Attested:  (1) Ptolemy 2,3,12 Κορναουιοι
(2) Ptolemy 2,3,19 Κορναουιοι, a tribe with πολεις at Διουα ‘and the victory-bearing legion’ (Chester) and at Ουιροκονιον (Wroxeter); also
  Utriconion.Cornoviorum at position 79 in the Ravenna Cosmography;   Cornoviorum in the Notitia Dignitatum;
  inscriptions CIVITAS CORNOV and C CORNOVIA
(3) Durocornovio in iter 13 of the Antonine Itinerary
(4) Purocoronavis at position 6 in the Ravenna Cosmography

Where:  (1) a tribe in northern Scotland, probably in Caithness
(2) a tribe in the Shropshire/Cheshire region
(3) probably near Swindon, rather than Cirencester as long claimed
(4) probably near Bude, Cornwall

Name origin*Coronavis meant ‘bendy river’, from PIE *(s)ker- ‘to turn, to bend’ (as in words like corona) plus *navis or *novis ‘river’, so that *Cornavii were people who lived in its valley, and in Roman usage a vowel A changed to O, yielding the observed Cornovii.  This analysis overrules the guess spelled out by R&S that Corn- came from Latin cornu ‘horn’, or its Welsh or Irish cognates, to give a sense of ‘rocky’.  The word ‘corner’ would certainly fit the north-eastern tip of Scotland, but it is not so obviously relevant to Chester and Wroxeter, and it is positively inappropriate to places 3 and 4.

Notes:  The river Severn is famous for its meanders upstream from Wroxeter, much like Chester's river Dee and Cirencester's river Churn.  “The River Neet meanders in Bude near its estuary.”  “The River Churnet is a classic example of a misfit river meandering across its wide sediment-filled valley floor.”  As for Caithness, which is much flatter than the Scottish Highlands, its two biggest rivers, Thurso and Wick, are mildly bendy, but its third, Forss Water, does seriously meander.  See also about Corinium.  The two Cosmography manuscripts that regularly separate places with full stops both do so between Utriconion and Cornoviorum, while one spelling looks like Cornoninorum.

You may copy this text freely, provided you acknowledge its source as, recognise that it is liable to human error, and try to offer suggestions for improvement.   Last edited 22 October 2021.   To main Menu