Vetusta Monumenta: Ancient Monuments, a Digital Edition

Plate 1.47: Plan of the Roman Roads in Yorkshire

Plate: Map of Yorkshire and immediately adjacent areas originally produced by Francis Drake (1696-1771) and possibly engraved by George Vertue (1684-1756) as suggested by John Fenn (1784, 19).

Object:  A map of most of the historic County of Yorkshire (as defined prior to the 1972 local government reorganization), although parts of the southern West Riding around Sheffield and the north-western extension of the North Riding west of Barnard Castle (County Durham) are missing. The latter area is occupied by a geographically inaccurate inset map derived from a manuscript version of the late Roman military and governmental list known as the Notitia Dignitatum. A number of areas outside the boundaries of the County are also included, including a substantial part of northern Lincolnshire.

The same plate was published by Francis Drake (1696-1771) in his Eboracum: Or the History and Antiquities of the City of York (1736, following page 36). However, the motivation for the initial production of Plate 1.47 is somewhat unclear; the version in Eboracum, while lacking the annotation in the upper right-hand corner that appears on the Vetusta Monumenta plate, bears the same dedication to the Society of Antiquaries of London. However, Drake’s Eboracum also acknowledges the support of the City of York and 540 subscribers. Unlike the Vetusta Monumenta version, the map as it appears in Eboracum is hand-tinted in color.


Click here to access an interactive map providing full transcription and translation details for Plate 1.47.

To the Society of ANTIQUARIES in LONDON this Plate of the ROMAN Roads in the County of YORK &c is particularly inscribed by their Brother and very humble Servant FRANCIS DRAKE.

Commentary by Pete Wilson:
The Society of Antiquaries of London (SAL) Minute Book for 27 November 1735 records that Francis Drake (1696-1771) "brought an Engraven Map of the Roman Roads in Yorkshire . . . which . . . [he] intends to dedicate to the Society" (SAL Minutes II.120). The minutes of the 25 March 1736 meeting record that:

[t]he Secretary read a letter from Mr Drake, desiring The Society would be pleased to accept the Dedication of this map of the Roman Roads and Stations in Yorkshire. One of which he presented to them;…it was ordered that the Society, do make a present to Mr Drake of York of the expenses of the plate of his said Map,…[and] that Mr Drake be desired to deposit the said plate with the Society, after [he] has cast off a sufficient number for his own book. (SAL Minutes II.169)

The balance of the evidence suggests that Drake produced the map and had it engraved at his own expense, but was reimbursed by the Antiquaries who published it in Vetusta Monumenta. Consequently, it is not possible to be certain who engraved the plate, which is unsigned, although Drake would have known George Vertue, the Society’s engraver, having been elected a Fellow on 27 February 1735.

Antiquarians, such as William Camden (1551-1623), have been interested in Roman Britain from at least the sixteenth century and have recorded and commented on Roman roads; although the earliest surviving reference to Roman roads in Yorkshire can be traced back to Ranulph Higden in 1344 (Babington 1889, 46). The first known attempt to map the Roman roads of Yorkshire was by John Warburton (1682-1759) as part of his Map of The County of York (1720), and it is likely that Drake borrowed from Warburton’s map but added his own information, such as his tracing of the road from Stamford Bridge to York (Drake 1736, 33-34). While presented as a map of Roman roads, the plate provides much additional information about Roman Yorkshire as understood at the time of its publication, although subsequent research has shown much of Drake’s understanding to be incorrect. Rather than assessing the map in cartographic terms, this consideration focuses on its value as a resource for understanding the Roman roads of Yorkshire and the development of antiquarian and archaeological understanding of them and associated sites.

