Attested: BANNA on the Rudge Cup and Amiens Patera Banna at position 151 in the Ravenna Cosmography; Inscription BANNIESS
Where: The Roman fort at Birdoswald, Cumbria, NY615663, on Hadrian's Wall. It sits on flat ground above a steep slope down to the meandering river Irthing. See here (chapter 6) about its archaeology. A substantial settlement, civilian as well as military, stayed busy there into post-Roman times. Banna would certainly have received some supplies by water, and was near the high point of Hadrian's Wall, on a watershed of northern England, causing Selkirk (2001:128) to wonder if the Romans dug a summit-level canal near there, roughly along modern Pow Charney Burn, to link the Tyne and Solway catchments.
Name origin: The situation of Banna is an excellent fit to how early Welsh dictionaries, notably Pughe (1834:148), defined bàn (noun) and banawg (adjective) as ‘prominent, conspicuous’. However, modern dictionaries have shifted to giving Welsh ban, Irish benn, and their Celtic cognates a primary meaning of something pointed and sticking up, such as ‘top, peak, horn, etc’, which does not fit Banna. A proto-Celtic form *bando- (Matasovic, 2009:54) is said to descend from PIE *bend- ‘protruding point’, which also led to words such as pen, penis, and pin.
Notes: The standard interpretation of *bann- is unsatisfactory, perhaps influenced by Watson (1926:480-2) mistranslating place names like Banchory, as discussed here. Maybe Welsh ban actually came from the same PIE roots as Frankish ban and English banns (of marriage): *bha- ‘to speak’ and/or *bha- ‘to shine’.
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Last edited 16 April 2020 to main Menu