Roman place names and sites

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Roman British place namesIt began with a simple notion, to create a list of Roman place names in Britain, with their modern equivalents.  Of course, we do not know what Romans called most of the places they built in Britain, so it then seemed sensible to add random Roman sites to the list.  And the list grew; no doubt it will grow some more, but there are more than 150 sites listed below so far and that is quite enough to be going with.

ROMAN SITES IN ENGLAND
ROMAN SITES IN SCOTLAND
ROMAN SITES IN WALES

For ease of referral, the list is split into England, Scotland and Wales – although of course none of those places existed until long after Roman rule had ended.  The somewhat terse description ‘town’ covers a multitude of possibilities: large towns, small towns, towns formed from pre-Roman settlements (oppida), or based on tribal territories. Most towns grew from forts and many forts had a civilian settlement, or vicus, outside its walls to provide goods and services to the soldiers stationed there.  The distribution of forts illustrates the predominantly military nature of Roman rule in the north of the island.  Do bear in mind, if you’re organising a tour of Roman places in Britain, that there is often little of the Romans to see at many of them.

ROMAN SITES IN ENGLAND

MODERN NAME ROMAN NAME (if known) WHERE IS IT? WHAT IS/WAS IT?
Aldborough Isurium North Yorkshire Town
Ambleside Galava Cumbria Fort
Baginton Warwickshire Fort
Bath Aquae Sulis Avon Town
Beckhampton Wiltshire Road
Benwell Condercum Tyne & Wear Fort
Bignor West Sussex Villa
Binchester Vinovia Durham Fort
Birdoswald Camboglanna Cumbria Fort
Bitterne (Southampton) Clausentum Hampshire Fort
Blackstone Edge West Yorkshire Road (disputed)
Bowes Lavatrae Durham Fort
Bowness-on-Solway Mais Cumbria Fort
Brading Isle of Wight Villa
Bradwell-on-Sea Essex Fort
Brancaster Branodunum Norfolk Fort
Bristol Abonae Bristol Avon Town
Brough Verteris Cumbria Fort
Brougham Brocavum Cumbria Fort
Bucknowle Farm Dorset Villa
Burgh-by-Sands Aballava Cumbria Fort
Burgh Castle Gariannorum Norfolk Fort
Burrow in Lonsdale Calacum or Galacum Lancashire Fort
Buxton Aquae Arnemetiae Derbyshire Town
Caistor Venta Icenorum Norfolk Town
Cambridge Duroliponte Cambridgeshire Town
Canterbury Durovernum Cantiacorum Kent Town
Carisbrooke Castle Isle of Wight Fort
Carlisle Luguvalium Cumbria Town
Carrawburgh Brocolitia Northumberland Fort and temple
Castlesteads Cammoglanna Cumbria Fort
Cawthorn North Yorkshire Camps
Cerne Abbas Dorset Temple
Chanctonbury Ring West Sussex Temple
Charterhouse Somerset Mine (lead)
Chedworth Gloucester Villa
Chee Tor Derbyshire Farm (native British)
Chester Deva Cheshire Town
Chesterholm Vindolanda Northumberland Fort
Chesters Cilurnum Northumberland Fort
Chichester Noviomagus West Sussex Town
Chysauster Gulval (?) Cornwall Village (native British)
Cirencester Corinium Gloucestershire Town
Colchester Camulodunum Essex Town
Corbridge Corstopitum Northumberland Fort
Crofton Bromley Villa
Dorchester Durnovaria Dorset Town
Dover Dubris Kent Port
Drumburgh Coggabata Cumbria Fort
Ebchester Vindomora Durham Fort
Exeter Isca Dumnoniorum Devon Town
Fishbourne West Sussex Palace
Gatcombe Avon Villa
Gloucester Nervia Glevensium Gloucestershire Town
Goldsborough North Yorkshire Signal station
Great Chesters Aesica Northumberland Fort
Great Witcombe Gloucestershire Villa
Greenhead, Carvoran Magna Northumberland Fort
Hadrian’s Wall Vallum Aelii? Cumbria/Northumberland Defensive barrier
Hardknott Mediobogdum Cumbria Fort
Heronbridge Cheshire Settlement
High Rochester Bremenium Northumberland Fort
Housesteads Vercovicium Northumberland Fort
Ilchester Lindinis Somerset Town
Isle of Wight Vectisins Isle of Wight Geographical feature
Jordan Hill, Weymouth Dorset Temple
Kenchester Magnis Herefordshire Town
King’s Weston Avon Villa
Kingscote (The Chessells) Gloucestershire Town
Kirby Thore Bravoniacum Cumbria Camp
Knap Hill Wiltshire Camp/Farm
Lancaster Lancashire Fort
Lanchester Longovicium Durham Fort
Leicester Ratae Coritanorum Leicestershire Town
Lincoln Lindum Lincolnshire Town
Little Chester, Derby Derventio Coritanorum Derbyshire Town
Littlecote Wiltshire Villa
London Londinium London Town
Lullingstone Kent Villa
Lydney Gloucestershire Temple
Malton Derventio North Yorkshire Fort
Manchester Mamucium Manchester Fort
Maryport Alavna Cumbria Fort
Maumbury Rings Dorset Amphitheatre
Melandra, Glossop Ardotalia Derbyshire Fort
Navio, Brough Derbyshire Fort
Newcastle upon Tyne Pons Aelius Tyne & Wear Fort
North Leigh Oxfordshire Villa
Pevensey Anderida East Sussex Fort
Piercebridge Magis? Durham Bridge & Fort
Portchester Portus Adurni? Hampshire Fort
Rainster Rocks Lutodarum? Derbyshire Settlement/Mine (lead)
Ravenglass Glannaventa or Itunocelum Cumbria Fort/bathhouse
Reculver Regulbium Kent Fort
Rey Cross Durham Camp
Ribchester Bremetennacum Lancashire Fort
Richborough Rutupiae Kent Port/Fort
Rochester Durobrivae Cantiacorum Kent Town
Rockbourne Hampshire Villa
Silchester Calleva Atrebatum Hampshire Town
Somerdale, Keynsham Traiectus? Avon Town/Villa
South Shields Arbeia Tyne & Wear Fort
Springhead, Southfleet
Vagniacis Kent Temple complex/Town
Stanwix, Carlisle Uxelodunum Cumbria Fort
St Albans Verulamium Hertfordshire Town/Theatre
Waddon Hill Dorset Fort
Wall Letocetum Staffordshire Town
Watercrook (Kendal) Alavana Cumbria Fort
Water Newton (Peterborough) Durobrivae Cambridgeshire Town
Welwyn Hertfordshire Bathhouse
Whitley Castle Northumberland Fort
Winchester Venta Belgarum Hampshire Town
Worcester Vertis? Worcestershire Town
Wroxeter Viroconium Shropshire Town
York Eboracum North Yorkshire Town

