Explanatory alphabetical list of Romano-British place-names
Part 10: S → U
[For information as to which names appear in this list and which not, and an explanation of the abbreviations employed, click on Alphabetical List menu provided above]
Rivet and Smith prefer the reading Saudonio and take this name together with the previous Ravenna name, Mediolano. The argument runs that Mediolanum Santonum at Saintes, north of Bordeaux, is the only Gallic or Hispanic name in Ravenna which has a tribal adjunct, here Santonum, attached to it, and this uniqueness so impressed the compiler of Ravenna that when he saw a Mediolano on his map of Britain he added the same tribal adjunct to it, albeit with n → u.
The above argument seems a little far-fetched. As it stands Sandonio is a straightforward compound in the hill-letters s and n, where the old-style element nd means 'hill summit'. The Celtic settlement called Sandonio will thus have been on the top of raised ground close to the river Trent at Sandon. The Roman fort may have been on the same site or somewhere else in the vicinity, perhaps controlling a crossing of the river. Wherever it was the Roman fort simply took its name from the Celtic settlement. Note that Trisantona, the Celtic name of the river Trent, may possibly be a river-name of the kind in which a river-prefix, here Tr, is attached to a place-name comprising one or more hill-letters, here Sandonio, the river-name thus being somewhat of the form Trisandonio which, with the minor change of d→ t and a slight modification of the ending, becomes Trisantona. It is of course alternatively possible that the Romans simply transferred the river-name Trisantona to their fort. The initial Tri was then dropped and the t changed to d.
SCADUMNAMORUM see ISCA DUMNONIORUM
SEDUNO/SEGEDUNO see SERDUNO
The first element of this name is believed to be derived from hypothetical Indo-European segh, which gave rise to words in a variety of languages, those words being thought to have meanings such as 'power, force, strength, vigour, daring, bold'. The second element is thought to be derived from hypothetical British loc, taken to mean 'lake, pool'. Rivet and Smith thought the name as a whole might then mean 'violent pool', and Jackson suggested 'pool with a rapid current'.
But Segeloci appears a reasonably straightforward topographical name. The name will be an old-style compound in the hill-letter s and the old-style element gel, meaning ‘steep hill’, with an oci ending. The name is associated with the Roman settlement at Littleborough in Nottinghamshire, but it will originally have been the name of the Roman fort on the other side of the Trent, on the road to Marton. The west wall of the fort is described as standing on a scarp, which probably accounts for the gel element in the name, though there is a more impressive slope just a little to the SE, at the village of Marton itself.
The first element of this name is believed to be derived from hypothetical Indo-European segh, which gave rise to words in a variety of languages, those words being thought to have meanings such as 'power, force, strength, vigour, daring, bold'. Jackson thought the fort-name was taken from a river-name, hypothetical British Segonti, taken to mean 'vigorous river'.
But Seguntio is a topographical name. The seg element means 'hill steep' and the unt element means 'hill high'. However, nt is an inversion-type element in the hill-letter n2 and there is no evidence of n2 -people having lived in the region around Caernarfon. But we see the hill-letter n1 in the can element of Descecanglion, either the hillfort at Castell Caer Seion, overlooking the mouth of the river Conwy, or that upriver at Pen y Gaer, near Caerhun (see the notes for the Deceangli tribe in paragraph 5 of Chapter 27). And Ravenna’s Mediomano at Tomen-y-Mur was probably Celtic Nediomano, again using the hill-letter n1. It is thus highly likely that the hill-letter n in Seguntio is n1, the Celtic name having been Segundio (nd = ‘hill summit’) and having been transferred to Caernarfon from one of the several Iron Age hillforts in the vicinity. It may be noted in passing that Rivet and Smith refer to two places called Segontia in Spain, one at Sigüenza (Guadalajara) and the other at Segunto (Valencia). In both places the original fortification or settlement was in fact on the summit of a steep hill.
[The entry for Seguntio was last modified on 11 March 2021]
|(var. Seduno)||(Tyne & Wear)|
Segeduno is conventionally taken to be the correct form and Rivet and Smith see this name as being derived ultimately from a hypothetical Indo-European root segh, this having derivatives in a variety of languages with meanings such as 'power, force', 'strength, vigour', 'daring, bold' and even 'victory'.
Rivet and Smith refer by way of example to Segobriga at Segorbe in eastern Spain. But Segobriga is a straightforward topographical name having the inversion-type element seg (meaning 'hill steep') qualified by the transitional element brig (meaning 'high hill steep'). And in fact Segorbe stands on a peninsula of high ground jutting abruptly out of the lower ground to the north, east and south. Rivet and Smith refer also to examples of the name Segodunum, and in particular to the one at Rodez in southern France. A second example is held by French scholars to have been at Suin, a little NW of Macon in Burgundy, and a third is held by German scholars to have been at Bad Wimpfen, just north of Heilbronn in southwest Germany. But Rodez stands on an elevated site bounded by very steep sides, Suin stands at the top of a hill which also has very steep sides, and Bad Wimpfen stands high above the river Neckar with a very steep drop down to the river. So far as the steepness of slopes is concerned, the slope down to the Tyne at Wallsend is simply not in the same league as the slopes at the other places mentioned above, so the Wallsend Segeduno may not be a genuine name of this kind. Now, according to the ND the Wallsend fort was garrisoned by a cohort of Lingones. The Lingones are believed to have occupied the region around Langres and Dijon, a little to the north of Macon, so it is likely that many of the men stationed at Wallsend were familiar with the Segodunum at Suin. It thus seems probable that the original name of the Wallsend fort was indeed Ravenna's Serduno, that the r was dropped at some point, leaving Seduno, the variant form of the ND name, and that the Lingones changed the odd-looking and unfamiliar Seduno to the more familiar Segeduno. The change of the linking vowel from o to e is of no significance - it has no bearing on the meaning of the name.
