Trojan War - The Real Story
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[ 'Where Troy Once Stood' by I.Wilkens, revised edition; Part II, Chapter 1; page 19 of 22 ]

When two goddesses travel from Lemnos (on the Continent, see Map 17, key 23) to the Troad, they leave the sea near Lecton (XIV,284), which would be present Lexden, a small suburb of Colchester, a place inhabited since the Stone Age. More than a millenium after Homer, Colchester was also the most important port of access to Britain for the Romans.

The isle of Tenedos (I, 38) was called Tanatus by the Romans and today the Isle of Thanet. Although it became part of the mainland of southeast England in the Middle Ages, the region is still called the Isle of Thanet. Here many Achaeans returning home after the war made sacrifices to the gods, as we learn in the Odyssey (3,159). Chryse (I, 38), described as a ‘deep harbour' (I,432), was situated on the Thames where the towns of Grays and Crayford as well as the river Cray remind us of the region where Odysseus returned the girl Chryseïs to her father Chryses, who was priest of Apollo and high-priest of ‘holy' Cilla, now the region of Chilham (>Cilla's ham*) near Canterbury. In Roman times there stood a ‘Temple of the Brilliant Apollo' (Templum Candidi Apollinis) near the U-shaped meander in the Thames in east London called ‘The Bow' on which Silvertown is situated26. But already in Homer's time the whole region of the lower Thames between London and the sea was the domain of Apollo, ‘the god of the silver bow', judging by the prayer of the high-priest Chryses to the god, in which he mentions the four sites in the right order downstream along the Thames27:

‘Hear me, thou of the Silver Bow, who dost stand over Chryse and holy Cilla, and dost rule mightily over Tenedos'. (I, 451)

Apollo is also surnamed ‘Smintheus' or Sminthean' meaning ‘mouse-god' as it was believed that he could give or deliver from the plague which apparently was supposed to be transmitted by mice instead of rats. We read in the Odyssey that his half-sister, the goddess Athene, planned to sail up the Thames disguised as a merchant :

[Athene, speaking to Telemachus] : I declare that I am Mentes, the son of wise Anchialus, and I am lord over the oar-loving Taphians. And now I have put in here, as thou seest, with ship and crew, while sailing over the wine-dark sea to men of strange speech, on my way to Temese for bronze ; and I bear with me shining iron'. (1,180-184)

According to Prof. Finley, neither Taphos nor Temese are known as place-names or mining regions and impossible to identify28. But Taphos and the Taphians will be identified in Chapter 18, while Temese not only designated the river Thames but also a settlement on its banks where the alternative name of Pallas Athene, Pallas Okke, is preserved by the town of Ockendon, east of London. (see Explanatory Notes 9: Geographical Names in Homer and 10 : Temese / the Thames).

Of the twelve places on the coast of the Troad and the eleven cities inland which were destroyed by Achilles, only six are mentioned in the Iliad. Apart from the islands (and cities) of Tenedos and Lesbos (see Chapter 4), there was ‘Trojan' or ‘Cilician' Thebes (VI,396), sometimes simply referred to as ‘the town of Eëtion' (IX,189) after the father of Hector's wife Andromache. It was probably Theberton near the North Sea coast in Suffolk.

Lyrnessus, the town of Achilles' girlfriend Briseïs, might be King's Lynn. The town was destroyed at about the same time (XX, 84-96) as the hilltown of Pedasus on the Satnioïs (VI,35) which should therefore be sought on the banks of the Little Ouse about where either the Roman Peddarsway or the prehistoric Icknield way crossed the river. Both towns were inhabited by the Leleges, people from present Norfolk (see Map 19, key 45 in Part IV).


[ 'Where Troy Once Stood' by I.Wilkens, revised edition; Part II, Chapter 1; page 20 of 22 ]

To conclude, Scuros (IX,668) is possibly the Boston suburb of Skirbeck in Lincolnshire, but there was another Scuros, Achilles' homestead29 which was situated on the continent at two to three days sail from the Achaean camp (IX,363) in ‘deep-soiled' Phthia (which was part of the Low Countries, see Map 12, key 11 in Part IV).

One may wonder how the Achaeans were supplied with food. The answer is that they lived off the land as so many other armies did after them. According to Dictys several towns in the Troad hoped to escape destruction by offering enough wheat to feed the Achaean army for a whole year.

There remains an unexplained name (Thymbre) near the city of Troy which is mentioned in the story where during the night the Trojans occupied the battlefield where 'some of their allies were lying towards the sea, others towards Thymbre' (X, 426-431). Thus far, it was always believed that a town or river was meant, but according to Dictys it was a holy wood of Apollo Thymbraean.

