Καλατον

Attested:  Ptolemy 2,3,16 Καλατον (or Καλαγον) a πολις of the Βριγαντες.  Might be the same as the Ravenna Cosmography's Caluvio, but probably not its Galluvio, nor the Antonine Itinerary's iter 10 Galacum.

Where:  Probably the Roman fort at Burrow-in-Lonsdale, Lancashire, SD61527584, near the confluence of Leck Beck with the river Lune, and near modern Kirkby Lonsdale.  Substantial native settlement in this area, to fit Ptolemy's focus on native central places is indicated by the Casterton stone circle at SD6393479995 and lots of burial mounds.  The main Roman north-south road east of the fort has been accurately traced by Lidar.  Another route across Britain, roughly on the line from Lancaster to the river Tees, passed through this area, making it a key travel nexus.

Name Origin:  Old Irish calad ‘shore, port, landing-place’ is said to be a loan-word from “low Latin” *calatum, which survives as Italian calata ‘quay, slipway’ and French cale ‘wedge, slipway’ and may descend from Greek χαλαω ‘to let down’, of unknown deeper origin.  If there is merit in this analysis, it is hard to see how the Burrow-in-Lonsdale fort would have had a slipway, so more likely the name refers to the road configuration there.  Ptolemy would have been aware of Calatia in ancient Italy, where the Appian Way heading south from Rome split at an acute angle into two roads, one heading for the toe of Italy and another for its heel.  The road heading south from Carlisle splits rather similarly at Burrow-in-Lonsdale, with one road heading for Lancaster and another for Manchester.  Final -ατον looks like a banal noun ending, equivalent to Latin -atum.

Notes:  This analysis overrules a previous preference for Galacum, which has now been shifted to Lancaster.  Initial Καλ- has many other potential sources, including PIE *gal- ‘to call’, appropriate for a communal gathering place, or Graeco-Latin calamus, appropriate for reeds growing in the wetlands surrounding the river Lune.

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Last edited: 11 February 2020     To main Menu