[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


Ham Hill


Location: southeast of Martock, Somerset

OS map reference:  ST 481 165                                               

Celtic name: Omirededertis

Source: Ravenna Cosmography (25) - Omiretedertis


This is a very large, roughly L-shaped hillfort on the summit of a steep-sided hill.

The writer’s reasons for associating the name Omirededertis with Ham Hill are given in Chapter 10 (Roman place-names in southwest England) of the Home menu. The Ravenna form of the name shows the common change dt. The Omired part of the Celtic name is an old-style compound in the hill-letters m and r, where the red element means ‘hill summit’. The dert element is inversion-type and means ‘summit of hill high’. Note that red and dert use the same hill-letter, namely r, and on the face of it the elements are in the wrong order within the name. But there are other examples where an old-style element in one hill-letter is followed by an inversion-type element in that same hill-letter, for example Ptolemy's Bannatia. It is as though the occupants of the fort on Ham Hill simply added a new-fangled inversion-type element on to the end of their existing name for the place.

It is not clear whether the name as it appears in Ravenna refers to the hillfort itself, to a Roman post built inside the hillfort once the occupants had been evicted, or to a Roman post built nearby and to which the name of the hillfort was transferred. The Mart of modern Martock, at the foot of the hill, is presumably derived from the Omiret of Ravenna’s form, so it may be that the Romans built a fort at or near Martock.




[This page was last modified on 27 February 2021]