Delgovicia & Devovicia

AttestedDelgovicia on iter 1 of the Antonine Itinerary;  Devovicia at position 139 in the Ravenna Cosmography

Where:  The Itinerary's mileage figures fit the Roman fort at Malton, Yorkshire, at SE79157178, beside the navigable river Derwent, and linked by known Roman roads to signal stations on the coast at Filey and Scarborough.  Its main Roman crossroads was actually south of the river, at Norton-on-Derwent.

Name origin:  PIE *dhelg- ‘to stab, stick, needle’ led to words for ‘brooch’ including Old Irish delg and Old English dalc.  Maybe local workshops specialised in producing fibulae, the -vicia part came from vicus ‘Romanised settlement’ by the addition of a Latin suffix -ium that generally served to make abstract nouns.  Or else maybe that riverside area was notorious in Roman times for its thorns and nettles, as it is today.  Presumably also the Cosmography's Devovicia spelling arose because a scribe knew Latin devio ‘to deviate’ but not delg-.  See here for an explanation of how wic and vicus developed from a meaning of ‘exchange place’.

Notes:  This analysis relies on Derventione being at Stamford Bridge and not at Malton as Rivet & Smith guessed.  The Itinerary's mileage figure from Derventione to Delgovicia would also fit the Roman-era settlement at Market Weighton (Wicstun in Domesday Book), at SE878418, which seemed an attractive candidate, because the roads layout around it resembled a brooch clasp, and it was on a river navigable to the Humber in Roman times (replaced by a canal dug in 1772), but that would require the next name Praetorio to be a fort lost to coastal erosion off Aldborough at the end of an as yet undiscovered Roman road.  Thanks to Peter Wilson for making the case against that scenario and in favour of Malton as Delgovicia.

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Last edited 28 February 2023     To main Menu.