Cilurnum

Attested:  RC Celunno or Celumno;  ND Cilurno

WhereChesters fort where Hadrian’s Wall crossed the river North Tyne at NY91177016.

Name originCilurnum is one of the most obviously Celtic names from Roman Britain, with parallels in Welsh celwrn ‘bucket’ and Irish cilorn ‘pitcher’.  However that name did not come from local Britons, but from the Asturian cavalry who were the fort’s garrison for much of its existence.  In particular a Cilurnigos clan is known from one inscription found at Gijon, in north-west Spain.  That whole mountainous, Celtic-speaking area also had people called Cileni, Coelerni, Colarni, and Selini.  It provided many troops to the Roman army plus expertise in mining, especially for gold, and riveted cauldrons, for which ancient Iberia was famous, were made in the promontory fort next to Gijon.

Notes:  The translation of ‘cauldron pool’ offered to R&C by Ifor Williams should perhaps be taken seriously, because of the river harbour next to Chesters fort.  Anyone who visits the site (or even just looks at aerial photos) must agree that Selkirk (1995: 247) was essentially correct that a “bridge abutment served a secondary purpose as a jetty .... Roman weir must have been located downstream ... It looks as if this structure was a combined bridge, wharf, and mill”.

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Last Edited: 20 June 2016