Attested:  (1)  Durobrivas on iter 5 of the Antonine Itinerary; DUROBRIVIS on pottery in river
(2) Durobrovis on iter 2, Dubobrius on iter 3, and Durobrivis on iter 4 of the Antonine Itinerary.   ####briuas on wooden tablet.   Durobrabis at position 74 in the Ravenna Cosmography.   Probably not Peutinger map Roribis.

Where:  (1)  The largest industrial complex known in Roman Britain grew up around an early fort where Ermine Street crossed the navigable river Nene at TL116976, near the junction of several other roads, between Water Newton and Castor, near Peterborough.
(2)  The Roman road across Kent that became Watling Street crossed the river Medway at Rochester, most likely upstream of the later bridge and castle, near TQ736677.  No one has ever definitively proved the existence of a Roman bridge or fort at Rochester.

Name origin: See here about Duro-, which meant something like ‘crossing’ or ‘transport hub’.  It is commonly asserted that *briva was Gaulish for ‘bridge’; see for example Delamarre (2003: 89).  However, in no case is there hard evidence for a bridge existing in Roman times at any -briva place, and a sense of ‘edge’ may be preferable, as in English words such as brim and brink or PIE *bhru- ‘(eye)brow’.  But then PIE *bhru- also meant ‘log bridge’.  There seems to be no Celtic parallel remotely near as close to the observed forms (–brovis, –brivis, etc) as Dutch breeuwen ‘to caulk’.  An unfinished discussion of briva-named places is here.

Notes: The argument that Bede's form Hrofæscæstræ preserved hrof out of his civitate Durobrevi sounds suspiciously like the sort of bad etymology that early churchmen often dreamed up in an attempt to be helpful.

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Last edited 4 February 2022     To main Menu