Brocolitia

Attested:  RC Brocoliti;  ND Procolitia.

WhereCarrawburgh fort attached to Hadrian’s Wall at NY85917117

Name origin:  This name seems to have sucked a scribe into associating it with Latin procul ‘distant, far off’ (which could fit the most northerly fort on the Wall) and it also sucked R&C and R&S into inventing some bizarre Celtic explanations.  In fact the first element must be a precursor of OE bróc ‘brook, stream’ (as seen in Brocara and Brocavum), which does not have an agreed PIE root but has plenty of Germanic cognates, which tend to mean ‘marsh’.  This fits the way that the Wall here is protected on its north by a network of streams feeding into Crook Burn.  That area is still marshy and the Romans could easily have built simple dams to create real lakes, as an extension of their “mini Lake District” just to the west along the Wall (Selkirk, 1995:363-370).  The second element is Latin litus ‘lake side, river bank’ (as seen in Durolitum), possibly here as a plural because of Meggie’s Dene Burn to the south.  The fort sits on a watershed.

NotesCoventina’s Well nearby highlights the Germanic origins of many Roman troops on the wall such as the Batavians, Cubernians, and Frisiavonians from around the lower Rhine (Allason-Jones & Mackay 1985).  Coventina, and sculptures of goddesses reclining in stone alcoves, is most easily explained as Latinised from a word ancestral to cove and German Koben ‘stall, shed’.  Other deities venerated on the Wall tended to be similar, such as Antenociticus, Belatucadrus, Cocidius, and the Hveteri.

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Last Edited: 27 July 2016