Clausentum

Attested:  AI iter 7 Clausentum

Where:  Probably Mansbridge, at about SU447155, north of Southampton, by the tidal limit of the river Itchen and what used to be the southernmost bridge across that river.  This matches exactly AI's stated distance of 10 Roman miles along the road from Venta Belgarum (Winchester).  It has long been presumed that the Roman fortified town and naval base, on a promontory sticking into the river Itchen, at Bitterne, SU434133, was Clausentum (see, for example, on Pastscape), but that would add an extra 1.6 Roman miles to the distance, plus the river crossing.  Even, allowing for imperfect knowledge of the course of the Roman road this exceeds the likely error in Roman distance measurements.

Name origin:  Latin claudo ‘to close’ led to various words such as claustra ‘lock, barrier, dam’, with descendants in later languages such as French écluse ‘pound lock’, sluice, and Somerset dialect clyse.  Many Latin words (and place names) ended in –entum, which often served to create verbal nouns.  Mansbridge would have been a highly suitable location for some kind of dam or weir across the river Itchen to raise its level so that cargo boats could travel upstream to Winchester.  As R&S explained, Celtic has little to offer on this name.

Notes:  The whole Solent area is rich in early names with uncertain locations, among which several might lay claim to Roman Bitterne.  Perhaps the strongest candidate is Navimago regentium.

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Last edited: 26 April 2019
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