Segedunum & Segelocum

Attested:  (1) Segeduno in the Notitia Dignitatum
  (2) Segeloci in iter 5 and Ageloco in iter 8 of the Antonine Itinerary, plus S on one milestone   plus a possible parallel at Segloes.

Where:  (1) Segedunum is generally accepted as the Roman fort at Wallsend on Tyne at NZ30026602, so that Serduno in the Cosmography is a corrupted form of the name.  However, there is also a strong case for taking the name Segedunum away from there and applying it to the fort and supply base at South Shields, which would liberate the name Arbeia to move elsewhere.
(2) Segelocum is securely located at Littleborough beside the Trent at SK82218292, on the route from Lincoln to York.

Name origin:  Majority thinking was summed up by Rivet & Smith thus: “a base in Indo-European *segh-, with many derivatives including British *sego- perhaps ‘power, force’ .... too widespread to be reckoned as Celtic and Germanic only”.  Delamarre (2003) showed no hesitation in defining Gaulish sego- as ‘victory, force’.  That interpretation (which is strongly influenced by German Sieg ‘victory’) is a poor fit to these two British locations, which were both crossing points of major rivers.  So too were Seguntio (Caernarfon) on the Menai strait and the Segontiaci people plus their likely king Segovax and coins marked SEG, from around the Thames estuary, while Segloes may have been near the Forth estuary.  Alternatives based on vegetation (sedge, or Latin seges ‘cornfield’) or on various words derived from PIE *sek- ‘to cut’ seem unattractive.  The best explanation for all these names may be PIE *seg- ‘to attach, to tack on’ and/or PIE *sag- ‘to seek’.

Notes:  The Roman crossing of the river Trent to Littleborough is confidently described here as being by a ford paved with flagstones, which were removed during navigation works in 1820, but a ferry was marked on a map of 1774.  The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for AD 755 mentions Seccandune, which was rendered as Segeswalde in a later Latin translation and is probably modern Six Hills in Leicestershire, just 4 km from Roman-era Vernemetum.  This prompted Trubshaw to question how an element seg- came to be associated with ancient tribal moot sites.  Modern Sixhills in Lincolnshire occupies a similar relation to Lissingleys another possible moot site.  Σεγοδουνον of Ptolemy 2,7,21, in Roman Aquitania, modern Rodez, was a tribal oppidum by the river Aveyron, at the meeting point of diverse ancient tribes.  Another Σεγοδουνον was probably at Bad Wimpfen, on the river Neckar in Germany.

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Last edited 5 December 2022     To main Menu