Portum Adurni

Attested:  ND Portum Adurni twice

Where:  R&S suggested Portchester Castle, an idea that has generally been accepted, despite their reasons for preferring it over other Saxon Shore forts being invalid.  Its walls still impressively survive at SU62440459, at the back of Portsmouth Harbour.

Name origin:  Uncertain.  PIE *dher- ‘to hold’ led to English dern ‘to hide’, a common element in later place names and appropriate for this fort’s location, but there is no obvious reason for an initial A.  Breeze (2004) found an unconvincing Celtic parallel in ADIUNE on a post-Roman memorial found near Swansea.  Possibly the best suggestion comes from the way that Hesychius equated Galatian αδες with Greek ποδες ‘feet’.  Delamarre (2014) proposed that in Gaulish personal names *adu- meant ‘pot’ (by loss of initial P from PIE *ped-/*pod- ‘container, vat’, meaning a container that could stand upright) so that the family name Adurienus (attested in Italy) was *adu-reno- ‘flowing pot, generous’.  This might make a suitable name for Portchester Castle, which was much more of a supplies depot than a war-fighting site, as indeed were some other Saxon Shore forts.

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Last Edited: 25 July 2016