Lincovigla

Attested:  RC Lincovigla

Where:  Roman fort at Lanchester, county Durham, beside Dere Street, at NZ159468, near the head of the river Browney.  R&S followed R&C in thinking that this site was also Longovicium, which is probably wrong.

Name origin:  PIE *klenk- ‘to bend’ developed particularly in Germanic languages, as would have been spoken by the Suebian garrison who left the altar mentioned below.  Loss of the initial χ sound led in English, for example, to link and flank, while OE hlinc ‘link, linch, rising ground’ is well known as a component of later place names.  See Gelling & Cole (2003:180-2) about hlinc and *hlenc in the sense of ‘bank, ledge, hillside, strip lynchet’.  Subsequent evolution to a form in Lanc- presumably parallels the *hlank- in place names of Westphalia.  The -vigla part is suggestive of Latin vigil ‘on watch’.  A translation of ‘hillside watcher’ fits this fort's location perfectly.

Notes:  Altar RIB 1074, found at Lanchester contains letters L⚬N, whose interpretation as LON and an abbreviation for LONGOVICIUM is far from certain.  Lanchester is one of the few places in Britain where clear evidence of a Roman dam and aqueduct has survived.  It is suspected of being a site of Roman-army iron smelting, and is in an area where coal formerly outcropped at the surface but was worked out long ago.

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Last Edited: 17 March 2017