[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


Maiden Bower


Location:  west of Dunstable, Bedfordshire

OS map reference:  SP 997 225                                                       

Celtic name:  Cobrivis

Source: Antonine Itinerary (Iter II, VIII) - Durocobrivis

                                     (Iter VI) - Durocobrius


This is a univallate hillfort standing at around 155 metres with a steep 60 metres drop to the northwest.

The element cobr is an old-style element in the hill-letter r and meaning ‘steep high hill’. It no doubt refers specifically to the steep, high slope immediately northwest of the fort.

The Romans incorporated the Celtic name in the name of their new town at nearby Dunstable, this being Durocobrivis, which means ‘Roman new town near (the Celtic settlement called) Cobrivis’.