Galacum

Attested:  AI iter 10 Galacum;   probably not the same as Ptolemy 2,3,16  Καλατον or RC Galluvio.

Where:  Lancaster Roman fort, SD47336202, between the mediaeval castle and the river Lune.

Name Origin:  Initial Gal- might derive from a remarkable number of PIE roots and appears to have contributed to at least three ancient names in this area.  Most likely it meant ‘foreigner’.  Later Irish Gall meant a foreign invader, so that Dubhgaill and Finngaill were Scandinavians, while Comgalls near the Firth of Forth were probably Frisians.  The Germanic equivalent *walhaz led to modern Wales, Walloon, Wallachia, etc.  The deep origin was perhaps a word for wolf, then some tribes called Volcae, then Latin Gallia ‘Gaul’, but it is hard to know who called whom foreigners, and when, as one can see from modern Galloway and Galway.  The -acum part was a pan-European adjectival suffix, equivalent to English -ic, which showed up, for example, at Eburacum, York.  In short, this name might mean ‘Gaelic’.

Notes:  The location at Lancaster, first suggested by Shotter (1998), overrules a previous preference for Burrow-in-Lonsdale (Smith, 1997), which was probably Καλατον.  AI's figure of 27 miles from Bremetonnaci to Galacum reasonably matches the 25 Roman miles from Ribchester to Lancaster along the road traced by David Ratledge, but the onward 12-mile route to Alone remains to be worked out.  It is easier to imagine identifiable foreigners (?from Ireland) at Lancaster than further inland at Burrow.  The name of Morecambe Bay is recent, due to misunderstanding of Ptolemy.

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: 10 March 2018