Clavsentvm

Port and Roman Burg

Clausentum – The Enclosure

The small Roman town of Bitterne appears in the Antonine Itinerary of the late-second century as the first station on Iter VII, entitled “the route from Chichester to London”, where it appears as Clausentum, twenty miles from the southern terminus of the itinerary at Noviomagus Regnorum (Chichester, Sussex), the civitas capital of the Regnenses tribe, and ten miles from the next stopover at Venta Belgarum (Winchester, Hampshire) the capital town of the Belgae. The identification of the Clausentum entry with Bitterne is, however, unsure, and this station in the Seventh Itinerary may equally be associated with a possible Roman site at Wickham in Hampshire, which also roughly matches the distances stated in the Itinerary.

An entry in the obscure seventh-century work, the Ravenna Cosmology (R&C#29) has also been associated with the Bitterne settlement. In this document the station Clauimo appears between the entries for Durocendum (Chew Stoke, Avon), and the unknown station Morionio.

The Roman name of the settlement and port at Bitterne is most definitely Latin in origin, from the verb claudo 'to enclose', meaning literally, the enclosing, or an enclosed place.

The Clausentum Roman Fortifications

Bitterne is a spit of land projecting into the river Itchen across its base is an ancient fortification consisting of a ditch, earthwork and wall; on its tip is a triangular walled enclosure with a ditch to landward. The outer wall was 9 feet thick, with bonding-courses, an earthen mound behind it, and towers at its ends. The walls of the triangular enclosure, which was about 51 acres in extent, seem to be Roman work of the late third or fourth century, and may represent a citadel built for a seaport town at a period when Saxon raids began to make such towns unsafe (Roman London, PP.77-78 ; V.C.H. Hants).” (Collingwood 1930 p.53)

An internal area of 8 acres is quite small for a fortified town, but Clausentum must have warrented the expenditure of so much labour and materials because of its proximity to the wealthy and prosperous tribal city of Venta Belgarum which it served as a sea-port. It may also have served in a military role as a secure port on the south coast of Britain, which may also explain the funding of such a project.

The Epigraphy of Roman Bitterne

RIB97 - Altar dedicated to Ancasta

DEAE
ANCA
STAE G
EMINV
S MANI
V S L M
To the goddess Ancasta, Geminus, son of Manius, willingly and deservedly fulfilled his vow.
Ancasta is otherwise unknown. See CIL viii 23833 (ILS 9395) for C. Manius.

Roman Milestones from Clausentum

RIB2228 - Fragmentary milestone

[... ] P[...]T XVIII
V[...]AS [...]N RV[...]NAM
VET[...]STA[...] C[...]N[...]AB[...]
VDINIM R[...]STI[...]
...in his eighteenth year of tribunician power restored the roads which had fallen in through age ..
No commentary. Addenda from RIB+add. (1995): 4.  Birley Review, 230, points out that Severus (a.d. 210) can be excluded, since his sons would have been named as well.

RIB2222 - Milestone? of Gordian III

IÍ¡MÍ¡P C M
AÍ¡NÍ¡T GOR
DIAÍ¡NO
P FE AÍ¡VG
RÍ¡P B P
For the Emperor Caesar Marcus Antonius Gordianus Pius Felix Augustus, the canton of the Belgae (set this up).
Gordian III, a.d. 238-44.

RIB2224 - Milestone of Gordian III and Tetricus

Primary
For the Emperor Caesar Marcus Antonius Gordianus ..
Secondary
For the Emperor Caesar Exsuvius Tetricus Pius Felix Augustus.
Gordian III, a.d. 238-44, and Tetricus 270-3.

RIB2223 - Milestone of Gallus and Volusian

IÍ¡MÍ¡P CC
GAÍ¡LLO
EÍ¡T VOLÍ¡VSI
AÍ¡NO AÍ¡VG
G
For the Emperor-Caesars Gallus and Volusian, both Augusti.
Gallus and Volusian, a.d. 251-3.

RIB2226 - Milestone of Tetricus

[...]MP CA[...]
G AESVIO
TETRICO
P F AVG
For the Emperor Caesar Gaius Aesuius Tetricus Pius Felix Augustus.
Aesuio may be a variant spelling of Esuio, or a misreading of Pio Esuio.While Englefield’s text looks like a misreading of RIB 2225, his figure and description of it as ‘a square stone of very neat workmanship’ make it difficult to equate it with RIB 2225. It seems better to suppose with Haverfield (EE) that there were three, not two, inscriptions to Tetricus at Bitterne. The local scarcity of stone will explain why three milestones of the same emperor had been collected from the vicinity for building these defences R.P.W.Tetricus, a.d. 270-3.

RIB2227 - Milestone of Aurelian

IMP CAES LV
CIO DOMI
TIO AVRELIANO
For the Emperor Caesar Lucius Domitius Aurelianus.
a.d. 273-5, after Aurelian had recovered Britain; see also RIB 2309.

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References for Clavsentvm

The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965); The Archaeology of Roman Britain by R.G. Collingwood (Methuen, London, 1930). The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965); The Archaeology of Roman Britain by R.G. Collingwood (Methuen, London, 1930). The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965); The Archaeology of Roman Britain by R.G. Collingwood (Methuen, London, 1930). The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965); The Archaeology of Roman Britain by R.G. Collingwood (Methuen, London, 1930).

Map References for Clavsentvm

NGRef: SU4313 OSMap: LR196

Roman Roads near Clavsentvm

NNE (11) to Venta Belgarvm ESE (24) to Magnvs Portvs (Bosham Harbour, West Sussex) Possible road: WNW (5) to Nvrsling (Hampshire) ESE (28) to Fishbovrne