Charles Anthon.

A system of ancient and mediæval geography for the use of schools and colleges online

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an element which we find forming part of so many other names
of countries, both ancient and modern, such as Mauri-tan-ia,
Aqui-tan-ia, Lusi-tan-ia, Kurdi-stan, Hindo-stan, &o., and
which appears to signify " region" or " country."

III. The term brith is supposed to refer to the custom fol
lowed by the inhabitants of staining their bodies of a blue color
extracted from woad. Carte says that the name in the most
ancient British poets is Inis (" island") prydhain. The mean
ing, however, of prydhain, if it be any thing more than a cor
rupt form derived from the root brit, does not seem to be known.

IV. The name Albion comes from the Celtic root Alp or Alb,
and has reference to the lofty coasts of the island, as it lies fa
cing Gallia. Others, giving Alp or Alb the meaning of " white,"
refer the name to the white or chalky cliffs of Britain


I. THE earliest inhabitants of Britain, so far as we know,
were probably of that great family, the main branches of which,
distinguished by the designation of Celts, spread themselves
so widely over middle and western Europe. The Welsh and
Danish traditions indicate a migration from Jutland, but it is
decidedly erroneous to seek to connect, as some do, the name


Cymry, the national appellation of the Welsh, with the Cim
merians (the Kipfiepioi of Herodotus) and the Cimbri of the
Roman historians, on the supposition of their having once oc
cupied Jutland, or the ancient Cimbric Chersonese. Neither
the Cimmerii nor Cimbri ever dwelt in this quarter.

II. The Celtse crossed over from the neighboring country of
Gaul ; and Welsh traditions speak of two colonies, one from the
quarter since known as Gascony, and another from Armorica.
At a later period, the BelgaB, actuated by martial restlessness
or the love of plunder, assailed the southern and eastern coasts
of the island, and settled there, driving the Celts into the inland

III. On the conquest of the island by the Romans, we must
conceive that it received a very considerable mixture of Roman
and foreign blood. Comparatively few women would be brought
by the Roman soldiers, and such of the latter as settled perma
nently would unite themselves to native females. It was the
policy, moreover, of the Romans, to employ the native troops
of one province in the conquest or military administration of
other provinces, a contrivance obviously devised with the view
of preventing revolt. Accordingly, we find among the Roman
monuments of Britain abundant evidence of the presence in
that island of soldiers from Gaul and various other parts of the
Continent, from which circumstance there necessarily resulted
a great intermixture of foreign and native blood.

IV. On the subsequent withdrawal of the Roman forces, the
Saxons and Angli came over and founded the Heptarchy, and
their power, in its turn, was overthrown by the Normans ; so
that here, again, we have two new elements added to the an
cient stock.


I. BRITAIN becomes known in early times to the Phoenicians,
and then to the Carthaginians and the people of Massilia, who
all trade for tin to certain islands, called by Herodotus Kaaai-
repideq (Cassiterides), or "The Tin Islands," and which are
commonly supposed to have been the Scilly Isles, including- a
part of Cornwall.

II. This trade in tin is subsequently carried on by the Vene-
tes, a Gallic tribe, and from them Caesar is first made acquaint-


ed with Britain, and conceives the idea of its conquest. Stim
ulated by the desire of military renown, and of the glory of
first carrying the Roman arms into Britain, and provoked, also,
as he tells us, by the aid which had been furnished to his enemies
in Gaul, Caesar determines upon the invasion of the island.

III. Invasion of Britain by Ccesar. He penetrates some dis
tance into the island ; but his success is certainly not such as
to induce him to attempt the permanent reduction of the isl
and ; and, from some passages in ancient authors, it has been
conjectured that his success was even not so great as he him
self has represented it.

IV. After the departure of Caesar, the Romans do not return
to the island until the reign of Claudius, leaving the Britons
alone for about a century, or going no further than to threaten
an attack. In the interval, those of the Britons who dwelt in
the parts nearest to Gaul appear to have made some progress
in civilization. They coin money, and many British coins have
been discovered, of which about forty belong to a prince named
Cunobelin (so on his coins), called by Suetonius CynobeUimtS)
who appears to have reigned over the Trinobantes, and to have
had his residence at Camalodunum.

V. Aulus Plautius, a senator of praetorian rank, is sent by
Claudius into Britain, in command of the forces designed for
the subjugation of the island. The Britons, under the sons of
the now deceased Cunobelin, namely, Cataratacus and Togo-
dumnus, make a brave resistance, but are finally overpowered,
Claudius himself having come with re-enforcements to the Ro
man army, and having taken Camalodunum, the capital of
Cunobelin, and numbers of the natives submit either at dis
cretion or upon terms. The Roman Senate decree triumphal
honors to the emperor, and the memory of his success has been
perpetuated in his coinage.