More place-names in the Troad will be found in Part IV: ‘The Catalogue of Ships' which lists the Achaean and Trojan regiments and attempts to identify the origin of the Sea Peoples in countries situated along the west coast of continental Europe and in Britain respectively.

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Key to Map 2: Troy in England

Rivers in the Troad

1 Rhesus – Rhee
2 Heptaporus – Hiz and Ivel
3 Caresus – Car dike
4a Rhodius – Roding
4b - Kenneth
5 Granicus – Granta
6a Aesepus – Ise
6b - Lark
7 Scamander – Cam
8 Simoïs – Great ouse
9 Satnioïs – Little Ouse
10 Cayster – Yare
11 Axius – Exe
12 Temese – Thames


13 Gargarus, a peak of the Ida woods – height of the Ditton Woods, Chrishall
14 Callicolone (on the Simoïs) - hill near Colne on the Great Ouse
15Highest hill of Samos of Thrace - highest hill west of the Wash (not identified)

Other Names

16 Samos - region east of the Wash
17 Imbros - region west of the Wash as far north as the Humber river.
18 Scuros - Sheerness(?)
19 Thrace – Lincolnshire
20 Lyrnessus – King's Lynn (?)
21 Pedasus – site on the Little Ouse
22 Asian Meadow – The Broads
23 Thebes in Troad – Theberton
24 Lecton – Lexden
25 The Bow – meander in the Thames
26 Chryse – region of the Cray river, Crayford and Grays
27 Cilla – region of Chilham
28 Tenedos – Isle of Thanet


[ 'Where Troy Once Stood' by I.Wilkens, revised edition; Part II, Chapter 1; page 21 of 22 ]

Key to Map 3: The Battlefield of Troy
(Cambridgeshire, late Bronze Age)


Archaeological find-spots:

The numbers 1 to 18 are described in this chapter.

Other features:

  1. Copley Hill, hillfort with tumulus (Hector's barrow?)
  2. Wandlebury Ring (hillfort), the former Pergamus (IV,508 and VI,512)
  3. Approximate site of the Scaean gates
  4. The hillock between Troy and the sources: Missleton Hill
  5. The springs of Springfield near Cherry Hinton, with the ‘War Ditches' and the limestone quarry
  6. The Cherry Hinton and Coldham Brooks
  7. Fen Ditton or High Ditch
  8. The spot near the confluence of the Scamander and the Simoïs where Here stays her horses (V,775).
  9. The barrow of Ilus (e.g. XI, 166) at Barway.
  10. The ford in the river Xanthus/Scamander/Cam (XXIV,692; wooden trackway found)
  11. The burial mound of Achilles and Patroclus (?) at Freckenham
  12. The barrow of Myrina (II, 814)
  13. Marshland (XX, 221)
  14. Callicolone (‘Beauty Hill' ; XX, 53 and 151) : Colne

BF Burnt Fen

MF Mare Fen

BH Butcher's Hill

SF Sedge Fens (1, 2 and 3)

KP The last leg of Priam's journey to Achilles, accompanied by a safe-conduct (XXIV,349 and further)

C Canalisation of the Cam in the 19th century

G Gates in the wall were seven in all, five of which gave access to the main battlefield, while Priam passed through the most western gate on the other side of the Scamander

H Hector attacks five gates to the Achaean camp with five companies (XII,87), starting off from the region of Ilus' barrow (comp.VIII,489ff with X,415). Once inside the camp he rushes to the ship of Telamonian Ajax (comp XV,416 and 471) which was beached at the eastern extremity of the camp (as Achilles' ship was at the opposite, western, end; VIII,224). Although Hector, being the commander, must have entered the camp through the central gate, he indeed soon finds himself battling near Ajax' ship on the eastern extremity of the beach as the map clearly shows. Hector does not succeed in setting fire to Ajax' ship but he burns the ship of Protesilaus beached next to it (XV,704ff)

P Patroclus hems the Trojans in ‘between the ships, the river and the high wall' (XVI,396)

A Achilles' counterattack splits ‘the Trojan forces in two, driving one part citywards across the plain and the other part into the river' (XXI,1-8)

According to translations ‘the battle surged back and forth over the plain between the Simoïs and the Scamander' (VI,3), but according to the scholia of the 2nd century BC the original line read: ‘the battle surged back and forth over the plain between the Scamander and the bay', which turns out to be the right version

Not yet identified with certainty are:

  1. The shared burial mound of Patroclus (XXIII, 124) and Achilles. A likely site is the great barrow of Isleham Plantation near Freckenham (key 29) for reasons set out in this chapter.
  2. The barrow of Hector, situated outside the walls of Troy (XXIV,783-803) .As the Trojans feared an attack during the 11-day period of mourning, they must have chosen a site close to the city and at the shortest possible distance from the Ida where they fetched the wood for the pyre. Among several Bronze Age barrows near the Gog-Magog Hills a likely site would therefore be the tumulus on Copley Hill (key 19).

