Attested:  Ptolemy 2,3,26 Καληουα, a πολις of the Ατρεβατιοι;  coins of Commius CALLEV or REX CALLE; inscription CALLEVAE; Galleva Atrebatum on iter 7 and Calleva on itinera 13, 14, 15 of the Antonine Itinerary;  Caleba Arbatium at position 67 in the Ravenna Cosmography

WhereSilchester Roman town, at SU63946240.

Name OriginCalewan ‘bare, lacking vegetation’ contributed to many later English place names; it is the weak form (see Smith 1956: 79) of an Old English adjective usually cited as calu ‘callow’, which is cognate with Latin calvus ‘bald’, which survives as French chauve and Irish calb.  Suggestions based on a hypothetical Celtic word for ‘wood’ are unconvincing.

Notes:  Much nonsense has been written about the name Silchester.  Geographically, it was a key linking place on the road west out of London, so Sil- is probably related to German Seil, Old English sal ‘cord’.  Calleva is close to unique among major Roman sites in not being close to any significant river.

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Last edited 17 April 2020     To main Menu