AttestedVaris on iter 11 of the Antonine Itinerary

Where:  A Roman fort at St Asaph, in north Wales, probably under the cathedral at SJ039744 (Waddelove, 2004).  It sat on a ridge of land rising to about 25 metres above two fords where the Roman road from Chester to Anglesey crossed two rivers, the Clwyd and the Elwy, about 1 km apart.  See here for Lidar and flood-risk maps.

Name origin:  Welsh gwar ‘back of neck’ is commonly seen in later place names with a sense of ‘upper’ (Breeze 2002) and is usually traced to PIE *uper- ‘over, above’.  However, Latin varix ‘dilated vein’, which is usually traced to PIE *wer-1 ‘high raised spot, could be argued to fit the elongated ridge at St Asaph better, and was recorded 1500 years earlier.

Notes:  This name illustrates the problems posed by the multiple potential meanings of ver etc in ancient names.

You may copy this text freely, provided you acknowledge its source as, recognise that it is liable to human error, and try to offer suggestions for improvement.
Last edited 8 April 2020     To main Menu