very explicit and not all details have references:

In the intervening 20 years from 1066, when the manor was held by Saewulf and Teodulf, and 1086 when William of Eu was tenant-in chief, it appears that it passed to a thane or ‘teignus regis Edwardi’ called ‘Alestan, sometimes called Boscumbe’. There are 51 places in Domesday associated with this name (‘Alstan of Boscombe’), none closer to Tickenham than Frampton Cotterell and Hinton Blewett and it isn’t at all clear in what circumstances Alestan held the manor of Tickenham. It must have been for a very brief period since he was ‘supplanted’ by Ralph de Limesi senior, the first Norman occupant. Perhaps the distinction is between the tenant-in-chief, the lord, or a mere occupant. It is not made clear what ‘being in possession’ actually means in this context.

And Ralph de Limesi? In Domesday, the name is associated with 44 places in 1086, seven in Somerset as tenant-in-chief, nine as lord, but none of those north of the river Parrett. William of Eu was his heir, so Ralph had in any case relinquished the manor by 1086, when William is recorded as tenant-in-chief. Byrchmore gives no evidence for this and of the father and son both bearing the name of Ralph de Limesi, the senior died after 1093. Not only was William of Eu already in possession of the manor of Tickenham before Ralph senior died, but Ralph II (died c. 1129) seems a more obvious candidate to be his ‘heir’. So far, the Revd Byrchmore’s information seems at best unsubstantiated. It’s not apparent how Ralph’s name, senior or junior, came to be associated with Tickenham. But all this gets mixed up with modern family history where over-eager claims often cloud the truth.

Up to this point, there is no period that fixes the attention as being one of stability for the manor, when church-building might have begun. But what sort of people took the initiative to start building a church in a particular locality? And when did Tickenham gain the importance to have its own church?

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An early church in Tickenham? The Romano-British theory

Was there a Romano-British church in Tickenham, and did the dedication to the two martyrs date in the village from that period? The hypothesis is mentioned in Denys Forrest, The Making of a Manor: the history of Tickenham Court (publ. Tickenham Court Farm Ltd, 1975, pp 3-4; this quotes the Victoria County History of Somerset, Vol. I, a reference which I haven’t yet succeeded in locating. Forrest states: “It has been suggested, notably in the Victoria County History passage already referred to, that such dedications [as Quiricus and Julietta (or Julitta)], whether separate or joint, … could well represent a survival in Somerset of Romano-British or Celtic Christianity.” The parish of Tickenham does not yet appear to have been covered by the VCH and the page reference given seems to refer to the section on Geology, so no further details on that.

The Romano-British period refers to the years after the Roman invasion and conquest, when Britain was part of the Roman Empire and there was a fusion of British and Roman cultures. Some dates:

43 The Claudian invasion and conquest of Britain.

304 Traditional date of the martyrdom of Saint Quiricus and Saint Julietta in Tarsus, in the Roman province of Cilicia (on the Mediterranean coast of what is now Turkey).

Byzantine Greek miniature of the martyrdom of Ss Quiricus and Ioulitta

313 The Edict of Milan, promulgated by the Roman emperors Constantine (the Great) and Licinius, proclaiming religious tolerance throughout the Roman Empire. It ended the persecution of Christians, and ordered all their previously seized meeting places to be returned to them. Christianity shortly after became the official religion of the Roman Empire.

306-337 Reign of the Emperor Constantine the Great, during which time, according to legend, the relics of Quiricus and Julietta were discovered. A monastery was built near Constantinople and a church near Jerusalem, both receiving relics of the saints.

325 The Council of Nicaea (in modern Turkey). This was attended by the bishops of the Roman Empire (though not from Britain) to deliberate on and codify Christian doctrine.

410 The departure of the Roman army from Britain, leaving behind them a Romanised British elite to face the Saxon raids which were already beginning; battles continued through the 5th and 6th centuries.

429 Germanus, Bishop of Auxerre, was sent to Britain to preach against the heretical teachings of Pelagius, reputed to have been a Briton (or from Ireland or Brittany), which was gaining a strong foothold in Britain.

