The Celtic names of hillforts
Location: one kilometre northwest of Romano-Bitish Calleva at Silchester
OS map reference: SU 628 631
Celtic name: probably Calveva or Calveba
Source: Ravenna (67) – Caleba Arbatium
Ptolemy - Caleva
Antonine Itinerary: Iter VII - Galleva Atrebatum
Iter XIII, XIV, XV - Calleva
This hillfort stands on a fairly steep hillside, i.e. on the slope.
The name of the hillfort was most probably of the form Calveva or Calveba, where the old-style Calv element means ‘steep hill slope’. The eva/eba part of the name is presumably just an ending. Note that the hillfort was not occupied by the Atrebates, who used the hill-letter n2 , but by a people who used the hill-letter l1, for example the Durotriges.
The name of the hillfort, together with its inhabitants, was transferred by the Atrebates to a new settlement built nearby at Silchester. Evidence of that new settlement has been found underneath Romano-British Calleva at Silchester. The settlement is believed to have been an oppidum in the late pre-Roman period, but may have been more humble originally, at least up until the time when it was selected as the residence of the kings of the Atrebates. The names in the ancient sources all refer to the Romano-British town. The change from Calveva/Calveba to Calleva evidently took place in the pre-Roman period since two coins of Eppillus, king of the Atrebates, have been found, one bearing the inscription REX CALLE and the other CALLEV. Note that the change Calve → Calle is like the change Banva → Banna.
[This page was last modified on 30 December 2020]