Dano

Attested:  (1) Dano in iter 5 and in iter 8 of the Antonine Itinerary;  (2) Dano, where the Praefectus equitum Crispianorum was based, in the Notitia Dignitatum.

Where:  The Itinerary's mileages indicate that Dano (1) was Doncaster Roman fort at SE57430347 by the river Don.  Locating Dano (2) also at Doncaster implies a gap in the Notitia's list of names: first a cluster of names around York and then a separate series of names further north near Hadrian's Wall.

Name origin:  The river name Don is usually said to come from ancient *danu-, from PIE roots meaning ‘to flow’, either *da- or *dhen-.  Across Europe that led to river names including Danube, Dnieper, Dbiester, at least four Dons in Britain and one in Russia, and Doon in Scotland.  Initial D (or Dh) was retained in Sanskrit and Avestan, but shifted to F in Latin (hence words such as fountain).  Germanic descendants developed a sense of ‘low ground’, hence for example Old English denu or dænu ‘valley’, and possibly Denmark.  Welsh dan ‘under, below’ might be related.  It is also possible that *danu meant ‘double river’.  “Before 1626 the River Don had two outlets” ...  The Danube has two main branches where it reaches the sea, and also some way upstream.  Both the Dnieper and the Dniester are joined near their mouths by substantial tributaries that essentially parallel the main river.  So is the Aberdeenshire Don.  The Danu is part of the huge mess of braided rivers that make up Bangladesh.  The Doon reaches the sea close to the river Ayr.

Notes:  See here for a general discussion of the difficulties in assigning Notitia names to places.  For Dano (2), Rivet & Smith drew attention to Jarrow on another river Don, where a Roman fort has been suspected but not found, but that seems too far north.  An earlier version of this text suggested the Roman fort at Lease Rigg or the port of Whitby, but they are both on a river named Esk, which generally came from an ancient IscaBoutet argues that the river Danube was vital to the expansion of Indo-European-speaking peoples, and shows up in many names of ancient peoples, such as the Δαναοι of Homer.  Early traders from across the North Sea were called Danes, but apparently only a century after the Notitia, though Ptolemy 2,11,22 did mention a tribe in Germany called Δανδουτοι.  Thanks to Thomas Rafn for advice on Denmark.  See here about *danos ‘local official’ as a possible explanation of Dannoni.

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