The Romans  certainly had a presence in the neighbourhood of Tickenham, at the Iron Age Cadbury Camp which stands upon the ridge above the church; its use was possibly a look-out post (Archaeology National Trust SW (blog), Cadbury Camp, Tickenham), commanding as it does a view over the Bristol Channel and the surrounding area; some hoards of Roman coins were found nearby.

Christianity was spread in Britain during the 4th century by Roman Christians so theoretically there might have been a Romano-British ‘church’, dedicated to two ‘Roman martyrs’ in Tickenham, a far-flung part of the Roman Empire. A few such churches dating from the Roman occupation have been tentatively identified in larger urban centres like Colchester (Camulodunum), Silchester (Calleva Atrebatum), Gloucester (Glevum) and Lincoln (Lindum Colonia), but evidence of rural churches is slight and the likelihood that there was one in Tickenham is negligible (“There is not a single building of Roman date that can unequivocally be identified as a Christian church, although there are around a dozen structures that have a greater or lesser degree of circumstantial evidence”, David Petts, ‘Christianity in Roman Britain’, The Oxford Handbook of Roman Britain, OUP, pp.660-81).

News of these 4th-c. martyrdoms in Cilicia would have had only a very brief window to arrive in Roman Britain before the Romans withdrew, in the face of the barbarian advance in Europe, at the very beginning of the 5th c.; but one intriguing fact concerns the visit to Britain of Germanus, Bishop of Auxerre in 429, sent by the Pope to counter the spread of the Pelagian heresy (some traditions say that Pelagius himself came from Britain). Germanus was, reportedly, at least partially successful in his task, and he possibly visited Britain a second time  c. 440 when the land was still Romanised.

But the main interest of Germanus – afterwards St Germanus – is not his battle against Pelagianism, but that his immediate predecessor as Bishop of Auxerre (from 388 to 418), and his early mentor, was St Amator.  It was St Amator who brought reputed relics of Quiricus and Julietta (Cyricus and Iulitta) to Auxerre from Antioch, as a consequence of which the two saints became very widely venerated throughout France. Intriguing because St Germanus, if anyone, would have been unusually familiar with the fame of the two saints. However, the fact that he came to Britain is rather thin evidence that he might have passed on the news to someone connected with Tickenham. Coincidence that it was Germanus of Auxerre who came to Britain, but … likelihood of a Romano-British church dedicated to St Quiricus and St Julietta in Tickenham: 1/10 (nothing’s impossible).

I’m going to dispose of the possibility of an early Anglo-Saxon church on the site rather more quickly that I might have done, in spite of the quantity of irrelevant material I’ve dug out. I will simply say: of course the invader Anglo-Saxons were converted to Christianity before long and there were a number of churches built in England in Saxon times. But Saxon stonework is distinctive, for example with ‘pilaster strips’ – long vertical stones which alternate with flat ones – and herringbone patterns, and is easily identified: Tickenham church shows no such signs. It may be that there was such a church, but there is no surviving evidence of it. Would it have been dedicated to the two martyrs of Tarsus? and would an early dedication to Quiricus and Julietta have outlived all sign of a church and been transferred to the later church? Likelihood, perhaps 2/10: not IM-possible.

So that’s Romano-Britain and Saxon Britain wrapped up. On to the Middle Ages next time.

Long time, no blog

The reason for this (i.e. no blog), or one of the reasons, is that I’ve been casting around unsuccessfully for another subject touching on Old Somerset. One thing I did quite a lot of work on ended up being quite a lot of work but it didn’t turn up a question I’d be likely to be able to solve. Not that I solved any of the others either, but at least I thought I might be able to when I first started.

The subject was the parish church in Tickenham (where I lived as a child, and where my father and grandparents are buried). It is a Grade I listed building and is dedicated to St Quiricus and St Julietta. I did wonder whether it might be possible, in very general way, to throw some light on how it came to get that very unusual dedication. But now I don’t think it will be possible, so instead I’m going to try to draw together some bits of interesting historical information.

To start with – a personal reminiscence: the story of the two saints, mother and son, was told to all the children who attended the village church school. St Julietta was arrested because she was Christian. When she was brought to be tried before the Roman governor, he took her small son Quiricus, 4 years old, upon his knee.

