Albinumno

AttestedAlbinumno at position 51 in the Ravenna Cosmography.

Where:  Lydney Park Roman temple, built inside Camp Hill promontory fort around SO616027, in Gloucestershire, on the west (Welsh) side of the river Severn, on the Roman road from Caerwent to Gloucester, quite late in Roman control of Britain.  It was excavated in 1932 by the Wheelers, whose key images are shown online here.

Name origin:  PIE *albho- ‘white’ led to elf in English, as one example of a general Germanic ‘white ghostly apparition’ and a host of personal names (Alfred, Aubrey, Oberon, Oliver, etc), and to Latin albus ‘white (but not shiny)’, Greek αλφος ‘white skin disease’.  Latin numen ‘nod’, hence ‘divine will’, came from Greek νευμα, from νευω, whose many relatives include English nod and Latin nuto.

Notes:  The name may survive in modern Aylburton and Alvington nearby, even though both those names have been rationalised (unconvincingly) with personal names.  It is not certain how river names, such as the Elbe in Germany, or the Albinia in Etruria, or Celtic words for the whole world, such as Welsh elfydd, relate to the ‘white’ root, though Albion (Britain) presumably referred to the white cliffs of Dover.  Since Stockwell Brook past the fort/temple is tiny, and the river Lyd through Lydney is some way away, although their joint mouth into the Severn was formerly bigger, it seems more likely that the Albi- part of this name referred to a white ghostly spirit than to a river.  Maybe the Iron Age fort had whitewashed walls to make it a White Castle!  In France the common place name Aubigny is usually derived from Albiniacus, thought to derive from personal names such as Albinius, referring to pale hair or complexion.  Much nonsense has been written about Nodens added to the Roman deity names Mars or Silvianus (on 3 texts from Lydney and 3 elsewhere), which has the form of a Latin present participle akin to ‘nodding’ and may be adequately explained as adjective-like, with a sense of agreeing or of commanding, appropriate to the contractual relationship that ancient people felt towards their deities.  This analysis rejects previous guesses of a link to Greek νευμενος, from νεομαι ‘to go or come back’ or ‘to flow (of rivers)’, and of a location near Caerleon.

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Last edited 29 April 2020     To main Menu