AttestedDuroliponte on iter 5 of the Antonine Itinerary

WhereCambridge, with a Roman fort on Castle Hill around TL44455926, plus native hill-forts at Wandlebury, Arbury, and War Ditches.

Name originDuro was generally a crossroads and/or a river crossing, i.e. a communications hub, which could sometimes be the Central Place of a “tribe”.  The -liponte part resembles the Lepontii people of northern Italy, whose name Xavier Delamarre (2019) explained as ceux qui ont abandonné leur pays, i.e. ‘migrants’ or ‘settlers’.  This would come from PIE *leikw- ‘to leave’ plus the adjective-forming suffix *-onts.  This analysis outranks the guesses previously favoured here, and by Rivet and Smith, that linked -liponte to a crossing of the river Cam (née Granta) and its surrounding marshes, originally by boat but in Roman times by bridge, and hence to PIE *lei- ‘to flow’ plus Latin ponto ‘punt, pontoon, floating bridge’, usually said to derive from PIE *pent- ‘path’.

Notes:  If -liponte is indeed related to Lepontii, and hence to the English words leaving (or left), the implication is that the inhabitants of ancient Cambridge were recently arrived migrants.  This might accord with ideas about inward migration from northern Europe via the Wash much earlier than the traditional adventus Saxonum and raises once again questions about when the dykes across the Icknield Way near Cambridge were first dug.

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Last edited 26 April 2021     To main Menu.