Attested:  Ptolemy Δουμνονιοι 2,3,30 with 5 πολεις;   inscription civi dumnonio;   inscription civitas dumnon;   inscription civitas dumni;
Isca Dumnoniorum on iter 15 of the Antonine Itinerary;   Scadumnamorum at position 16 in the Ravenna Cosmography
Iscadumnoniorum on the Peutinger map;   Gildas 28 Damnonia

Where:  A people in the West Country with settlements at: Ουολιβα (probably Falmouth), Ουξελλα (Calstock), Ταμαρη (probably Launceston), Ισκα (Exeter), and Λεγιον δευτερα Σεβαστη ‘venerable second legion’ (probably Totnes).

Name Origin:  Vowel U in the main sources favours the Celtic interpretation of Rivet & Smith based on *dubno- ‘deep’ and *dumno- ‘world’.  The only good reason for that to apply to a whole people may be that du[m/b]no- fundamentally meant ‘dark’, as discussed here.  Tacitus famously remarked (Agricola 11) that the Silures (in south Wales) had brownish faces and curly hair, because ancient Iberians had crossed the sea to settle.  Back in Roman times, most peasants lived and died close to home, so gradients of skin and hair colour would have been relatively sharper than now, so it is entirely possible that future Cornish speakers were visibly darker, in complexion and/or hair, than future English speakers living further east.
  Vowel A appears in the rocky Lizard peninsula, and in Gildas.  Maybe these West Country people needed to be tamed or condemned, like the Δαμνονιοι in Scotland.

Notes:  West Country people would have had bitter memories of Julius Caesar's brutal suppression of the Veneti in 56 BC.  In AD 61 the second legion did not march to help confront Boudicca's rebellion.  Isca has always been assumed to be the base of the second legion, but Ptolemy assigns a separate line to the 2nd legion, with slightly different coordinates: half a degree west (in the best manuscripts, or none in the others) and 10 minutes south (or 15) of Isca, which average to about 18 km west, 23 km south.  Of course this is subject to huge uncertainty, but the best candidate for the legion's base (perhaps at an early phase of the Roman conquest) would be Totnes.  See Milidunum for further discussion.

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Last edited 18 May 2023     To main Menu