Explanatory alphabetical list of Romano-British place-names
Part 4: D
[For information as to which names are included in this list and which not, and an explanation of the abbreviations employed, click on Alphabetical List menu provided above]
|(a river)||(Iter V, VIII)||(South Yorkshire)|
This name is generally accepted as being a river-name transferred to a fort. Jackson sees a derivation from hypothetical danu, taken to mean 'bold', in the sense of 'rapidly flowing'.
There can be no doubt that Dano is a river-name - it comprises the river-letter t changed to d, the original Celtic name thus being Tano, though of course the ending might have been slightly different. The name of the river was simply transferred by the Romans to the fort which they built at Doncaster.
Example of t → d
Rivet and Smith see this name as a corrupt form of the tribal name Decantae. This is unlikely to be correct as the Decantae occupied a region in the far north of Scotland, whereas at the point where Decha appears in Ravenna the list is dealing with names in central Scoland, more specifically in Fife.
Decha appears to be a modified topographical name. It has the d meaning 'summit' and the c meaning 'steep', but the hill-letter is missing. The original name may have been of the form Delca, meaning 'summit of hill steep'. Decha is identified in Chapter 16 of the Home menu (Roman place-names in Scotland) as Inverkeithing and there is indeed a steep hill immediately adjacent the Inner Bay at Inverkeithing, which may have been a useful harbour for the Romans. The name will have been transferred by the Romans to the local river. Decha will be one of those names which were reversed at some stage, for on reversing Decha and changing c to k and d to th one obtains the form Aketh, which may easily have become Keith at a later date. At some stage the river-name acquired an ing ending and somewhat later a new Gaelic settlement at the mouth of the river took the name Inverkeithing. The development of the name was presumably Delca → Decca → Decha.
Example of omission of internal letter - l
[The entry for Decha was last modified on 26 September 2020]
|2) Velt....||(138)||(Iter I)|
Petuaria is conventionally taken to be the correct form of this name and to be derived from a hypothetical British petuario taken to mean 'fourth', the reasoning being that the Parisi may have been divided into four pagi, Petuaria then being one of the four. This does seem somewhat contrived.
Decuaria and Petuaria appear to be derived from two different Celtic topographical place-names, but both names appear to refer to a Roman installation/settlement at Brough-on-Humber. Excavation has shown that there were a number of occupation phases at Brough and it is entirely possible that there was a time-gap between the end of one phase and the start of the next. It is thus possible that the site at Brough had different names at different times. This is unusual but not unknown (cf. Navione/Virosido at Brough-on-Noe in Derbyshire, Calcaria/Tadoriton at Tadcaster in North Yorkshire and Lagentium/Morbio at Castleford in West Yorkshire). Decuaria will be the earlier of the forms available to us and appears to be based on a straightforward topographical place-name of the form Delcution, where Delcut means ‘summit of hill steep high’. The name probably refers to the Iron Age settlement at Redcliff, just east of Brough. Delcut has been reduced by omission of l and t to Decu. The aria ending appears to have been applied by the Romans themselves. The ending is not common, but one sees examples in Calcaria at Tadcaster and Duronoviomagnoaria at Dorchester in Dorset (Duronoviomagnoaria was shortened to Duronovaria and later to Durnovaria). Petuaria appears to be based on a Celtic place-name starting with the element Velt meaning ‘slope of hill high’. There may have been several Iron Age settlements in the vicinity and that at Redcliff was perhaps the most prominent at the date when Roman Decuaria was built at Brough, whereas a second settlement with a name beginning with the element Velt was most prominent when Roman Petuaria was founded. Note that the element Velt would be entirely appropriate for the topography of North Ferriby. It is not clear whether the Romans again applied the aria ending to their installation at Brough or whether the second Celtic settlement referred to above had earlier adopted the name Veltuaria by assimilation to nearby Decuaria at Brough. But the name Veltuaria was apparently applied to the new Roman installation, the l was dropped and v changed to p. Note that the changes v → b and b→ p are fairly common in Romano-British place-names.
The AI form may be the result of assimilation of the unfamiliar Petuaria to the Latin word praetor.
Example of omission of letters
Example of assimilation to a foreign word
[The entry for Decuaria was last modified on 04 February 2021]
There appears to be no generally accepted derivation of this name. Some scholars see the first element as being derived from hypothetical Celtic delgos, taken to mean 'thorn'. For the second element some have suggested hypothetical Celtic vico corresponding to Latin vicus meaning 'town, village'. Jackson preferred to see a hypothetical tribal name Delgovices, taken to mean 'spear-fighters'.
