Derventio

Attested:  (1)  Derventione on iter 1 of the Antonine Itinerary
  (2) Derventione at position 122 and Dorvantium at 250 in the Ravenna Cosmography
  (3) Derventione in the Notitia Dignitatum

Where:  (1) Stamford Bridge Roman fort(?) at SE715555 by the Yorkshire river Derwent.  Not at Malton!
  (2) Papcastle Roman fort and settlement at NY10963149 by the Cumbria river Derwent.
  (3) could be the same as either of the other two; R&S favoured Yorkshire, but Cumbria seems more likely.

Name origin:  An etymology based on *daru-/*deru- ‘(oak)tree’, via Welsh derw ‘oaks’, has been proposed for the rivers Derwent (and similar) since at least Ekwall (1928:121-3), but is less convincing than PIE *der- ‘to run’, especially in light of Sanskrit dravati ‘to flow’ and the way that letters NT tend to mark verbal present participles..  A Latin speaker would have been able to interprent these names as deruens, deruentis ‘falling down’, from the verb deruo would have had a participle (where U and V were the same letter in Roman times), appropriate for the way these rivers descend from higher ground.

Notes:  The Cosmography also mentions Derbentione (probably Derby).  Notice how the Cosmography mentions both Derventione as a place and Dorvantium as one of the estuaries that were significant harbours in Roman times.  In support of the *deru- etymology is the fact that Bede twice mentioned Deruventionem.

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Last edited 8 March 2020     To main Menu