Presidium / Praesidio

Attested:  (1) RC Presidium;  (2) ND Praesidium and Praesidio.

Where:  (1) At or near Newton Stewart, where the Roman road heading west on the north of the Solway Firth needed to cross the river Cree, possibly at Machermore ford NX413651 or a little downstream.  (2) R&S wondered if this name should be placed at York, by linking two lines in ND: Prefectus legionis sextae and Prefectus equitum Dalmatiorum, Praesidio.  That seems unlikely, so other possibilities have been discussed, including Newton Kyme and Brough-on-Humber.  A presidium ‘outpost’ would fit one of the coastal destinations of Roman roads, at Bridlington, Filey, Scarborough, or Whitby.  Of those, perhaps the best candidate is at Scarborough, where the Romans had a signal station and perhaps more where the mediaeval castle now stands.

Name Origin:  Despite what an English speaker might guess, Latin praesidium ‘defence’ generally meant a small military base and is often translated as ‘garrison post’, as discussed by Bishop (1999).  At least ten other Praesidia are mentioned in RC elsewhere across Europe.

Notes:  Downstream of (1) were Ptolemy’s Ιηνα estuary (the mouth of the river Cree) and Λουκοπιβια (near Wigtown).  Site (2) might be the same as RC's Praetorio.  ND named a unit of Dalmatian cavalry based there, but that does not help to pin down a location.

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Last Edited: 11 December 2016