The Geography of Ptolemy - British Section

Ptolemy's Britain
Ebuda 15*0 62*0 Islay? Ebuda Insula 15*40 62*0 Jura? Rhicina 17*0 62*0 Isle of Arran? Malaeus 17*30 62*30 Island of Mull Epidium 18*30 62*0  Kintyre; Strathclyde Monaoeda Insula 17*40 61*30 Isle of Man Mona Insula 15*0 57*40 Anglesey Adru 15*0 59*30 unknown Limnu 15*0 59*0 unknown Novantarum Pen. 0*0 0*0 Rhinns of Galloway Novantarum prom. 21*0 61*40 Mull of Galloway Rerigonius Sin. 20*30 60*50 Loch Ryan; Dumfries & Galloway Vindogara Sin. 21*20 60*30 Irvine Bay; Strathclyde Clota Aest. 22*15 59*20 Firth of Clyde Lemannonius Sin. 24*0 60*0 Loch Fyne? Epidium Prom. 23*0 60*40 Mull of Kintyre ost. Longus Fl. 24*30 60*40 Firth of Lorn? ost. Itis Fl. 27*0 60*40 unknown Volas Sin. 29*0 60*30 unknown ost. Navarus Fl. 30*0 60*30 unknown Tarvedum sive Orcas Prom. 31*20 60*15 Dunnet Head; Scottish Highlands Novantarum Prom. 21*0 61*40 Mull of Galloway; Dumfries & Galloway ost. Abravannus Fl. 19*20 61*0 Water of Luce; Dumfries & Galloway? Iena Aest. 19*0 60*30 River Cree; Dumfries & Galloway? ost. Devas Fl. 18*0 60*0 River Dee; Dumfries & Galloway ost. Novius Fl. 18*20 59*30 River Nith; Dumfries & Galloway Ituna Aest. 18*30 58*45 Solway Firth Moricambe Aest. 17*30 58*20 Morcambe Bay Portus Setantiorum 17*20 57*45 nr. Fleetwood; Lancashire? Belisama Aest. 17*30 57*20 River Ribble; Lancashire Seteia Aest. 17*0 57*0 River Mersey; Merseyside Caeanganorum Prom. 15*0 57*0 Point of Ayr; Clwyd (Deceangi)??= Ganganorum Prom. = Lleyn Peninsula; Gwynedd (Gangani/Ordovices)? ost. Toesobis Fl. 15*40 56*20 Tremadog Bay; Gwynedd ost. Stuccia Fl. 15*20 55*30 Afon Ystwyth; Dyfed ost. Tuerobis Fl. 15*0 55*0 unknown Octapitarum Prom. 14*20 54*30 St. David's Head; Dyfed ost. Tobius Fl. 15*30 54*30 unknown ost. Ratostabius Fl. 16*30 54*30 unknown Sabrina Aest. 17*20 54*30 River Severn; Gloucestershire Uxella Aest. 16*0 53*30 River Axe; Somerset Herculis Prom. 14*0 52*45 Hartland Point; Devon Antivestaeum sive Bolerium Prom. 11*30 52*30 Land's End; Cornwall Damnonium sive Ocrium Prom. 12*0 51*30 Lizard Point; Cornwall ost. Cenio Fl. 14*0 51*45 unknown ost. Tamarus Fl. 15*40 52*10 River Tamar; Devon and Cornwall ost. Iscas Fl. 17*40 52*20 River Exe; Devon ost. Alaunus Fl. 17*40 52*40 unknown Magnus Portus 19*0 53*0 Bosham Harbour; nr. Chichester; Sussex ost. Trisantonis Fl. 20*20 53*0 River Arun; Sussex Novus Portus 21*0 53*30 Sussex Cantium Prom. 22*0 54*0 South Foreland; Kent Virvedrum Prom. 31*0 60*0 Duncansby Head; Scottish Highlands Verubium Prom. 30*30 59*40 Noss Head; Scottish Highlands ost. Ila Fl. 30*0 59*40 River Helmsdale; Scottish Highlands a high shore 29*0 59*40 Foothills of Beinn Dhorain; Scottish Highlands Varar Aest. 28*0 59*40 Beauly Firth; Scottish Highlands ost. Loxa Fl. 27*30 59*40 River Lossie; Grampian Tuesis Aest. 27*0 59*0 River Spey; Grampian ost. Caelis Fl. 27*0 58*45 River Deveron; Grampian Taezalon Prom. 27*30 58*30 Kinnaird's Head; Grampian ost. Deva Fl. 26*0 58*30 River Dee; Grampian ost. Tina Fl. 24*0 58*30 River Eden; Fife Boderia Aest. 22*30 59*0 Firth of Forth ost. Alaunus Fl. 21*20 58*30 River Aln; Northumberland ost. Vedra Fl. 20*10 58*30 River Wear; Tyne & Wear Dunum Sin. 20*15 57*30 Tees bay; Cleveland Gabrantuicorum Sin. with many harbors 21*0 57*0 Bridlington Bay? Ocelus Prom. 21*15 56*40 Spurn Head; Humberside? ost. Abi Fl. 21*0 56*30 River Humber; Humberside Metaris Aest. 20*30 55*40 