Rivet and Smith suggest that Delgovicia might have been the Roman settlement at Wetwang in Yorkshire. This may be correct, though the Iter I distances to Derventione (Stamford Bridge) and Praetorio (Brough) point to a location a little west of Wetwang, nearer to Fridaythorpe. The delg of Delgovicia is an inversion-type element meaning 'summit of hill steep' and there is no shortage of steep slopes in that area, some of them accompanied by ancient earthworks. The delg element may refer to the location of the fort itself or it may simply have been transferred by the Romans from a native stronghold or settlement in the vicinity to their fort. But at some point the army appears to have moved on, leaving behind a vicus which became known as Delgovicus, and this became the Delgovicia of the AI. There are other names which were formed in the same way. Thus Velurcionvicus became Vercovicus and this turned into the Borcovicio of the ND. Likewise Lincoviglavicus became Lincovicus and this turned into the Longovico of the ND.
Example of adding vicus to a name
For the second element Richmond and Crawford proposed a derivation from hypothetical British sessa, taken to mean 'seat', the name as a whole perhaps meaning 'dark seat', "presumably referring to some awesome hill". Rivet and Smith suggest the name might include an unrecorded divine name Demero.
But Demerosessa is one of about ten Romano-British place-names which have an essa-type ending. This ending was employed by the people who used the hill-letter s and the river-letter b - it was added on to the end of a place-name including the hill-letter s or a river-name including the river-letter b, and it was applied to locations which were at the top of a steep slope and overlooked a river. In this case Demeros is a place-name including the hill-letter s. The initial dem element means 'summit of hill' and ros is just a compound in the hill-letters r and s. The Drumquhassle fort stands at the top of a steep slope and overlooks the Endrick Water and its tributary the Altquhur Burn. Nonetheless it seems most likely that the name Demerosessa was transferred to Drumquhassle from one of two Iron Age hillforts in the vicinity. The first is the hillfort known as Quinloch Muir (NS 515 813) at the top of a very steep slope dropping down to the Blane Water in Stirlingshire. The second is the Dunmore hillfort (NS 605 865) at the top of a very steep slope dropping down to the Endrick Water near Fintry, also in Stirlingshire.
Example of missing letter - s
[The entry for Demerosesa was last modified on 17 May 2021]
This name is a river-name transferred to a fort - the river is now called the Derwent (in Derbyshire) and the fort is that at Littlechester. The name is traditionally considered to be derived from hypothetical British daru/deru, taken to mean 'oak', the name meaning 'oak-river' or 'river in an oakwood'.
But Derbentione is just a compound river-name in the river-letters t (changed to d), r, b and again t. The river-letter t at the beginning of the name appears to have been applied by people who used the hill-letter l1, and the t at the end of the name (ignoring the ione ending) was applied by people who used the hill-letter l2. Note that the name was at one time Derben (corresponding to the modern Darwen), where the en is just a name-ending. Then the people who coined inversion-type place-names in the hill-letter l2 applied their river-letter t to the end of the earlier river-name and added another ending, ione. The complete river-name was then transferred by the Romans to their fort at Littlechester. The above is perhaps more persuasive if one considers the river Derwent in Yorkshire. That was a Derventione (but Derbentione originally) and it included the river-letters t (changed to d), r and b (changed to v) mentioned above. The corresponding hill-letters are l, m and s and one sees all three of these hill-letters in the Camulos element of Camulosessa, the fort at Malton, on the river Derwent, though the Camulos element was originally somewhat of the form Lucamos.
DERVENTIONE1 see DEVOVICIA
Derventione stood on a river called Dorvantium in Ravenna, but it is clear that the original form of the place-name and of the river-name was Derbentione. For an explanation of the name see Derbentione.
|Toesobis||Deva Victrix||Deva, Legio XX Victrix||Deva Leg. XX Vic||(Mod)|
|(a river)||(86)||(Iter II)||Chester|
This name is generally recognised as being a river-name transferred to a fort and as being derived from hypothetical British Deva, taken to mean 'the goddess'.
The name is indeed a river-name transferred to a fort. It was originally the river Toesobis of Ptolemy, the t later changing to d, the intervocalic s being dropped and the b changing to v to yield the name Deva. The river-name was then transferred by the Romans to their fort at Chester.
