Identification: the river Derwent, Cumbria

This river-name was transferred by the Romans to their fort at Papcastle, appearing in Ravenna’s place-name list as Derventione. In this latter form the name also appears in Iter I of the Antonine Itinerary, having been transferred by the Romans from the river Derventione (now the Yorkshire Derwent) to a fort or settlement at Stamford Bridge (for an explanation of this identification see Chapter 15 (Navione to Alavna (187)). It is also the same name as Ravenna’s Derbentione at Littlechester, the name having been transferred from the river on which the fort stands, now the Derbyshire Derwent. It thus appears that the spelling of the name Dorvantium in Ravenna’s river list is simply incorrect.  The form Derbentione is earlier than Derventione, though earlier still it will have been Terbentione. The earliest river-letter in this form is b, applied by a people who used the hill-letter s. Later, sometime after 120BC, an m-people placed their river-letter r in front of the river-letter b. We see the hill-letter m in Maio at Workington. Later still an l1-people placed their river-letter t at the front of the then existing river-name, the new name then being Terben. We see the hill-letter l1 in the bal element of Lagubalium at Carlisle and perhaps in Olerica at Maryport. Later still an l2-people added their river-letter t and a new ending ione to the end of the then river-name, the river-name thus becoming Terbentione. We see the hill-letter l2 in the Lag element of Lagubalium at Carlisle. The td change then gives the form Derbentione and the further bv change gives the form DerventioneIt is thus quite clear that the river-name Derventione has no connection with oak trees, as has been assumed in the past.



[This page was last modified on 05 April 2021]


[NB. Detailed information as to the different river-letters and as to how they were combined to form compound river-names, together with information as to the four categories of Celtic river-names, is given in Chapter 19: the rivers of Roman Britain. Detailed information as to the different hill-letters is given in Chapter 1 and information as to how the hill-letters were combined to form compound place-names is given in Chapter 2]