The Wash ost. Gariennus Fl. 20*50 55*40 River Yare; Norfolk a Promontory 21*15 55*5 unknown ost. Sidumanis Fl. 20*10 55*0 unknown Tamesa Aest. 20*30 54*30 Thames Estuary; Greater London Cantium Prom. 22*0 54*0 South Foreland; Kent Locopibia 19*0 60*20Novantae  unknown Rerigonium 20*10 60*40Novantae  unknown Carbantorigum 19*0 59*30Selgovae  unknown Uxellum 18*30 59*20Selgovae  unknown Corda 20*0 59*40Selgovae  unknown Trimontium 19*0 59*0Selgovae  Newstead; Borders Colanica 20*45 59*10Damnoni  Kirkintilloch, Dunbartonshire Vindogara 21*20 60*0Damnoni  unknown Coria 21*30 59*20Damnoni  unknown Alauna 22*45 59*50Damnoni  unknown Lindum 23*0 59*30Damnoni  unknown Victoria 23*30 59*0Damnoni  unknown Coria 20*10 59*0Otalini Corbridge; Northumberland? Alauna 23*0 58*40Otalini Learchild; Northumberland? Bremenium 21*0 58*45Otalini High Rochester; Northumberland Bannatia 24*0 59*30Vacomagi  unknown Tamia 25*0 59*20Vacomagi  unknown Alata Castra 27*15 59*20Vacomagi  unknown Tuesis 26*45 59*10Vacomagi  unknown Orrea 24*0 58*45Venicones  Carpow; Fife? Devana 26*0 59*0Taezali  Aberdeen; Grampian? Epiacum 18*30 58*30Brigantes  Whitley Castle; Northumberland Vinovium 17*45 58*0Brigantes  Binchester; Durham Caturactonium 20*0 58*0Brigantes  Catterick; North Yorkshire Calatum 19*0 57*45Brigantes  Burrow in Lonsdale; Lancashire? Isurium 20*0 57*40Brigantes  Aldborough; North Yorkshire Rigodunum 18*0 57*30Brigantes  Castleshaw; Greater Manchester? Olicana 19*0 57*30Brigantes  Elslack; Lancashire? Eboracum; Legio VI Victrix 20*0 57*20Brigantes  York; North Yorkshire Camulodunum 18*0 57*45Brigantes  Slack; South Yorkshire? Petuaria 20*40 56*40Parisi  Brough on Humber; Humberside Mediolanum 16*45 56*40Ordovices  Whitchurch; Shropshire Brannogenium 16*45 56*15Ordovices  Leintwardine; Hereford & Worcester? Deva; Legio XX Victrix 17*30 56*45Cornavi  Chester; Cheshire Viroconium 16*45 55*45Cornavi  Wroxeter; Shropshire Lindum 18*40 56*30Coritani  Lincoln; Lincolnshire Ratae 18*0 55*30Coritani  Leicester; Leicestershire Salinae 20*45 55*50Catuvellauni  unknown Urolanium 19*20 55*30Catuvellauni  St. Alban's; Hertfordshire Venta 20*30 55*20Iceni  Caistor St. Edmund; Norfolk Camulodunum 21*0 55*0Trinovantes  Colchester; Essex Luentinum 15*45 55*10Demetae  Pumsaint; Dyfed Maridunum 15*30 54*40Demetae  Carmarthen; Dyfed Bullaeum 16*50 55*0Silures  Usk; Gwent Corinium 18*0 54*10Dobuni  Cirencester; Gloucestershire Caleva 19*0 54*15Atrebati  Silchester; Hampshire Londinium 20*0 54*0Canti  London; Greater London Daruernum 21*0 54*0Canti  Canterbury; Kent Rutupie 21*45 54*0Canti  Richborough; Kent Noeomagus 19*45 53*5Regni  Chichester; Sussex Iscalis 16*0 53*40Belgae  nr. Bawdrip; Somerset? Aquae Calidae 17*20 53*40Belgae  Bath; Avon Venta 18*40 53*0Belgae  Winchester; Hampshire Dunium 18*0 52*40Durotriges  Hod Hill; Dorset? Voliba 14*45 52*0Dumnoni  unknown Uxella 15*0 52*45Dumnoni  Launceston; Cornwall? Tamara 15*0 52*15Dumnoni  Plymouth; Devon? Isca 17*30 52*45Dumnoni  Exeter; Devon Scetis island 32*40 60*45 Skye Dumna island 30*0 61*20 Outer Hebrides (North Uist; South Uist & Isle of Lewis Orcades 30*0 61*40 Orkneys (possibly including Shetlands Thule (west) 29*0 63*0 Thule (east) 31*40 63*0 Thule (north) 30*20 63*15 Thule (south) 30*20 62*40 Thule (middle) 30*20 63*0 Toliapis 23*0 54*20 Isle of Thanet; Kent? Counus island 24*0 54*30 unknown Vectis 19*20 52*20 Isle of Wight; Hampshire

