NGRef: TL4459
OSMap: LR154; B20.
Type: Town, Probable Fort

Roads
NNE (28) to Denver (Downham West, Nordelph, Norfolk)
Ridgeway: ENE (28) to Camboritvm
SW (10) to Wimpole Lodge
SSE (13) to Great Chesterford
Via Devana: SE (20) to Wixoe (Suffolk)

Duroliponte - The Fort at the Bridge

The only classical reference to mention the Latin name for Cambridge is the Antonine Itinerary of the late-2nd century. In Iter V of this work, which documents "the route from Londinium to Luguvalium", the entry Duroliponte appears 25 miles from Camboritum (Lackford, Suffolk) and 35 miles from Durobrivae (Water Newton, Cambridgeshire).

The Via Devana ran south-east towards Camulodunum (Colchester) via a possible settlement and fort near Wixoe on the Stour; and north-west to Durovigutum (Godmanchester) where it terminated, the route northwards continuing via Ermine St. through Durobrivae (Water Newton) towards Lindum (Lincoln). The Iron-Age trackway known as the Ridgeway crossed the Via Devana about 8 miles south-east of Duroliponte, leading south-south-west 6 miles to the site of the Claudian fort at Great Chesterford, and north-east towards the settlement and possible fort at Camboritum (Lackford).

Another trackway led south-west to Wimpole Lodge probably continuing to Verulamium, and north-east through the marshy-fenlands which marked the eastern borders of the Iceni, towards the ancient settlement of Snettisham on the Metaris Aestuarium (The Wash).

From the positioning of other known fort sites in this area along Ermine St., being aware of the the Roman habit of leaving fortified garrisons around a days march distant along major routes, and lastly, the naming of the suburb of Chesterton on the north bank of the Cam, it can be reasonably assumed that Duroliponte started life as a civilian settlement next to a fort.

In spite of much excavation, nothing of military significance has been noted, which may mean either that the fort was actually sited south of the river, or that the garrison was soon withdrawn.

Milestones from Around Cambridge

Girton, Cambridgeshire, 3 miles NW of Cambridge

D N FL IVL CRISPO NOB CAEES FL CONS TANTINI MAXIMI PII FILIO DIVI CONSTANTI PI NEPOTI

"For our lord [Gaius] Flavius Julius Crispus, noble Caesar,¹ son of Flavius Constantinus Maximus Pius,² grandson of the divine Constantius Pius.³"

(RIB 2239; milestone; dated: 317-326AD)

  1. Crispus - The eldest son of Constantine by his first wife Minervina. He was proclaimed Caesar while in his mid-teens in the 'Treaty of Serdica' on 1st March 317AD, along with his younger half-brother Constantinus and the like-named son of the co-emperor Licinus, then both infants. He was executed by the order of his own father at Pola in Istria sometime during May 326, reputedly for an adulterous liason with his step-mother, Constantine's second wife Fausta, who was also put to death.
  2. Constantine - Born at Naissus in February 272AD or 273, he was proclaimed Caesar by the troops of the Sixth Legion in Britain followinig his father's death in 306 and became Augustus in 307. He ruled jointly with Licinius from November 308 until the latter was forced into abdication in 324 and suicide the following year. He died of natural causes near Nicomedia on 22nd May 337. The title Maximus was acquired in 312.
  3. Constantius I - Born March 250AD in Illyricum, appointed Caesar March 292, accession to Augustus May 305, died of illness at Eburacum/York in July 306.

Although no Latin text on stone is reported in the R.I.B. for Cambridge itself, a few Roman milestones or honorific pillars have been uncovered from the line of the Via Devana to the north and south of the settlement. Two pillars have been uncovered at Milton some three miles to the north, one of which was re-used and re-inscribed in ancient times and is now heavily damaged; the primary inscription reads ...R... AVG, "[...] the Augustus" (another name for the Emperor), while the secondary text reads NOBILISSI CAESAR "the most noble Caesar" (RIB 2236).

Milton, 3 miles NNE of Cambridge

IMP CAES FLA VAL CONSTANTINO PIO NOB CAES DIVI CONSTANTI AVG PII FILIO

"Imperator Caesar Flavius Valerius Constantinus Pius, noble Caesar, son of the divine Constantius Augustus Pius."

(RIB 2237; milestone; dated: 306-307AD)

  1. respectively Constantine and Constantius I - see notes #2 & #3 above.

Other Roman Remains in the Neighbourhood

There are Romano-British potteries about 4 miles to the north-east at Waterbeach (TL4963) near the south-eastern end of the Car-Dyke, and another pottery kiln about 3½ miles along the Wixoe road to the south-east at Cherry Hinton (TL4855). There are also a number of substantial Roman buildings in the area; two to the north of the Cambridge settlement itself (at TL4560 & TL4561), and another at Comberton (TL3854) near the Roman barrow at Barton (TL3954) lies about 5 miles to the south-west, about half way along the road to the Wimpole Lodge settlement. Another large Romano-British building, possibly a villa, lay about 2½ miles further upstream along the Cam at Grantchester (TL4355).

See: Chronicle of the Roman Emperors by Chris Scarre (Thames & Hudson, London, 1995);
Chronology of the Ancient World by E.J. Bickerman (Thames & Hudson, London, 1980);
The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965);
All English translations, including any inherent mistakes, are my own.