Attested: (1) Ptolemy 2,3,28 Ουεντα, a πολις of the Βελγαι; RC Venta Velgarom; AI iter 7 Venta Belgarum; AI iter 15 Venta Velgarum; ND Procurator Gynaecii Bentensis in Britannis
(2) Ptolemy 2,3,21 Ουεντα, a πολις of the Ικενοι; RC Venta Cenomum; AI iter 5 Icinos; AI iter 10 Venta Icinorum; TP Ad Taum
(3) AI iter 14 Venta Silurum; RC Ventaslurun
Where: (1) Winchester, around SU48202932; (2) Caister St Edmund, TG230035, near Norwich; (3) Caerwent, ST469905.
Name origin: Venta was described by R&S (pp 262-5) as “a well-known problem”. It is often translated as ‘market’ under influence from French vente ‘sale’, but a better solution may lie in all the tribes across Europe with names similar to Veneti. Loicq (2003) listed 18 or so of them and Weiss (2014) added more. The Veneti were not a single tribe of epic migrators, and attempts to translate their name as ‘conquerors’ (based on a PIE root that led in English to wound) are not convincing. A better translation is ‘our people, our friends’, which many separate groups of people might have used to describe themselves. The most likely root is PIE *wen- ‘to desire, to strive for’, which led to many words referring to friendship, work, and ownership of land, and to names such as Venus and Edwin. Delamarre (2017:111-113) followed Koch (1992) in arguing that Venta meant ‘killing place’, either a slaughterhouse for food animals or a religious sacrifice site – not convincing. However, Koch (2016) now prefers to translate -vent- as ‘rich in, having an abundance of’ or simply ‘possessing’, citing examples in Indo-Iranian, and accepting that Venta was some kind of tribal gathering place.
Notes: Obvious parallels include Bannaventa, Beneventum in Italy, and modern Gwent. The Historia Brittonum, written in Wales in the AD 800s, mentions cair guintguic, which is usually taken to be Winchester, with its second part being like wic, used at that time for a trading place, typically situated on the waterside outside a city. A possible parallel in Scotland is Fintry, suggested by Boyle (1981)
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Last edited: 1 February 2019
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