Identification: the river Okement + Torridge downstream of the confluence of the two rivers

The order of names in the Ravenna Cosmography appears to indicate that Arduaravenatone was the Roman fort at Okehampton in Devon. But Arduaravenatone is a river-name transferred by the Romans to the fort, so it must have been the then name of the river Okement. It is a river-name of the kind comprising a river-suffix, in this case venatone, attached to a place-name, in this case Arduara, so there must have been a Celtic settlement called Arduara somewhere along the course of the river. The Ard of the place-name is an old-style element meaning ‘hill-summit’. The place-name appears to be that of the hill-top settlement on Castle Hill, just west of Woolleigh Barton, though the waterway is today called the Torridge at that point. It is thus clear that the Celts applied the name Arduaravenatone to the Okement and that part of the modern Torridge downstream of the confluence of the two rivers. The upper reaches of the modern Torridge must therefore have had some other Celtic name. The river-suffix venatone comprises the river letters b (changed to v) and t. One sees this river-suffix, in slightly modified form, in the Bide part of modern Bideford, on the river Torridge. Bideford is given as Bedeford in the Domesday Book and Bede is just a shortened form of venatone with the v changed to b and the t  to d. One may deduce from the above that the English settlement called Bedeford was founded, and named, before the river-name changed to Torridge. Note that the settlement on Castle Hill is bounded by very steep slopes on its northern and southern sides, so it is likely that the Celtic place-name was Carduara, where Card is an old-style element meaning ‘steep hill summit’. It is then conceivable, but by no means certain, that the river-name Carduaravenatone was shortened (by the deletion of internal letters) to Cavenat and then CavenatCanentCament → Okement.




[This page was last modified on 03 August 2020]