VI. Vespasian (the future emperor), lieutenant to Plautius,
conquers Vectis Insula, or the Isle of Wight, and has consider
able success against the tribes of the southern coast. Upon the
departure of Plautius, however, those Britons who are strug
gling for independence overrun the lands of such as have allied
themselves with, or submitted to the Romans, and P. Ostorius
Scapula, who succeeds Plautius (A.D. 50) as propraetor, finds
affairs on his arrival in the greatest confusion.


VII. Ostorius, after valiant efforts on the part of the natives,
defeats and takes prisoner Cataratacus (or, as Tacitus calls
him, Caractacus), about A.D. 51, and receives the insignia
of a triumph. Cataratacus is thrown into chains by Cartis-
mandua, queen of the Brigantes, with whom he has taken ref
uge, and is delivered up to the Romans. He is taken to Rome
with some of the members of his family, but his unbroken spirit
and noble demeanor command the admiration of Claudius, and
he is pardoned by that prince.

VIII. The Romans are harassed after this with repeated
skirmishes, and by the obstinate resistance of the Silures, and
Ostorius dies, worn out with care, about A.D. 53. Didius suc
ceeds Ostorius, and finds the Roman affairs in a very depressed
condition. He engages in hostilities with the Brigantes, but
does not appear to have gained any signal advantage. His com
mand extends into the reign of Nero, the successor of Claudi
us, probably until A.D. 57.

IX. Veranius succeeds Didius, but lives only a year after
taking the command, and does little in that interval. His suc
cessor is Suetonius Paulinus, who obtains more distinction
Suetonius attacks and captures the Isle of Mona, now Angle
sey, the great seat of the Druids, cuts down their sacred groves,
and destroys the altars on which they had been accustomed to
offer up human sacrifices. He is then recalled from the west
ern shores of Britain by the news of a great rising of the na
tives under Boadicea, in that part of the island which has al
ready been subdued by the Romans. The revolt of Boadicea
nearly extinguishes the Roman dominion in Britain, but at last
the natives are completely defeated in a battle, the scene of
which is supposed to have been just to the north of London.
The Roman general ravages with fire and sword the territories
of all those native tribes which have wavered in their attach
ment to the Romans, as well as those who had joined in the

X. The chief civil, or, rather, fiscal officer of the Romans,
quarrels with Suetonius, and, though the latter retains the com
mand for a time longer, he is at last recalled without finishing
the war (A.D. 62), and Petronius Turpilianus is appointed his
successor. Under the milder treatment of the new general the
revolt seems to have subsided.


XL Several generals are successively sent to the island ; but
the Romans make little progress until the time of Vespasian
(A.D. 70-78), in whose reign Petilius Cerealis subdues the
Brigantes, who had renewed hostilities ; and Julius Frontinus
subdues the Silures. But the glory of completing the conquest
of South Britain is reserved for Cnseus Julius Agricola, whose
actions are recorded subsequently by his son-in-law, the histo
rian Tacitus.

XII. From the time of Agricola, the later years of whose
government are during the reign of Domitian, we read little
about Britain in the Roman historians until the reign of Ha
drian (A.D. 85-120), who visits the island, which has been
much disturbed. The conquests which Agricola had made in
Caledonia seem to have been speedily lost, and the emperor
fences in the Roman territory by a rampart of turf, eighty Ro
man, or about seventy-four English miles long. This rampart
will be described at the end of the geography of Britannia.

XIII. In the subsequent reign of Antoninus Pius (A.D. 138-
161) Roman enterprise revives a little. Lollius Urbicus, his
lieutenant in Britain, drives back the barbarians, and recovers
the country as far as Agricola s line of stations between the
Forth and Clyde. An account of the intrenchment erected by
him in this quarter, and which is called the Wall of Antoninus,
will be found at the end of the geography of Britannia.

XIV. In the following reign of M. Aurelius Antoninus (AJX
161180) we have some notice of wars in Britain, which Cal-
purnius Agricola is sent to quell. During this same reign, or
else in that of Commodus, son of Aurelius, the Caledonians
break through the Wall of Antoninus. Ulpius Marcellus, an
able leader, is sent against them, and defeats them with heavy
loss. A great mutiny among the legions in Britain occurs dur
ing the reign of Commodus, which is with difficulty quelled by
Pertinax (afterward emperor), one of the successors of Marcel
lus in the government of the island.

