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Bro Saoz


North Yorkshire

Bro-Evrog an Hantronoz





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dernière mise à jour : 31/05/2012 11:31:58

Definition : commune d'Angleterre; comte de North-Yorkshire, sur la route romaine de York / Eburacum à Corbridge / Corstopitum.


Extrait de la carte Ordnance Survey : Map of Roman Britain.

Armoiries; blason



Les Bretons, voulant reprendre la place aux Anglo-Saxons, y subirent une très grave défaite, vers l'An 600. On trouve écho de cette bataille dans le Gododdin.


* Eilert Ekwall,  (Ed.1936-1980), Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names :

- Katouraktonion c 150 Ptolemy; Cataractone (abl.) 4 I.A; Cataracta; (a) uico Cataractone c 730 Bede; Cetrecht, (neah) Cetrehtan, Cetrettun c 890 Bede; Catrice DB; Kateric 1231 FF; MW Cat(t)raeth Taliesin &). 

" Probably Lat cataracta 'waterfall', which suits the local conditions. If so, the name must have been changed by Britons, who substituted OBrit. catu- 'war' for the original first element and added British suffix".


* Rivet & Smith, ( Ed. 1979-1982), Place-Names of Roman Britain :

- Ptolemy, II,3,10 etc : Katouraktonion ( = CATURACTONIUM); variante Katourraktonion ( = CATURRACTONIUM); Tatourractonion ( = TATURACTONIUM); Taktouraktonion ( = TACTURACTONIUM); , ville des Brigantes.

- Itinéraire d'Antonin, 4652 (Iter 1) : CATARACTONI

- Itinéraire d'Antonin, 4682 (Iter II) : CATARACTONE

- Itinéraire d'Antonin, 4762 (Iter V) : CATARACTONI

- Ravenna, 10714CACTABACTONION.

The forms in the sources require comment. Ptolemy's, with ou (u) in the second syllable in all MSS, seems to show an assimilation to British *catu- 'battle' (but see below). AI's two forms in -i are respectable enough as locarives, but the form in -e which gives the appearance of a third-declension oblique or ablative is erroneous and should be restored as -i again (compare, however, one of Bede's forms. mentioned below). Ravenna's form involves a -ct- which mistakenly anticipates the -ct- later in the name, as also in one Ptolemy variant.

DERIVATION. Williams and Jackson (Britamia, I (1970), 70, and LHEB 409, note, etc.) agree with the traditional explanation of the name : < Latin cataracta "waterfall, rapids', with British *-on(o) suffix (see Bremetenacum). The rapids referred to are those on the Swale near Richmond, and it is likely that the Swale itself, or a reach of it, was called *Cataractona, the name being transferred to the fort with derivational suffix *-io, giving British *Cataractônion, latinised as Cataractonium. Certainly the sources support, or are restored to support, this etymology. A few other names are based on cataracta : Catterick near Settle (Yorks), mentioned by Williams, and Catterick Moss (Co. Durham) thought to be named from the well-known Catterick; abroad,Chalette (Aube, France) was Cataracta in the ninth century, and Cadarache (Bouches-du-Rhône, France) was apud Cateractam in 976; there is also La Chorache (Drôme, France), and in Aragon (Spain) Cadereita and Caderechas; but there seem to be no fully ancient names other than the present one based on cataracta, or at least we know of none in our sources.

It is proper to feel some disquiet about the traditional etymology, despite the support it has from Williams and Jackson. In the first place, cataracta was not a native Latin word but a borrowing from Greek Katarakta ; it probably remained a literary word in Latin, and has left no popular (only learned) progeny in the Romance languages, except possibly in Italian cateratta. The Continental names noted above are probably early medieval creations by churchmen or lawyers, and are based on literary Latin. Whether the word would have been used by soldiers, settlers and officials in a new province is therefore doubtful. In the second place, it seems most unlikely that a major river like the Swale should not have had a native Celtic name, this being taken over in Latin form as were dozens of others in the country; and such new naming in Latin is rare in the Celtic regions of the Continent (in Britain, Ravenna's Velox is almost certainly a corruption). Moreover, since cataracta was hardly a spoken Latin word, it is hard to see how speakers of British could have borrowed it at any early stage in order to form their supposed *Cataractona name. In the third place, Cataractonium would be a unique case in which a Latin name (whether of river or habitation) appears with a Celtic suffix at an early date; Caesaromagus is not in this category. In the fourth place, it is hard to believe that in the short space of time between assumed Roman naming of these cataracta and the gathering of materials by Ptolemy's sources or informants, the folk-etymology inherent in Catu- for Cata- would have operated among speakers in the place, and would then have gone unrecognised for what it was — a folk-etymology — by those recording names in officiai forms on the map which was ultimately Ptolemy's source. That Cataractonium did eventually become the accepted form, and that it was taken to have a base cataracta, is undoubted, for AI and Ravenna show it; but that this was truly the original base must be extremely doubtful.

