Clausentum

AttestedClausentum on iter 7 of the Antonine Itinerary

Where:  Probably the Roman fortified town and naval base at Bitterne, SU434133, on a promontory sticking into the river Itchen, described on Pastscape.  The Itinerary's distance of 10 Roman miles from Venta Belgarum was a problem so long as the Venta was assumed to be within Roman Winchester, but not if it was actually the tribal gathering place on St Catherine's hill-fort and/or its port at a crossing of the river Itchen 3 miles south.  The implication is that a Roman road to Bitterne remains to be found east of the Itchen, perhaps even passing close to Fair Oak.

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.  An obvious speculation is that there was some kind of dam or weir across the river Itchen to raise its level so that cargo boats could travel upstream to Winchester, as a Roman precursor of the Itchen Navigation.  As Rivet & Smith explained, Celtic has little to offer on this name.

Notes:  The 20 miles to Regno remains a problem, because Chichester is too far away to fit, unless xx miles is amended to xxx, while Portchester is too close.  At present, the best guess for Regno appears to be Lepe, on the Solent, but Ringwood, Lymington, and Havant are also at about the right distance: all raise difficult questions about exact route, river crossings, and archaeological evidence.  The whole Solent area is rich in early names with uncertain locations, with Navimago regentium; Portum Adurni, Armis, Ardaoneon, Leucomagno, and Raxtomessasenua all in the mix, along with interesting later places such as Carisbrooke and Mansbridge.

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Last edited 21 April 2020     to main Menu.