Attested: AI iter 14 Abone; RC Abona (The oft-cited Portus Abonae is a modern invention.)
Where: Sea Mills, part of Bristol, on the river Avon, by its confluence with the river Trym, at about ST550757. Exactly what was there is uncertain: see Tratman and Higgins.
Name origin: Abona resembles the river name Avon, which is like Welsh afon ‘river’.
Notes: The idea that Celtic-speaking ancient Britons created this name is hard to justify. First, PIE *ap- ‘water’ (from earlier *h2ep-) had descendants right across the Indo-European world, including Sanskrit avani, Old Prussian ape, and Hittite hapa ‘river’, plus numerous instances of ‘Old European’ names such as *Avantia, and even perhaps the Abana river in ancient Damascus and Germanic words related to English haven. Secondly, Britain's eight rivers later called Avon seem to share a common feature of providing trans-isthmus travel routes whose heyday was in the Bronze Age or earlier, before Celtic languages had crystallised. Thirdly, RC's Abona, Aventio, Eltabo, and Rumabo, plus another Abona near Lisbon, Portugal, were all at ports suitable for crossing a major estuary, so Latin abeo ‘to depart’, from PIE *apo- ‘off, away’ could have influenced the Roman-era name.
Last Edited: 25 September 2016