Attested:  Ptolemy 2,3,26 Καληουα, a πολις of the Ατρεβατιοι;  coins of Commius CALLEV or REX CALLE; inscription CALLEVAE; AI iter 7 Galleva Atrebatum, itinera 13, 14, and 15 Calleva;  RC Caleba Arbatium

WhereSilchester Roman town, at SU63946240.

Name OriginCalewan ‘bare, lacking vegetation’ contributed to many later English place names; it is the weak form (see Smith 1956: 79) of an OE adjective usually cited as calu ‘callow’, which is cognate with Latin calvus ‘bald’, which survives as French chauve and Irish calb.  Suggestions based on a hypothetical Celtic word for ‘wood’ are unconvincing.

Notes:  Much nonsense has been written about the name Silchester.  Geographically, it was a key linking place on the road west out of London, so Sil- is probably related to German Seil, OE sal ‘cord’.  Calleva is close to unique among major Roman sites in not being close to any significant river.

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Last edited: 24 May 2019
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