AttestedSandonio (or Saudonio) at position 85 in the Ravenna Cosmography

Where:  The Roman legionary works depot (see here) at Holt, SJ406546, beside the river Dee, upstream of the big fortress at Chester.  Listed by the Cosmography between Mediolano (Whitchurch) and Deva victris (Chester).

Name origin:  ‘Red’, referring to the colour of the river Dee polluted with runoff from coal mining in that area and/or the characteristically red/orange colour of the tiles and pottery produced by the kilns serving the legion.  Latin sandyx from σανδυξ (Pb3O4) and sandaracha from σανδαρακη (AsS) were red pigments.  Although sometimes translated as vermilion (HgS), which is brilliantly red, these materials tended to yield paler colours in practical use, and the resin known as sandarac is downright yellow.  The exact origin of these words is uncertain, but they pre-date Greek.

Notes:  Rivet & Smith guessed that this site was Bovium, but that name belongs a few miles away at Tilston.  No viable Celtic etymology has been suggested.  Although lead was mined a little to the west in Wales, and the ancients were fascinated with heavy metal poisons, the redness of fired clay, even in highly valued Samian ware, is largely due to iron.

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Last edited 29 March 2023     To main Menu