Example of t → d
Example of omission of internal s
Example of b → v
DEVENTIASTENO see STATIO DEVENTIASTENO
|Tebionisso||Devionisso (10)||North Tawton|
Rivet and Smith see this name as being related to Deva, perhaps meaning 'place of Devios' rather than 'place on the holy stream' as suggested by Richmond and Crawford.
Devionisso, however, is one of about ten Romano-British place-names having an essa-type ending. The ending was applied by those who used the hill-letter s and the river-letter b, and it was applied by them to locations at the top of a steep hill and overlooking a river. The ending may be added on to the end of a place-name including the hill-letter s or a river-name including the river-letter b. Devionisso is a name of the second kind, i.e. a name in which the essa-type ending is added on to the end of a river-name including the river-letter b. The dev of Devionisso will originally have been teb, i.e. a compound in the river-letters t and b, though in Devionisso the t has changed to d and the b to v. The river in question is presumably the Taw and Devionisso appears to have been the fort at North Tawton. Admittedly there were several Roman forts at North Tawton and it is not entirely clear which was the earliest, but the one just south of the old railway line appears to stand on a terrace with a fairly steep drop down to the river, so the name Devionisso may be appropriate for that fort. The name is of course that of an Iron Age settlement, so if there had been no such settlement on that same site then the name must have been transferred to North Tawton from an Iron Age settlement somewhere else in the vicinity, at a location at the top of a steep slope and overlooking the river Taw.
Example of t → d
Example of b → v
[The entry for Devionisso was last modified on 06 August 2020]
Rivet and Smith see Devana as being the correct form, this river-name being derived from hypothetical Deva, taken to mean 'the goddess'. It is demonstrated in the entry for Deva that the river Deva at Chester had no connection with any goddess, but is simply the Celtic river-name Toesobis (listed by Ptolemy) with the simple and common changes t → d, omission of intervocalic s, and b → v. One may assume, then, that the name Devana also has nothing to do with any goddess.
Devoni is a river-compound in the river-letters t, changed to d, and b, changed to v. This name should probably be taken together with the preceding Ravenna name, Lintinomago, to form the place-name Lintinomago Devoni, this construction being similar to modern names such as Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The Roman fort of this name will have been close to the river Devon (in east central Scotland), apparently in the Yetts o' Muckhart area. Ptolemy's river-name Deva may well have been in the original Geography, but his place-name Devana was probably added by a later copyist who was struck by the similarity between Ptolemy's river-name Deva and Ravenna's apparent place-name Devoni, so he simply assumed that Devoni was on the river Deva and copied it into the Geography with a very minor alteration of the spelling to make it resemble Deva more closely.
|Derventio||Devovicia (139)||Derventione||Stamford Bridge|
|(a river)||(Iter I)||(East Riding, Yorkshire)|
Rivet and Smith see Ravenna's Devovicia as a slightly corrupt version of the AI's Delgovicia, which they identify as the Roman settlement at Wetwang, though the order of names in Ravenna appears to indicate quite clearly that Devovicia was at Stamford Bridge.
The then name of the river Derwent was Derventio or Derventione and this name was transferred by the Romans to a fort which they built at Stamford Bridge, though perhaps on the other side of the river. At some point the army moved on but the vicus survived for a while as Derventiovicus. This name was simply shortened to Devovicus and this form became Ravenna's Devovicia. The fact that Ravenna's name refers to the vicus and the AI name is simply that of the river transferred to a fort rather suggests that the vicus was at some point abandoned and that at some later date a new fort was built at that location, taking its name from the river.
Example of adding vicus to a fort name
Example of simplification, shortening, of a name
DICTI see DIXIO
|Deriscoti||Dixiolugunduno (140)||Dicti||Roulston Scar/Thirsk|
According to Rivet and Smith the etymology of this name is unknown. They refer to a personal name Dixtus offered by Holder, who apparently took the personal name to be an abbreviation of Divixtos. But Rivet and Smith think it unlikely that a personal name (without a suffix) would be used as a place-name.