As she continued to declare that she was a Christian, Julietta faced torture and death. Little Quiricus, upset at his mother treatment, struggled and scratched the governor’s face; whereupon he, in anger, threw the child down on to the floor where his skull was broken and he died at once. Julietta went to her own death, praising God that Quiricus, too, had died a Christian martyr. And they both became saints. That was the story as we children were told it.

In addition, we have the generally accepted details – though the source material is scarce – that the events took place in Tarsus (now in Turkey, then in the Roman province of Cilicia), in the year 304, during the Great Persecution of the Roman emperor Diocletian. They are described as ‘Roman saints’.

St Cyriac Martyr

The forms of both names appear to be unique in this country. A church in Swaffham Prior, Suffolk, is dedicated to St Cyriac and St Julitta (St Cyriacus is usually identified as a different saint; though, coupled with St Julitta here, Cyriac is clearly intended to be the child martyr Quiricus). In other countries in Europe the dedication is not uncommon, but at present there are only five other dedications, all in the south-west:

St Veep, Cornwall: St Cyricus and St Julitta
Luxulyan, Cornwall: St Cyriacus and St Julitta
Newton St Cyres, Devon: St Cyr and St Julitta
Stonehouse, Gloucs: St Cyr
Stinchcombe, Gloucs: St Cyr

It is reported that in 1410 there was  a chapel at Calstock in Cornwall dedicated to St Cyriacus and St Julitta. No other Quiricus, no other Julietta. St Cyriac’s church in Lacock appears to be dedicated to the other saint, as would the church in South Pool, Devon, dedicated to St Nicholas and St Cyriac.

However, it might be interesting to look at these various places to see what aspects can be dated and if there are any common features. Geography seems to be a factor.

A round-up of achievement

This blog has now succeeded in solving a number of historical puzzles to the complete satisfaction of absolutely no-one.

1. Asser’s Arx Cynuit: not Countisbury (scholars), and certainly not the west coast of Devon (romantics). The height of the sheer north Devon cliffs seemed to preclude either landing ships or climbing to reach the supposed encampment at Countisbury; and there is no early evidence of any kind for the area around Appledore, favoured as it is by its local historians – and promoted by antiquarians. More likely than either of these is the area to the east of Countisbury, where there are no cliffs, where there were several, well-attested Viking attacks and where there were richer pickings for lightning raiders. Likelihood 7/10.  However, if the Danes had landed here, might they have chased the thegns for ten miles along the north Devon coast to Countisbury? If so, one thing that could support Countisbury is the very fact that the camp was remote, probably abandoned, and thus a refuge of last resort and a good place to besiege trapped enemies.   (A hypothesis that the arx itself might have been at Watersmeet was ‘proposed, considered and finally rejected’.)

2. Ptolemy’s Iscalis: not Charterhouse-on-Mendip (scholars), the centre of the Roman lead-mining industry, but somewhere to the south west, near the mouth of the river Parrett – a noteably watery region – where there are plentiful signs of Roman settlement and a salt-mining industry. It is conveniently placed with Roman ports at Combwich and Crandon Bridge. All that’s missing is any sign of a town comparable in size to Charterhouse, though much is possibly hidden beneath the M5.

The main Roman settlement is underneath the M5 interchange, 2km from the Roman port at Crandon Bridge

There are also signs of early British settlement (the lake village at West Huntspill, for example) which could explain why, according to Ptolemy, it was made a tribal centre in the Roman era. Likelihood 7/10.

3. The Antonine Itinerary’s Traiectus: not Bitton (thus scholars and just about everyone else), but slightly further west in the area south from Willsbridge, over to Keynsham on the other side of the Avon. There are abundant Roman remains at Keynsham and a ‘traiectus’, over the river from the Abona to Aquae Sulis Roman road. A north-south Roman road meeting the east-west road, for which there is slight evidence, would strengthen the case. Likelihood 8/10

4. And, right at the beginning, there was King Alfred’s æstel. The scholars are agreed it was a stick, or pointer, used by Saxon monks to keep their place when reading their manuscripts, to follow the text as they read it; and that the Alfred Jewel and a few similar artefacts were fixed to the top of such æstels. The drawback is that, although such sticks, or pointers, ought to exist, there seems no evidence that they actually did. Where are they mentioned? Where are they depicted in illuminations of monks reading their manuscripts? So, not a reader’s stick or pointer; but an alternative suggestion is that the jewels were fixed to the top of bookmarks, which, as Alfred directed, were to be kept in the bound volumes. The Latin translation indicatorium could as easily indicate a page or opening in the manuscript, rather than the exact place on the page. Likelihood 4/10

Done. So where next?

