Galacum / Καλατον

Attested:  AI iter 10 Galacum;   Ptolemy 2,3,16  Καλατον (or Καλαγον); but probably not RC Galluvio.

Where:  The Roman fort at Burrow-in-Lonsdale, Lancashire, SD61527584, near the confluence of Leck Beck with the river Lune, and near modern Kirkby Lonsdale.  This location, based on AI's mileages, has been suggested since at least 1600.  Substantial native settlement in this area, to fit Ptolemy's Καλαγον is indicated by the Casterton stone circle at SD6393479995 and lots of burial mounds.  The main Roman north-south road east of the fort has been accurately traced by Lidar.  Another route across Britain, roughly on the line from Lancaster to the river Tees, passed through this area, making it a key travel nexus.

Name Origin:  Initial Gal-/Καλ- probably came from PIE *gal- ‘to call’.  Final –acum/-αγον was presumably the adjectival suffix associated with people and often overclaimed as distinctively Celtic.  A sense of ‘calling people’ might fit hillbilly yodellers, but is far more likely to refer to communal gathering.

Notes:  This analysis overrules a previously favoured meaning based on reeds and a location at Lancaster suggested by Shotter (1998).  Ptolemy's spelling with a T rather than a G might have been influenced by Calatia in ancient Italy.

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Last Edited: 23 September 2016