Serduno is of course a straightforward topographical compound with the hill-letters s and r and the inversion-type element duno meaning 'summit of hill'.
Example of deletion of letter - r
Example of changing a name to a more familiar form
SIDUMANIS see SITOMAGO
|(a river)||(Iter IX)||(Suffolk)|
Jackson thought the first element might be derived from hypothetical British sito, taken to mean 'long, wide'. Rivet and Smith prefer the form Senomagus for the name, similar to the Sinomagi of the Peutinger map. They then see a derivation from hypothetical British seno, taken to mean 'old'. The second element they see as being derived from hypothetical British magos, taken to have meant 'field, plain' originally but to have taken on the meaning 'market' later. They thus see Senomagus as meaning 'old market', in contrast to Noviomagus, which they see as meaning 'new market'.
Ptolemy's Sidumanis is likely to be a place-name transferred by the Romans to a river, in this case the river Blyth in Suffolk, and the mileages given in the AI and the Peutinger map point to a location in the Halesworth-Holton area. Presumably the name is that of an early fort which controlled a ford on the Blyth or on its tributary at Halesworth. Ptolemy's form is earlier than that of the AI and so is likely to be closer to the original Celtic name. The sid element means 'hill summit', but since there is raised ground at both Halesworth and Holton this is of no help with the identification. However, no matter where the early fort was, it is likely that the name was later transferred to a Romano-British settlement in that area. But note that the name will originally have been that of an Iron Age hillfort or settlement somewhere in that region. The name may earlier have been Sidumaranis if that settlement had fallen into the hands of the Iceni, who used the hill-letter r, or Sidumalanis if it had fallen into the hands of the Trinovantes, who used the hill-letter l1. The latter possibility is attractive since the river-letters corresponding to the hill-letters s, m and l of Sidumalanis are b, r and t and it is possible that the known r/l interchange could lead to the modern river-name Blyth, where the t has been replaced with th.
[The entry for Sitomago was last modified on 13 May 2021]
Rivet and Smith see this name as being Ptolemy's tribal name Smertae misread as a place-name. This cannot be correct - the Smertae lived in the far north of Scotland, whereas the order of names in Ravenna appears to indicate quite clearly that the place called Smetri was in the north of England.
By analogy with Smetriadum at Bainbridge, Smetri is a topographical compound in the hill-letters s, m and r, where the inversion-type element met means 'hill high'. The order of names in Ravenna appears to indicate that Smetri was somewhere between Slack (to the west of Huddersfield) and Chesterfield. No obvious candidate presents itself. But note that the d→t change is common in Romano-British place-names, so the Celtic name might have been Smedri, referring to a location on the summit of a hill.
[The entry for Smetri was last modified on 12 February 2021]
|but more probably||(North Yorkshire)|
Rivet and Smith prefer the reading Sinetriadum and take this name together with the previous Ravenna name, Stodoion. They see Stodoion Sinetriadum as a corrupt form of the Latin transliteration Pteroton Stratopedon of Ptolemy's Greek name for Pinnata Castra. But that cannot stand - it is clear from the order of names in Ravenna that neither Stodoion nor Smetriadum was within 100 miles of any location ever suggested for Pinnata Castra.
Smetriadunum, to keep close to the form given by Richmond and Crawford, is a topographical compound in the hill-letters s, m, r and n, where the inversion-type elements met and dun respectively mean 'hill high' and 'summit of hill'. The name thus appears to be a correct topographical description of the site of the fort. In addition, note that the river-letters corresponding to the hill-letters s, m and r are b, r and s. The river-letter b appears in the name of the river Bain, which flows past the fort, and the river-letters r and s appear in Isur, the then name of the river Ure, which is joined by the Bain at a point just north of the fort at Bainbridge.
But note that the d→t change is common in Romano-British place-names, so the Celtic name might actually have been Smedriadunum, the med element referring to a location on the summit of a hill. Thus if there is no evidence of an Iron Age hillfort/settlement on the same hilltop site as the Roman fort at Bainbridge, then Celtic Smedriadunum must have been on a hilltop somewhere else in the vicinity. It is unlikely to have been the earthwork on the west side of the river Bain immediately southwest of Bainbridge, since this looks too insignificant to have been of interest to four successive waves of Celtic settlers and then to the Romans. A more attractive site would be the summit of the hill known as Addlebrough, just south of Bainbridge, but opinions seem to be divided as to whether there was ever an Iron Age hillfort/settlement at that location.
