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Abstract

Certain versions of the ninth-century _Historia Brittonum_ have an additional chapter (66a), nominally containing a list of "all the cities in the whole of Britain, twenty-eight in number". It has intrigued medieval and modern scholars alike. They have struggled to identify the names as those of Roman Britain's cities, for the most part without success. In the present paper a new approach is tried. While some of the places listed are genuine Roman cities (but also medieval ones), such as Winchester, Carlisle, York, London, Canterbury, or Chester, others are no such thing. They can be shown on the basis of the twelfth-century Book of Llandaff to be monastic and other sites in south-east Wales and the Border, such as Monmouth, Welsh Bicknor, Doward, Trellech Grange, Much Dewchurch, or Llandogo. Others are from more distant parts of Britain, such as Kirkintilloch near Glasgow, or Trevelgue on the coast of Cornwall. The list hence tells us almost nothing about Roman Britain, but a great deal about ninth-century Wales, where a monk living between the Wye and the Usk inadvertently succeeded in passing off a set of local names, with some random additions from elsewhere, as an index to Roman Britain's urban life. It also shows how a readiness to emend name-forms in a Celtic-Latin text may bring sense out of what has been devoid of sense for over a millennium.