Pampocalia

AttestedPampocalia at position 125 in the Ravenna Cosmography.

Where:  Probably near the crossroads where Roman roads 721 and 720a of Margary (1973) intersected at Long Lee, on the outskirts of Keighley, Yorkshire, at about SE076399.  This lies close to the midpoint of a straight line matching the Cosmography's sequence Bresnetenaci Veteranorum (Ribchester) – PampocaliaLagentium (Tadcaster).  Near there is Catstones Ring, a curious earthwork at SE068381 that looks like a rather irregular Roman camp, while even closer to the junction is the Harden Moor stone circle.  At SE05143627, near Cullingworth, is the huge Castle Stead Ring, which Allcroft (pp 196-7 here) picked out as a likely ancient assembly amphitheatre, with other suggestive names nearby.

Name OriginPampocalia appears to come from PIE *pamp- ‘to swell’ plus PIE *kel- ‘prominence, hill’, but it is not instantly clear whether that would have referred to rocks, hills, or earthworks.  The observed form Pampocalia might have evolved in a northern, but Latin-influenced, linguistic environment, judging by the parallels of proto-Germanic *pamp- leading to Swedish pamp ‘fat person’ and of Runic halaz leading to Old English heall ‘rock’.  Latin has the parallels pampinus ‘vine shoot’ and collis ‘hill’.  No close parallels in Celtic appear to have been suggested.  Greek παμποικιλος ‘all-variegated’ (from παμπαν ‘altogether’ plus χαλιξ ‘pebble’) seems a less likely parallel, even though it, and also Latin callis ‘stony footpath’, might be very appropriate to the glacial erratic boulders of coarse-grained gritstone that pepper the hills above Keighley, often in unnatural positions and with strange markings that may be very old.

Notes:  (1) Special thanks to Jane Houghton for helping to elucidate the local topography.
(2) Antiquarian guesswork from 1695 or earlier placed Pompocali at a quarry on a Roman road north-east of Leeds, which some Ordnance Survey maps accepted at position SE375421; this is unlikely because there is no evidence that quarrying began there in Roman times and because it would make Cosmography's track cross over itself, which appears not to happen.
(3) Richmond & Crawford suggested that Pampocalia was a scribal conflation of Cambodunum and Calcaria; this is unlikely because the Cosmography's text is not badly corrupted.
(4) Keighley's name in Domesday Book, Chichelai is explained unconvincingly by place-name dictionaries as derived from a hypothetical personal name *Cyhha, and might make better sense derived from Old English cicel ‘little cake’ as a calque on a rocky interpretation of Pampocalia.
(5) Only the narrow Aire valley separates sites discussed here from being on Ilkley Moor baht 'at!

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Last edited 16 March 2020     To main Menu