[NB. The numbers accompanying names on this page are those provided by Richmond and Crawford in Richmond and Crawford 1949.]



Chapter 6


The Magnis names



1     The names of this group are Magnis (57), Magnis (130) and Noviomagno (39). The magn element is an old-style compound in the hill-letters m and n2, where gn means ‘steep hill’. That magno is an element in the hill-letters m and n is clearest in the case of Noviomagno (close to Maiden Castle, Dorset) because the river-letters corresponding to the m and n of magno are r and m (for major rivers) and one sees both river-letters in the name of the river Frome, which flows west-east just a little to the north of Maiden Castle. Magnis (57) was the name of the Romano-British town at Kenchester, but it will have been transferred from the hillfort in Credenhill Park Wood, just a little to the northeast of Kenchester. Magnis (130) was the name of the Roman fort at Carvoran and this stood at the top of a steep slope on the east side of the Tipalt Burn.

2     Navimago Regentium (44) will be another member of this group of names, since mago will have been magno originally. Magno will have been the name of the hillfort on The Trundle, the hillfort nearest to Chichester. The Romans appear to have moved the inhabitants to a new settlement, apparently on the same site as modern Chichester, this new settlement being called Navimagno. Later, when the local king died and this area became a civitas of Roman Britain, the name will have become Navimagno Regentium. The Regni, or the Atrebates if the Regni were not distinct from the Atrebates at the date concerned, seized control of The Trundle from earlier occupants who used the hill-letter m. They also seized at least three other hillforts on the South Downs, namely Cardadonecon (Ardaoneon) at Harting Beacon, Carnis (Armis) at Butser Hill and Claducendum (Clausentum) at Old Winchester Hill. The hill-letter n2 is the latest hill-letter in all three names, as it is in Navimagno.

3     The Magis of the Notitia Dignitatum will be another member of this family of names. Indeed Magis is just Magnis (130) with the n dropped, just as Navimago is  Navimagno with the n dropped. That the Notitia Dignitatum should mention Carvoran twice is not a problem since the group of ND names which includes Magnis refers to forts manned by old-fashioned cohortes and alia, whereas Magis was manned by the later numeri. In other words Magnis was earlier than Magis, just as Navimagno was earlier than Navimago. Note that the ND came over from Chester-le-Street to Kirkby Thore and then went up to Magnis/Magis  at Carvoran via Maglone at Whitley Castle. The magl of Maglone is the same compound as the magn of Magnis/Magno but using the hill-letter l rather than n.

4     The Noviomago of Iter II of the Antonine Itinerary will be another member of this family of names – it, too, has lost its n. It is thought to have been a Roman settlement at Crayford (Greater London), though there are no steep hills there. If Noviomago was at Crayford then Magno must have been an Iron Age hillfort/settlement located somewhere else in that area, perhaps the supposed hillfort at Shooters Hill in Greenwich.


 [This page was last modified on 07 March 2021]