Features of roads on the map include: indications of the certainty of the roads’ existence, graded from certain (two unbroken lines) to less certain (combinations of lengths of unbroken lines and dotted lines) and uncertain or speculative (two parallel dotted lines); distances between some locations in units of mille passus (M.P.), that is 5,000 Roman feet or a Roman mile (1,480 meters or 4,856 feet); and unremittingly straight courses for most of the roads. Rivers are included and named, along with contemporary towns and smaller settlements which lie off the road system as shown, for example Richmond in the north west and Frydaythorp (contemporary Fridaythorpe) in the east. The influence of Drake and other antiquarians’ mapping of the roads carries through into later work, including that of Thomas Codrington (1905) and that of the doyen of twentieth-century Roman roads research, Ivan Margary, who established the accepted number systems for Roman roads in Britain (Margary 1955-57; 1967; 1973). The basic network of Roman roads illustrated is still recognizable in modern presentations of the system with significant groups of roads converging on key locations such as York, Malton and Aldborough (Margary 1973, map 17; Ordnance Survey 2016).

Major roads which are recorded on lines coincident, or very close to those accepted today, include that from Lincoln to the River Humber (Margary 1973, road 2d) and that from Isurium/Aldburgh (contemporary Aldborough) to Cataractonium/Catterick and on to Pierce Bridge (contemporary Piercebridge) and beyond (Margary 1973, roads 8b/8c). Roman-period names for the roads on Drake’s map are unknown. He labels the road north of Catterick ITER ad VALLUM, which means “Road to the Wall,” and refers to Hadrian’s Wall. The same road is also known to many antiquarians, such as Codrington (1905, 195-206) and MacLauchlan (1852), as Watling Street—one of several Watling Streets in Britain, with the best-known modern usage of the name being for the road from Dover to Whitchurch and Wroxeter (Margary 1973, road 1a-h). Codrington’s Watling Street, however, forms an extension of the Roman road he calls “Erming Street” (contemporary Ermine Street), which extends from London to Lincoln and on to York and Catterick. Codrington’s Erming Street incorporates two roads on Drake’s map: Iter A LINDO, approaching Danum/Doncaster from Lincoln, and ad EBOR from Castleford to LONGUS VICUS/Langburgh (contemporary Newton Kyme) and Tadcaster (Margary 1973, roads 28a-c). Drake’s road from York to Catterick through Aldborough is unnamed, but in contemporary usage is called Dere Street, and runs from York to Cramond in Scotland (Margary 1973, roads 8a-g). The name Dere Street derives from early medieval sources as the road to/from the Kingdom of Deira, which occupied eastern Yorkshire between the rivers Tees and Humber into the seventh century AD; afterwards, it became the southern part of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria. In the twelfth-century History of St Cuthbert the road appears as Deorestrete (Bishop 2014, 39).

Research on Roman roads in Britain was unfashionable during the later decades of the twentieth century; other than when they were impacted by modern development, Roman roads were largely ignored by professional and university-based archaeologists. However, some of Drake’s “less certain” roads—such as his ITER a DEVA from Langburgh (Newton Kyme)/Tadcaster to Chester (Margary 1973, road 712)—have been the subjects of considerable research in recent years, particularly by the Huddersfield and District Archaeological Society (Lunn et al. 2008). This work makes it clear that Drake’s arrow-straight route is largely speculative. As might be expected, the Roman-period road builders— while often utilizing short stretches of straight alignments—took account of the challenging topography of the Pennines in identifying a viable route. Drake’s Strat a DEVA ad ISURIUM et VALLUM (Chester to Aldborough) is similarly straight, but while its route south of Ilkley is still incompletely known, it is clear that this route, too, would have wandered far from Drake’s line. For both roads it is instructive to compare Drake’s plate with contemporary data, such as the latter map on this page: the product of a recent initiative, namely, the formation of the Roman Roads Research Association (RRRA). The RRRA brings together researchers, still a largely avocational group, with a view of developing a better understanding of the Roman roads of Britain as a whole.

Drake’s “Certain Roads"

Drake includes Ribchester on his map, despite the fact that it lies outside Yorkshire, and marks the site as a point of origin for two roads. The western road, Strata ad Vallum (Road to the Wall), extends to the northern edge of the map in another indicative, arrow-straight line. In reality, the road deviates to the east to negotiate a route through the uplands of the Forest of Bowland; to the north of Burrow in Lonsdale, the road stays on the east side of the River Lune in order to take advantage of the Tebay Gap to pass between the uplands of the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District (Margary 1973, road 7c).

