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
Where: Silchester Roman town, at SU63946240.
Name Origin: Calewan ‘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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