And the answer is …

First, perhaps, one should review the questions:

Some time ago, there were claims that Traiectus was Aust where, before the first Severn Bridge was built, a car ferry crossed the Severn over to Beachley, a crossing known as the ‘Old Passage’. This was also claimed to be the route by which the Roman legions crossed into Wales (but is this authenticated?). If Aust was Traiectus, it means that the manuscript of the Antonine Itinerary should have read Venta Silurum-Traiectus-Abone, rather than Venta-Abone-Traiectus. And good luck to whoever tried to make sense of the distances between these stations and Aquae Solis.

It would solve the issue of why there appeared to be no mention of the crossing of the Severn but provokes a second query regarding the necessity to go to Abone/Sea Mills at all from Aust if the destination was Silchester via Bath. By what route would the legions have reached Aust and how did travellers get from Aust to Abone? There is no conjectural Roman road between Aust and Abone. Too many problems for it to be Aust.

There was Haverfield’s half suggestion that Traiectus might be Sea Mills and Abone Bitton (Bitton, he said, being quite close to the river Avon, hence Abone), again a reversal of the two stations. At least there would be no problem with the distances between the stations, if they were not also reversed. But Haverfield moved on to propose that the reading should be ‘Abone traiectus’ with another station, X, on the road to Bath. The noun traiectus, recorded mistakenly as a separate station closer to Bath, ‘extruded’ the name of station X.

Well, ‘appen …

But if the Itinerary is accepted as it is, it still leaves the problem of why no mention is made of the crossing of the Severn, but the rest is clearer and the weight of opinion nowadays seems to identify Traiectus, not as Bitton itself, but as somewhere between Willsbridge and Bitton, including the area just across the river – Keynsham.

The evidence would be stronger if there were signs of a north-south road, crossing the Avon at Keynsham. In fact, Stratford Lane, on the northern slope of the Mendips, runs north perhaps from Charterhouse. It was a Roman road disappearing into the recently man-made Chew Valley Lake, with some signs of its contination just north of the lake. For some archaeologists, that is where the road ends, and there are no clear signs that it went further north to Keynsham.

But, intriguingly, the alignment of Stratford Lane is directly to Keynsham. If the road did continue that far, Keynsham-Traiectus would be on the southern bank of the crossing place. That appears to be the route of Margary’s 540, starting at Charterhouse on Mendip and ending on the east-west Roman road near Willsbridge-Bitton; and 541a runs northwards, starting  from near Hanham or Longwell Green. Both 540 and 541a seems to be largely conjectural, however.

Nevertheless, the verdict is … Traiectus was in or around Keynsham.

A bit of a muddle?

And finally … a look at the suggestion in the Victoria County History for Somerset published back in 1906. The sections on Romano-British Somerset, with the corrupt manuscript theory, were apparently written by the distinguished scholar FJ Haverfield. According to this, ‘Traiectus’ was never intended to be taken as a station. Not having an original manuscript in front of me, it’s hard to imagine how the text was laid out:

This is the text of Iter XIV as it appears in GA Parthey’s edition: ‘Another journey from Isca to Calleva’. Iter XIV is 103 Roman miles in length, and the first ‘station stop’, as they say, is Venta Silurum (Caerwent), which is 9 Roman miles from Isca (Caerleon). The next stop, with no mention of the crossing of the Severn, is Abone (generally assumed to be Sea Mills), 14 Roman miles from Caerwent.

As for Traiectus:

“It would at first sight seem natural to identify Traiectus with Bitton and Abone with Seamills. This solution, however, raises serious difficulties. Seamills is indeed not much more than nine miles from Bitton. But Bitton is ten or eleven, not six, Roman miles west of Bath, and no ‘station’ except Bitton exists on this part of the route.”

