Attested: Celunno or Celumno at position 147 in the Ravenna Cosmography; Cilurno in the Notitia Dignitatum
Where: Chesters fort where Hadrian's Wall crossed the river North Tyne at NY91177016.
Name origin: Cilurnum has good Celtic parallels: Welsh celwrn ‘bucket’ and Irish cilorn ‘pitcher’. That name may have come from the Asturian cavalry who were the fort's garrison for much of its existence. Celunno has good Germanic parallels, such as Old English ceole ‘throat, gorge’, referring to the North Tyne river and related to ceol ‘keel’ much as navis often referred to rivers. That explanation is strongly favoured by the nearby modern name Chollerford, formerly Chelverton. The second element may resemble Onno/Hunno ‘spring, stream’.
Notes: The translation of ‘cauldron pool’ offered to Richmond & Crawford by Ifor Williams should perhaps be taken seriously, because of the river harbour next to Chesters fort. Anyone who visits the site (or even just looks at aerial photos) must agree that Selkirk (1995: 247) was essentially correct that a “bridge abutment served a secondary purpose as a jetty .... Roman weir must have been located downstream ... It looks as if this structure was a combined bridge, wharf, and mill”. A Cilurnigos clan is known from one inscription found at Gijon, in north-west Spain. That whole mountainous, Celtic-speaking area also had people called Cileni, Coelerni, Colarni, and Selini. It provided many troops to the Roman army plus expertise in mining, especially for gold, and riveted cauldrons, for which ancient Iberia was famous, were made in the promontory fort next to Gijon. Cosmography name spellings are generally earlier than, and as reliable as, in the Notitia.
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Last edited 1 April 2023 To main Menu