Our suggestion is that behind the name recorded in the Greek and Latin sources there lies a purely Celtic original, as logic demands. Ptolemy's forrn is vital here. Celtic *catu- 'battle' occurs in very many Personal and place-names, as first element. As a second element the best possibility is Celtic *ratis 'rampart, fortification, fort' (see RATAE). For this, -racte sometimes appears as a variant (Dottin LG 280). In names this word can carry a suffix, as in Ratiaria, Ratiaton (DAG 153, 241). There is, then, no inherent difficulty in supposing that the present name was originally British *Catu-ra(c)t-on-ion, with the sense '(place of the) battle-ramparts ' ; and given the numerous parallels provided by the Duro- names, this could well refer to a Roman fort, not to a native one. Ptolemy records this precisely in Latin form. Thereafter, at some time before AI was compiled, there occurred an assimilation by Latin speakers in the area to Cataracta, via a mistaken association with the rapids of the Swale. Some support for our supposed British form may be forthcoming from Middle Welsh cadrawt ' war-band, troop of soldiers', perhaps < British *catu-rato- or the like, on which see Williams in BBCS, I-(1921-23), 21 ff., and in Canu Aneirin (Cardiff, 1938), 220 (note to cadrawt, line 604). It should also be noted that the change from Catu- to Cata- may have been assisted by uncertainty among British speakers (that is, in addition to the assimilation by Latin speakers), for there are many examples of Cata- for earlier Catu- in names registered by Ellis Evans in GPN 67. Something of our idea was already present in the mind of Sir John Morris Jones (as discussed in EPNS, v (1928 : Yorks N.R.), 242-43) : he supposed that the original British name had two forms, *Caturacto, genitive *Caturactonos, beside *Caturact-on, genitive -ion; this being heard by the Romans as though it were their cataracta.

Bede used the name three times : in II, 14 and II, 20 it is Cataractam (ace.), but in III, 14 it is Cataractone (abl.). The difference is curious. Neither form is a relatinisation from the Celtic speech of Bede's day. The first might proceed from a written record of late Latin pronunciation preserved in the kingdom of Elmet (see Cambodunum) ; the second looks more like a form taken from an official record of the Imperial period, since it accords with those of Al, a point not without interest for Bede studies; but such a source is today unknown to us. Bede's first two references are ecclesiastical - to Paulinus baptising converts in the Swale, and to the story of James the Deacon; the third is secular, concerning the killing of King Oswine in A.D. 642.

For the development of the name via Catraeth (as recorded in Welsh) to Catterick, see especially Jackson LHEB 409 (note) and 564. The base supposed is simple Cataracta rather than any of the recorded Romano-British forms.

IDENTIFICATION. The Roman town at Catterick, Yorkshire (SE 2299). The name would have been applied in the first instance to the fort which preceded the town.


Très longue discussion étymologique.

- Williams, Jackson, LHEB se reposent sur une interprétation traditionnelle issue du Latin cataracta 'chute d'eau, courants rapides'. Ces 'rapides' pouvant être en rapport avec la rivière Swale, à proximité.

- Rivet & Smith, plutôt que se référer à une racine d'origine grecque, préfèrent envisager un nom antérieur à la conquête romaine partir des racines brittoniques *catu- (combat) + *ratis (rempart)  :  " *Catu-ra(c)t-on-ion" , dans le sens : emplacement du rempart de combat.


* A.D Mills (1991-2003) : "Katouraktonion c. 150; Catrice 1086 DB. From Latin cataracta "waterfall", though apparently through a misunderstanding of the original Celtic place-name meaning '(place of) battle ramparts".

Sources :

* Eilert EKWALL : The Concise Oxford Dictonary of English Place-names.

* A.L.F RIVET & C. SMITH : The place-names of Roman Britain. Batsford Ltd. London. 1979 - 1982.

* A.D MILLS : Oxfor Dictionary of British Place-Names. Oxford University Press. 1991- 3003.

Envois de : 

Liens électroniques des sites Internet traitant de Catterick / Cataractonium

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* forum du site Marikavel : Academia Celtica

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