Cunetio

AttestedCunetione on iter 14 of the Antonine Itinerary;   Cunetzone at position 46 of the Ravenna Cosmography

Where:  Roman walled town near Mildenhall, around SU21656945, in a bend of the river Kennet, close to Marlborough, Wiltshire.

Name origin:  Same as the English word cunette ‘artificial water channel’.  (Rivet & Smith could not see anything useful in Celtic.)

Notes:  Cunette almost certainly came from a Latin engineers' word *cunetta (much more likely than the unsupported speculation repeated by many books).  Cunetio poses a challenge to understand how the Romans changed the local river.  Britain has more than 50 places whose names may have come from the same root, but they are confused by other water-channel words.  An unpublished manuscript discussing all of them is available on request.  Celticists cherish the idea that cun- generally meant ‘dog’ in ancient names, not ‘kin’, so Delamarre suggests that Cunetio was named from ‘river-dog, otter’.  Otters have recently returned to the river Kennet.

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