Bravoniacum

AttestedBrovonacis on iter 2 of the Antonine Itinerary; Braboniaco in the Notitia Dignitatum; inscription BRAVNIACO; probably not Ravonia in the Ravenna Cosmography.

Where:  Roman fort on Burwens Hill at Kirkby Thore NY63082560, in Westmorland, where there seems to have been a substantial Roman town, on the road across the Pennines through Stainmore Pass, now the A66.

Name origin: The name begins like German brauen or Old English breowan ‘to brew’ or Gaelic braonach ‘dewy, wet, well-watered’ or Welsh brwd ‘fervent’, from PIE *bhreuɘ- ‘to boil, to bubble’.  That probably referred to a marshy area south of the fort, whose likely extent can be guessed from modern maps of flood risk there due to the river Eden.  Bravonio (Leintwardine) is analogous.

Notes:  The name also survived in the phrase kat gellawr Brewyn ‘the battle in the huts of Brewyn’, mentioned by a Welsh poem in the Book of Taliesin (ms from 1300s, text centuries earlier).  This battle was fought around AD 580 by king Urien of Rheged, a post-Roman kingdom in this area, which was eventually swallowed up by Northumbria.  The name was also grafted into the Historia Brittonum's list of Arthur's twelve battles a century or so earlier, as Breguoin, to be an alternative name for Agned, which was most likely near Bolingbroke Castle in a topographically similar situation in Lincolnshire.  Kenneth Jackson misattributed Brewyn to Bremenium and it is hard to justify his likening Bravoniacum to Welsh breuan ‘quern’.  However, his Celtic quern idea was taken up by Curchin (1996) for a town in Spain (probably La Nuez de Abajo near Burgos in northern Spain) that Ptolemy 2,6,52 called Βραυον.  Delamarre (2007:205-6) listed some places in France that might descend from a similar name; he endorsed millstone or mill as explanations, but marshland looks like an equally valid guess.

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Last edited 16 April 2020     To main Menu