ROMAN SITES IN SCOTLAND

MODERN NAME ROMAN NAME (if known) WHERE IS IT? WHAT IS/WAS IT?
Antonine Wall Firth of Clyde to Firth of Forth Defensive barrier
Ardoch Tayside Fort
Bar Hill, Twechar Dunbartonshire Fort
Battledykes, Oathlaw Angus Camp
Bearsden Glasgow Fort/bathhouse
Bertha Perth And Kinross Fort
Birrens Blatobulgium Dumfries & Galloway Fort
Bothwellhaugh North Lanarkshire Fort
Burnswark Dumfries & Galloway Camps (and pre-Roman hill fort)
Cadder East Dunbartonshire Fort
Camelon Falkirk Fort
Carpow Perth And Kinross Fort
Castle Greg West Lothian Fort
Castlecary Falkirk Fort
Castlehill East Dunbartonshire Fort
Croy Hill North Lanarkshire Fort
Deers Den Aberdeenshire Camp?
Elginhaugh Midlothian Fort
Inchtuthill Perth And Kinross Fort
Inverquharity Angus Fort
Kinneil Falkirk Fort
Newstead Trimontium Borders Fort
Pennymuir Borders Camp
Peterculter, Normandykes Aberdeenshire Camp
Raedykes, Garrison Hill Aberdeenshire Camp
Rough Castle Falkirk Fort
Seabegs Wood Falkirk Fort
Strageath Perth And Kinross Fort
Westerwood North Lanarkshire Fort
Ythan Wells, Glenmailen Aberdeenshire Camp

ROMAN SITES IN WALES

MODERN NAME ROMAN NAME (if known) WHERE IS IT? WHAT IS/WAS IT?
Anglesey Mona Anglesey Geographical feature
Brecon Gaer Powys Fort
Caer Gai Gwynedd Fort
Caer Gybi Anglesey Fort
Caerleon Isca Silurum Newport Fort
Caernarfon Segontium Gwynedd Fort
Caerwent Venta Silurum Monmouthshire Town
Cardiff South Glamorgan Fort
Castell Collen Powys Fort
Din Lligwy Anglesey Farm (native British)
Dolaucothi Carmarthenshire Mine (gold)
Gelligaer Caerphilly Fort
Neath Nidum Port Talbot Fort
Trecastle Powys Camp

The primary source for the above list was Keith Branigan’s ‘Roman Britain’, which although a little outdated, is pitched at about the right level for me and can probably still be found in decent second-hand bookshop as well as on Amazon.  The Ordnance Survey’s fascinating map of Roman Britain must be the comprehensive source for Roman sites and is available from good bookshops, OS and Amazon.

50 thoughts on “Roman place names and sites

  1. hilarymb

    Hi Mike – I think this a brilliant addition to your site – and I love the derivations of names … and have often thought about and intended to write some up … perhaps one day … but lots of alternatives here … well done – great idea. Take care – Hilary

  2. starry traveler

    I did some random research on Hadrian’s wall and ended up on British Museum’s site: https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/H_2005-1204-1. The llam pan mentions a few forts that I do not recall seeing in your list? (sorry, I am using mobile app so harder to read and search stuff properly) The site also lists bibliographic references that you can potentially use for further research. If I am ever bored and end up finding stuff that you are missing, I will send it your way for you to verify. Always good to be two in research to double check everything. (I did a degree in Classics if that explains my interest in the field..)