Note that the hill-letters s, m and r of Smedriadunum are used in the old-style manner and the river-letters r and s corresponding respectively to the hill-letters m and r would give a river-name of the form Urus (of course with an ending such as on or ena) as the then name of the river Ure. This form makes it easier to understand why the modern river is called the Ure upstream of Linton-on-Ouse but the Ouse downstream. The people who lived around Eburacum at York used the hill-letter r and river-letter s. They applied their river-letter s to the stretch of the river flowing through their territory. This stretch of the river is still today called the Ouse. But they knew that the stretch of the river upstream of their territory was called the Urus, which, to them, just meant ‘Ur river’. They thus saw Ur as being the proper name of that part of the river and that proper name has survived right down to the present day as the river Ure. On the face of it, then, the Romans altered the order of the river-letters in the river-name when they transferred the latter to the new tribal centre, Isurium, at Aldborough, near Boroughbridge. But note, too, that after the changeover from old-style to inversion-type place-names and the corresponding change in the manner in which new river-letters were added to existing river-names, the people of the York region may have stopped talking of the ‘Ur river’ (i.e. of the Urus) and began talking of the ‘river Ur’. They would now place their river-letter s before the Ur and for some reason this s was given an initial I rather than a U. The full name of the river Ure thus changed from Urus to Isur and this change will have occurred long, long before the Romans arrived in that region. The Romans thus transferred the new river-name correctly to Isurium at Aldborough, close to the river Ure.
But note another possibility. The Celtic name may have been Smedriladum, where lad means ‘hill summit’ (the element is also seen in Bladobulgio, the Celtic form of the AI’s Blatobulgio at Birrens). There are other names in the region around Bainbridge which include the hill-letter l1 in old-style elements, e.g. Camulodono at Skipton, Caluvio at Ingleton, Galluvio at Casterton, Lavaris at Bowes and apparently Clindum at Clint, northwest of Harrogate, so the form Smedriladum would not be surprising in that region. This third possibility does not affect what is written above regarding the rivers Bain and Ure, since those river-names are related only to the hill-letters s, m and r of the place-name.
[The entry for Smetriadum was last modified on 13 May 2021]
The derivation presented by Rivet and Smith appears to be based on the assumption that Sorbiodoni was at Old Sarum, near Salisbury, so there seems little sense in repeating it here since Sorbiodoni was not at Old Sarum.
This name appears only in the AI and is to be identified as Badbury Rings, the name originally being that of the hill-fort but later being transferred to the Roman post at the foot of the hill. Old Sarum, close to Salisbury, was the (S)aranus of Ravenna, to take the reading of Richmond and Crawford, or (S)aramis, to take the reading of Rivet and Smith. The initial S of the above forms is present in Ravenna as the last letter of the previous name, Colonea(s), but it seems quite clear that the s belongs to Aranus/Aramis.
Of the two forms given in the AI Sorbiodoni is likely to be the earlier because it includes the adjectival b meaning 'high', which goes better with an element doni, meaning 'summit of hill', than does a v meaning 'side or slope' of a hill. But the b meaning 'high' comes before its hill-letter, so there must originally have been another hill-letter between the i and the o. The Celtic name of the hill-fort at Badbury Rings was thus most probably Sorbilodoni. This name is a compound comprising the hill-letters s and r, an element bil meaning 'high hill' and an inversion-type element doni meaning 'summit of hill'. It is to be noted that the main river near Badbury Rings is the Stour, and this river-name has the river-letters s and t corresponding to the hill-letters r and l of Sorbilodoni.
The Iter XII form may be just a wrongly copied version of Sorbiodoni, or it may be a genuine development showing the change of b to v and an unimportant change in the second-last vowel of the name.
Example of missing hill-letter (l )
Possible example of b → v
SORVIODUNI see SORBIODONI
|Deventiasteno||Statio Deventiasteno (11)||Penzance|
Rivet and Smith attach Statio to the preceding Ravenna name, Devionisso, and see Deventiasteno as a corrupt form of Derventio Statio, where Derventio is the well-known river name and Statio a Latin term taken to refer to a posting station or a tax-collecting office. However, Richmond and Crawford refer to five Continental inscriptions including the term Statio and in every case Statio precedes a place-name. This also appears to be the case with the only other Statio in Britain, Statio Tamaris (though strictly speaking Tamaris is a river-name rather than a place-name), where Statio Tamaris appears to qualify the name Elconionemedo (Launceston). It thus seems sensible to keep Statio and Deventiasteno together.
As in the case of Statio Tamaris the second Statio is also followed by a river-name, for the simplest interpretation of Deventiasteno is that it is a river-name of the kind comprising a river-prefix, here Deventi, attached to a place-name, here Asteno, this place-name comprising the inversion-type element st meaning 'hill high'. The river-prefix is similar to the river-name Derventio but it comprises only the river-letter t at the beginning and end (changed to d at the beginning) and the river-letter b, changed to v, in the middle. The en will just be the ending of the river-prefix when it existed in the Deb or Dev form, before the river-letter t was added to it. The term Statio presumably indicates that a fort at Penzance was a tax-collecting office for the local mining industry. The development of the name was presumably somewhat like Deventiasteno → Ventiasteno → Bentiasteno → Penzasteno → Penzance.
