AttestedCerma at position 205 in the Ravenna Cosmography

Where:  Probably Bochastle Roman fort, at NN614079, on the river Teith, near Callander “Gateway to the Highlands”.

Name Origin:  Greek κερμα ‘coin, slice’, a word possibly derived from PIE *(s)ker- ‘to cut’, with relatives in many languages, including shear in English and scaraid ‘to separate’ in Irish.  Also Cermalus, one of twin peaks of a hill in Rome.  This may refer to the way that the old military road (modern A84) slices into the hills as it follows the river Leny (Garbh Uisge) through some quite steep valleys, or else it may refer to the way that Callander sits at the left end of the band of low ground heading towards north-east Scotland, opposite Voran lower down the Teith.  A less good parallel is cuirm, Scottish Gaelic for ‘feast’ or Old Irish for ‘beer’, which might fit with evidence for beer-making in ancient Scotland Nelson (2005) and the Gallo-Latin inscription NATA VIMPI CVRMI DA ‘pretty girl bring beer’.

Notes:  Archaeologists know of seven Roman forts near the edge of the Scottish Highlands, between the Clyde at Dumbarton and the Don at Aberdeen.  It seems almost too good to be true that they match up well with six names supplied by the Cosmography (Cindocellum, Cerma, Veromo, Matovion, Ugrulentum, Ravatonium) plus one by Ptolemy (Λινδον).  The river name Teith is unexplained.

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Last edited: 12 February 2020     To main Menu