Comments on alphabetical list of Romano-British place-names




1     It is clear from the place-name list that there were many changes in place-names during the Romano-British period, but only the most common will be discussed here. One of the most common changes of all was → v, this being seen in

Alabona  →  Alavna

Alobergium  Alovergium

Banvobalum → Bannovalum

Benonis → Venonis

Bereda → Voreda

Bernemedo → Vernemeto

Bindogara → Vindogara

Bindogladia → Vindogladia

Bindolande → Vindolande

Bindomi → Vindomi

Bindomora → Vindomora

Canubio → Conovio

Debentiasteno → Deventiasteno

Derbentione → Derventione

Lagubalium → Luguvalio

Lincobigla → Lincovigla

Luba → Luva

Sorbiodoni → Sorvioduno

Tebionisso → Devionisso, and

Toesobis → Deva.


The names Lincovigla and Vindolande appear to date from the Flavian period. In these names the b had already changed to on the Flavian maps used by the compiler of Ravenna. On the other hand Bereda and Lagubalium kept these forms on those same maps - the bv change in these names first appears in the AI, which is thought to have been produced in the first half of the third century.  Bindogladia appears to date from a time shortly after the invasion in AD 43, and this name still has the b. This particular change, bv, at least in place-names, was surely effected by Latin speakers and not by Celtic speakers, for it is a change the latter were hardly likely to make. To the Celts the letters b and v in topographical names had quite different functions. The letter b with a hill-letter was an adjective meaning 'high', whereas v with a hill-letter was a noun referring to a slope, a hillside, quite regardless of whether it was high or not. The Celts surely did not destroy that distinction by changing b to v. It was different with river-names, since there was a river-letter b but no river-letter v. The change from b to v in river-names may therefore have been effected by Celtic speakers, though apparently only in compound river-names, e.g. AlavnaDerventioneDevaDevion. In a simple name with only the river-letter b, the b seems to be retained, for example in Ravenna's Abona, the Avon at Bristol, though admittedly there is only one instance of this in Ravenna. But we see the river-letter b in Ravenna's place-name Abisson and in Ptolemy's river-name Abi.



2     But the reverse change is also seen, i.e. v → b, as in

(Abonetraiectusvicus →) Bonctusvicus → Punctuobice

Alvinundo → Albinumno

Avalava → Aballava → Aballaba

Brovonacis → Braboniaco

Cantiventi/Clanoventa Glannibanta

Lotucobimvion → Loucopibia

Velesedio → Blestio

(Velurcionvicus → ) Vercovicus  → Borcovicio

Vindovala →  Vindobala, and

Vresmedenaci → Bresnetenaci.



Bresnetenaci appears to be a Flavian name, whereas Aballaba was much later. But there was an intermediate stage between Trajanic Avalava and the Aballaba of the ND - this is the Aballava of the Rudge cup and Amiens patera. Both cup and patera appear to have been produced during the Trajanic period, so at least the first v of Avalava appears to have changed to b during the Trajanic period. Glannibanta and Borcovicio date from a much later period. The b in Glannibanta was still a v in the Clanoventa of the AI, and this document is thought to date from the first half of the third century. And Borcovicio appears to date from some time after AD 225, the year Severus Alexander died, since RIB 1594 is dated to his reign and includes the place-name abbreviation VER, indicating that the name was still Vercovicus around that time.



3     One also sees the change b → p, as in

(Abonetraiectusvicus → Bonctusvicus → Punctuobice

Bamvocalia → Pampocalia   (also shows v → b → p

Becsa → Pexa

Benvocrucio/Bendocrucio → Pennocrucio

(Vilatis/Vilacis  →) Bilais → Pilais

Binnatis → Pinnatis

Brocoliti → Procolitia

Burocoronavis → Purocoronavis 

Durolibonde → Duroliponte

Ebio → Epiacum

Lobocarion → Corielopocarium

Lotucobimvion → Loucopibia


Rutubis → Rutupis, and

Yboscessa → Ypocessa.



