A Roman map was quite unlike anything that we may be used to today, and consisted merely of a list of place-names, indeed, the Roman name for a document of this nature was tabula geographica or simply, 'table of places'.
Some Roman 'maps' have survived until the present times, and these geographical tabulae would seem to take many varied forms. The Antonine Itinerary of the second century was a simple list of towns and way-stations along the main military roads throughout the Roman empire, which included the distances measured between the list entries; unfortunately the places on Hadrian's Wall are only mentioned at the points where the itinerary roads crossed the Wall, at Corbridge in the east and Carlisle in the west. The Notitia Dignitatum of the early fifth century tabulated the names of all Roman military installations and their garrison units, but did not give any distances, whereas the Ravenna Cosmography of the seventh century listed only place-names, giving no further information. In both of these later documents though, most of the forts along Hadrian's Wall are included.
Although the Roman generals undoubtedly made use of diagrammatic maps and plans, especially during campaigns, none have survived until modern times. This is very likely due to their being drawn on easily transportable materials such as wood, vellum and parchment, all of which are prone to the destructive ravages of time. In view of the excellent epigraphic evidence unearthed in places such as Vindolanda, where a vast cache of Roman writing material was discovered in the late 1980's, it is perhaps only a matter of time before a Roman pictorial map turns up.
|Click here for a totally un-Roman pictorial map of Hadrian's Wall|
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|Arbeia||South Shields, Tyne & Wear||NZ3667|
|Segedvnvm||Wallsend, Tyne & Wear||NZ3066|
|Pons Aelivs||Newcastle, Tyne & Wear||NZ2563|
|Condercvm||Benwell, Tyne & Wear||NZ2164|
|Onnvm||Halton Chesters, Northumberland||NY9968|
|Aesica||Great Chesters, Northumberland||NY7066|
|Aballava||Burgh by Sands, Cumbria||NY3259|
|Maia||Bowness on Solway, Cumbria||NY2262|