  3. The tomb of Aesyetes (an unknown Trojan) situated on a hillock which served as a Trojan observation post near the coast (II, 793).

For more geographic detail readers are advised to consult the Ordnance Survey maps, scale 1:25000.


[ 'Where Troy Once Stood' by I.Wilkens, revised edition; Part II, Chapter 1; page 22 of 22 ]


* Eilert Ekwall, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-names, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1985.

1 Herodotus, The Histories, Book I,57, Penguin Classics.

2 Pelasgoi (<Pelagskoi), derived from pelagos = sea (litt.‘flat surface, of land and sea').

3 Théophile Cailleux, Pays Atlantiques décrits par Homère, Paris 1879.

4 E. Zangger, The Flood from Heaven, Deciphering the Atlantis Legend, Sidgewick & Jackson, London, 1992, pages 213-214.

5 H.J.Mason, The Black Fens, Providence Press, Ely, 1984. See the map "Fenland Waterways, Past and Present", by G.Fowler (1946, revised 1970) made for the Royal Geographical Society.

6 As suggested by P.M. Hughes of Harpenden in private correspondence, September, 1997.

7 Tim Malim et al, New Evidence on the Cambridgeshire Dykes and Worsted Street Roman Road, Offprint from Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society, Vol. LXXXV (1996), 1997. p.29.

8 Alison Taylor, Archaeology of Cambridgeshire,Vol. 2, Cambridgeshire County Council, 1998, p.29.

9 Teichos is cognate with German ‘Deich' or English ‘dyke' and purgos with ‘burg' in the Germanic languages, ‘bourg' in French.

10 Only after Homer, and starting with Herodotus, gephura also meant ‘bridge'.

11 Ezekiël, 38 and 39, in particular 39:1-20.

12 Ovid, Heroïdes I,1,53.

13 Pattison, P., and Oswald, A ; Wandlebury Hillfort Cambridgeshire, Archaeological Field Survey Report, Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 1995.

14 Alison Taylor, op.cit., p.81.

15 Wendy Clark, Once Around Wandlebury, Cambridge Preservation Society, 1985.

16 See article by M. Hinman and T. Malim in Past, the Newsletter of the Prehistoric Society, nr 31,April, 1999.

17 Pierre Grimal, Dictionary of Classical Mythology, Blackwell Reference, 1986.

18 David Hall and John Coles, Fenland Survey, English Heritage Archaeological Report nr 1, 1994, p.137.

19 H.J.Mason, op.cit., see map.

20 Other games included: boxing, wrestling, a foot-race, a duel with the spear, discus-throwing, archery and javelin-throwing. Among the prizes were women, talents of gold, bronze cauldrons, horses, mules, and axes.

21 David Hall and John Coles, op.cit.,p.81-88.

22 Eriswell is probably not an eponym of Eris, the goddess of strife, but rather of Zeus' consort Here (who supported the Achaeans) as the oldest spelling of the name (in the Domesday Book of 1086) is ‘Hereswella', meaning ‘spring of Here'.

23 Immanuel Velikovsky, Peoples of the Sea, Doubleday & Co., New York, 1977.

24 H.C. Coppock, Over the Hills to Cherry Hinton, Plumridge, Linton, Cambridge, 1984.

25 In Greece, also these lines of Homer do not make sense at all due to the haphazard transposition of place-names, as between Samos near the southwestern coast of Turkey, and Imbros, near the northwestern coast, a distance of some 200 kilometers, there are the two big islands of Lesbos and Chios. One would also expect Poseidon to watch the battles from Imbros, the island nearest to Hissarlik, rather than Samothrace. In addition to the regions of Samos and Imbros in the Troad (XIII,33 and XXIV,78) there were also towns with those names situated ‘overseas' (XIV,281 and XXIV, 753; not identified).

26 Michael Harrison, The London that was Rome, The Imperial City Recreated by the New Archaeology, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1971.

27 P.M. Hughes, The New Atlantean, New Solutions to Old Problems, Nr.18, Winter 1991-92.

28 M.I. Finley, The World of Odysseus, Pelican Books, 1979, p. 68.

29 In Greece, Phthia is a region in the northern half of the country, while Scuros is an island in the Aegean.(This is yet another example of the random transposition of place-names from western Europe to Greece).

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Author: Iman Wilkens, FRANCE
Contact address: Trojan War, Tipyn o Gymru, Northway Lane, Tewkesbury, GL20 8HA, United Kingdom

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