Briga

Attested:  (1) Brige in AI iter 15, with erroneous duplication in AI 12.
  (2) Brigae in Vindolanda tablets 190 and 292.

Where:  (1) was near Nursling at SU36511576.  See Margary(1973: 94) about the route of his Roman road 422 across water channels where the river Blackwater joins the river Test, to feed into Southampton Water.
(2) must be quite close to Vindolanda.  If briga does indeed relate to a river crossing, the two nearest candidates are at Haltwhistle and Haydon Bridge, but further away lie Hexham, with a strong claim to having been a Roman settlement, and Bywell, NZ052619, where the modern bridge across the Tyne replaces a former, ruined structure, possibly Roman, demolished in 1838.

Name origin:  R&S tried to explain this name as *briga ‘hill-fort’, whose distribution as a component of names in early Iberia defines the zone of Indo-European languages within which Celtic may have evolved.  This is unsatisfactory here because neither Briga is associated with high ground, but is more likely to be a precursor of bridge(s), whose exact etymology from PIE *bhru- ‘beam, bridge’ and/or PIE *bhru- ‘brow’ is debatable.  The Latin locative ending -ae often became plain -e.

Notes  England's oldest bridge, dating from about 1500 BC, was found near (1) at Testwood Lake in 1998.  The river is tidal up to about where the present Nursling Mill was built in 1728.  See under Sorbiodoni about the sequence of names and mileages in AI that support this location for Brige and not for Onna.  It is curious that the two known instances of briga seem to be near, probably downstream of, the two known instances of Onna.

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Last Edited: 30 January 2017