It seems probable that Ravenna's Dixiolugunduno is a conflation of the two different place-names Dixio and Lugunduno, as proposed by Rivet and Smith and by Richmond and Crawford. It is then likely that Ravenna's Dixio and the ND's Dicti are two different derived forms of one and the same Celtic place-name. That Celtic name may have had a form such as Descoti, for if one deletes intervocalic t one has Descoi, which may have become Ravenna's Dixio, and if one deletes the s one has Decoti, which may have become the Dicti of the ND. But Descot is an inversion-type element in the hill-letter s, the element meaning 'summit of hill steep high', and no other recorded inversion-type element of this kind (combining the hill-summit letter d and the hill-letter s) comes to mind. It seems likely, then, that Descoti is itself an abbreviation of an earlier name such as Deriscoti, a compound in der meaning 'summit of hill' and iscot meaning 'hill steep high'. Ravenna's Dixio lay between Devovicia at Stamford Bridge and Lugunduno on the river Tees. Likewise the ND's Dicti lay between Arbeia at Newton Kyme (not South Shields) and Concangios at Chester-le-Street. Celtic Deriscoti was thus most probably the hill-fort now called Roulston Scar, the name simply being transferred by the Romans to a fort which they built on Margary road 80a, most probably at or close to Thirsk. Indeed it is possible that the Derisc part of Deriscoti is the origin of the modern name Thirsk, though the latter name is thought by some to be derived from a Viking term thraesk meaning 'lake' or 'fen'. Note that the hill-letter r was selected for inclusion in the place-name (Deriscoti) because this hill-letter is used in Eburacum at York, a little to the south of Roulston Scar, and in Castaractonium at Catterick, a little to the north.
[The entry for Dixio was last modified on 30 March 2022]
DIXIOLUGUNDUNO see DIXIO and LUGUNDUNO
|Dolocindo||Dolocindo (28)||Westbury Camp|
Richmond and Crawford, and Williams, see the first element as being derived from hypothetical dolo taken to mean 'riverside meadow', and Williams proposed for the second element a derivation from hypothetical cnido/nido taken to mean 'steam, smoke', the name as a whole thus meaning 'misty haugh'. For the second element of the name Rivet and Smith prefer hypothetical British sento, taken to mean 'path'.
But Dolocindo is a straightforward Celtic topographical name in which the inversion-type element dol, meaning 'summit of hill', is qualified by the old-style element cind meaning 'steep hill summit'. The order of the names in Ravenna appears to indicate that Dolocindo was the Westbury Camp hill-fort, so the name is entirely appropriate for the location. Note that the name indicates that the hillfort was originally called Cindo and that it was at some point taken over by people who used the hill-letter l. It is not clear whether the name as it appears in Ravenna refers to the hill-fort itself, to a Roman post which may have been built inside the hill-fort after the occupants had been evicted, or to a Roman fort built somewhere in the vicinity and to which the name of the hill-fort was transferred.
Rivet and Smith, following Richmond and Crawford, prefer the form Dubabissis. They see the duba element as being derived from hypothetical dubo, taken to mean 'black, dark', the ab element as being derived from hypothetical Celtic ab, taken to mean 'river', and the issis element as being derived from hypothetical isso, the meaning of which, at least in place-names, is perhaps 'place where'. For the name as a whole they thus suggest a meaning 'place on the dark water'.
Duabsissis is one of about ten Romano-British place-names with an essa-type ending. The ending was employed by the people who used the hill-letter s and the river-letter b, and indeed the ending could be added on to the end of a place-name including the hill-letter s or a river-name including the river-letter b. It was applied to locations at the top of a steep slope and overlooking a river. In the case of Duabsissis the first part of the name is the river-name Duabs, which is indeed the origin of the modern river-name Tweed. Those who coined inversion-type place-names in the hill-letter l2 applied their river-letter t to the end of the earlier river-name to yield a name somewhat of the form Duabsit. The initial D changed to T, the b changed to v, the s was dropped and the final t changed to d to yield the name Tuavid. Apparently this had become Tvidi by AD730 and at some point the v was anglicised to w to produce the modern name Tweed. The name Duabsissis thus tells us that the fort was at the top of a steep slope and overlooked the river Tweed. It is most likely, however, that the original Duabsissis was an Iron Age hillfort or settlement at the top of the steep slopes on the Berwick side of the river and that the Romans transferred the name to a fort/harbour which they built at Tweedmouth.
[The entry for Duabsissis was last modified on 09 April 2021]
|(a river)||(Iter III)||(Kent)|
This name is generally considered to be derived from hypothetical dubro, taken to mean 'water'.
