Condercum

Attested:  ND CondercoCondecor at position 144 in the Ravenna Cosmography

WhereBenwell Roman fort on Hadrian's Wall, inside modern Newcastle upon Tyne, at NZ21596477, perched on a hill about 100m above the river.

Name origin:  Something like ‘look-out point’, based on PIE derk-, ‘to see’, whose descendants include Irish derc ‘eye(socket)’, and Greek δερκομαι ‘to see clearly’.  The Con- part might be a verbal intensifier in much the same way as Latin specio ‘to look’ gave rise to conspicio ‘to observe’, or as in the Irish suppletive (replacement) verbal form ad-condairc ‘saw’, or even like Greek κωνος ‘cone, top of helmet’.  A related word, draco ‘dragon’ from Greek δρακων, was standard Roman military terminology, perhaps unfamiliar to the Cosmography scribe who chose the more Latin spelling Condecor, where the R has dropped out, as in modern English dekko, derived from Hindi.

Notes:  The fort's garrison troops mentioned by ND came from Asturia, where Celtic speech probably persisted in the hills, but troops of other ethnicities were at the fort earlier in its life.  Two epitaphs mentioning Conderci, apparently a personal name, were found near Toulouse and Ancona, neither known for Celtic speech.

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