Monday, 7 March 2011

Derventio Roman Fort

Towards the end of January I had the opportunity to visit the remains of the Roman fort at Malton in North Yorkshire on a wonderfully crisp winter morning.

Sadly at this site, located on the Pickering Road on the outskirts of town on a piece of land known as Orchard Field, there are only earthworks remaining and a single stone erected in the corner of the site commemorating the structure.

The fort was probably known as Derventio, a name recorded in the Antonine itineraria and it is this that I want to comment on. The town of Malton is located on the River Derwent and this got me thinking..... is the fort named after the river or the river named after the fort?

In the itineraria Iter 1 shows the road from Bremenium (High Rochester) to Praetorio (assumed to be Petuaria, now known as Brough on Humber). The Antonine itinerary is quite accurate to Eboracum (York), but then a discrepency creeps in:

Eboracvm - Derventio: 7 Roman miles, 6.5 modern equivalent miles, 18 actual miles
Derventio - Delgovicia: 13 Roman miles, 12 modern equivalent miles, 13 actual miles
Delgovicia - Praetorio: 25 Roman miles, 23 modern equivalent miles, 19 actual miles

The most plausible explanation that has been put forward is that there is a copyists error in the itinerary of vii for xvii and this would then accurately follow the known Roman road network.