The name is actually given as Durbis in Ravenna's river-list. This is generally considered a spelling error, but is in fact likely to be correct. The Dur element appears to be the same as the Dur of Duriarno (12), probably a river-name, and Durolavi (262), certainly a river-name, and is similar in form and identical in meaning to the Der of Derbentione (89), a river-name transferred to a fort. The bis ending is also seen, changed to pis, in the river-name Turupis, the original form of Rutupis, which was transferred by the Romans to the fort/harbour which they built at Richborough. The river-name Durbis comprises the river-letters t, changed to d, and r corresponding to the hill-letters l and m, seen in nearby Lemanis. The Romans transferred the river-name Durbis to a fort/harbour which they built at Dover, though rearranged the letters of the name to give Dubris. Note that the river-letters t and r appear not only in the Dur of Durbis and the Tur of Turupis, but also in the ther element of the modern river-name Rother. The Rother apparently reached the sea at Lemanis/Lympne before the Royal Military canal was built.
The modern river-name Dour (the river at Dover) will be derived directly from the Dur element of Durbis.
Example of rearranging letters in a name
DUNIUM see LINDINIS
Richmond and Crawford saw Curcinate as being the correct form and saw a derivation from a personal name Curcinus. Rivet and Smith, on the other hand, see Durcinate as a corrupt form of Duroliponte, which they locate at Cambridge.
The Dur part of the name is presumably the Duro element appearing in a number of names of places in southeast England (see Duroaverno for an explanation of the element). Durcinate thus means 'Roman new town at or near (the Celtic settlement called) Cinate'. The Celtic place-name includes the transitional element cinat meaning 'steep hill high'. One sees the same element (with slightly different spelling) in Cunetione and Gabrocentio. From the order of names in Ravenna it would appear that Durcinate and Duroviguto lay on Margary road 57a, which goes from Leicester over to Godmanchester. Duroviguto may have been at Godmanchester, as is widely believed, but it may equally well have been at the crossing of the Nene, in the Thrapston area. The most likely location for Durcinate is at the crossing of the Welland. There are steep, high hills on the northern bank of the river at that point, but soon after crossing the river the road starts to climb a steep, high hill, at the point where the village of Cottingham stands. It does seem more likely that Durcinate was on this side of the river, lying between the river itself and that steep, high hill. It may even be the case that the Cotting of Cottingham is ultimately derived from the cinat of the old name, though scholars normally provide an English etymology.
[The entry for Durcinate was last modified on 23 March 2021]
Rivet and Smith see this name as being a corrupt form of Durnovaria at Dorchester in Dorset. Richmond and Crawford thought Duriarno might be in Devon, west of Exeter, and saw the name as being derived from hypothetical duro-n, taken to mean 'strong point', and arno, "a common river-name whose root is obscure". The name would then mean 'the fort on the river Arnus'.
Duriarno appears within a group of Ravenna names which are clearly located in southwest England. This is a long way from that area of southern and eastern England where names beginning with the element Duro are located, so the Dur of Duriarno is not likely to be the same element as Duro. It is much more likely to be a river-compound in the river-letter t, changed to d, and r, the same as the Dur of Ravenna's river-name Durolavi (262), and similar in form to the Der of the river-name Derventio/Derventione. If this is correct then Duriarno will be a river-name of the kind comprising a river-prefix, here Dur, attached to a place-name, here a simple place-name in the hill-letter r. The name then means 'river Arno' or perhaps 'the river at Arno'. Arno will have been a Celtic settlement close to the river concerned. The Romans then simply transferred the river-name to a fort which they built on or close to the river. Ravenna appears at this point to be following an alignment from Penzance up to Exeter, so Truro is the most likely candidate to have been Duriarno, which is the name after Statio Deventiasteno at Penzance.
[The entry for Duriarno was last modified on 17 May 2021]
Rivet and Smith see the first part of this name as being hypothetical British durno, taken to mean 'fist', perhaps 'stone the size of a fist'. They regard the varia part of the name as being obscure, but think it might be a water-name.