There seems to be a mistake here: Bitton is certainly not ‘ten or eleven miles’, be they Roman miles or English, from Bath. Even by the slightly meandering modern road (and we cannot be certain of the Roman route) it is no more than 6.5 Roman miles to the centre of Bath, which would make the Itinerary‘s distance accurate if this Traiectus were Bitton.

It’s impossible to trace the exact Roman route from Sea Mills to Bitton, but taking it to be (impossibly?) straight it would be about 10 Roman miles. That might easily stretch to the Itinerary‘s 14 miles. These, after all, are the distances which “at first sight” led to the identification of Bitton with Traiectus.

What is not at all clear is why Bitton is being identified with a ‘station’ if it wasn’t Traiectus. But let’s read on:

“The remedy most often suggested is to transpose Abone and Traiectus, making Abone the name of the village at Bitton, which is within half a mile of the Avon, and identifying Traiectus with Seamills. Perhaps it would be better to suppose that Abone is Seamills and that Traiectus was put against it in the Itinerary: the double entry then was by error extended into two lines and Traiectus extruded the name corresponding to Bitton.”

In other words, he posited that the original manuscript reading was:

Venta Silurum 9 mpm (from Isca)
Abone traiectus 14 mpm (from Venta, crossing the Severn)
[Bitton?] 9 mpm (from Abone))
Aquae Solis 6 mpm (from Bitton)

Yet in the first quotation the distances are held to be wrong for Traiectus to be at Bitton, so they must also be wrong for Bitton, under whatever name, to have been the station whose name has been ‘extruded’. For that matter, the theory that Sea Mills was Traiectus and Bitton was Abone would also work.

Although the manuscript tradition that we have does contain some obvious errors, transposing two place names does not seem to be one of the errors that occurred.

Next time: the adjudication

 

Much too long in the doing …

So, a résumé of the appearance of the name/word ‘Traiectus’ in the Antonine Itinerary:

1. Examples where traiectus simply refers to a crossing – the crossing of the Adriatic, the crossing of the Strait of Messina, the crossing from N. Africa to Sicily. Whether or not Traiectus was, in a few cases, also the name given to a particular place (for example, near Reggio di Calabria and the Strait of Messina (Parthey §86 & §98)? – unattested, apart from in the Itinerary itself), it can be said that in these cases the crossing itself was by boat over a substantial body of water (even the Strait of Messina is over 3km wide at its narrowest point). Could that possibly be what the Traiectus between Caerwent and Bath was – not a particular settlement but just ‘the place to cross’ something (river, strait, sea)?

2. ‘Traiectus’ in Aquitania, between Agen and Périgueux: the certainty is that the crossing concerned was over the river Dordogne, close to present-day Lalinde. [A diversion was whether or not Lalinde was the Diolindum of the Tabula Peutingeriana. For what it’s worth, intriguing though the similarity of Lalinde and Diolindum is, I would guess not. For one thing, Peutinger’s distances for Diolindum are a more accurate fit for the road to Cahors than the Itinerary‘s road to Périgueux.] This does leave ‘Traiectus’ as a possible place name, perhaps for modern Lalinde or Pontours. It is the only other possible place name (besides the Gloucestershire example) which appears in the subject form ‘Traiectus’ rather than ‘Traiecto’ or Traiectum’.

3. Utrecht as a place name derived from something like  ‘Ultra Traiectus’: Is this the only example where a modern (and historically attested) name is clearly derived from Roman Latin (i.e. not medieval) traiectus? The crossing here referred to is of the river Rhine. The name is attested in Itinerary §369: Traiecto is 17 Roman miles south of Albinianis (Alphen aan den Rijn) and 15 Roman miles north of Mannaritio (Maurik). As for Maastricht, there is no evidence of the name Traiectum ad Mosam or Traiectum Mosae in Roman times: it is not mentioned in the Itinerary. Modern ‘Maastricht’  seems to be derived from its medieval name of Mosae Traiectum. Somewhat similarly, Traiectum Rhodani was a late description of the town of Beaucaire. It is a crossing place over the river Rhône on the Via Domitia, but the Roman name for Beaucaire was apparently Ugernum; so Traiectum Rhodani seems to be a description rather than a place name: ‘the traiectum Rhodani was at Ugernum’.

