Attested:  (1)  Verlucione on iter 14 of the Antonine Itinerary;  (2)  writing tablet ... silvam Verlucionium ...

Where:  (1)  The Roman settlement at Sandy Lane ST968677, Wiltshire.  (2)  Somewhere in Kent.

Name originVer- in ancient names has many possible explanations, among which a Celtic intensive prefix meaning ‘very’ (picked by Rivet and Smith) ranks low.  PIE *per- ‘to pass over’, which led to Old English fær ‘journey’ and modern fare, is better.  The -lucio part probably derived from PIE *leuk- ‘light’, which developed a sense of ‘clearing’ at inland sites and became one of the commonest place-name elements in England, Old English leah (Gelling and Cole, 2003: 237-241), which developed a meaning of ‘pasture’.  Since the Sandy Lane area is even now relatively wooded and the second Verlucio in Kent was linked with a silva ‘wood’ it seems reasonable to interpret -lucio as ‘clearing’ and therefore to translate Verlucio as ‘passage through clearing’.  Roads through woodland have always made travellers nervous, so the existence of a substantial clearing might have been noteworthy enough to generate a name, especially for a Roman-era road stopping place that was on a fairly dry watershed rather than the usual location by a river.

Notes:  Tomlin (1996) commented that the AD 118 date of the tablet invalidated one of the phonological assumptions made by Jackson (1956).

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Last edited 13 May 2020     to main Menu