It is clear from examples such as these that Drake was not trying to offer anything approaching accurate mapping of the roads he illustrated. Instead, his map offers an indication of the roads’ broad directions. On the western side of the map, Drake’s Strata ad Vallum deviates away to the east from what appears be the River Lune as it extends north, whereas in reality the two get closer together, although they never quite converge. Similarly, his representation of his road ad LUGUVALLUM from Scotch Corner (unnamed on the map) to Carlisle (located off the map to the northwest) would meet his Strata ad Vallum at roughly the correct latitude in relation to the Tees Estuary on the eastern side of the county, although it incorporates a change of alignment on Gatherly (contemporary Gatherley) Moor and appears to be projected on a straight line west of there, taking no account of the topographical challenges presented by Stainmore and the upper Eden Valley.

Drake’s attention to topography and geography in Yorkshire is scant. Perhaps Drake was constrained by the limitations on the period’s surveyors, although logarithmic tables and portable angle-measuring instruments had been available from the first half of the seventeenth century. His road from Malton to Burlington (Bridlington) passes through Sledmere and close to Wharram-le-Street, with Sledmere, incorrectly, located to the north of the latitude of Wharram-le-Street. Contemporary scholarship has a road extending eastwards from Malton towards Bridlington (Margary 1973, road 812), but with the course being traced for no more than six kilometers. That said, recent reconsideration of the previously unlocated Praetorio of Iter I of the Antonine Itinerary, a Roman-period road book, suggests that the name should be applied to a lost Roman-period port in the vicinity of Bridlington (Wilson 2017a). This would suggest that there should be a road from the preceding place in the Itinerary which is argued to be Malton (see below). The name of Wharram-le-Street suggests a location on a Roman road (Cameron 1977, 194-203; Gelling 1978, 153), but the road in question is more likely to be a possible north-south road extending southeast from Malton (Margary 1973, road 813), and not the west-east road to Bridlington. Drake’s road from Malton to Brough, which he regards as uncertain north of Londesburgh (contemporary Londesborough), is now seen as doubtful for the bulk of its length. The accepted route of road Margary 29 is to the east of Londesborough and, to the north of South Newbald, the route of Margary road 2e is to the west. The Londesborough area, as currently known, has not produced any evidence of substantial Roman-period settlement.

Drake and Lord Burlington

In the list of subscribers to his Eboracum, Drake gives particular prominence to Lord Burlington, who had intervened on his behalf after he was unjustly imprisoned for debt (Barr 2004). Lord Burlington had his seat at Londesborough as Baron Clifford, and it is possible that Drake’s placing of a major crossroads was an attempt to flatter his savior; the map shows Drake’s Brough to Malton road intersecting with his Stamford Bridge to Spurn Point Roman road at Londesborough. The same is presumably true with regard to Drake’s replacement of the modern name Bridlington with Burlington given that the development of the Domesday version of the place-name, Bretlinton, is readily philologically traced to Bridlington; there’s no evidence of a Burlington variation (Smith 1937, 100-02).

Drake’s “Uncertain” or “Speculative” Roads

As noted above, some of Drake’s “less certain” roads have been investigated by researchers in the twentieth century and also more recently. Modern scholarship has confirmed the existence of Drake’s road from York to Stamford Bridge as the western end of Margary (1973) road 810 (Haken 2018a). Drake’s York to Malton road has been accepted as “possible” (Haken 2018b); the best evidence for the road’s existence is to be found between York and Stockton-on-the-Forest (Margary 1973, road 800). In contrast, the road that Drake projects from York to the Tees Estuary—which runs through Newburgh and climbs over the Hambleton Hills and the western side of the North York Moors, where it could incorporate the Hambleton Street drove road as a possible element—finds no support in modern scholarship. In functional terms, the road, as suggested by Drake, would have been rendered superfluous by the existence of Cade’s Road (Margary 1973, road 80a), located to the west of the North York Moors on much less challenging terrain.