Claudius Ptolemaeus AKA "Ptolemy" was a celebrated geographer and astrologer active between the reigns of Hadrian and Antonine in the second century AD. His most important contribution for Roman Britain, is a list of places given with (Roman) latitude and Longitude. Put together the coastal locations form the outline of Britain and these together with the location of rivers and settlements can be drawn as a map as shown above. This "map" is known as Ptolemy's map. However, it is a copy. We have no idea whether this was the original form and it is possible these coordinates were taken from a more detailed original map. ...

Claudius Ptolemaeus - Geography

Book II, Chapter 1

Hibernia Island of Britannia

[... Ptolemy's description of the Irish coastline, rivers and towns has been omitted from here. ...]

Above Hibernia are the ?Ebuda Insulae five in number

[?= Ebudae Insulae = Hebrides Islands]
the largest of which toward the west is called
Ebuda15*0062°00[?= Islay?]
next to this toward the east likewise is
Ebuda Insula15*4062°00[?= Jura?]
then ?Rhicina17*0062°00[?= Isle of Arran?]
then Malaeus17*3062°30[= Malaius = Island of Mull]
then Epidium18*3062°00[= Epidium Prom. = Kintyre, Strathclyde]

Toward the east of Hibernia are these Islands

Monaoeda Insula17*4061°30[= Manavia Insula = Isle of Man]
Mona Insula15*0057°40[= Mona Insula = Anglesey]
?Adru which is barren15*0059°30[unknown]
?Limnu which is barren15*0059°00[unknown]
[end of chapter one]

Book II, Chapter 2

Albion Island of Britannia

[Part One - The Coastline of Mainland Britain]

A description of the northern coast, above which is the Oceanus Duecaledonius

Novantarum Pen.[== Rhinns of Galloway]
and Prom. of the same name21*0061°40[= Novantarum Prom. = Mull of Galloway]
Rerigonius Sin.20*3060°50[== Loch Ryan, Dumfries & Galloway]
Vindogara Sin.21*2060°30[== Irvine Bay, Strathclyde]
Clota Aest.22*1559°20[== Firth of Clyde]
?Lemannonius Sin.24*0060°00[?= Loch Fyne?]
Epidium Prom.23*0060°40[== Mull of Kintyre]
ost. ?Longus Fl.24*3060°40[?= Firth of Lorn?]
ost. ?Itis Fl.27*0060°40[unknown]
?Volas Sin.29*0060°30[unknown]
Tarvedum sive Orcas Prom.31*2060°15[== Dunnet Head, Scottish Highlands]

Description of the west1 side which borders on the Hibernian Ocean and the Vergionius Ocean

