[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: southeast of Grindon, Northumberland
OS map reference: NY 827 692
Celtic name: probably Velurcion
Source: Ravenna Cosmography (149) – Velurcion
Identified as a settlement on the OS maps, it lies on the side, the slope of a fairly steep hill.
The Celtic name is a compound in the hill-letters l and r, where vel means ‘slope’ or ‘side of a hill’ and urc means ‘hill steep’. The name in Ravenna will refer to the Trajanic fortlet on the Stanegate at NY 819 678. The name is not inappropriate for the actual site of the fortlet, but since it is a Celtic compound it will refer to a place occupied in the pre-Roman period. Thus if there was no Celtic settlement on the site of the later fortlet then Velurcion must have been a hillfort (in the broad sense in which this term is used on this website) somewhere in the vicinity. The nearest such place appears to be the settlement just southeast of Grindon and since this does lie on a fairly steep slope – thus suitable for the name Velurcion – that settlement presumably was Velurcion. The name will simply have been transferred by the Romans to the fortlet which they built nearby on the Stanegate (and later to the Hadrianic Wall fort at Housesteads, the development of the name being Velurcion → Velurcionvicus → Vercovicus → Borcovicio).