Example of t → d
Example of b → v
|Stodonion||Stodoion (158)||Nether Denton|
Rivet and Smith see the adjacent Ravenna names Stodoion Sinetriadum (they prefer Sinetriadum to Richmond and Crawford's Smetriadum) as corresponding to, or perhaps as a corrupt form of, Pteroton Stratopedon, a Latin transliteration of Ptolemy's Greek name for Pinnata Castra.
The above seems a little far-fetched. In any event the order of names in Ravenna makes it clear that Stodoion was nowhere near any location so far suggested for Pinnata Castra. The vowel combination oio is unusual in Romano-British place-names, so that one feels there must originally have been a consonant there somewhere. The name may have been Stodonion, where the inversion-type elements st and don respectively mean 'hill high' and 'summit of hill'. The fort called Stodoion in Ravenna will thus have stood on the summit of a high hill, a description which is entirely appropriate for the fort at Nether Denton. The den element of the modern name may have started out as the don of Stodonion. But the onion of Stodonion might just be the ending of the name. In this case one would expect to see a hill-letter before the d, so that the place-name comprises the inversion-type element st qualified by an old-style element meaning ‘hill summit’. The old-style element may have been ld or nd (one sees both l1 and n2 in Cambaglanda at nearby Birdoswald), this yielding a Celtic name of the form Stoldonion or Stondonion. But note that if Stoldonion/Stondonion had not been on the same site as the Roman fort then the place-name must have been transferred to Nether Denton from some other location in that region.
[The entry for Stodoion was last modified on 13 May 2021]
Rivet and Smith describe this name as being grossly corrupt and suggest no derivation.
The order of names in Ravenna appears to indicate that Subdobiadon was an early Antonine fortlet a little to the east or southeast of the later Wall fort at Kirkintilloch (this identification is explained in Chapter 22: The Antonine Wall). The name is basically an old-style topographical name which has lost two of its hill-letters. If the name is entirely old-style it may have had a form such as Sub[re]dobi[l]adon, comprising the hill-letter s, the old-style element bred, meaning 'high hill summit', and the old-style element bilad, also meaning 'high hill summit'. Alternatively, the don at the end of the name might be an inversion-type element meaning 'summit of hill'. The first part of the name is then an old-style compound somewhat of the form Subredobila, comprising the hill-letter s, the old-style element bred, meaning 'high hill summit', and the old-style element bil meaning 'high hill'. Of course the missing hill-letters may not be exactly the same as those indicated above by way of example, but the suggested form seems most likely to be correct, bearing in mind that the normal chronological order of the hill-letters is n1, s, m, r, l1, n2, l2. It is highly probable that the name was transferred to the Antonine Wall fort at Kirkintilloch when this was built. But note that Celtic Subredobiladon was most probably the hillfort at Carlston (NS 629 745), a little WNW of Kirkintilloch, and the name was simply transferred, modified to Subdobiadon, to the early Antonine fortlet referred to above.
[The entry for Subdobiadon was last modified on 13 May 2021]
This name is generally held to comprise a hypothetical personal name Sullonios together with an acu suffix often held to mean ‘estate of’. Rivet and Smith see the is ending as a locative plural perhaps indicating ‘the family of Sullonios’ or ‘the descendants of Sullonios’. Against this is that Romano-British place-names including personal names are very rare, so in general it is wise to avoid inventing a personal name, in the present case a hypothetical Mr. Sullonios, to explain any particular place-name.
There seems no good reason to doubt that the name refers to the Roman post at Brockley Hill, though the inclusion of the name in Iter II may indicate that there was rather more than the known pottery production centre on the site. Watling Street comes from the southeast, from Londinium, ascends Brockley Hill, changes direction to the north-northeast and then drops down the other side. The pottery production centre appears to have been located at the highest point of the road, though the summit of the high ground is a little to the west. The name is thus most probably topographical and will earlier have been the name of a Celtic settlement on the summit of that same piece of high ground or on the summit of the neighbouring high ground on the other side of the modern M1 motorway. The Romans will simply have adopted the name of the Celtic settlement for their own post at Brockley Hill. The double l is unlikely to have been present in the Celtic name, so the first part of the name may have been a compound in the hill-letter s and the old-style element ld meaning ‘hill summit’. The most likely form of the second part of the name is dinacis where dinac is an inversion-type element meaning ‘summit of hill steep’ (cf. the denec element of Vresmedenaci, apparently the Celtic form of Ravenna’s Bresnetenaci at Ribchester). The development of the name may have been Suldodinacis → Sullodinacis → Sulloinacis → Sulloniacis. The Celtic name will thus have been a compound in the hill-letters s, l1 and n2, which is entirely possible. But another possibility should be noted. There are cases where the letter c in a place-name changed to s, as in Ravenna’s Gabrocentio → Gabrosenti of the Notitia Dignitatum, so it is possible that the Suld part of Suldodinacis was originally the old-style element Culd, meaning ‘steep hill summit’ (though there is no guarantee that the vowel was always a u). The place-name would then be a compound in the hill-letters l1 and n2, as in the case of Londinium, a few miles to the southeast, but the inversion-type element dinac of Suldodinacis/Culdodinacis would be later in date than the old-style element nd of Londinium.
|or||(Iter II)||(North Yorkshire)|
Rivet and Smith see the correct form as being Tadoritum, the first element being derived from hypothetical tata taken to mean 'grandfather', and the second from hypothetical ritu taken to mean 'ford', the name thus meaning 'ford of the grandfather', in contrast to 'ford of the son' or 'ford of the young man', the meaning assumed for Maporiton, the name after Tadoriton in Ravenna.
