[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




Location: Milton Keynes

OS map reference:  SP 921 348                                                        

Celtic name:  Magiovinto

Source: Antonine Itinerary (Iter II) – Magiovinto

                                     (Iter VI) – Magiovinio

                                     (Iter VIII) - Magionvinio


This is a univallate fort built on the sloping top of a spur, there being steep slopes on all sides of the fort except the southwest. On this side the slope rises gently towards the summit of the high ground. Pottery finds suggest occupation in the 1st century BC and 1st century AD (see, for example, the Pastscape website of Historic England).

The Celtic name is a compound in the elements mag, meaning ‘hill steep’, and vint, meaning ‘slope of hill high’. The name is thus entirely appropriate for the hillfort. Both elements of the name are inversion-type and it would appear that the changeover from old-style names to inversion-type names took place during the second half of the second century BC. The structure of the name is thus wholly consistent with occupation in the first century BC and first century AD. The Romans transferred the name of the hillfort, and presumably the surviving inhabitants, to a new town which they built at the point where Watling Street crossed the river Ouzel, near Dropshort farm. It is this new town which will have been the Magiovinto of the Antonine Itinerary.


[This page was last modified on 13 November 2019]