    1. Mike@bitaboutbritain Post author

      Hi Phoebe. Thanks for that – I’ve added those in, plus a few more for good measure. It wasn’t the intention to list every Roman site in Britain, though I can see it ending up that way! Of course, there will be individual sites within towns – I have simply listed the towns. There are articles about several Roman sites on the website, if you’re interested.

      1. starry traveler

        You are welcome! I do think it is important to list every Roman site in Britain, especially major cities that you already have and ones mentioned in artefacts or other written records by ancient writers. At least we have concrete proof they existed and studied by contemporary researchers. For sure. I will take a look at your Roman site articles when Bun is not hoarding all my time.

  3. Stephen Gunter

    Why have you got the Neath camp at Port Talbot? The Neath camp was where Dwr y Felin Comp is now and that is Neath and not Port Talbot.

    1. Mike@bitaboutbritain Post author

      Hi Stephen, thanks for your comment. Neath fort (Nidum) is of course in Neath, partly under the school as you say. The ‘where’ column obviously just provides a general guide – the county or local authority – and I understand that Neath’s local unitary authority is Port Talbot. Here is the Coflein listing for you. The whole exercise is simply intended to provide an interesting list, not any great detail; maybe I’ll get round to that one day! All the best.

  4. David Bowen

    More great stuff Mike, but keep up! There hasn’t been a Dyfed since 1996!
    David in Pembrokeshire!

  5. Helen Devries

    I remember a junior school visit to St. Albans and how the remains of the walls impressed me. That started an interest in Roman Britain encouraged by my father who gave me the Ordnance Survey map.
    If people are visiting Hadrian’s Wall then can i suggest they stay at Four Wynds who have a couple of luxurious ‘pods’….Catherine Jarvis there has an unrivalled store of knowledge about the wall. https://www.hadriansholidays.com/

  6. Jim Borden

    It is interesting how many of the places were used as forts.

    On a somewhat unrelated note (it has to do with the list above not including Northern Ireland), and perhaps you have written about this before. What is your take on the differences between the U.K. and Great Britain, and when and why did such differences arise?

    1. Mike@bitaboutbritain Post author

      Thanks, Jim. Well, of course forts were the default construction initially. Northern Ireland hasn’t been included because the Romans never conquered Ireland (Hibernia) and it isn’t part of Britain, though of course NI is part of the UK. This article – What does ‘Britain’ mean? – will answer some of your questions. When and why are quite big questions. But I can recommend an excellent book about British History 🙂 – and there are timelines and articles on the website too. If that doesn’t help, please get back to me – drop me an email, if that’s easier.

  7. Alli Templeton

    This is fantastic, Mike! Something to get my teeth into, and a really useful gathering of Roman. Once more, we’d been looking forward to going back to Vindolanda in Northumberland his year, but that’s going to have to wait until next year now. Great stuff, though, and more than enough to keep my busy in the meantime! 🙂

      1. Alli Templeton

        Oh it’s fascinating, Mike. There’s the Roman museum and the site itself. They do live archaeological digs there every summer (not this one, though, of course) and it’s amazing the stuff they find. It’s all superbly done and well worth a visit. 🙂

  8. markspitzerdesigns

    To those of us non-Latin speakers, it would be illuminating to have a column of translations of the Roman names to help us understand whether those meanings might be recognizable today. Also, I’m curious as to the survival of Norse names in Britain since they were such an influence at one point in time.

    1. Mike@bitaboutbritain Post author

      Place names – thanks, Mark – a wonderful topic and a huge one! But you can be pretty sure that anything with ‘chester’, or ‘caster’ in it was probably a Roman fort at one time. Norse and Danish names are common in the North and East of England – I want to write an article touching on this; watch this space! As you say, hugely influential.

  9. Bill

    Odd to think of Silchester in Hampshire as it is so near Reading in Berkshire. Well worth the visit though. Need to visit North Leigh as well

  10. andyabcdef

    Who would have known – It turns out I live in Nuovum Eboracum
    Actually not true, I work there and live outside. Well I used to work there until COVID hit. Now I am working remotely from somewhere not a thousand leagues from Nuovum Eboracum.
    I guess that would be not a thousand leagues as the centurian marches.
    Felix Dies!

  11. artandarchitecturemainly

    Verulamium must have been an important city in Roman Britain. St Albans still used that name (in different contexts) when I lived there.

  12. Vivienne

    I had to research some Roman names for my historical novel set in Roman Britain. Thank goodness my characters didn’t travel too far!

  13. April Munday

    Lovely to see Great Witcombe on the list. I was there on Monday and it was my first long distance outing in three months.

    Here’s another one for you to add. Southampton was Clausentum … sort of. The Saxons, and everyone else until quite recently, preferred the other side of the River Itchen.

    1. April Munday

      I’ve had another look and see that Clausentum does feature and it probably was where Bitterne is today. Bitterne, though, is an area of Southampton and the latter is probably more widely known.

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