Tadoriton is, however, a topographical name, where the dorit element corresponds to the dert of Omiretedertis - the element means 'summit of hill high'. The place-name thus presumably refers to a location up on top of one of the hills on the western side of the river Wharfe at Tadcaster. The initial t of Tadoriton means 'high' in inversion-type names (and in transitional names where the adjective 'high' comes after the hill-letter), so it seems clear that a hill-letter is missing - and that hill-letter was before the t in the original name. Now the name before Tadoriton in Ravenna is Carbantium (originally Carbandium) and it seems quite clear that Ptolemy's Carbantorigum is a conflation of Carbandium and Tadoriton. It is therefore quite likely that Tadoriton was originally Cartadoriton, where cart is a transitional element meaning 'steep hill high', or Cardadoriton, where card is an old-style element meaning 'steep hill summit'. Ptolemy, or a medieval copyist, was probably copying Carbandium, wrote down Carband and when he looked at his primary text again he saw the initial Car of Cartadoriton, thought he was looking at Carbandium and then wrote down the oriton which he saw at the end of the name, after the d. He had thus produced the false name Carbandoriton, and it is this name which has come down to us as the Carbantorigum of Ptolemy's Geography.
The AI name Calcaria merely indicates that there were limestone quarries at Tadcaster. But whereas Calcaria was the official Roman name, Tadoriton evidently survived amongst the local population and re-emerged in the modern name Tadcaster.
Note that Cartadoriton/Cardadoriton may have been a Celtic settlement up on the high ground west of modern Tadcaster and the name was simply transferred by the Romans to a fort which they built on lower ground close to the river Wharfe, the fort probably controlling a ford on the river.
Example of initial letter(s) missing
Example of eye jumping a line when copying
Example of complete change of name within the Romano-British period, though the older name survived
[The entry for Tadoriton was last modified on 31 March 2022]
|(Perth and Kinross)|
Rivet and Smith see Tagea as a duplicate of Ptolemy's Tameia. Richmond and Crawford saw a possible derivation from hypothetical tegea, taken to mean 'the houses'.
Given the location of Strageath in the territory of the Damnoni, and given that the Damnoni used the hill-letter m, it is likely that the Celtic name was Matagea, meaning 'hill high steep'. It is a name very like the Macat of Macatonion (Dymock) but with the adjectives 'steep' and 'high' in reverse order. But the name seems inappropriate for the actual site of the Roman fort, which stands on a relatively gentle slope going down to the river Earn. It is likely, therefore, that Matagea was a Celtic settlement somewhere in the vicinity, and located adjacent a steep, high hill, and the name was simply transferred by the Romans to their fort at Strageath. Muthill would be one suitable location for that Celtic settlement, Crieff another.
TAMARIS see ELCONIONEMETO
Rivet and Smith see Tameia as a river-name perhaps derived from hypothetical tam, taken to mean 'dark'. But they appear to prefer to follow Nicolaisen, who suggested a hypothetical Indo-European root ta, taken to mean 'to flow'. The tam of Tameia might then simply mean 'flowing one, river'.
Ptolemy locates Tameia/Tamia in the territory of the Vacomagi. Tamia is a river-name like Tamesa (the Thames) and the tham part of the modern Witham. And just as the Tamesa was associated with Londinium and the Witham with Lindum Colonia, so the Tamia will have been associated with the Lindum which Ptolemy actually locates in the territory of the Damnoni, southwestern neighbours of the Vacomagi. The river Earn (formerly the Arnete) was in the territory of the Damnoni and the river Almond (formerly the Veromo) in that of the Vacomagi, so it seems quite clear that the Tamia was the river Tay. In other words the Tay was then called the Tamia in the territory of the Vacomagi, but it was called the Tava/Tavus further downstream, outside the territory of that tribe. Note that the m in Tamia is the river-letter applied to main rivers by people who used the hill-letter n, and the Vacomagi did in fact use the hill-letter n2. Ptolemy’s Pinnata Castra appears to have been the legionary fortress at Inchtuthil and his Bannatia a Celtic settlement at Dunkeld (though Ptolemy does not normally refer to Celtic settlements). The Celts did not normally transfer river-names to settlements near a river, but the Romans did so on numerous occasions (see Home menu /Chapter 2, paragraph 4.1.15 for examples), so Tamia was most probably a Roman fort which had simply taken its name from the river Tamia. That fort will have been upstream from Inchtuthil, most probably near the confluence with the Tummel so that it could control all movement along the valley of that river. Lindum might also have been a Celtic settlement (like Bannatia) , but it may have been another Roman fort to which the name of the Celtic settlement had been transferred. That Roman fort was most probably further west than Tamia, somewhere in the upper Tay valley around Loch Tay, in an area which the Damnoni might well have brought under their control, so that the Roman fort called Lindum did in fact lie in the territory of the Damnoni, as Ptolemy indicates. The Roman forts Tamia and Lindum were probably built in AD85, the year work appears to have started on the legionary fortress at Inchtuthil, and were no doubt abandoned at the same time as the fortress, this generally being believed to have happened in AD86, or possibly AD87.
