So, with the winds behind him, he sought the promised island, and came ashore at Totnes. [I.15]
TOTNES appears very early in the Historia. After the battle of Tours, in which the Trojans, led by Brutus and Corineus, defeat the Gauls, Brutus sails away to find the island which the goddess Diana had told him would be the new home of the Trojans. He lands at Totnes. It is apparently somewhere near Totnes that Corineus wrestles with the giant Gogmagog [see GOGMAGOG'S LEAP ].
From this point on, Totnes apppears several more times in the pages of the Historia: the passages below indicate that it was a favourite debarkation point. The Romans land in Totnes:
When this was discovered, Vespasian was sent by Claudius either to bring about a reconciliation with Arviragus or else to force him baack into subjection to Rome. As Vespasian was preparing to land in Richborough, Arviragus went to meet him and forbade him to come into port. Arviragus had brought such a large force of armed men with him that he scared the Romans and they were afraid to come ashore lest he should attack them. Vespasian therefore withdrew from that port, turned his sails and came ashore near Totnes. [IV.16]
Later, after the Romans have left the island, Constantine II comes from Britanny to take over. He, too, lands at Totnes:
The ships were made ready on the shore. The soldiers were chosen from the various regions of the kingdom and handed over to Guithelinus. As soon as everything was ready, they put out to sea. They landed in the port of Totnes. Without losing a moment they assembled all the young men who still remained in the island, and attacked the enemy. By the skill of this heaven-sent leader they were victorious. The Britons, who until this moment had been scattered far and wide, now flocked together from all sides. A council was held at Silchester and they raised Constantine to the kingship. [VI.4-5]
Merlin warns Vortigern that Uther and Aurelius are sailing towards Britain to take vengeance upon him:
Look for some refuge if you can: for tomorrow they will steer for the shore at Totnes. The Saxons' faces will be smeared with red blood; and when Hengist is killed Aurelius Ambrosius will be crowned king. [VIII.1]
Totnes makes its final appearance when the Saxons, fleeing Arthur after their defeat at the battle of Caledon Wood, renege on their promise to sail back to Germany:
As the Saxons sailed away across the sea on their way home, they repented of the bargain which they had made. They reversed their sails, turned back to Britain and landed on the coast near Totnes. They took possession of the land, and depopulated the countryside as far as the Severn Sea, killing off a great number of the peasantry. Then they proceeded by a forced march to the neighbourhood of Bath and besieged the town... [IX.3]
There are still many remains of its historical past in Totnes; visit Totnes Devon for an overview.