Attested: Causennis on Antonine Itinerary iter 5
Where: Possibly the settlement at TF01743305 near Sapperton on the Roman road running through Lincolnshire from Bourne to Ancaster, near the East Glen river. Or else the settlement at SK92663345 near Little Ponton, near Grantham. Either would fit Itinerary mileages much better than Ancaster.
Name origin: Lots of possible parallels, listed in the order that they were first taken seriously:-
1. A relative of modern English causeway and French chaussée, which possibly go back to the same root as chalk or calculus, meaning various sorts of stone, referring to a roadway. Not convincing.
2. Latin causa ‘cause’ plus annus ‘year’. This might fit some kind of annual event, such as a tribal gathering, especially because that part of Lincolnshire, Kesteven, was Ceoftefne in about 1000 and Chetsteven in Domesday book, which ends like Old English stefn ‘summons’ or Old Norse stefna ‘meeting’. Chet is commonly (but unconvincingly) likened to Welsh coed but Ceof- looks more like Old English ceosan ‘to choose, to elect’.
3. Greek καυσοω (causoo) ‘to burn with intense heat’, one of many words derived from καιω ‘to burn’, might fit archaeological evidence that “prior to the laying out of the settlement, there was a phase of intensive iron smelting in the early second century” plus the way that Greek speakers were often the technicians of the Roman Empire. A word ending -ενης was common in Greek, occasionally seen in Latin -enis “as a means of integrating Greek names without depriving them completely of their Greek flavour”.
4. French coisel was a technical term for a type of water mill, probably derived from a diminutive of Latin caucus ‘drinking vessel’. If relevant, this would raise the likelihood of the Little Ponton site.
5. PIE *geus- ‘to taste, to choose’, from which descended Gothic kausjan, with cognates in many languages. The ending -enis made nouns from adjectives in Dutch.
Notes: Possibility 5 seems like a clear winner, especially if the first element is related to the modern word cosy (whose etymology is unknown), but it would imply that this place was a forerunner of modern Choice Hotels!
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Last edited 23 March 2020 To main Menu