[The entry for Tameia/Tamia was last modified on 13 January 2021]
Rivet and Smith take the view that this name should be Terminon, corresponding to the Latin word Terminus, used here in the sense 'boundary, boundary-stone'.
But Termonin is not a place-name at all, no matter how it is spellt. To appreciate how the word is used one has to understand how the compiler of Ravenna operated. He often listed names along some alignment (not necessarily a Roman road) and when he reached some particular place he would use it as a node, proceeding to list places on two or three sub-alignments out of that place. At the end of his list of names on one particular sub-alignment he would return to his node and then list places on another sub-alignment out of that same place. But at Exeter he acted differently. At Exeter he interrupted his list of names on an alignment from Penzance up to Ilchester in order to list some names on a different alignment, an alignment not out of Exeter. This interruption is the significance of the word Termonin. And then, when he has finished listing place-names on that other alignment he brings us back to Exeter with the words: Iterum iuxta suprascriptam civitatem Scadoniorum. And having brought us back to Exeter he then continues his list of place-names on his main alignment up to Ilchester with the words: est civitas quae dicitur Moriduno (Hembury Hill).
TRAIECTUS see ABONA
This name is referred to by Tacitus in his Agricola, 38.
There has been much discussion of this name in the past, though no consensus as to derivation and identification has emerged. In the interests of brevity the reader is simply referred to Rivet and Smith 1979 for an account of the various opinions put forward.
Trucculensem is an adjectival form of a river-name Truccula, and this is a river-name of the kind comprising a river-prefix, here Tr (comprising the river-letters t and r), attached to a place-name, here Uccula. And Uccula is a minor modification of Ucsula. It thus seems possible that Tacitus is here referring to Ptolemy's river Uxella, originally Ucsela, Ucselda or Ucselva, the modern river Parrett. Ucsela/Ucselda/Ucselva is a place-name in the hill-letters s and l, the cs element meaning 'steep hill', eld meaning 'hill summit' and elv meaning 'hill slope'. The Roman harbour may have been at Puriton, on the river Parrett and at the end of Margary road 51. Note that Puriton is located adjacent a steep hill and so might even have been the location of the place called Ucsela. It is more likely, however, that Ucsela/Ucselda/Ucselva was the hill-fort now known as Cannington Park, and the name was simply transferred by the Romans to a fort/settlement/harbour built by them at or near Combwich.
But there are other possibilities. The Axe in Devon was Ravenna's Traxula, originally Tracsula, and the latter form may well have been rendered Truccula by Tacitus. Another possibility is the river Looe in Cornwall. Ravenna's Uxelis was apparently at Liskeard, so the river Looe might well then have been referred to as the Trucselis. In addition, Ravenna's Eburocaslum was apparently the fort at Broomholm on the river Esk which flows into the Solway, and Eburocaslum appears to be a latinised version of Celtic Eburoucselum. Here, too, the river may have been referred to as the Trucselum. And the Axe in Somerset was called the Iscalis, perhaps even being referred to as the Triscalis. Finally one should bear in mind the rivers Esk in Cumbria and North Yorkshire. Those rivers must have taken their names from place-names of the Isca, Iscalis, Ucselis family, so either of them might conceivably have been the Truccula of Tacitus.
That is probably as far as the place-name evidence can take us. A precise identification of the Trucculensem Portum will depend on a correct analysis of the text of Tacitus, on the assumption that that text is factually correct.
TUESIS see TUESSIS
|(Perth & Kinross)|
Rivet and Smith see this as a river-name transferred to a camp built on the banks of the river concerned. They take the river to be the Spey, though in this regard they were misled by erroneous information in Ptolemy (see Chapter 18: Errors in the Geography of Ptolemy). Watson suggested derivation from a hypothetical root tu taken to mean 'to swell', whereas Ekwall suggested hypothetical teva or tu, as in Sanskrit tavas meaning 'powerful' and tavisi meaning 'power'. Rivet and Smith propose a hypothetical river-name Taves connected to a hypothetical root ta, though they apear not to suggest a meaning for their hypothetical root.
Tuessis is, however, simply a place-name of the kind in which the essa-type ending, referring to a position at the top of a steep slope and overlooking a river, is added on to the end of the river-name. The Tu was presumably originally Tav, this being the river Tavus, now the Tay. The t of Tav is of course just the river-letter t and the v is a modified river-letter b. This river-letter b corresponds to the hill-letter s, which was of course the hill-letter used by the people who employed the essa-type ending. Bertha stands on raised ground at the confluence of the Tay and Almond, the steep slope referred to in the essa-ending being the river embankment. It is, however, much more likely that Celtic Tavessis was an Iron-Age hillfort close to the Tay and that the Romans simply transferred the place-name to the fort which we now call Bertha. There was a hillfort a little further up the Tay at Broxy Kennels (NGR: NO 091 279) and another downstream at Dow Hill (NGR: NO 149 215). The latter fort stood at the top of a steep slope on the south bank of the Tay, so the essa-type ending would be entirely appropriate. The Romans transferred the place-name from their fort to the river and of course for them the Firth of Tay was the Tuessis estuary.
Ptolemy's form merely omits one s - cf. Ravenna's Demerosesa for Demerosessa.
