Argistillum

Attested:  RC Argistillum

Where:  In mid-Wales, possibly somewhere that the family of Caratacus were kept as hostages after being captured by the Romans, as discussed here.  The Roman fort at Stretford Bridge, Shropshire, SO428847, is marked on our maps as a guess for its location.

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), which are well to the east of the later Welsh district of Arwystli.  This makes RC's track across the maps uncomfortable, but there does not seem to be any easy answer.

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Last Edited: 9 September 2016