4     Another fairly common change was d → t, this being seen in

Bernemedo → Vernemeto

Bladobulgio → Blatobulgio

Cerdodalia → Zerdotalia

Combredovio → Combretovio

Durolibonde → Duroliponte

Elconionemedo → Elconio Nemeto

Lacobrinda → Lavobrinta

Lindinonaco → Lintinomago

Maboridon → Maporiton

Masandion → Mantio

Mugulesde → Ugueste

Nedionemedon → Medionemeton

Omirededertis → Omiretedertis

Segundio → Seguntio

Velesedio → Blestio, and

Vresmedenaci → Bresnetenaci.


Of these names Maporiton, Mantio, Ugueste and Bresnetenaci all appear to be Flavian. Omiretedertis was earlier. Blatobulgio appears in the AI, so the change from d to t had already taken place by the date of the AI, though it might have taken place much earlier since there may have been an early fort at Birrens - such a fort may have been an important staging post on the main western route into Scotland during the Agricolan period. But again the change from d to t was presumably effected by Latin speakers. For the Celts the letter d in conjunction with a hill-letter referred specifically to the summit of the hill, whereas t with a hill-letter indicated that the hill was high, and it seems unlikely that the Celts would destroy that distinction by changing d to t.


5     The reverse change can also be seen, i.e. t → d, as in

Nito → Nido

Tano → Dano

Tebentiasteno → Deventiasteno

Tebionisso → Devionisso

Toesobis → Deva

Tuabsissis → Duabsissis, and

Turiarno → Duriarno


Note that the above names, in the case of Devionisso and Duabsissis the first part of the name, are all river-names and all were transferred to forts built on the banks of the rivers concerned or, in the case of Devionisso and Duabsissis,  were incorporated into place-names with an essa-type ending.



6     There was also a change c → v, as in

Lacobrinda → Lavobrinta

Lecidensca → Evidensca

Leciocsava →  Levioxava

Lecilodanum → Leviodanum, and

Racatonium → Ravatonium.



7     There are also examples of xy → xx, where x may be any of a variety of consonants, though n is the most common, and y may be a consonant or vowel. One sees this change in

Bandaventa Bannaventa

Banva → Banna

Banvobalum → Bannovalum

Benvocrucio/Bendocrucio → Pennocrucio

Bulgaeum/Buldaeum → Bullaeum

Cambrolanda → Cambroianna

Conda or Conva → Onna

Condo or Convo → Onno

Gabaglanda → Amboglanno

Iberban → Iberran

Luguvalio → Luguvallo

(Iuliocenon → Iuniocelon →) Tuniocelon → Tunnocelo, and

Vindolande → Vindolanna (→ Vindolana)?


A question mark is placed after the last example since it may just be a case of dropping the d. But it seems more likely that ande changed to anna and then one n was dropped, or simply lost at some stage of copying.


Note that some of the above changes occurred quite early - Onna appears to date from the Claudian period, Cambroianna and Iberran from the Flavian period, and Banna and Onno from the Trajanic period. But others occurred much later -  Luguvallo first appears in the AI and Amboglanno, Tunnocelo and Vindolana in the ND.


But again this change was apparently one effected by Latin speakers. There would seem little sense in the Celts losing the v meaning 'slope' in Banva  or the d meaning 'summit' in Gabaglanda and Vindolande.  One assumes therefore that the names were changed by Latin speakers just to make them sound better, gentler, to the Latin ear.



8     Then there are examples where the initial letter of a name was dropped or lost, these being

Bravonia Ravonia

Camanulodulo → Manulodulo

Cardadonecon → Ardaoneon

Carduaravenatone Arduaravenatone

Carnis Armis

Cartadoriton → Tadoriton

Conda/Conva → Onna

Condo/Convo → Onno

Gabaglanda → Amboglanno

Gobannio Bannio?

Litucodon → Itucodon

Lutuceto → Etoceto

Mucoganges/Lucoganges → Coganges

Mugulesde → Ugueste

Veratino → Rutunio, and

Verbeia → Arbeia.


GobannioBannio is included here on the assumption that the initial Go was in the original name, though this is not certain.

LutucetoEtoceto is included for completeness, though it is unlikely that either form ever actually existed - these names appear to be creations of a careless copyist.