Example of omission of letter - s
[The entry for Tuessis was last modified on 11 June 2020]
TUNNOCELO see IULIOCENON
|(Perth & Kinross)|
Rivet and Smith offer no etymology and suggest that the name is highly corrupt. They further point out that there are no analogues anywhere of names starting with Ugr.
But Ugrulentum is in fact a topographical compound in the hill-letters r, l and n, corresponding respectively to the river-letters s, t and l (for minor rivers and tributaries) or m (for major rivers). Now, the place-name before Ugrulentum in Ravenna is Matovion, the fort at Cargill on the river Isla near its confluence with the Tay. Matovion includes the m and t mentioned above, so it seems clear that Matovion was actually a river-name transferred to the fort at Cargill. It follows that the part of the modern river Isla between Cardean and the confluence with the Tay must have been called Matovion in the Romano-British period. The name Isla includes the river-letter l applied to minor rivers and tributaries as well as the river letter s corresponding to the hill-letter r in Ugrulentum. Two things follow from this. Firstly, a name resembling Isla must have been applied to that part of the modern river Isla upstream from Cardean. And secondly, since the river-letter s comes before the l in Isla, the first element of Ugrulentum must really have been an inversion-type element. In other words the Celtic name of Cardean must actually have been Rugulentum. The river joining the modern Isla at Cardean is the Dean Water. The d of this name is presumably just a modified t, t being the river-letter corresponding to the hill-letter l in Rugulentum.
Example of rearrangement of letters in a Celtic name
Rivet and Smith suggest that this name is likely to be corrupt. If the name is taken literally, they suggest, the closest parallels are in the Gaulish divine name Ucuetis and the place-names Ucetia (now Uzès, Gard, France) and Ucesia (now Villaviciosa, Avila, Spain), though the meanings of these are unknown. For the case where the name is indeed corrupt they offer a number of possible corrections, even going so far as to suggest that Ugueste might be a duplicate of Begesse.
Ugueste, however, looks like a topographical name, but some letters are missing. It has a g, which has the meaning 'steep' in topographical names, and the inversion-type element st meaning 'hill high'. The structure of the name Ugueste is similar to that of the name Ugrulentum, rather suggesting that two hill-letters are missing in Ugueste. The then name of the river Forth helps us recreate the Celtic place-name - this was the Bdora of Ravenna and the Boderia of Ptolemy. Both river-names comprise the river-letters b, t (changed to d) and r, which respectively correspond to the hill-letters s, l and m. It is likely that these hill-letters were present in the Celtic place-name. And since the chronological order of the hill-letters in Ugueste must be the same as that of the corresponding river-letters in Bdora/Boderia, we can see that the form of the Celtic place-name must have been somewhat like Muguleste. We can go one step further if we look at the other Romano-British place-names in east central Scotland which include the hill-letter s. These are Marcotaxon (= Marcotacson) and Levioxava (= Leviocsava) in Strathearn, a little to the north of Stirling, and Pexa (= Pecsa) and Beg(s)esse a little to the south of Stirling. In all four of those names the hill-letter s is used in an old-style manner (qualifying letter before the hill-letter) and so it is not unreasonable to conclude that the hill-letter s is also used in an old-style manner in Muguleste. In other words the final element of the Celtic place-name must have been esde meaning 'hill summit' rather than este meaning 'hill high'. The Celtic place-name was thus Mugulesde. This name rather suggests that there was an Iron Age fort called Esde on top of the hill at Stirling, where the castle now stands, and this name later (after the arrival in that area of people who used the hill-letter l) became associated with the hill itself, the latter being known as 'hill called Esde', i.e. as Lesde. Then, later, those people who used the hill-letter m (apparently the Damnoni) took over and for them the hill was 'a steep hill called Lesde' or, in their language, Mugulesde. Now we know from the name Demerosesa (the Roman fort at Drumquhassle) that the Damnoni did use the element dem meaning 'summit of hill', so the fact that there is no such element in Mugulesde rather suggests that the Damnoni founded a settlement called Mugulesde (i.e. the settlement took its name from the hill) at the foot of the hill, perhaps adjacent a crossing of the river Forth. The Roman Flavian fort took the name of that settlement - Mugulesde - and was most probably located at some convenient point to enable it to control that river crossing. Note that the new Celtic settlement on the low ground (replacing the fort on top of the hill) may actually have been founded by the people who used the hill-letter l and was simply taken over by the Damnoni.
Example of letters missing from a name
Example of d → t
URIOCONIO see VIRICONION
UROLANIUM see VERULAMIUM
This name is generally thought to be derived from hypothetical uxo, taken to mean 'high', and perhaps by extension 'noble', the name as a whole then perhaps meaning 'high place', perhaps 'noble place'.
Ucsacona appears, however, to be a straightforward topographical compound in which the old-style element con meaning 'steep hill' is qualified by the earlier old-style element ucs, which also means 'steep hill'. The name seems entirely appropriate for the location.
Rivet and Smith see the name as being adjectival, corresponding to hypothetical British Uxelon, the name then perhaps meaning 'high (place)' or 'noble (place)'. Richmond and Crawford appear to take substantially the same view. Rivet and Smith alternatively suggest that the name may be that of an unrecorded river Uxela, misread from a map as a habitation name by the compiler of Ravenna.