Hambleton Street itself illustrates a difficult issue faced by Drake and other scholars interested in Roman roads: When is a routeway a Roman road? The Hambleton Street has long been assigned a prehistoric origin (Elgee 1930, 162). It has also been dated to the Roman and Anglo-Saxon periods, as well as to the thirteenth century AD (Spratt 1982, 49-51). Hambleton Street displays no evidence of metaling nor of any other manifestations of Roman-period engineering and fits readily into the corpus of medieval and later drove roads known in Britain (Taylor 1979, 163-68). Hambleton Street’s medieval origins, however, have also been challenged (Hayes 1988, 48). The uncertainty about its origin serves to emphasize an aspect of Drake’s selection of roads. Although some are at best speculative, he sought to locate the major engineered roads, sometimes called “military” or “official” roads. Drake’s map therefore emphasizes roads built by or at the behest of the state to aid the processes of conquest, consolidation and government, rather than those built by local government (the coloniae or civitates), other smaller communities, or individuals, and certainly not the mass of trackways that linked smaller communities and farms (Frere 1974, 96, 125; Jones and Mattingly 1990, 175-77).

Amongst Drake’s other less certain roads, it is now reasonably certain that there was a Roman road along the southern side of the Vale of Pickering, Drake’s road from Malton to Spital, perhaps with the Filey area as its ultimate destination (Margary 1973, road 816). There is evidence for it at the Malton end, within the civil settlement on the Norton side of the river Derwent; its route further east is unknown, but as the case is with many Roman roads in Britain, it may underlie a modern major road: in this case, the A64. Almost entirely speculative is Drake’s road paralleling the coast from Spurn Head, through Sweby (contemporary Sewerby), Spital, and Dunsley to the Tees Estuary. That said, the road he marks to Scardeburgh (contemporary Scarborough) can perhaps be seen as a “possible” road, not as a spur off a road roughly paralleling the coast, but more probably a spur off Margary (Margary 1973) road 816—the road that might underlie A64 today. A north-west to south-east road was found in 2009, south of Seamer village and north of Spital Corner, on a line that could connect the A64 and road Margary 817 (Margary 1973), from where there could be a link through to Scarborough, a site known to have been occupied in Roman times (Kitson Clark 1935, 125-27; Pettersen et al 2012, 127-32, 151-52; Wilson 2017b, 342-43).

Developments Since Drake

Drake’s “uncertain” road from Londesborough to Spurn Point, the most southerly point on the Yorkshire coast, finds no support in modern scholarship for the northern quarter of its length. However, the RRRA record the southern two-thirds, where Drake marks some sections with one solid and one broken line, as “possible,” based on suggestions made in earlier literature concerning a road from Brough to Spurn Head. Similarly, perhaps based solely on the evidence of Drake’s map, the RRRA also marks his “uncertain” road from York to Aldborough as “possible.”

Drake has an “uncertain” road running from Stamford Bridge to Catterick via Easingwold, Thornton-le-Street and Romanby, which he almost certainly derived from observations by John Warburton and Roger Gale (Lukis 1887, 80-82; Warburton 1720). Margary (1973, map 17) and the Ordnance Survey (2016) deviate northwards from Drake’s route south of Easingwold, with the latter marking the route to a point north of Easingwold as “Road (possible).” However, the RRRA states categorically that there is no evidence for a Roman road in this area (Haken 2018c). It is likely that the name “Thornton-le-Street,” along with a length of road known as “The Street” located to the south of Thirsk, misled not only Drake but also later antiquarians and Margary, encouraging them to assume they must indicate the route of a Roman road. Further north, the name Romanby seems to have similarly misled Drake. Its origins lie in the Old Norse Hrómundr, meaning “Romund’s farm,” which became Romanby by A.D. 1398 and has nothing to do with Romans (Smith 1928, 210). However, modern scholarship has accepted the possibility of a road, known as Cade’s Road, on the east side of the Vales of York and Mowbray leading to a crossing of the Tees south of Darlington (Margary 1973, road 80a). Additionally, recent fieldwork has suggested that there may have been a previously unidentified road, or possibly roads, crossing the Vale of Mowbray to link Cade’s Road to Scotch Corner and/or Catterick (Fell 2017).

