Port and Roman Burg
Clausentum / Clavsentvm – The Enclosure is a 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
STAE ▸ G
S ▸ MANI
V S L M
RIB2228 - Fragmentary milestone
V[...]AS [...]N RV[...]NAM
RIB2222 - Milestone? of Gordian III
P ▸ FE ▸ AÍ¡VG
RÍ¡P B P
RIB2224 - Milestone of Gordian III and Tetricus
RIB2223 - Milestone of Gallus and Volusian
RIB2226 - Milestone of Tetricus
P F AVG
RIB2227 - Milestone of Aurelian
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).
Map References for Clavsentvm
NGRef: SU4313 OSMap: LR196