Dano

Attested:  (1) AI iter 5 Danoiter 8 Dano;  (2) ND Dano, where the Praefectus equitum Crispianorum was based

Where:  AI's mileages suggest that Dano (1) was Doncaster Roman fort at SE57430347 by the river Don, but Dano (2) is unlikely to be also at Doncaster because ND lists it in a series of names that appear to run well north of York.  R&S drew attention to Jarrow on another river Don, where a Roman fort has been suspected but not found, but that is too far north.  On balance, (2) was most likely Lease Rigg Roman fort at NZ81470420, or possibly lower down the river Esk near Whitby.

Name origin:  The river name Don is usually said to come from ancient *danu-, from PIE roots meaning ‘to flow’, either *da- or *dhen-.  Across Europe that led to river names including Danube, Dnieper, at least four Dons in Britain and one in Russia, and two Doons in Scotland.  Initial D (or Dh) was retained in Sanskrit and Avestan, but shifted to F in Latin (hence words such as fountain).  Germanic descendants developed a sense of ‘low ground’, hence for example OE denu or dænu ‘valley’, and possibly Denmark.  Welsh dan ‘under, below’ might be related.

Notes:  Suggested site (2) is unlikely to have been named from a river called *Danum because the modern river name Esk there probably came from an ancient Isca.  However, it does run through a notably narrow valley (like the rivers Danube and Dnieper in places), which would fit the “down” sense.  Also Whitby is a strong candidate for the site of an early trading post for traders from across the North Sea.  They are not recorded as being called Danes or Jutes until a century after ND, though Ptolemy 2,11,22 did mention a tribe in Germany called Δανδουτοι.  RC's Dannoni might conceivably be related and Ptolemy's Δουνον κολπος was not far away.  See here for a general discussion of the difficulties in assigning ND names to places.  Thanks to Thomas Rafn for advice on Denmark.

Standard terms of use: You may copy this text freely, provided you acknowledge its source, recognise that it is liable to human error, and try to offer suggestions for improvement.
Last Edited: 14 December 2016