Branogenium

Attested:  Ptolemy 2,3,18 Βραννογενιον, a πολις of the Ορδουικες;   RC Branogenium

WhereCaersws Roman forts at SO029920

Name origin:  The element gen- probably came from PIE *genə- ‘to give birth’, but Bran- in early place names is a long-standing puzzle, as also discussed for Branodunum.  Was it Celtic for ‘raven’?  Or related to the Germanic ‘brandish, sword’ element seen in names such as Hildebrand and Brennus?  Or related to Greek πρανης ‘prone, face down’ to match other anatomical parallels in later place names such as hoh ‘hock’ and ness ‘nose’?  Modern names Brampton, Brompton, etc are common on the outskirts of former Roman towns, where they are usually explained by reference to brambles and bracken, not to Graeco-Latin bromos ‘oats’.  Most likely here bran is related to the words for a small stream, such as bourne or burn, from PIE *bhreuə- ‘to boil, to bubble’.  That would allow Branogenium to mean ‘river beginning’, and therefore to be placed at Caersws on the uppermost reaches of the river Severn, where it is joined by the rivers Carno, Trannon and Cerist.

Notes:  R&S placed Branogenium at Leintwardine, which is clearly wrong, because Ptolemy's coordinates point further north.  Kleineberg et al. (2102) suggested the Roman fort at Caer Gai but Caersws seems more likely and also has a nearby hillfort at Cefn Carnedd that might be Ptolemy’s πολις.  See here for a discussion of the last battle of Caratacus in this area and its possible link with Welsh legends about Brân the Blessed.

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Last Edited: 9 September 2016