One “certain” road marked by Drake runs directly from Malton across the North York Moors towards the coast somewhere between Whitby and Dunsley, with the route taking in the complex of Roman military earthworks at Cawthorn Camps (Wilson 2002). The latter are called Castrum on Drake’s map, an otherwise unknown Latin name. Considerable research was undertaken on the possible road line before and during the twentieth century, which suggested a proposed southern terminus at Amotherby to the west of Malton, rather than at Malton itself (Kitson Clark 1935, 39-40, 134-35; Hayes and Rutter 1964). Recent excavations have demonstrated that Wade’s Causeway, as it is known, is neither Roman nor a road. Instead, it’s probably a boundary feature, late Bronze Age or Iron Age in date (Vyner 2013; Vyner, in preparation).

“Roman Period” Place Names

Drake assigns Latin names to many of the places he marks on his map. Some of these are well known and accepted by modern scholarship; examples include Eboracum (York), Cataractonium (Catterick), and Danum (Doncaster). Some of his names are otherwise unknown, such as Castrum for Cawthorn Camps, and probably represent antiquarian invention. Other names are now known to be wrongly applied. The most obvious of these is Delgovitia (a variant spelling of Delgovicia) which Drake applies to Londesborough, presumably in a further attempt to flatter Lord Burlington. That said, he correctly identifies Stamford Bridge as Derventio, the place that precedes Delgovicia in Iter I of the Roman route list known as the Antonine Itinerary (Rivet 1970, 40-41). This identification was lost to modern scholarship for much of the twentieth century; Rivet and Smith, for example, place Derventio at Malton (Rivet and Smith 1979, 333-34). Recent work has rehabilitated Stamford Bridge as Derventio and persuasively argued Delgovicia to be Malton (Creighton 1988).

Modern scholarship has also developed a better understanding of many of the other Latin place-names offered by Drake. He suggests Ribchester, in the west, to be Coccium recorded in Iter 10 of the Antonine Itinerary, a name now associated with Wigan but which was not known to be a substantial Roman-period settlement in Drake’s time. Meanwhile, Ribchester is now known to be Bremetenacum Veteranorum (Rivet and Smith 1979, 277). Similarly, Drake places Legoloium at Pontefract/Tanshelf, the latter name being a medieval name for part of the area, whereas Lagentium, the form of the Latin name now accepted, is today associated with Castleford (Rivet and Smith 1979, 383). Drake assigns the name Cambodumum [Cambodunum] to Almondbury, a major Iron Age hill fort with no evidence of Roman-period occupation. Almondbury is some 4.5 miles southeast of Slack Roman fort and vicus (village). This has also been suggested to be Cambodunum, although recent research suggests the name belongs to the fort and vicus at Adel (Wilson 2016). Drake marks Addle (Adel) on a possible road running south of the river Wharfe from Ilkley to a junction with his ITER a DEVA and Strat ROM. a Derby ad EBOR at Aberford: a location where Roman material has been found, but which has not been recognized as a Roman road junction (Margary 1973, 415; Ordnance Survey 2016). Drake assigns Adel the name Adelocum, which is unknown from Latin sources but was adopted by other antiquarians such as Ralph Thoresby (Hunter 1830, 377); Adelocum should now be dismissed in favor of Cambodunum (see above).

Drake assigns Calcaria to Tadcaster, an identification accepted by modern scholarship, despite evidence of Roman-period occupation being largely limited to casual finds of coins and other objects with few recorded Roman-period structures (Rivet and Smith 1979, 288-89). Drake assigned Ptolemy’s name, Olicana, to Ilkley. This identification stood for a long time, but Rivet and Smith propose Verbeia, suggesting Olicana should be associated with the fort at Elslack, a site not recorded by Drake and located to the west of Skipton (Rivet and Smith 1979, 430-31, 493).

