Antonine Itinerary XIV: 3) Verlucio to Cunetio

This stage is the longest one on Iter XIV – xx mpm – and therefore the one to test any theories about the accuracy of the Itinerary‘s distances most severely. Like the two stages just previously considered, the stations where this stage begins and ends have been pretty firmly identified,  Verlucio as Sandy Lane in Wiltshire, which stands on the site of the Roman road designated Margary 53; at the other end, Cunetio stood just south of Mildenhall (My-null), near Marlborough.

Time Team artist’s impression of the Cunetio mansio

If you can bear the Time Team banter, their episode on the archaeology of Cunetio is here and is interesting because they identified a 2nd-century mansio. Mansiones were travellers’ ‘coaching inns’, in settlements near the main roads, where there would be food and accommodation, and where horses could be changed – an additional sidelight on the Itinerary‘s Cunetio.

The archaeologists speculated that Cunetio might have been a Roman tax collection centre (perhaps explaining the huge hoard of 55,000 Roman coins found there); and perhaps a market town, where agricultural produce from the area would be brought in to be sold.

The site is alongside the River Kennet which presumably gave its name to the Roman town. A 10th-century source names the villages of East and West Kennet, just under 10 miles down river, as Cynetan.

Early Ordnance Survey maps trace the Roman road from just outside Bath through to Sandy Lane (Verlucio), then passing  south of Beckhampton and on to Silbury Hill where a Roman village was discovered in 2007. The track is lost here, though it points to a route straight through Marlborough on a line which which would lead directly to the site of Cunetio, still roughly corresponding to Margary road 53.

The site of Verlucio lies just at the point where there is the slight dip southerly at Chittoe, so the route from Verlucio to Cunetio is as clear as it can be, visible or guessable, the road distance measuring c.24.8km. It is as near direct, Roman road style, as it could be, so as the crow flies it is a similar distance, 24km.

OS map: the site of Verlucio, close to the Roman road

However, the 20 mpm of the Antonine Itinerary would be 29.6 km so there is some discrepancy there. Either it was measured inaccurately, or the manuscript tradition could be corrupt, recording xx mpm for xv mpm (22.2km) for example.

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