Habitancum

Attested:  HABITANCI on inscription RIB 1225 and HABITANCENSES on RIB 1235.

WhereRisingham Roman fort north of Hadrian's Wall at NY89038621, where Dere Street crosses the river Rede.  In principle small boats could have travelled from Cilurnum on the Wall, up the river North Tyne, into the river Rede, and then right up to the fort on old river channels that Selkirk (1995:260) noticed.  There was a relatively large civilian settlement around the fort, and modern flood risk maps suggest that it could have been thoroughly surrounded with wetlands.

Name origin:  This name's first element may come from PIE *ab- ‘water, river’ gaining an H under the influence of Latin habito ‘to dwell’ , much as the personal name Avitus (mentioned by Rivet & Smith) was sometimes written Habitus or Latin umor ‘moisture’ was sometimes written humor.  Or a precursor of the English word haven might refer to this site's use as a river port.  Haven and its Germanic relatives are said to be related to heave rather than to Avon, but that is debatable.  The second element is related to German Anger ‘meadow, especially one by the side of a river and more or less swampy or subject to inundation’, which also survives in northern English place names such as Angram or Angerton, referring to the wetlands that would have surrounded the fort, judging by modern flood-risk maps, from the river Rede.

Notes:  This analysis would fit with the modern name Risingham, and nearby Ridsdale and Yearhaugh, preserving a memory of that wet environment and using the local word ing for wet meadows near the sites of the Roman forts Lagentium and Isurium (Aldborough), plus ang in Concangis.  Risingham fortís known Roman garrison included the Germanic-speaking Vangiones and Nervii.  A recent thorough survey of the site (Biggins et al 2014) shed no particular light on this name, beyond the fact that this was a place for people to live (and possibly keep stores) near the last of the low ground before Dere Street heads into hills.

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Last Edited: 12 November 2021    To main Menu