The order of names in Ravenna appears to indicate that Uxela was the Roman fort at Chesterfield. Ucsela is a straightforward topographical compound in the hill-letters s and l, where ucs means 'steep hill'. There are steep hills on both sides of the river at Chesterfield, though the ucs in the name presumably refers to the slope on the west side of the river, where the Roman fort (and presumably an earlier Celtic settlement) stood. That earlier settlement appears to have belonged to the Coritani (see 'Ptolemy's Celtic tribes in Britain').
Rivet and Smith appear to equate Ravenna's Uxelis with a place-name obtained by transferring Ptolemy's river-name Uxella to a fort built close to the river concerned. They see Uxela (they prefer one l, possibly correctly) as being primarily a river-name, obtained by applying an adjective based on hypothetical uxo, taken to mean 'high, noble', to an unstated noun meaning 'water' or 'river'. The sense of the name might then be 'noble river'.
The difficulty posed by names such as Iscalis and Uxelis is discussed in the entry for Iscalis. In the present case it is possible that Ucselis was reversed at some stage, this yielding a name such as Lescis, and this in due course yielded the Lisk of modern Liskeard. If the name Ucselis/Lescis was applied to the river at Liskeard, then it may be that the l of Looe is all that is left of the old river-name.
Rivet and Smith appear to see this name as being a river-name obtained by applying an adjective based on hypothetical uxo, taken to mean 'high, noble', to an unstated noun meaning 'water' or 'river'. The name might then mean 'noble river'.
The difficulty posed by names such as Iscalis and Uxella is discussed in the entry for Iscalis. But, however it came about, the name Uxella came to be applied to the river, now the Parrett, and so Ptolemy's Uxella estuary was the estuary of the Parrett. But it was the Celtic river-name which survived. Parrett will originally have been somewhat of the form Baret, this comprising the river-letters b and t corresponding to the hill-letters s and l in Ucsela (in general x = cs). In the present case, then, we can be confident that Uxella was a place-name in the hill-letters s and l - it will have been the name of a Roman fort/settlement on or close to the river Parrett. (For a more detailed treatment of the relationship between place-names such as Uxella and river-names such as Baret, see the entry for Loxa1). Note that the Roman fort/settlement will have taken its name from a Celtic settlement called Ucsela, and that the Celtic settlement will have been adjacent a steep hill (ucs means 'steep hill'), most probably at the top of it, but the Roman fort/settlement itself need not have been adjacent a steep hill.
Note further that Uxella was most probably the hill-fort now called Cannington Park, near Combwich. The Romans will simply have transferred the name to a new fort/settlement/harbour built on the banks of the river Parrett, perhaps at or near Combwich itself. That hill-fort does embrace the summit of a steep hill, so Ucselda would be appropriate, but it also extends a considerable distance down the slope, especially on the eastern side of the hill. It may thus be that Uxella was originally Ucselva, where the old-style element elv means 'hill slope'.
|Ucseludamo||Uxelludamo (152)||Old Church Brampton/|
This name also appears on the Rudge cup as Uxelodum and on the Amiens patera as Uxelodunum. Rivet and Smith see the ND's Axeloduno as being the same place-name, but this refers to a quite different place (Maryport). Rivet and Smith regard Uxelodunum as the correct form of this name, the first element being derived from hypothetical uxo, taken to mean 'high', and the final element from hypothetical Celtic dunon, thought to have meant 'hill' originally and 'fort' later, the name as a whole thus meaning 'high fort'.
The letter x in Romano-British place-names appears most often to represent cs in Celtic names, and Ucseludamo, assuming there should be only one l, appears to be a straightforward topographical compound in the hill-letters s, l and m, where ucs is an old-style element meaning 'steep hill' and dam an inversion-type element meaning 'summit of hill'. The name appears originally to have been that of the Trajanic fort at Old Church Brampton, which stands on the top of raised ground with a steep drop down to the river Irthing, and to have been transferred later, but still in the Trajanic period, to a new fort built at Castlesteads (this is explained in Chapter 20: Rome's frontiers in northern England). Note that the river-letters corresponding to the hill-letters l and m of Ucseludamo are t and r, both of which are present in the modern river-name Irthing, with the t changed to th. The dam part of the name is an inversion-type element in the hill-letter m and the corresponding river-letter, r, is also used in an inversion-type manner, i.e. the r comes before the t in the river-name. The damo ending, which is correct as it stands, appears to have been changed to dunum at some point during the Trajanic period (presumably when the fort was relocated to Castlesteads), perhaps because the dunum-ending was more common and the Romans were more familiar with it. The hill-letters m and l corresponding to the river-letters r and t are also present in Cambaglanda, the original form of Ravenna's Gabaglanda at Birdoswald. The place-names Uxelludamo and Gabaglanda are thus both associated with the river Irthing, so for this reason, too, we can lay to rest the conventional belief that Uxelludamo was at Stanwix and Gabaglanda at Castlesteads.
Note that if, as appears to be the case, the Uxelludamo form is earlier than Uxelodum/Uxelodunum, the double l is not likely to have been present in the original Celtic name. The double l may possibly have been ld, where the old-style element ld means 'hill summit'.
Example of change of ending from damo to dunum
Example of transfer of name to fort at a different location