Axelodunum

Attested:  ND Tribunus cohortis primae Hispanorum, Axeloduno

Where:  Probably the Bowness-on-Solway Roman fort at the west end of Hadrian's wall, at NY225628.  If the Axelo- part is to be interpreted as “armpit” the figurative shoulder would need to be Solway Firth, not the land.

Name origin:  Latin axilla ‘armpit’ is poorly attested, but is the presumed origin of Italian ascella, French aiselle, etc with vowel E.  The latest thinking seems to be that this was the parent, not a successor, of Latin ala ‘shoulder, wing’.  De Vaan (2008:66-67) drew attention to the huge number of cognates surrounding axle.  Plus of course dunum ‘fort’.

Notes:  R&S guessed that Axeloduno should be emended to Uxeloduno, because Axelo- is not “a good Celtic form”, which is nonsense.  A previous suggestion here was the large Roman fort at Blennerhasset, Cumbria, at NY190413, beside the river Ellen, which should presumably now claim another name!  The Bowness fort appears to have also been called Maia, which can now be understood as possibly describing a military function of imperium maius possibly projecting out to sea and into south-west Scotland, thereby allowing an ordinary topographical name to apply later.

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Last edited: 16 December 2018