As noted above, Castrum, which Drake applies to Cawthorn Camps, is an otherwise unknown Latin name, as is Castrum Barf located further south on the same road and presumably associated by Drake with the village of Great Barugh. The Barugh element derives from the Old English beorg/berg meaning hill. Both Castrum and Castrum Barf are likely to be Drake’s creations as could be LONGUS VICUS, which he applies to Langburgh/Newton Kyme. Longus Vicus also appears on the inset map taken from the Notitia Dignitatum and, in the form Longovicium, has been suggested as the name for Lanchester, another fort in County Durham. However, Langburgh—meaning long hill or long fortification (Ekwall 1960, 74-75, 286 for the elements)—appears to be an accepted local name for the Newton Kyme site, as Gibson, in his 1695 edition of Camden’s Britannia, relates of the “many coyns dug up” there that “the inhabitants call them Langborrow-pennies” (Gibson 1695, 732).

In line with antiquarian understanding of the time, Drake labels the northern two-thirds of his map MAXIMA CAESARIENSIS and assigns the area of Lincolnshire on his map to the Diocletianic province of BRITANNIAE SECUNDAE PARS. E. Böcking makes the same identification a century later (Böcking 1839, 2.74). The provinces of Maxima Caesariensis and Britannia Secunda were created when the Emperor Diocletian (A.D. 284-305) made Britannia a Diocese sub-divided into four provinces. Modern scholarship favors placing Britannia Secunda north of the river Humber with its capital at York, with Flavia Caesariensis, based on Lincoln, to the south of the river (Jones and Mattingly 1990, map 5:7). However, Rivet and Smith, following Mann and Hassell, allow for the possibility that the province of Flavia Caesariensis was based on York and Britannia Secunda on Lincoln (Rivet and Smith 1979, 46; Mann 196l; Hassell 1976). Despite that uncertainty, modern scholarship is united in placing Maxima Caesariensis in the southeast of England based on London.

Most of the places recorded in the inset from the Notitia Dignitatum came under the military command of the Dux Britanniarum and are believed by today’s scholars to have belonged to the province of Britannia Secunda, where their locations have been identified (Böcking 1839, 2.112). However, the locations of the Diocletianic provincial boundaries are not known with any certainty, and Danum (Doncaster) must have been located very close to the boundary with Flavia Caesariensis if it was in Britannia Secunda. Danum is in Yorkshire, as are Sexta (the Notitia’s name for York as the base for Legio VI Victrix) and Praesidium—if the later name equates with Praetorio identified with Bridlington. However, several of the places on the Notitia map are not in Yorkshire, according both to modern scholarship and also earlier researchers. These include a number of places located in what is, or was until local government reorganization in 1972, County Durham: Arbeia (South Shields), Concangios (also spelled Concangis – Chester-le-Street), and Lavatres (also spelled Lavatris – Bowes), and perhaps also Longus Vicus, if it is Lanchester (see above). Morbium may be Piercebridge located on the River Tees, which separates Yorkshire and County Durham. Verteris (Brough under Stainmore) and Maglova (also spelled Maglona – Old Carlisle) are in Cumbria. Derventio, from the inset map, need not necessarily relate to the Yorkshire site of that name, as Littlechester, Derby and Papcastle, Cumbria (Rivet and Smith 1979, 334) share the Latin name with Stamford Bridge. Additionally, earlier researchers thought that the name could belong to Ebchester in County Durham (see, for example: Longstaffe 1780, 289). Ebchester, however, is now believed to be Vindomora (Rivet and Smith 1979, 502-03). Dictis, Barboniacum and Magis from the inset are unlocated, although the last may be Burrow Walls, Cumbria (Rivet and Smith 1979, 406-07).

Cartographic, Geographic, and Historical Idiosyncrasies and Uncertainties

Drake labels the lowlands of the River Ouse and its tributaries VALLIS MAGNA EBORACI, or Great Vale of York: a name usually applied to the southern part alone. The northern part of this area has been known, since the medieval period, as the Vale of Mowbray—so named for the family of Robert de Mowbray who was granted the area after the Norman conquest of A.D. 1066. The name “Parisi” appears twice on Drake’s map, located, seemingly randomly, on the Wolds that occupy the south-eastern part of Yorkshire. While the locations chosen are “correct” in that they lie in that part of the County believed to be within the civitas (local governmental unit) of the Parisi (Halkon 2013, 133), Drake does not similarly assign the rest of Yorkshire to any named group. Both contemporary and eighteenth-century scholarship, however, place it within the civitas of the Brigantes (Hartley and Fitts 1988, 1-2).

