Attested:  Antonine Itinerary iter 2 Venonis, iter 6 Venonis, iter 8 Vennonis.

Where:  The Roman settlement at High Cross, Leicestershire, SP47338874, where Watling Street and the Fosse Way intersected – essentially the crossroads of Roman England.  There appears to be no river nearby.  There was a small, early Roman fort a mile away at Wigston Parva.

Name Origin:  An element *Ven- often means something like ‘family, kindred’, but it might also come from Latin venum ‘sale’.  However, the -onis ending sounds very much like Greek -ωνης seen as the ending of words that meant dealers in corn, fish, salt, oil, etc.  Greek ωνη ‘buying, purchase’ probably descended (by loss of an initial W sound) from an earlier form related to Latin ven-.  That makes this name perhaps likely to mean something like ‘happy selling place’.

Notes:  This name raises all the usual questions about the relevance of Greek to ancient British names.  Were the name creators speakers of Greek, either as a first language, or because Greek was the pre-eminent language in commerce or various technical fields?  Or is Greek just a proxy for vanished ancient languages?  And why so many apparent Latin-Greek hybrids?  Did some ancient entrepreneur set up the Roman precursor of a modern supermarket distribution centre located near a key motorway junction?  Or does Greek οινωνης ‘wine-dealer’, which would convert naturally into Latin as something like *Vinonis, make the wine warehouses near Calais a better parallel?

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Last edited 6 April 2020     To main Menu