[If the text below uses any of the terms ‘hill-letter’, ‘river-letter’, ‘old-style name’, ‘transitional name’ and ‘inversion-type name’ a reader who is not familiar with those terms may wish to refer briefly to ‘The Celtic names of hillforts’, where an explanation of those terms is given].



The Celtic names of hillforts



Barcombe Hill


Location: east of Chesterholm, Northumberland

OS map reference:  NY 783 668                                           

Celtic name:  Bindo or Bindol or Bindolande

Source: Ravenna Cosmography (132) - Vindolande

            Notitia Dignitatum - Vindolana                                 


This is a small multivallate hillfort high up on Barcombe Hill, just east of Chesterholm. The hillfort stands at a height of 270 metres, which is not quite the real summit, this standing at 279 metres above sea level.

The Ravenna form shows the common b/v interchange - the name will earlier have been Bindolande, which is an old-style compound in the hill-letters n1, l1 and n2. The Bind element means ‘high hill summit’ and the and element means ‘hill summit’. The name is thus entirely appropriate for the site. After the conquest the Romans adopted the name for the fort which they built nearby at Chesterholm. Note that it is possible that the hillfort was called only Bindo and that the Celts built a new settlement on lower ground to replace the hillfort, this new settlement being called Bindol, later Bindolande (only possible if the settlement stood at the top of raised ground), the Roman fort then taking its name from that new settlement. Alternatively the hillfort may originally have been called Bindo, later Bindol, and the new settlement took the name Bindolande (again only possible if that settlement stood at the top of raised ground). However, in the absence of evidence of a new settlement, perhaps underneath the first Flavian fort at Chesterholm, it is simplest to assume that the hillfort was indeed called Bindolande at the date of the Roman conquest.