[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


Old Winchester Hill


Location:  east of Meonstoke, Hampshire

OS map reference:  SU 641 205

Celtic name:  apparently Claducendum

Source:  Antonine Itinerary: Iter VII  Clausentum


Large univallate hillfort built on a promontory with steep slopes to north, west and south.

The Clad and cend elements of Claducendum both mean ‘steep hill summit’. The name was transferred to a Roman post on the river Meon in the Meonstoke/Exton area (for an explanation of this see the entry for Clausentum in the Alphabetical List). The intervocalic first d was omitted (a fairly common change in Romano-British place-names), the c changed to s (cf. Ravenna’s Gabrocentio  →  Gabrosenti of the ND) and the second d changed to t (also a fairly common change in Romano-British place-names) to yield the Clausentum of Iter VII. Note that the Celtic name indicates that the hillfort had been occupied by a people who used the hill-letter l1 but was taken over by a people who used the hill-letter n2, that is to say by the Atrebates, where the term Atrebates is used broadly here so as to embrace also the groups later referred to by Ptolemy as the Belgae and the Regni. All three groups, if indeed they were separate groups at that early date, appear to have used the hill-letter n2.


[This page was last modified on 11 May 2019]