Camboglanna

AttestedStaffordshire Moorlands Pan CAMMOGLANNA;  Rudge Cup CAMBOGLANS;
   Amiens Patera CAMBOG###S;  ND  Amboglannanot RC Gabaglanda.

WhereCastlesteads Roman fort at NY512635, just south of Hadrian’s Wall, flanked by the Cam Beck tributary of the river Irthing, near Brampton, Cumbria.  Part of the adjacent hillside has fallen into the river since Roman times and the fort was largely destroyed in 1791.

Name origin:  The –glanna part meant ‘river bank’, with parallels in Cornish glann ‘bank’, Welsh glan ‘river-bank’ Nordic klint ‘coastal escarpment’, English clint, and Russian глинт, but not in Gaelic gleann and Welsh glyn ‘valley’.  Compare Glannoventa (Ambleside), Giano (Martinhoe), and Glanum in the south of France.  But should the Cambo- part be likened to Welsh cam2, Irish camm, etc ‘crooked’, as commonly claimed?  Or to the Scots and northern English word kame or kaim ‘ridge’, related to OE camb ‘comb’ (probably from PIE *gembh- ‘tooth’), which was a frequent element in northern British place names (Gelling & Cole, 2003)?  In other words, accepting that Cambo- represented a curve, was that in a horizontal plane or a vertical plane?

Notes:  Anyone who observes Castlesteads House up on its ridge, from as close as one can get on a public road, or who notes the generally straight course of Cam Beck nearby, or who looks for similar later names near Hadrian’s Wall, will probably favour the Scots kame parallel.  Modern geologists use the word kame particularly for glacial deposits, and, as explained here: “Extensive accumulations of sands and gravels, formed in part by glacial meltwaters, form highly distinctive hummocky country” near Camboglanna.  Other early place names that began with Cambo- and are easier to explain with low hills than with winding rivers include Ptolemy’s Μορικαμβε, Strabo’s Cambodunum, AI’s Cambodunum (in Yorkshire), Cambus (in Scotland), Kempten (in Bavaria), and De Kempen (in Belgium).

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Last Edited: 24 January 2017