Moridunum

Attested:  AI iter 15 Moriduno (Muriduno in the erroneous duplication in iter 12);  RC Moriduno;   Peutinger Ridumo

Where:  Probably the Roman fort at Gittisham, SY13259930, beside the river Otter near Honiton, Devon.  The distance of 15 miles from Exeter in both AI and Peutinger could fit Gittisham or Sidford almost equally well, but the route from Dorchester to Gittisham is straighter.

Name origin:  PIE *mori- shows up in ancient place names mainly near inland water, marshes and/or lakes.  See here about -dunum ‘fortified low hill’.  R&S (who wrote before the Roman fort had been discovered at Gittisham) preferred Sidford because it is near the coast, and *môr- is Welsh for ‘sea’.  Not convincing.

Notes:  The Otter valley probably used to be seriously marshy (hence the nearby name Fenny Bridge) and would probably have had beaver colonies in the past.  No significant Roman traces have been found near the river Sid, but its crossing is dominated by Sidbury Castle hillfort, at SY129913.  The Sid estuary probably had a wider mouth in Roman times, and its flanking cliffs (much as at Dover) may have retreated substantially over the centuries, providing material for the shingle bar that has largely closed off the mouth of the estuary.  Its valley might then have been marshy. 

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Last edited: 10 June 2019
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