[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


Borough Hill


Location: immediately east of Daventry in Northamptonshire

OS map reference: SP 589 626   

Celtic name: Bandion

Source: Antonine Itinerary (Iter II) – Bannaventa


There are in fact two hillforts on the summit of Borough Hill, a large one taking up most of the summit and a smaller one inside the large one at its northern end. The large one is thought to date from the late Bronze Age or early Iron Age, the small one from a later date.

The name Bandion of the hillfort was incorporated in the name Bandaventena, this being the name of the stream (one of the headwaters of the river Nene) flowing north-south down the eastern side of the hill. The Romans built a new town near the stream at Whilton Lodge and simply transferred the name of the river to the new town, the known nd→nn change (cf. Cambaglanda → Amboglanna) yielding the name Bannaventa listed in the Antonine Itinerary. The river-name Bandaventena is of a known structure, comprising a river-suffix, here ventena, attached to a place-name, here Band(ion). The river-suffix ventena will be the origen of the modern river-name Nene. Perhaps the initial v of the suffix changed to n and the nen part of the modified suffix changed later to Nene. Or perhaps the t of the suffix was lost or omitted and the nena part of the modified suffix changed later to Nene. And it is probably not a coincidence that the modern town-name Daventry (Daventry is immediately west of Borough Hill) includes the davent part of Bandaventena.