Argistillum

Attested:  RC Argistillum

Where:  Near the Welsh border, possibly somewhere that the family of Caratacus were kept as hostages after being captured by the Romans, as discussed here.  The large hillfort at Herefordshire Beacon, also called British Camp, at SO760400, is a plausible guess.

Name origin:  A name meaning something like ‘hostage place’ could have arisen in a Celtic language of local people or in a Germanic language of Roman troops.  R&C drew attention to Arwystli, a mediaeval cantref (region) in mid-Wales, which probably relates to Welsh arwystl ‘pledge, mortgage’, via words for ‘hostage‘ such as Old Cornish guistel or OE gisel, from PIE *gheidh- ‘to desire’.  The name CONGEISTLOS, found in Austria on an inscription from the AD 100s, is cited to suggest that words like *gistl existed first in Celtic, but actually the Germanic attestations are earlier and more widespread (such as the personal name Gisela/Giselle or the place Gistel in Belgium).  The meaning of initial ar- is similarly debatable: Celtic scholars tend to focus on *are- ‘near, before, east of’ mainly because of Endlicher's Glossary; Germanic scholars prefer to see *ar- as meaning ‘high, noble’ (as in Aryan) or confused with a word for ‘eagle’ in names such as Arnold.

Notes::  RC lists Argistillum between (Gloucester) and Vertis (probably Worcester).  Placing Argistillum in the later Welsh district of Arwystli would make RC's track across the maps uncomfortable, but in an earlier version of our maps we still guessed at the Roman fort at Stretford Bridge, Shropshire, SO428847, as a guess for its location.

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Last Edited: 15 June 2017