Brough, otherwise known as Brough-on-Humber, is believed to be the Petuaria of Ptolemy’s Geography and the Ravenna Cosmography (as Decuaria), an identification supported by the discovery of an inscription (Collingwood and Wright 1965, number 717). Drake randomly places Petuaria in the middle of the Yorkshire Wolds without any symbol that might suggest the presence of a settlement or town. Similarly, he places Praetorium, Praetorio of the Antonine Itinerary, on Spurn Head, again without any form of symbol; as noted above, however, it is now believed to have been located close to Bridlington (Burlington on Drake’s map).

Drake calls Bridlington (his Burlington) Bay GABRANTUICORUM SINUS PORTUOSUS vel SALVTARIS, which means ‘‘bay of the Gabrantovices suitable for a harbour” (Rivet and Smith 1979, 364). The tribal name Gabrantovices, thought to belong to a sub-tribe or sept of the Brigantes, suggests that the name should relate to a location further north than Bridlington and, probably, Filey, both of which are believed to be within the Parisian rather than the Brigantian civitas. However, it should be noted that the location of the boundary between the two civitates is uncertain (Wilson 2009, 109). Rivet and Smith associate the name Dunum Sinus with the estuary of the river Tees, which Drake marks as Ostium flu Teife (Rivet and Smith 1979, 344-45). This name is otherwise unknown in Latin and is, presumably, Drake’s translation of Teesmouth. Drake assigns Dunus Sinus to Whitby harbour—one of the few safe anchorages between Bridlington and the estuary of the river Tees—probably because of the proximity of the village of Dunsley. However, Dunsley is derived from the Old English Dunesla, meaning Dun’s forest clearing, and is therefore unrelated to Ptolemy’s Dunus Sinus. If Rivet and Smith’s identification of Dunus Sinus at the Tees Estuary is correct, there are several possible locations for Gabrantuicorum Sinus Portuosus vel Salvtaris; the north and south bays at Scarborough, both of which are relatively open, or more probably the estuary of the River Esk at Whitby, which provides a sheltered natural harbour on an otherwise largely inhospitable coast. Further south, Drake calls Spurn Point OCELLUM PROMONTORIUM, which Rivet and Smith accept as a possibility, but they prefer Flamborough Head located 35 miles to the north (Rivet and Smith 1979, 429).

Drake has the sea randomly populated with ships and smaller craft that in some cases could be suggested to bear some resemblance to vessels of the medieval period. However, some ‘Roman’ characteristics can be identified – the galleys in the Humber Estuary (ABUS AESTVARIUM) close to PRAETORIUM and north of Whitby, both appears to carry rams and the ship positioned east of Filey Bay, bears some resemblance to a Roman period merchantman. These details suggest a knowledge of Roman ships, possibly drawn from images on sculpture, on the part of Drake, or perhaps Vertue.


While it is clear that our knowledge of Roman Yorkshire has improved immensely since Drake’s day, it is also apparent that he and his contemporaries had a level of understanding of the major Roman roads and contemporary settlements that all subsequent workers have benefited from. Indeed, insights such as the attribution of the correct Latin name to Malton/Norton suggest that Drake’s work and that of his contemporaries may repay revisiting by present-day scholars wishing to take their subject forward.

Similarly, it is worth recognizing other potential data offered by antiquarian records. Drake’s map provides insights into the development of place names in the nearly three hundred years since its publication. This is demonstrated by Scardeburgh, Drake’s spelling of Scarborough, which provides concrete evidence for the generally accepted view that the standardization of spellings was, in part at least, a product of the Ordnance Survey’s mapping of the country in the mid- to late- nineteenth century, and that modern “accepted” spellings may reflect mis-hearings of dialect pronunciations by their Surveyors.

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