Nidum

AttestedNido in iter 12 of the Antonine Itinerary

WhereNidum is generally assumed to be the Roman fort inside the modern town of Neath, at SS74749773, a little way up the river Neath from the coast.  However, to fit the Itinerary's mileages a better guess might be the marching camp at Blaen-cwm-Bach at SS79709878 more into the hills.

Name origin:  Similar river names include the Nidd in Yorkshire and the Nith through Dumfries, plus up to a dozen more across Europe that were originally *Nida, *Neida, or *Neda (Krahe 1963).  They are usually explained as derived from PIE *neid- ‘to flow’, hence Sanskrit nidati.  Possible cognates include Greek νιζω ‘to wash’, English neat, French nettoyer ‘to clean’, and others mentioned by Diefenbach (1851:104).

Notes:  It is not obvious what common feature links all the rivers with names like Neath.  They were mostly in northern (Germanic) Europe, such as the Nidda, which ran through an important Roman town called Nida.  In Greece Neda was the name of a river (with a notable waterfall) and a nymph.  Naiads were water nymphs, said to derive from ναω ‘to flow’, whereas Germanic nix (water sprite), Irish nigid ‘washes’, and Sanskrit nenekti ‘to wash clean’ are said to derive from *neigw- ‘to wash’.  Unsatisfactory explanations include the ‘shining’ idea of Ekwall (1928), any link to Welsh nyth ‘nest’ from Latin nidus, plus conceivably Greek νηδυς ‘womb, belly’, derive from *nizdos ‘sit-down place’, or a link to English nether and beneath.

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