Camborico

AttestedCamborico on iter 5 of the Antonine Itinerary

Where:  Somewhere near Mildenhall.  The Itinerary puts Camborico 25 Roman miles from Duroliponte (Cambridge) and 35 from Icinos (probably Caistor St Edmund near Norwich).  The total of 60 Roman miles is almost exactly the distance between those two end points, which leaves little scope for deviation from a straight line, which passes through Mildenhall Museum.  Possible guesses therefore include:
1. Rakebottom Farm, on straight route, good distances, possible name fit, but no Roman settlement known;
2. Mildenhall itself, on straight route, bad distances, no actual Roman settlement known;
3. Lakenheath, off route, bad distances, Anglo-Saxon cemetery known;
4. Icklingham, off route, bad distance, a popular guess because of much archaeology;
5. Lackford, way off route, lousy distance, favoured by Rivet and Smith.

Name origin:  For reasons spelled out here, Cambo- is most likely related to Latin campus ‘level place’, in accord with French researchers' preference for a sense of ‘alluvial plain alongside a river course’.  This rejects our previous preference for ‘low hill’ (i.e. a vertical curve), which was influenced by Gelling and Cole (2003:153) explaining the modern name Combs, not far away in Suffolk, as derived from Old English camb ‘comb’.  It also rejects ‘river bend’ (i.e. a horizontal curve), suggested by Rivet & Smith, which is relegated to being the ultimate geological cause of flat ground.  The -rico part may be related to rake, rack, and reach (Old English ræc), as in Rake Heath, Reach, Reculver, and Raxtomessasenua.  This rejects our previous preference for a link with the common personal-name ending -rix and also the suggestion by Rivet & Smith to amend it to -rito, not least because the whole concept of an ancient Celtic *ritu- (ancestral to Welsh rhyd) ‘ford’ is probably wrong.

Notes:  This whole area is full of interesting archaeology, such as the Mildenhall Treasure and the Lakenheath Warrior, plus interesting post-Roman names, such as the river Kennett heading towards Mildenhall, which makes it a twin of Cunetio.

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Last edited 3 July 2020     to main Menu