Novantarum Prom.21*0061°40[== Mull of Galloway, Dumfries & Galloway]
ost. ?Abravannus Fl.19*2061°00[?= Water of Luce, Dumfries & Galloway?]
?Iena Aest.19*0060°30[?= River Cree, Dumfries & Galloway?]
ost. Devas Fl.18*0060°00[== River Dee, Dumfries & Galloway]
ost. Novius Fl.18*2059°30[== River Nith, Dumfries & Galloway]
Ituna Aest.18*3058°45[== Solway Firth]
Moricambe Aest.17*3058°20[== Morcambe Bay]
?Portus Setantiorum17*2057°45[?= nr. Fleetwood, Lancashire?]
Belisama Aest.17*3057°20[== River Ribble, Lancashire]
Seteia Aest.17*0057°00[== River Mersey, Merseyside]
Caeanganorum Prom.15*0057°002[?= Ceanganorum Prom. = Point of Ayr, Clwyd (Deceangi)?
?= Ganganorum Prom. = Lleyn Peninsula, Gwynedd (Gangani/Ordovices)?]
ost. Toesobis Fl.15*4056°20[= Tisobis Fl. = Tremadog Bay, Gwynedd]
ost. Stuccia Fl.15*2055°30[= Stuctia Fl. = Afon Ystwyth, Dyfed]
ost. ?Tuerobis Fl.15*0055°00[unknown]
Octapitarum Prom.14*2054°30[== St. David's Head, Dyfed]
ost. ?Tobius Fl.15*3054°30[unknown]
ost. ?Ratostabius Fl.16*3054°30[unknown]
Sabrina Aest.17*2054°30[== River Severn, Gloucestershire]
Uxella Aest.16*0053°30[== River Axe, Somerset]
Herculis Prom.14*0052°45[== Hartland Point, Devon]
Antivestaeum sive Bolerium Prom.11*3052°30[== Land's End, Cornwall]
Damnonium sive Ocrium Prom.12*0051°30[== Lizard Point, Cornwall]

Description of the south side below which is the Oceanus Britannicus

After the Ocrium Prom. is
ost. Cenio Fl.14*00351°45[unknown]
ost. Tamarus Fl.15*4052°10[== River Tamar, Devon and Cornwall]
ost. Iscas Fl.17*4052°20[== River Exe, Devon]
ost. ?Alaunus Fl.17*4052°40[unknown]
?Magnus Portus19*0053°00[?= Magnvs Portvs = Bosham Harbour, nr. Chichester, Sussex]
ost. Trisantonis Fl.20*2053°00[= Trisantona Fl. = River Arun, Sussex]
?Novus Portus21*0053°30[?= nr. Brighton and Hove, Sussex]
Cantium Prom.22*0054°00[== South Foreland, Kent]

A description of the eastern and the southern side next to which is the Oceanus Germanicus

After the Tarvedum Prom., or Orcades, by which it is known
Virvedrum Prom.31*0060°00[== Duncansby Head, Scottish Highlands]
Verubium Prom.30*3059°40[== Noss Head, Scottish Highlands]
ost. Ila Fl.30*0059°40[== River Helmsdale, Scottish Highlands]
a high shore29*0059°40[?= Foothills of Beinn Dhorain, Scottish Highlands]
Varar Aest.28*00459°40[== Beauly Firth, Scottish Highlands]
ost. Loxa Fl.27*3059°40[== River Lossie, Grampian]
Tuesis Aest.27*0059°00[== River Spey, Grampian]
ost. Caelis Fl.27*0058°45[== River Deveron, Grampian]
Taezalon Prom.27*3058°30[= Taexalorum Prom. = Kinnaird's Head, Grampian]
ost. Deva Fl.26*0058°30[== River Dee, Grampian]
ost. Tina Fl.24*0058°30[== River Eden, Fife]
Boderia Aest.22*3059°00[= Bodotria Aest. = Firth of Forth]
ost. Alaunus Fl.21*2058°30[== River Aln, Northumberland]
ost. Vedra Fl.20*1058°30[== River Wear, Tyne & Wear]
Dunum Sin.20*1557°30[== Tees bay, Cleveland]
?Gabrantuicorum Sin. with many harbors21*0057°00[?= Bridlington Bay?]
?Ocelus Prom.21*1556°40[?= Spurn Head, Humberside?]
ost. Abi Fl.21*0056°30[= Abus Fl. = River Humber, Humberside]
Metaris Aest.20*3055°40[== The Wash]
ost. Gariennus Fl.20*5055°40[= Gariannus Fl. = River Yare, Norfolk]
a Promontory21*1555°05[unknown]
ost. ?Sidumanis Fl.20*1055°00[unknown]
Tamesa Aest.20*3054°30[= Tamesis Aest. = Thames Estuary, Greater London]
Next to this the Cantium Prom.22*0054°00[== South Foreland, Kent]

