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De Situ Britanniae

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he Description of Britain, also known by its Latin name De Situ Britanniae ("On the Situation of Britain"), was a literary forgery perpetrated by Charles Bertram on the historians of England. It purported to be a 15th-century manuscript by the English monk Richard of Westminster, including information from a lost contemporary account of Britain by a Roman general (dux), new details of the Roman roads in Britain in the style of the Antonine Itinerary, and "an antient map" as detailed as (but improved upon) Ptolemy. Bertram disclosed the existence of the work through his correspondence with the antiquarian William Stukeley by 1748, provided him "a copy" which was made available in London by 1749, and published it in Latin in 1757. By this point, his Richard had become conflated with the historical Richard of Cirencester. The text was treated as a legitimate and major source of information on Roman Britain from the 1750s through the 19th century, when it was progressively debunked by John Hodgson, Karl Wex, B.B. Woodward, and J.E.B. Mayor. Effects from the forgery can still be found in works on British history and it is generally credited with having named the Pennine Mountains.


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