Attested: Ptolemy: Λινδον, a πολις of the Κοριτανοι
AI: 4x LINDO; RC: Lindum Colonia
Inscriptions: SEVIR AUG COL EBOR ET LIND on altar at Bordeaux
Tombstones: 2x LINDO, C LIND; Milestones at Lincoln RIB 2240 & 2241 RPL, A L S
Where: Lincoln, Roman fort at SK976718, colonia, and capital of a post-Roman kingdom.
Name origin: The parallel with Welsh llyn ‘pond, lake’ from an earlier British form *lindo-, describing Brayford Pool (Lincoln’s inland harbour on the river Witham) has been generally accepted for years, but there are huge problems with this orthodoxy. First, there is no reason to think that Lincoln had a significant native settlement before it became strategically important to the Roman army, and its Pool may have been merely a marsh until well after Lindum was founded. Second, there are multiple alternative parallels to consider, notably linden trees, the source of two items very important to ancient soldiers, OE lind ‘shield’ and Old Norse lindi ‘belt’. Third, the 28 or so ancient inscriptions that show LIND (or a likely abbreviation thereof) mostly refer to Lindos in Greece or to personal names built around Germanic lind ‘soft’.
PIE dictionaries cite a root *lei- ‘to flow’ but do not agree on how that developed into the
many “wet” words that begin with L (from lava to lymph), or its role in some ancient names (such as Duroliponte, Cambridge). Adding –ND often generated verbal nouns, so one might expect *lindo-
to mean something more active than ‘pool’, such as ‘flowing’ or ‘flooding’. That would certainly fit such modern places as Leintwardine, Lenton, Leominster, Lindisfarne, Lynt Bridge, and Lynton.
If Lincoln was indeed named from water, Old Frisian lind ‘pond’, plus Old Norse lind and Middle High German lünde ‘wave’, offer parallels as good as Welsh llyn. So the common assertion that Lindum was a Celtic name is not based on hard evidence, but rests upon circular logic.
Notes: Other ancient Lind- places that can still be located are Lindinis (probably Ilchester), plus Lindesina, Lindiacum, and Diolindum on the Continent.
Last Edited: 7 August 2016