Does all this cast any light at all on the ‘Traiectus’ between Bristol and Bath? It certainly suggests that the traiectus would be over a wider body of water than the Boyd at Bitton. Even the Avon is a stream compared with the Dordogne which, at its narrowest, is nearly three times wider (150m) than the Avon at its widest at this point. The Rhône at Beaucaire is at least 200m (the Île du Comté divides the river in two at this point, otherwise the crossing to Tarascon would be 400m wide). The Meuse at Maastricht is 150m wide. The Rhine at Utrecht is over 100m wide. [But see the comments below on the Avon floodplain].

Two possibilities

Neither of the two competing identifications for the Gloucestershire Traiectus is new. There is the ‘corrupt manuscript’ theory which would have the traiectus as being across the Severn estuary. That would answer the puzzle as to why the Itinerary makes no mention of a crossing from (modern) Wales to (modern) England. Such a ‘traiectus’ would be similar to other examples in the Itinerary – just ‘a crossing’ rather than a station. The theory could merit closer investigation to see if this amount of corruption could be plausibly explained.

The second possibility is that the crossing was over the river Avon. But if the Antonine iter Sea Mills > Traiectus > Bath was following the known Roman road north of the river, there would be no need to cross the river at all; nor has a Roman settlement of any importance been found here north of the river. Nevertheless, and there’s nothing new here, any crossing place for a north-south road down to the Mendips looks most likely to have been at Keynsham [NB in Somerset, not Gloucestershire – Ed]: there are at least three areas where Roman remains have been found: i. Durley Hill to the west where the so-called ‘palace’ was discovered ii. beneath the Somerdale factory, and possibly iii. further east close to Wellsway school. Whatever the purpose of the ‘palace’, it was a large enough building to be part of extensive Roman activity in the area. The Somerdale site lays claim to being a small town and already is Traiectus in some sources. It even boasts a Trajectus Way (as well as roads named after Hadrian, Claudius, Augustus, Titus and Tiberius).

Preparatory investigation prior to development in East Keynsham drew a claim that traces of a north-south road on the site east of Wellsway school had been identified. On the developers’ plans the direction  of the road points towards Bitton where, it should be said, there are few Roman remains to excite interest.

But the puzzle here is why does the Itinerary‘s journey [i.e. Abone mpm xiiii, Traiectus mpm viiii, Aquae Solis mpm vi] mark Traiectus, given that the known Roman road, marked on the OS maps between Hanham and Oldland, and between Bitton and Swineford, doesn’t cross the Avon? Was there a mansio at Traiectus/Keynsham where travellers could stay by making a small detour over the river? How likely is that, with a mere 6 Roman miles either to or from the more important  town of Aquae Sulis?

One further thought: the Roman road is a little distance from the river nowadays, but was it in Roman times? Was part of the Avon’s flood plain permanently below water? Interesting thought, but the river level would seem to have been at an impossibly high level for that to be the case. But, if it was (yes, highly unlikely, though the area might have been marshy), the road would have run just alongside the river bank; and Willsbridge [vii mpm from Aquae Solis] would have been the closest crossing point to the extensive settlement known to exist underneath the Somerdale site on Keynsham Hams – which would likewise have been near the marsh or water’s edge; as would the Durley Hill ‘palace’. So, for fun:
In fact, maps of the possible sea/river levels suggest that the area south of the river would have been first to flood, especially Keynsham Hams (though not the eastern side where Somerdale was built, nor the Durley Hill ‘palace’ site). It would need seemingly impossibly high levels before the northern floodplain was covered completely. So, Not This Way. But it leaves the possibility that there was a pause at Willsbridge and a quick traiectus across the river to the Keynsham Hams settlement (Somerdale) for a bit of refreshment ….

Next time: a short look at the suggestions regarding the crossing of the Severn estuary, published in the Victorian County History, Somerset vol I, Romano-British Somerset Part 3, ‘THE ROAD FROM BATH WESTWARDS TO THE SEVERN CROSSING AND SOUTH WALES’.