[Part Two - The Tribes and Cities of Mainland Britain]

The Novantae dwell on the side toward the north below the peninsula of this name, among whom are the following towns:
Below are the Selgovae, among whom are the following towns:
Trimontium19*0059°00[= TRIMONTIVM = Newstead, Borders]
From these toward the east, but more northerly, are the Damnoni, among whom are the following towns:
?Colanica20*4559°10[?= COLANIA = Kirkintilloch, Dunbartonshire?]
Further south are the Otalini5, among whom are the following towns:
?Coria20*1059°00[?= CORSTOPITVM = Corbridge, Northumberland?]
?Alauna23*0058°40[?= ALAVNA = Learchild, Northumberland?]
Bremenium21*0058°45[= BREMENIVM = High Rochester, Northumberland]
Next to the Damnoni, but more toward the east near the Epidium Prom. are the Epidi and next to these the Cerones; then the Carnonacae, and the Caereni but more toward the east; and in the extreme east dwell the Cornavi; from the Lemannonis Sin. as far as the Varar Aest. are the Caledoni, and above these is the Caledonian forest, from which toward the east are the Decantae, and next to these the Lugi extending to the Cornavi boundary, and above the Lugi are the Smertae;
below Caledonia are the Vacomagi, among whom are the following towns:
Alata Castra27*1559°20[unknown]
Below these toward the west are the Venicones, whose town is
?Orrea24*0058°45[?= Horrea Classis = Carpow, Fife?]
More toward the east are the Taezali and the town
?Devana26*0059°00[?= Devana = Aberdeen, Grampian?]
Below the Selgovae and Otalini are the Brigantes extending to both seas, among whom are the following towns:
Epiacum18*3058°30[= Epiacvm = Whitley Castle, Northumberland]
Vinovium17*4558°00[= Vinovivm = Binchester, Durham]
Caturactonium20*0058°00[= Cataractonivm = Catterick, North Yorkshire]
?Calatum19*0057°45[?= Calacvm = Burrow in Lonsdale, Lancashire?]
Isurium20*0057°40[= Isvrivm = Aldborough, North Yorkshire]
?Rigodunum18*0057°30[?= Rigodvnvm = Castleshaw, Greater Manchester?]
?Olicana19*0057°30[?= Olenacvm = Elslack, Lancashire?]
Eboracum, Legio VI Victrix20*0057°20[= Ebvracvm = York, North Yorkshire]
?Camulodunum18*0057°45[?= Cambodvnvm = Slack, South Yorkshire?]
Near which on the Opportunum Sin. are the Parisi and the town
Petuaria20*4056°40[= Petvaria = Brough on Humber, Humberside]
Below these are the Brigantes but some distance toward the west are the Ordovices, among whom are the towns:
Mediolanum16*4556°40[= Mediolanvm = Whitchurch, Shropshire]
?Brannogenium16*4556°15[?= Bravonivm = Leintwardine, Hereford & Worcester?]
From these toward the east are the Cornavi, among whom are the towns:
Deva, Legio XX Victrix17*3056°45[= Deva = Chester, Cheshire]
Viroconium16*4555°45[= Viroconivm = Wroxeter, Shropshire]
Next to these are the Coritani, among whom are the towns:
Lindum18*4056°30[= Lindvm = Lincoln, Lincolnshire]
Ratae18*0055°30[= Ratae = Leicester, Leicestershire]
Next are the Catuvellauni, among whom are the towns:
Urolanium19*2055°30[= Vervlamivm = St. Alban's, Hertfordshire]
Next to these are the Iceni, whose town is called
Venta20*3055°20[= Venta = Caistor St. Edmund, Norfolk]
Farther eastward and near the Tamesa Aestuarium are the Trinovantes and the town
Camulodunum21*0055°00[= Camvlodvnvm = Colchester, Essex]
Below the peoples we have mentioned, but more toward the west are the Demetae, whose towns are:
?Luentinum15*4555°10[?= Lventinvm = Pumsaint, Dyfed]
Maridunum15*3054°40[= Moridvnvm = Carmarthen, Dyfed]
More toward the east are the Silures whose town is
?Bullaeum16*5055°00[?= Bvrrivm = Usk, Gwent]
Next to these are the Dobuni, and their town
Corinium18*0054°10[= Corinivm = Cirencester, Gloucestershire]
then the Atrebati and their town
Caleva19*0054°15[= Calleva = Silchester, Hampshire]
Next to these, but farther eastward, are the Canti among whom are the towns:
Londinium20*0054°00[= Londinivm = London, Greater London]
?Daruernum21*0054°00[= Dvrovernvm = Canterbury, Kent]
Rutupie21*4554°00[= Rvtvpiae = Richborough, Kent]
Below the Atrebati and the Canti are the Regni and the town
Noeomagus19*4553°05[= Noviomagvs = Chichester, Sussex]
Below the Dobuni are the Belgae and the towns:
?Iscalis16*0053°40[?= Iscalis = nr. Bawdrip, Somerset?]
Aquae Calidae17*2053°40[= Aqvae Svlis = Bath, Avon]
Venta18*4053°00[= Venta = Winchester, Hampshire]
Toward the west and south of these are the Durotriges whose town is
?Dunium18*0052°40[?= Dvnvm = Hod Hill, Dorset?]
Next to these, but more to the west, are the Dumnoni, whose towns are:
?Uxella15*0052°45[?= Vxelis = Launceston, Cornwall?]
?Tamara15*0052°15[?= Tamaris = Plymouth, Devon?]
Isca, where is located Legio II Augusta17*3052°45[= Isca = Exeter, Devon]

