[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


Roulston Scar


Location: east of Thirsk, North Yorkshire

OS map reference:  SE  514 815                                          

Celtic name:  possibly Deriscoti

Source: Ravenna Cosmography (140)  - Dixio(lugunduno)

           Notitia Dignitatum - Dicti


This is a very large promontory fort with steep slopes on all sides except the northeast.

The writer’s reasons for taking the Celtic name to have been Deriscoti and for associating this name with Roulston Scar are given in Chapter 15 (Roman place-names in the North of England) of the Home menu. The name Deriscoti is a compound in the hill-letters r and s, where der means ‘summit of hill’ and scot means ‘hill steep high’. Both elements of the name are inversion-type and so were coined at some time later than 120BC. The name appears entirely appropriate for the site of the fort.

After the conquest the Romans apparently transferred the name of the hillfort, and perhaps its occupants, too, to a fort and settlement at or near Thirsk, the name Thirsk presumably being derived from the Derisc part of the Celtic name.

For further discussion of the name itself see the entry for Dixio in the Alphabetical List.



[This page was last modified on 10 April 2021]