It would appear that the first n in the AI name is intrusive and that the name should really be Duronovaria. For the Duro element see Duroaverno. It would appear that the Maiden Castle hillfort was simply called Magno, this being an old-style compound in the hill-letters m and n, where gn means ‘steep hill’. Presumably after the hillfort was seized by or surrendered to the Romans the latter moved some at least of the inhabitants into a new settlement built a little to the north, but probably not on the actual site of the later Roman town at Dorchester. This new settlement will have been Noviomagno. At a later date the Roman authorities apparently decided to build a new town nearby, a town in the Roman style to persuade the locals of the superiority and desirability of the Roman way of life. That Roman new town will have retained the name Noviomagno but with the Duro prefix seen in a number of names in southeast England. The name appears also to have acquired an aria ending, so that the full name of the Roman new town will have been Duronoviomagnoaria. This rather long name was then shortened by deletion of internal letters to leave Duronovaria. This extension of a name and subsequent shortening by deleting internal letters is seen in a number of other names - Abonetraiectus (wrongly appearing as two separate names in Iter XIV) was extended to Abonetraiectusvicus and the extended name then shortened to Bonctusvicus (this later changing to Punctuobice), and Lincovigla was extended to Lincoviglavicus and the latter form then shortened to Lincovicus (this later changing to Longovico). Note that Ravenna's Noviomagno will have been a Roman fort somewhere in the vicinity of the new settlement of the same name.
[The entry for Durnovaria was last modified on 18 September 2019]
|(72)||(var. Darvenum)||(Iter II)||(Kent)|
Rivet and Smith see the first element of the name as being derived from hypothetical British duro, taken to mean 'fort, walled town', and the second element as being hypothetical British verno, taken to mean 'alder; alder-swamp, marsh', the name as a whole thus meaning 'alder-fort' or 'walled town by the alder swamp'.
The Romans presumably adopted the Duro element while in Gaul and appear to have used it in Britain in the sense 'Roman new town at or near'. It is not likely to have meant 'walled town' since many, if not all, of the Duro-type names presumably existed for a considerable time before the towns concerned acquired walls. The second part of Duro-type names appears to be the name of a Celtic settlement, so that Duroaverno means 'Roman new town at or near (the Celtic settlement called) Averno'. The Celtic place-name includes the inversion-type element ver meaning 'side, or slope, of a hill'. Averno will have been the name of the hill-fort now known as Bigbury Camp, just west of Canterbury, since that hillfort appears to stand on a slope. Note, too, that the people who coined the inversion-type element ver in the hill-letter r also applied their river-letter s in an inversion-type manner, i.e. the river-letter s is placed before the river-letters t and r in the river-name Stour. The no of Averno is presumably just an ending. For a more detailed explanation of the development of the name Duroaverno see paragraph 2.9.2 of Chapter 23 of the Home menu.
[The entry for Duroaverno was last modified on 18 September 2019]
The name is conventionally considered to be derived from hypothetical British duro, taken to mean 'fort, walled town' and hypothetical British briva, taken to mean 'bridge'.
For the Duro element see Duroaverno. Durobrabis thus means 'Roman new town at or near (the Celtic settlement called) Brabis'. The abis/avis part of the name is assumed to be just an ending. The significant element of the Celtic place-name is thus simply br, and this is an old-style topographical element meaning 'high hill'. Celtic Brabis/Bravis was presumably located somewhere on the high ground on the eastern side of the Medway, at or in the vicinity of modern Rochester.
[The entry for Durobrabis was last modified on 18 September 2019]
|Brivis||Durobrisin (102)||Durobrivas||Water Newton|
As in the case of Durobrabis this name is normally considered to be derived from hypothetical British duro, taken to mean 'fort, walled town' and hypothetical British briva, taken to mean 'bridge'.
For the Duro element at the beginning of this name see Duroaverno. Durobrisin thus means 'Roman new town at or near (the Celtic settlement called) Brisin'. Brisin was presumably originally Brivis - some medieval copyist has swapped over the v and s and replaced the v by n. Celtic Brivis/Brisin was presumably somewhere on the higher ground to the south of Water Newton, br being an old-style element meaning 'high hill'.
[The entry for Durobrisin was last modified on 30 March 2022]
|(Iter II, VIII)||(Bedfordshire)|
Rivet and Smith discuss a number of suggested etymologies put forward by other scholars but do not seem entirely happy with any of them, and appear not to suggest any derivation themselves.
For the Duro element at the beginning of the name see Duroaverno. Durocobrivis thus means 'Roman new town at or near (the Celtic settlement called) Cobrivis'. The ivis will just be an ending, which may or may not have had meaning. The significant part of the name is thus the old-style element cobr, meaning 'steep high hill'. And indeed there are steep high hills, escarpments really, to the west, south and east of the modern town centre. But note that cobr is an old-style element in the hill-letter r and so the name will refer to a Celtic settlement founded long before the Romans came to Britain. Cobrivis was thus most probably the name of the Iron Age hill-fort at Maiden Bower, just west of Dunstable. The hill-fort stands at the top of a steep, high slope.