[Part Three - The Remaining British Islands]

The islands which are near Albion Insula and the Orcades Prom. are

Scetis island32*4060°45[= Scitis = Skye]
?Dumna island30*0061°20[?= Outer Hebrides (North Uist, South Uist & Isle of Lewis]

Above these islands are the Orcades, about thirty in number

the middle of which is in30*0061°40[?Orcades = Orkneys (possibly including Shetlands]

Far above these is the island ?Thule.

[?= Thule / Ultima Thule ?= Shetland Islands ?= Iceland ?= Norway == A mythical northernmost inhabitable island.]
The part of this which extends much toward the west is in29*0063°00
that which is farthest eastward is31*4063°00
that which is farthest northward is30*2063°15
that which is farthest southward is30*2062°40
the middle is in30*2063°00

Eastward from the Trinovantes region there are two islands

?Toliapis23*0054°20[?= TANATVS Isle of Thanet, Kent?]
?Counus island24*0054°30[unknown]

Below Magnus Portus is the island Vectis

the middle of which is in19*2052°20[= VECTIS = Isle of Wight, Hampshire]
[end of chapter two]
Textual Amendations
1The 1932 edition has east.
2The 1932 edition has 56°00.
3The 1932 edition has 14*51.
4The 1932 edition has 27*00.
5The 1932 edition has Otadini.

Other Roman Britain Geographical Resources

Antonine Itinerary * Notitia Dignitatum * Ravenna Cosmography * Peutinger Table * Nennius' Cities

The basis for this page is Book 2 of Ptolemy's Geography, the last two paragraphs of chapter 1, and the entirety of chapter 2, purloined from the website of Bill Thayer; which is - he assures me - in the public domain.

For the Complete Text of Ptolemy's Geography

Bill Thayer's Roman Gazetteer

Bibliographical Links

The Geography of Claudius Ptolemaeus, trans. by E.L. Stevenson (Dover, New York, 1991);
Place Names of Roman Britain by A.L.F. Rivet & Colin Smith (Batsford, London, 1979);
Historical Map and Guide: Roman Britain by the OS (4th Ed., 1990);
Page Citation: Mike Haseler, Kevin White (2018) "Roman Britain: Ptolemy's Geography"