XV. The contest between Clodius Albinus and Severus for
the empire drains Britain in a great measure of its troops, who
are called by the former to strengthen his army, and the north
ern tribes, taking this opportunity of renewing hostilities, break
into the Roman province, and spread desolation far and near.
Induced by the unfavorable tenor of the intelligence from the


island, Severus, who had succeeded in the contest with Albi-
nus, resolves to undertake the war in person, and accordingly
crosses over, A.D. 206 or 207. The natives do not come to a
pitched battle, so that the campaign is not marked by any
brilliant exploits. Severus, however, orders the erection of the
famous wall that bears his name, stretching across the island
from the Sohvay to near the mouth of the Tyne, an account
of which will be given hereafter.

XVI. Many years elapse, and many emperors reign after
this, without the occurrence of any event of importance in Brit
ain. In the reign of Dioclesian and Maximian, Carausius, a
Menapian, who commands the Roman fleet in the North Sea
against the Prankish and Saxon pirates, seizes Britain, and as
sumes the purple (about A.D. 288), and such is his activity
and power that the emperors consent to recognize him as their
partner in the empire. He is killed, however, some years aft
erward by Allectus, one of his friends (A.D. 297), and, three
years after this, Britain is recovered for the emperors by As-
clepiodotus, captain of the guards.

XVII. On the resignation of Dioclesian and Maximian (A.D.
304), Britain is included in the dominions of Constantius Chlo-
rus, one of their successors. This prince dies in Britain, at
Eboracum, now York (A.D. 307), after having undertaken,
with some success, an expedition against the Caledonians.
His son, Constantine the Great, also carries on some hostilities
with the same people. The northern tribes now begin to be
known by the name of Picts and Scots.

XVIII. The Roman power is now fast decaying, and the
provinces are no longer secure against the irruptions of the sav
age tribes that press upon the long line of the frontier. Brit
ain, situated at one extremity of the empire, suffers dreadfully.
The Picts, Scots, and Attacotti burst in from the north, and
the Saxons infest the coast. In the reign of Valentinian, prob
ably in the year 367, Theodosius (father of the emperor of that
name) being sent over as governor, finds the northern people
plundering Augusta, or London, so that the whole province ap
pears to have been overrun by them. He drives them out, re
covers the provincial towns and forts, re-establishes the Roman
power, and gives the name of Valentia either to the district be
tween the walls of Antoninus and Severus, or, as Horsley thinks,
to a part of the province south of the wall of Severus.


XIX. Gratian and Valentinian II. associate Theodosius (son
of the preceding) with them in the empire. This gives um
brage to Maximus, a Spaniard who had served with great dis
tinction in Britain, and he raises in this island the standard of
revolt. Levying a considerable force, he crosses over to the
Continent, defeats Gratian, whom he orders to be put to death,
and maintains himself for some time in the possession of his
usurped authority. He is at last, however, overcome by The
odosius, and the province returns to its subjection to the em
pire. The Britons who had followed Maximus to the Conti
nent, receive from him possessions in Armorica, where they lay
the foundation of a state which still, at the present day, under
the appellation of Bretagne, retains their language and their

XX. Stilicho, whose name is one of the most eminent in the
degenerate age in which he lived, serves in Britain with suc
cess, probably about A.D. 403. After his departure, the un
happy province is again attacked by the barbarians, and is agi
tated also by the licentiousness of the Roman soldiery, who suc
cessively set up three claimants to the imperial throne, Marcus,
Gratian, and Constantine. The first and second are soon de
throned and destroyed by the very power which had raised
them. Constantine is for a time more fortunate. Raising a
force among the youth of the island, he passes over into Gaul,
(A.D. 409), acquires possession of that province, and fixes the
seat of his government at Are late, now Aries, where he is soon
after besieged, taken, and killed. His expedition serves to ex
haust Britain of its natural defenders : the distresses of the
empire render the withdrawal of the Roman troops necessary,
and near the middle of the fifth century, or, according to some,
about A.D. 420, nearly five hundred years after the first inva
sion by Julius Csesar, the island is finally abandoned by them.


I. THE first Roman governors were the propraetors, officers
chiefly or entirely military ; nor are there, so far as we know,
any records or traces of a subdivision of Britain till a compara
tively late period of the Roman dominion. Our authority for
the administration of Britain is the Notitia Imperil, a record
of late date, probably as late as the time of the Romans quit-


ting the island. From the "Notitia" we learn that the gov
ernment of the island was intrusted to an officer called Vica-
rius, under whom there were five governors, one for each of the
five provinces.