[The entry for Durocobrivis was last modified on 18 September 2019]
The Duro element of this name is normally seen as hypothetical duro, taken to mean 'fort' or 'walled town'. The second element is generally seen as a tribal name, so that the place-name as a whole is taken to mean 'fort of the Cornovii people'. The Cornovii, however, had their capital at Wroxeter, a very considerable distance from Wanborough, so it seems unlikely that this place-name has any connection with that tribe, unless it can be demonstrated that the Cornovii did at one time occupy the region around Wanborough and for some reason moved northwest to the region around Wroxeter.
For the Duro element see Duroaverno. Durocornovio thus means 'Roman new town at or near (the Celtic settlement called) Cornovio'. The Romano-British settlement of Durocornovio is said to have been at Nythe Farm, on the A419 in the SE outskirts of Swindon, and a little to the north of Wanborough. But the cornovio element is more appropriate for Wanborough itself, lying as it does on an escarpment. The cor element is an old-style element meaning 'steep hill' and so is entirely appropriate for the location. But given that Wanborough and Little Wanborough stand on the escarpment it is possible that the Celtic name had in fact been Corvonio, where corv is an old-style element meaning 'steep hill slope'. It is possible that there was a Celtic settlement called Corvonio at Wanborough and that the Romans built their new town a little to the north, at Nythe Farm. It is of course possible that Cornovio was actually the hill-fort now called Liddington Castle, to the south of Wanborough, or even Uffington Castle, a little to the east, if either hillfort was in use at the date of the Roman invasion.
[The entry for Durocornovio was last modified on 18 September 2019]
The first element of this name is generally believed to be derived from hypothetical British duro, taken to mean 'fort, walled town'. Rivet and Smith think the second element might be a river-name derived from hypothetical levio, taken to mean 'smooth', the name as a whole thus being taken to mean 'fort on the smooth-flowing river'.
For the Duro element see Duroaverno. Durolevo thus means 'Roman new town at or near (the Celtic settlement called) Levo'. The name Levo is not entirely clear, but it might just comprise the hill-letter l with an evo ending. Sittingbourne, Kent, is often identified as the site of Durolevo. However, the distances given in Iter II are more appropriate for Teynham than they are for Sittingbourne, and there have been many finds of Roman material in the Teynham area. It thus seems possible that Roman Durolevo was in this area, rather than at Sittingbourne itself.
[The entry for Durolevo was last modified on 18 September 2019]
Jackson saw a derivation from hypothetical British ulipo, taken to mean 'wet', the place-name then being a compound of the element duro, taken to mean 'fort, walled town', with a hypothetical river-name uliponte, taken to mean 'wet river', perhaps in the sense of 'overflowing, boggy river'. Rivet and Smith identified Cambridge as the site of Duroliponte.
For the Duro element see Duroaverno. Duroliponte thus means 'Roman new town at or near (the Celtic settlement called) Liponte'. The Celtic place-name was probably Libonde originally, this being a straightforward topographical compound in the hill-letters l and n, where the bond element means 'high hill summit'. Iter V takes us from London to Water Newton (and then on to Lincoln, York and Carlisle) via Icinos at Caistor St. Edmund, just south of Norwich. It is of course possible that the Iter brings us away down south again from Caistor St. Edmund to Cambridge, as Rivet and Smith suggest, and then back up north again to Water Newton, but a more northerly route from Caistor to Water Newton would be preferable, if we can find locations for Camborico and Duroliponte which fit the distances given in Iter V. And indeed this is possible. The distance from Duroliponte to Durobrivas at Water Newton is given in Iter V as 35 Roman miles. Now, if one goes east on the Fen Way, Margary road 25, from Water Newton for 35 miles one comes to Denver, on the eastern bank of the Great Ouse. The high ground immediately east of Denver rises to a height of some 40 metres above the Great Ouse, so for someone travelling east along the Fen Way that is indeed a high hill. It is thus here proposed that Libonde was a Celtic settlement up on that high ground and that Duroliponte was a Roman new town on the eastern bank of the Great Ouse in that area, probably on the lower slopes of the high ground so as to be above any likely flood level. Camborico is identified here as being somewhere close to the Little Ouse river in the vicinity of Santon Downham, to the NW of Thetford. The south-facing slope of the high ground north of the river at that point is indeed high and steep, which is what the name Camborico indicates. The fort/posting-station/settlement called Camborico will presumably have been on or close to Margary road 332. On the assumption that travellers going from Camborico to Duroliponte had to go north on the Icknield Way and then turn left somewhere on to a road leading to Denver, the distance travelled would be around 25 Roman miles, which is the mileage given in Iter V for the journey from Camborico to Duroliponte. The distance travelled would be approximately the same if the traveller first went west on Margary road 332 from the Santon Downham area and then turned right on to road 23b for Denver.