9     Another common change was the omission of a letter (other than at the beginning of a name), this being seen in

Acsireloduno → Acseloduno (→ Axeloduno) (ir omitted)

Begsesse → Begesse (s omitted)

Cambaglanda → Gabaglanda (m omitted)

CambrodunoCamboduno (r omitted)

Castaractonion/Casataractonion → Caturactonium/Cataractone/Cataractoni (s omitted)

Coritisotar → Coritiotar (omitted)

Croconcalana → Crococalana (n omitted)

Demerosessa → Demerosesa (s omitted)

Durovirguto → Duroviguto (r omitted)

Isacinodulno → Iaciodulma (s and n omitted)

Magnis → Magis (n omitted)

Malio, Matio or Macio → Maio (l, t or c omitted)

Medibogldo/MediboglodonoMedibogdo (l omitted)

Mugulesde → Ugueste (l omitted)

OleriscaOlerica (s omitted)

Serduno → Seduno (r omitted)

Sorbilodoni → Sorbiodoni (l omitted)

Toesobis → Deva (s omitted)

TuessisTuesis (s omitted)

VindolandeVindolana (d omitted), and

Yboscessa → Ypocessa (s omitted). 


The omission of the m in Gabaglanda was most likely just an oversight on the part of some copyist. In the case of Vindolande the ending ande may have changed to anna and then one n was dropped or lost.



10     But there are also names with an intrusive letter, for example

CantiventiClanoventa (l inserted)

CogangesConcangios (n inserted)

LavarisLavatris (t inserted), and

Magiovinto → Magionvinio (n inserted) 


11     There are also cases where a new element was added on to the end of a name, for example

Abone Traiectus → Abonetraiectusvicus (vicus added)

CoritisotarCoritisotaroppidum (oppidum added)

DerventioDerventiovicus (vicus added)

LincoviglaLincoviglavicus (vicus added), and

VelurcionVelurcionvicus (vicus added). 

To these may be added two cases where a Celtic element was added, namely

Acsirelo → Acsireloduno (duno added), and

Anderelionuba → Anderelionubita (it added before final a).


Acsirelo is simply Olerisca reversed, where Olerisca is most probably the original form of Ravenna's Olerica.



11.1     All of the extended names listed above were subsequently shortened by deleting internal letters, thus

Abonetraiectusvicus → Bonctusvicus (→ Punctuobice)

Acsireloduno → Acseloduno (→ Axeloduno)

Anderelionubita → Anderita (→ Anderitos)

Coritisotaroppidum → Corstopidum (→ Corstopitum)

Derventiovicus → Devovicus (→ Devovicia)

Lincoviglavicus → Lincovicus (→ Longovico), and

Velurcionvicus → Vercovicus (→ Borcovicio).



12     Finally, three groups which are interesting for their curiosity value as much as anything else.

12.1     Firstly, names which were modified or replaced but which later re-emerged in the modern names. These are:

Ebio → Vindomora → Ebchester

Tadoriton → Calcaria → Tadcaster, and

Binovia → Vinovia → Binchester (possible case: see Vinovia in the Alphabetical List).


12.2     Secondly, cases where a copyist has confused two different names:

Lagentium + Segeloci → Lageloci (→Lageloi → Lageolio)?

Carbandium + Cartadoriton → Carbandoriton (→ Carbantorigum)

Lectoceto + Lutudaron → Lectodaron (→ Lactodoro), and the reverse

Lutudaron + Lectoceto → Lutuceto (→ Etoceto).


Carbantorigum appears in Ptolemy, Lageolio, Lactodoro and Etoceto in the AI. But one assumes that none of these names ever actually existed as a place-name - they were all creations of copyists.


12.3     Lastly, names in which certain letters have been rearranged or swapped over:

Condecor → Conderco

Durbis → Dubris

Iuliocenon → Iuniocelon (→ Tuniocelon → Tunnocelo),

Lucamosessa → Camulosessa

Rugulentum → Ugrulentum, and

Turupis  → Rutupis.




[This page was last modified on 02 February 2024]