II. The names of the five provinces into which Britannia
was divided were as follows : 1. Britannia Prima ; 2. Britan
nia Secunda ; 3. Flavia Ccesariensis ; 4. Maxima CCE sari en-
sis ; 5. Valentia or Valentiana. Previous to this, the only di
vision had been into Britannia Romana, or that part of the isl
and under the Roman sway, and Britannia Barbara.

III. The situation of these five provinces is given by Richard
of Cirencester, a monk of the fourteenth century, whose work
was discovered and published at Copenhagen about the middle
of the last century, and whose authority, though disputed by
some, is apparently not untrustworthy.

IV. Britannia Prima, according to the authority just men
tioned, comprehended the country south of the Thames and
Bristol Channel.

V. Britannia Secunda comprehended the country separated
from the rest of Britain by the Sabrina, now the Severn, and
the Deva, now the Dee ; in other words, Wales, Herefordshire,
Monmouthshire, and parts of Salop, and of the counties of
Gloucester and Worcester.

VI. Flavia Ccesariensis comprehended the territory north
of the Thames, east of the Severn, and probably south of the
Mersey, of the Don which joins the Yorkshire Ouse, and the

VII. Maxima Ccesariensis comprehended the country from
the Mersey and the Humber to the wall of Severus.

VIII. Valentia or Valentiana comprehended the country be
tween the wall of Severus and the rampart of Antoninus, in
cluding the southern part of Scotland, the county of Northum
berland, and part of Cumberland.

IX. The remaining part of the island was never long in the
power of the Romans. Agricola overran part of it, and estab
lished some stations ; and probably other commanders after him
brought it into temporary subjection. The part which Agric
ola thus subdued is termed by Richard Vespasiana, and in
cluded the country between the rampart of Antoninus and a
line drawn from the Moray Frith (Ptolemy s sestuary of the
Varar) to the mouth of the Clyde.


X. Horsley gives an arrangement of the provinces entirely
different from the above, except so far as regards Britannia
Secunda. He makes Britannia Prima to extend from the
coast of Sussex to the banks of the Nene, and assigns the west
ern counties to Fiavia Ccesariensis. He places Valentia with
in the wall of Severus, and Maxima Ccesariensis beyond it.


I. THE knowledge which the earlier Greeks and Romans had
of the shape and situation of Britain was at first extremely lim
ited and erroneous. According to Dio Cassius, it was at first
a matter of complete uncertainty whether Britannia was an
island or merely a frontier of the Continent. The invasion of
Julius Csesar first threw some light upon this subject. That
commander describes Britannia as triangular in shape, one side
of the triangle being opposite to Gaul, and in this he is followed
by Strabo.

II. The Romans first became fully acquainted with the cir
cuit of Britain in the time of Agricola, during whose govern
ment in that quarter a Roman fleet first sailed round the isl
and, as if to mark the extended boundary of the Roman empire.

III. Erroneous ideas, however, still remained on various points
connected with the position of this island. The old geogra
phers had given the northern coast of Spain a northwesterly
direction, and, unacquainted with the extent to which Bretagne
reached westward, made the coasts of Gaul and Germany run
in an almost uniform northeasterly direction. Tacitus, the con
temporary of Agricola, places Britain in the angle thus formed,
and makes its western side lie facing the coast of Spain.

IV. According to Ptolemy, Britannia had the Oceanus Due-
caledonius ( tiKeavog AovrjKakTjdovtoc;) on the north ; the Oceanus
Hibernicus ( QKeavdg lovdepvucos), or Irish Sea, and the Oce
anus Verginicus ( Qtceavog Ovepyivios), or St. George s Channel,
on the west ; the Oceanus Britannicus (SlKeavoq Bperrav^df),
or British Channel, on the south ; and the Oceanus German-
icus ( Slueavdg leppawKog), or German Ocean, on the east.


THE only chain of mountains in Britain expressly named by
the ancient geographers are the Grampian, Mons Grampius.


In the ancient Scottish tongue this ridge was called Grantz-
bain. It runs from Dumbarton to Aberdeenshire. The Gram
pian hills are rendered memorable by the victory which Agricola
obtained on them over Galgacus, in the last year of his gov
ernment, and which entirely broke the spirit of the Britons.
In Strathern, about half a mile south of the Kirk of Comerie,
is a valley nearly a mile broad, and some miles long, through
which the Erne and Ruchel flow. Here are the remains of
two Roman camps, with a double wall and trench, one large
enough to contain the eight thousand men which Agricola led
to battle on the occasion mentioned above, the other smaller,
and suited for his three thousand cavalry. Two miles south
east is a third camp, in which two legions might be conveniently
quartered, The place itself still bears the name of Galgachan
Rossmoor, taken from that of the Caledonian leader.


