Roman Road Maps

They didn’t have a GPS system back in those days.

BBC News link

it is an intensely practical document, more like a plan of the London Underground than a map.

“The red lines are the main roads. Every so often there is a little hook along the red lines which represents a rest stop – and the distance between hooks was one day’s travel.”

“Every so often there is a pictogram of a building to show you that there was a hotel or a spa where you could stay,” he said.

“It was meant for the civil servants of the late Roman Empire, for couriers and travellers,” he added.

Roman Roads

Tiroconium – March 531

In the fair city of Cirencester, the Duke of Clarence hosts a tournament each year for newly-made knights, called Tiroconium. Two knights have stood out as being particularly noteworthy in this years tourney, Sir Borre and Sir Mordred. Just over one hundred knights made the journey to Cirencester, many from Ireland from whence Arthur has returned recently.

Sir Ulrus, son of Ulprus, recently knighted by Bishop Vargus of Dorset, arrives with little fanfare and sets up his camp near fellow Roman, Sir Cunobarrus. The two discuss which squadron they will join in the upcoming melee, while other knights arrive–both announce they will fight for the “South”.

From Lindsey: Sir Elad, Sir Rhufon, Sir Uwain and their handsome leader, Sir Dafydd. Setting up camp near Ulrus, the four join forces with Sir Mordred for the grand melee, almost as soon as they arrive, joining the side of the “North”.

Some sneer at the back of Sir Wolfgang, but none to his face–this mighty Saxon may be uncouth but his size and strength make even the bravest of the young knights think twice before speaking. He too announces his intention to fight on the side of the South.

The Grand Parade and Helm Inspection pass off without incident, although Sir Ulrus makes an impression with one of the judges, Sir Gawaine, and catches the eye of some of the onlooking ladies, although he is oblivious at the time. Later, at the Welcome Feast, Sir Ulrus is seen chatting amiably with a group of ladies, and perhaps quite intently with one of them.

Wolfgang, on the other hand, has challenged any Irishman to hand-to-hand combat, and Sir Cenn takes him up on the challenge. Mordred and Borre draw much of the attention, with their wealth, connections and good looks. Even Sir Dafydd feels a bit left out–his companion, Sir Uwain, is content to just partake of the tourney.

On the morrow, the joust begins. As expect, Sir Wolfgang goes out in the first round (to Sir Aimon)–while wicked with his Great Axe, he shows his lack of experience on horseback. Sir Ulrus does well in the first round, unhorsing Sir Eadric (and wounding him in the process), but goes down in the second to Sir Foulque the French. Almost immediately, Sir Ulrus issues a challenge to his conqueror, but is defeated yet again, losing one of his horses in the process. Seemingly morose, he challenges Sir Mordred to the death, but luckily Uwain is nearby and prevents the herald from announcing such a crazy course of action.

Sir Uwain himself fairs well, unseating Sir Cunobarrus and Sir Cadmar, only to fall foul of his travelling companion Sir Dafydd in the third round. Sir Mordred goes on to win the joust, taking home the destrier offered as a prize. Sir Uwain issues challenge to Sir Dafydd, lance-then-sword, which Sir Dafydd accepts. A spectacular charge by Uwain not only unhorses Dafydd, but leaves him wounded–proud Dafydd calls Uwain off his horse, and Sir Uwain obliges but handily defeats his opponent and forces him to yield. Needless to say, the two part company, especially once Sir Uwain claims Dafydd’s charger as prize.

Sir Wolfgang defeats Sir Cenn in a close fought contest of Great Axe versus Great Spear–one that draws eyes from the wilder parts of Britain. No prize is claimed, as it is simple for love of the fight.

The final event is the Grand Melee, in which Sirs Wolfgang, Ulrus and Uwain acquit themselves well, with Sir Wolfgang lasting until almost the bitter end. The victory is declared for the South, and Sir Borre claims the prize of the Silver Sword for being the last man standing.

Before the prizes are given, Sir Ulrus must face Sir Mordred in the lists. He wears a lady’s favour in his helm, and looks sure and swift in the saddle. Bearing down on Sir Mordred, he unhorses him at first tilt, but Sir Mordred lands well and draws his sword. A clash of arms and Sir Mordred’s sword goes flying, leaving Sir Ulrus the victor.

With the prizes awarded (Sir Foulque won most challenges), Uwain, Ulrus, Wolfgang and Cunobarrus agree to travel to the Pentecost tournament in Camelot, although Sir Cunobarrus will leave them at Silchester. The four set off together on the King’s Road, eastward.