Encyclopédie Marikavel / Jean-Claude Even

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dernière mise à jour 09/09/2009 13:43:08

Définition : commune d'Angleterre; comté de Northumberland.


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


Selon Rivet & Smith (voir ci-dessous), et en fonction des connaissances actuelles de l'archéologie le concernant, ce fort, bien que faisant partie du système avancé du Mur d'Hadrien, ne semble pas avoir été bâti à l'époque de celui-ci, mais à celle du Mur d'Antonin, sous le gouvernement de Quintus Lollius Urbicus (139-142). Ainsi, il est possible qu'il porte le nom d'un propriétaire foncier, tel *Avit-us


A) Habitancum

* ALF Rivet & Colin Smith, p. 371-372 :


- Inscription : RIB 1225 (Risingham), an altar whose dedicator was . . . HABITANCI PRIMA STAT(IONE) 'on his first tour of duty at Habitancum '

- Ravenna 10747 (= R&C 189) : EVIDENSCA 

(The inscription RIB 1235, Risingham, a monumental dedication-slab, as restored mentions the EXPL[ORATORES HABITANCENSES]

Although R&C and Williams take Evidensca at face-value, discuss it philologically and try to identify it with Inveresk, the name belongs on textual grounds and from its position in the list with Habitancum. The suggestion was first made by Holder, and was known to R&C but not argued by them. If *Avitanco figured in the source used by the Cosmographer, there is no great problem : H- is décorative (cf. Onno/Hunno, Ispani in RIB 256, hypercorrect Have for Ave in RIB 1115, etc.) ; for d / t and a / o, see p. 203. The only real oddity is intrusive -s-. As for position, the Cosmographer is at this point concerned with S.E. Scotland and Northumberland north of the Wall ; mention of Habitancum is to be expected.

DERIVATION. The base of the name is Latin, well-recorded as the cognomen Avitus with many derived forms. It is sometimes written Abitus, Avithus, Avittus, and is found in at least five instances as Habitus : Aulus Cluentius Habitus, defended by Cicero in 66 B.C., and a man of the same name and family who made a dedication at Carrawburgh, RIB 1545; Q. Iul(ii) Habi(ti), CIL VII. 1336.525; Habitus on a potter's stamp from Gaul, CIL XIII. 10010.983; and on the tombstone of a Samnian sevir, CIL IX, 3097. As for b / v, it seems that while Avitus was much the commoner, (H)abitus has the more classical authority. Confusion of b / v began in the first century A.D. in the Vulgar Latin of several Continental provinces, and soon affected writing. As Jackson showed, b and v remained distinct on the whole in the Latin of Britain, and the very few cases of confusion (e.g. Vivio for Vibio in RIB 17, London; Vassinus for B- in RIB 215, Stony Stratford) are exceptional or due to the presence of people from other provinces. It therefore seems that our place-name is correctly cited with -b-.

The -ancum suffix (there is no justification for ' Habitancium') is possibly found in Concangis and Sylinancis. Holder 1.137 lists Latin -ac- from *-anc-, Germanic -ing, -ang, Lithuanian -inka-s, and finds it in place-names Almancum, Aprianco, the nautae Aruranci (R. Arura > Aar), etc.; also in personal names (the most relevant here) Bellanco, Mogiancus, etc. It is not common and the meaning is unclear. Its use in the other British name(s) suggests that there was a specifically Celtic suffix cognate with those listed by Holder, though he does not indicate one; its function might be that of the similar Celto-Latin suffix *-aco-, -acum, and the sense of this, often 'property of', might be similar too. As to the race of the person Habitus in question, he was more likely a Briton with a Latin name than a Roman (possibly paralleled by the name of the Gaulish potter mentioned above) as the possessor, perhaps, of the land on which the fort was built, for forts were not named after their Roman builders or commanders.

IDENTIFICATION. The Roman fort at Risingham, Northumberland (NY 8986). The archaeological evidence at present available suggests that the fort was not built until Antonine times, in the governorship of Q. Lollius Urbicus (A.D. 139-42), so that a landowner with a Roman name is quite possible.

Note. A. Rutherford in BBCS, xxvi (1974-76), 440-44, reverts to an interpretation of Ravenna's Evidensca (read erroneously Eiudensca, following R&C) in an effort to locale Bede's Urbs Giudi. He sees the form as a conflation of this with Isca (the Scottish Exe).

>>> Explication : une forme dérivée, affublée d'un H initial, d'un nom de personne *Avit-us.


B) Risingham : 

Nous n'avons pas de réponse directe à ce toponyme anglo-saxon. cependant, A.-D. Mills évoque, pour Rising castle, en Norfolk, un probable nom de personne *Risa + ingas. Nous pourrions alors proposer une forme en *Risa + ham = le village du dénommé Risa.


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

* A.L.F. RIVET & Colin SMITH : The Place-Names of Roman Britain

* A.D. MILLS : Oxford Dictionary of British Place Names. Oxford University Press. 2003.

Liens électroniques des sites Internet traitant de Risingham / Habitancum :    

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* forum du site Marikavel : Academia Celtica

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