1. On the Southern Side.

1. Bolerium Promontorium (BoXepiov A.Kpb)TT]piov), called,
also, Antivestceum Promontorium (kv-iovearaiov AKpurrjpiov),
now Land s End, in Cornwall. 2. Ocrinum Promontorium
("Oupivov A.Kp(jJT7]piov), called, also, Damnonium Promontorium
(kaiivoviov AKpuTTjpiov), now Lizard Point, in Cornwall.

3. Cria Metopon (Kptov Merunov), now Ram Head, in Devon
shire. 4. Hellenis Promontorium, now Berry Head, in Dev
onshire, to the northeast of the preceding. 5. Vindelia Prom
ontorium, to the east of the preceding, now Portland Bill, in
Dorsetshire. 6. Durotrigum Promontorium, now St. Alban s
Head, in Dorsetshire, in the territory of the Durotriges.

2. On the Western Coast.

1. Herculis Promontorium ( HpaKXeovc; AKpurfipiov), to the
northeast of the Bolerium Promontorium, now Hartland Point,
in Devonshire, at the mouth of Bristol Channel. 2. Octape-
tarum Promontorium (QuraTioirapov A/cpwrT/pjov), now St. .Da
vid s Head, at the southwestern extremity of Wales. 3. Can-
canorum Promontorium (Kayttavtiv AKpurrjpiov), now Braich
y Pwill, or Braichy Pwill Head, in Caernarvonshire, Wales.

4. Novantum Promontorium (Novavrtiv A/rpwr^p^o^), now
Mull of Galloway. 5. Epidium Promontorium

, now Mull of Cantyre.


3. On the Northern Side.

1. Ebudum Promontorium, now Cape Wrath, in Suther-
landshire, Scotland. 2. Tarvidium Promontorium, called, also,
Orcas Promontorium ("OpKag A/cpwr^ov), now Dunnet Head,
in Caithness-shire, Scotland. 3. Virvedrum Promontorium
(Oviepovedpov/jL AKpa>r?7piov), called, also, Caledonicc Extrema,
now Duncansby Head, in the same shire.

4. On the Eastern Side.

1. Berubium Promontorium (Ovepov6iovp AKpurTjpiov), now
Noss Head, in Caithness-shire, Scotland. 2. Penoxullum
Promontorium, now Ord Head, in the same shire. 3. Taize-
lum Promontorium (Taifrkov AKpurrjpiov), called, also, Taix-
alorum Promontorium, now Kinnaird s Head, in Aberdeen-
shire, Scotland. This point of land forms the northeastern ex
tremity of the Grampian chain. 4. Ocellum Promontorium
( O/ceAAov AKpuTrjpiov), now Spurn Head, at the mouth of the
Humber, in England. 5. Cantium Promontorium (Kdvriov
AKpuTTjpiov), called, also, Acantium Promontorium, now the
North Foreland, in Kent.


1. On the Eastern Side.

I. Tamesis, called by Tacitus the Tamesa, now the Thames,
rising in the country of the Dobuni, a few miles to the south
west of Durocornovium, now Cirencester, and flowing east
ward into the Oceanus Germanicus, or German Ocean. Its
whole course is about two hundred and twenty miles. It is a
common opinion that this river, in the upper part of its course,
is properly called Isis, and that it is only below the junction
of the Thame that it is called Thames, which name is said to
be formed by combining the two names Thame and Isis. But
Cambden observed long ago that this is a mistake ; that the
river was called Thames in its upper as well as in its lower
part ; that the name Isis never occurs in ancient records, and
was never used by the common people, but only by scholars.
Caesar writes the name Tamesis (evidently Tames or Thames,
with the addition of a Latin termination). Tacitus, as we
have already said, writes it Tamesa, and Dio Cassius


which is the same name with the appendage of a different ter
mination. Ptolemy has it IdpTjoa, or, in some MSS., Ia//ecra^,
and in some editions Idpiaoa, all which, most probably, are
forms of the same name, I having been, by the carelessness of
some early transcriber, substituted for T.

II. Idumania (EiSovpavia noTapog) or Sidumanis (Eidovpavig),
according to most authorities Blackwater River and Bay, but
according to Mannert the mouth of the River Stour. The
former is the more correct opinion. Both the Blackwater and

Online LibraryCharles AnthonA system of ancient and mediæval geography for the use of schools and colleges → online text (page 17 of 89)