[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 these 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


Brinklaw Hillfort


Location:   next to Brinkburn Priory, in a loop of the river Coquet, Northumberland

OS map reference:   NZ 118 985

Celtic name:   apparently Lacerocomaguve (Lacorocomaguve also possible)

Source:   Ravenna Cosmography      (180)    -    Maromago

                                                    (186)    -    Coccuveda 

                                                    (264)    -   Coguveusuron

This univallate promontory fort stands at the top of raised ground within a loop of the river Coquet, the drop down to the river being very steep. The Celtic name includes three inversion-type topographical elements lac, roc and mag all meaning ‘hill steep’. The Celtic name was transferred to the Roman fort at Learchild and at some stage changed to Maromago (see the entry for Maromago in the Alphabetical List), but it is possible that Lacerocomaguve survived amongst the local population since the Lacer part of the name may be the origin of the Lever of Levericheheld, Ekwall’s form for Learchild in 1242. The Celtic place-name also played a role in the development of Ravenna’s place-name Coccuveda and river-name Coguveusuron (see the entry for Coccuveda in the Alphabetical list).