Concangis

AttestedNotitia Dignitatum Concangios (twice);   Coganges (or Ceganges) at position 141 in the Ravenna Cosmography.
Manuscripts of the Life of St Cuthbert (who died in 687) mention Anglo-Saxon forms (messily reported in secondary sources) spelled Cuncacaestir and Kuncacester.

Where:  Roman fort at Chester-le-Street, Durham, at NZ27585131, by the tidal limit of the river Wear where the Cong Burn flows in.

Name origin:  Rivet & Smith called this “a difficult name”, but no one seems to have drawn attention to Welsh caing ‘branch’.  It is debatable whether that came from: PIE *kak1- ‘to jump’ or *kak2- ‘branch’ or *kenk- ‘to drop’ and how it relates to English hang and Hengest (plus related words for horses).  Also see Γαγγανων about PIE *ghengh- ‘to go, to walk’.  Possibly the best suggesion is to split the name as Conc-angis rather than Con-cangis, in keeping with the later Anglo-Saxon forms, and then guess a link to Greek γογγος ‘conger eel’, which entered English via Latin.  Then the second element would be related to German *Anger ‘meadow, especially one by the side of a river and more or less swampy or subject to inundation’, which shows up in modern place names such as Ancram and various Ings and related to Greek αγκος ‘bend, hollow’.  That would make Concangis mean ‘eel meadow’.

Notes:  There are now efforts to restore the populations of eels (and other fish) on the river Wear.  Chester-le-Street was the home of Raymond Selkirk, whose 1995 book has a diagram on p245 of the likely layout of water channels around the fort, which he called “a typical example of a river-supplied site”.  It was a place where several watery branches came together and were probably altered by Roman engineers.  One inscription found there may refer to construction of a water supply by soldiers from Asturia, who were probably native Celtic speakers.  The river Wear, upstream from Concangis as well as downstream, may have been important for the transport of heavy lead ingots.

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Last edited 6 April 2020     To main Menu