But there is a major objection to identifying Denver as Duroliponte. As noted above Liponte will originally have been Libonde, where bonde is the element seen as bindo in names such as Bindogladia (Weatherby Castle), Bindogara (Vindogara - Irvine) and Bindomora (Vindomora - Ebchester). The bindo element in these names was the name of an Iron Age hill-fort, but so far as the present writer is aware there was no hill-fort on the high ground at Denver. But there most certainly was a hill-fort at Cambridge, the hill-fort now known as Wandlebury. It is possible that the order of the elements of Libonde was reversed at some time to yield a form such as Bondile and then Bondile → Vondile → Wondile → Wandile → Wandle. Duroliponte, the Roman new town at or near Libonde would then of course be the Roman settlement at Cambridge. On balance, then, it seems best to identify Cambridge as Duroliponte, as proposed by Rivet and Smith, though this does create a problem regarding the identification of Camborico.
Example of b → p
Example of d → t
[The entry for Duroliponte was last modified on 17 May 2021]
|(Iter IX)||(Greater London)|
It is generally accepted that the first part of this name is derived from hypothetical British duro, taken to mean 'fort, walled town'. Rivet and Smith suggest that the second part of the name was originally hypothetical ritu, taken to mean 'ford', the name as a whole thus meaning 'fort at the ford'. If this is correct, however, it is surprising that there are not more places called Durolito/Duroritu, since many Roman forts were built adjacent fords.
For the Duro element see Duroaverno. Durolito thus means 'Roman new town at or near (the Celtic settlement called) Lito'. The Celtic place-name includes the inversion-type topographical element lit, meaning 'hill high'. According to the distances given in Iter IX Durolito was somewhere between the centre of Romford and Gallows Corner. In that area the Roman road from Colchester to London goes over a piece of raised ground bounded by streams on its western and eastern sides. Whether the height of that raised ground is sufficient to justify the element lit is not clear. But of course the Roman town called Durolito was probably not on the same site as its Celtic predecessor. The Celtic Lito may have been a kilometre or so to the north where the ground rises to some 70 metres higher than Gallows Corner.
[The entry for Durolito was last modified on 19 September 2019]
No generally accepted derivation is available and Rivet and Smith think the name may be corrupt.
For the Duro element see Duroaverno. Duroviguto thus means 'Roman new town at or near (the Celtic settlement called) Viguto'. Viguto appears to be a topographical name - it has a v which means 'slope' in topographical names, a g which means 'steep' and a t which means 'high', but the hill-letter is missing. The name may have been Virguto, employing the hill-letter r corresponding to the river-letter s in Isur, possibly the original form of the Great Ouse at Godmanchester. For it is clear from the order of names in Ravenna that Duroviguto lay to the southeast of Leicester, presumably on the line of Margary Road 57a. But whilst it is tempting to identify Duroviguto as the known Roman town at Godmanchester, at the crossing of the Great Ouse, such evidence as there is points to Duroviguto having been just north of Thrapston, at the crossing of the Nene. As indicated above the name Virguto means ‘slope of hill steep high’. There is a late Bronze Age ringwork at Thrapston itself (at TL 004 782), up on high ground to the east of the Nene, but the site seems quite inappropriate for the name Virguto. But some 9 km to the southwest of Thrapston the hillfort known as Crow Hill (at SP 957 715, just north of Irthlingborough) stands on a steep, high slope overlooking the river Nene. The name Virguto is thus entirely appropriate for the site. There appears to be no similarly sited Iron Age settlement anywhere near Godmanchester, so it seems sensible to conclude that Celtic Virguto was indeed the Crow Hill hillfort and that the Romans simply transferred the name to a new town which they built near Thrapston, the Duro element in the Roman name indicating that it was a new town. It is of course possible that the missing hill-letter in Duroviguto is not r, but s, m, l or n. However, with the known changes of d → t → th and v → b → p, the Durov of Duroviguto would be Thurop, and this may be the origin of the Thrap of Thrapston.
Example of missing internal letter - r?
[The entry for Duroviguto was last modified on 19 September 2019]