Praesidium

Attested:  (1) Presidium at position 173 in the Ravenna Cosmography;  (2) Praesidium and Praesidio in the Notitia Dignitatum.

Where:  (1) At or near Newton Stewart, where the Roman road heading west on the north of the Solway Firth needed to cross the river Cree, possibly at Machermore ford NX413651 or a little downstream.
(2) Rivet & Smith wondered if this name should be placed at York, by linking two lines in the Notitia: Praefectus legionis sextae and Praefectus equitum Dalmatiorum, Praesidio.  That seems unlikely, so other possibilities have been discussed, including a suggestion that Praesidio was a variant of Praetorio at one of the destinations of Roman roads on the Yorkshire coast, such as Bridlington, Filey, Whitby, or Scarborough, where the Romans had a signal station and perhaps even a fort under the mediaeval castle.  On balance, however, the strongest candidate seems to be the Roman fort at Newton Kyme SE45644535 (near Tadcaster), reported here, because it was large, occupied in the late Roman period, and close to a large henge.

Name Origin:  Latin praesidium is often translated as ‘garrison post’, as discussed by Bishop (1999), but it literally meant ‘presiding over’ applied to soldiers serving as a guard, garrison, escort, or convoy.  Another translation of ‘police station’ describes how it watched over a supply route, as described by Vegetius De Re Militari 3,8.

Notes:  Downstream of (1), which was ignored by Rivet & Smith, were Ptolemy's Ιηνα estuary (the mouth of the river Cree) and Λουκοπιβια (near Wigtown).  The Notitia named a unit of Dalmatian cavalry based at (2), but that does not help to pin down a location.  At least ten other Praesidia are recorded elsewhere across the Empire.  A particularly good example is at Khirbet al Khalde, in Jordan, on a trade route north of Aqaba.  Dziurdzik (2013) explained that Equites Dalmatae at (2) were a type of late-Roman cavalry not necessarily recruited from Dalmatia.

You may copy this text freely, provided you acknowledge its source as www.romaneranames.uk, recognise that it is liable to human error, and try to offer suggestions for improvement.
Last edited 30 June 2020     To main Menu