Epocessa and Ypocessa

AttestedEpocessa and Ypocessa at positions 59 and 60 in the Ravennna Cosmography

Where:  Somewhere in the headwaters of the river Severn close to the line of the later Offa's Dyke: possibly at Forden Gaer (at SO20799890), which was a Roman civil settlement with military origins, or among the fort and complex of marching camps around Pentreheyling/Brompton.  The Cosmography lists these names after Branogenium (Caersws) and before Macatonion (probably in the Welsh borders, on the way to Gloucester).

Name origin:  Richmond & Crawford suggested that these names meant something like ‘horse-stalls’ (because Celticists think of horses whenever they see epo).  However, these names as written both look like Latinised forms of εποικισις ‘settlement of a colony’.  Thucydides used εποικεω to mean ‘occupy as the seat of offensive operations against’, which would fit the situation here if the Roman administration encouraged retired soldiers and friendly Britons to settle in a border area with a history of rebellion.  The concept of heavily armed farmers holding territory is familiar from later history and (peaceful) subsidiary farmsteads or outbuildings are a common source of later place names, such as Berwick.

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Last edited 26 April 2020     To main Menu.