Derventio

Attested:  (1)  Derventione on iter 1 of the Antonine Itinerary
  (2) Derventione at position 122 and Dorvantium at 250 in the Ravenna Cosmography
  (3) Derventione in the Notitia Dignitatum

Where:  (1) Stamford Bridge Roman fort(?) at SE715555 by the Yorkshire river Derwent.  Not at Malton!
  (2) Papcastle Roman fort and settlement at NY10963149 by the Cumbria river Derwent.
  (3) could be the same as either of the other two; Rivet & Smith favoured Yorkshire, but Cumbria seems more likely.

Name origin:  An etymology based on *daru-/*deru- ‘(oak)tree’, via Welsh derw ‘oaks’, has been proposed for the rivers Derwent (and similar) since at least Ekwall (1928:121-3), but is not convincing.  PIE *der- ‘to run’ is much better, especially in light of Sanskrit dravati ‘to flow’ and the way that letters NT tend to mark verbal present participles.  A Latin speaker would have been able to interprent these names as deruens, deruentis ‘falling down’, a participle from the verb deruo (where U and V were the same letter in Roman times), appropriate for the way these rivers descend from higher ground.  Other rivers whose names arguably descend from the same root include Dart (Devon), Darent (Kent), Darwen (Lancashire), Durance (France), Drava (Slovenia/Croatia), and Drewenz (Poland).

Notes:  The Cosmography also mentions Derbentione (probably Derby).  Notice how the Cosmography mentions both Derventione as a place and Dorvantium as one of the estuaries that were significant harbours in Roman times.  In support of the *deru- etymology is the fact that Bede twice mentioned Deruventionem.

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Last edited 5 January 2021     To main Menu