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Saint Patrick & Names along the Antonine wall
#1
A few years ago, I realised that if we accept that there was a small copy error combing two place names on the Ravenna Cosmography so that Medio+Nemeton was miscopied as Medionemeton, and that there were as we are told seven forts along the wall, we get a very good fit between the names of Dumbarton = Sub-dobiadon(8), Old-Kilpatrick the birthplace of St.Patrick known as "Nemthur" = Nemeton (7) and Bal-muildy = Medio(6).

After a few years of having it available for review online, no substantial reason to believe it is wrong as been given, nor has anyone made a better suggestion, so I've now amended the names on my site (Roman-britain.co.uk) as detailed in this article:

http://roman-britain.co.uk/nemthur.htm

Coincidentally it confirms that Saint Patrick was born in Strathclyde - which was something many people already accepted.
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#2
Nice article.

I'm not sure if it confirms anything, because there could have been other places with that name. I've got a booklet lying around somewhere here with a nice theory about Patrick hailing from the West Country.
Robert Vermaat
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#3
(08-14-2018, 07:45 PM)Robert Vermaat Wrote: Nice article.

I'm not sure if it confirms anything, because there could have been other places with that name. I've got a booklet lying around somewhere here with a nice theory about Patrick hailing from the West Country.

There's been a lot of daft ideas of where St.Patrick was born, but the older sources tell us it was Strathclyde at place called Nemthur.

We are told there are seven forts along the wall, we are given a list from the Ravenna Cosmography in which the sixth is "MedioNemeton". If that is assumed to be the combination of two names we have medio for Bal-muildy, Nemeton for Nemthur (the birthplace of St.Patrick at Old Kilpatrick) and subdobiadon for Dumbarton.

These are all very good fits. You are extremely unlikely to get three such good fits in the right places. Thus the names confirm the places and the names ALSo match Saint Patrick's birthplace.
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#4
(08-14-2018, 09:02 PM)MonsGraupius Wrote: We are told there are seven forts along the wall, we are given a list from the Ravenna Cosmography in which the sixth is "MedioNemeton".

I must be missing a step, but I'm not sure where.

The text of the Ravenna Cosmography reads: "On the other hand, there are towns precisely in Britain, connected one to another in a straight path, where Britain itself is seen to be the narrowest from sea to sea, namely: Velunia, Volitanio, Pexa, Begesse, Colanica, Medionemeton, Subdobiadon, Litana, Cibra, Credigone".

There seem to be ten places, not seven. Or eleven, if you want to split Medionemeton into two.
posted by Duncan B Campbell
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#5
(08-14-2018, 10:30 PM)D B Campbell Wrote:
(08-14-2018, 09:02 PM)MonsGraupius Wrote: We are told there are seven forts along the wall, we are given a list from the Ravenna Cosmography in which the sixth is "MedioNemeton".

I must be missing a step, but I'm not sure where.

The text of the Ravenna Cosmography reads: "On the other hand, there are towns precisely in Britain, connected one to another in a straight path, where Britain itself is seen to be the narrowest from sea to sea, namely: Velunia, Volitanio, Pexa, Begesse, Colanica, Medionemeton, Subdobiadon, Litana, Cibra, Credigone".

There seem to be ten places, not seven. Or eleven, if you want to split Medionemeton into two.

Good point. It says "in a line where ... the island is thinnest" not "along the Antonine wall".

However, because others wrongly interpreted that "in a line" as being ONLY on the Antonine wall, they became fixated in trying to make the list fit the forts. That meant previous attempts tried to shoehorn the names to the forts, but they simply do not fit linguistically and if you start counting the smaller forts there are just too many. The result has been no accepted allocation of names. Which I think means there is clearly something wrong with that assumption that the names are the names of forts ONLY on the wall.

However, Nemthur, the birthplace of the 5th century Saint Patrick ought to be on the Ravenna Cosmography. And by far the best fit is Nemeton - which is on this list as part of the sixth name "in a line": MedioNemeton. We are told there were seven forts along the wall. 

Given the main occupation was along the Antonine wall and it is roughly straight - it's hard to have a line that does not include the wall so we expect the main places on the wall to be present. But as there are more names on the RC than the seven we are told were on the wall, it is reasonable to think that the line should extend beyond the wall. And there is evidence the defences did extend along the Clyde. For example Dumbarton is not on the wall but there was evidence it was a Roman fort defending a port used to supply the wall. There are several other places on the Clyde.

Also, it's not impossible given the way text was squashed into available paper, that during one of the copies, that more names got added to the line than there should have been.

But if we go back to Nemthur, the known birthplace of Saint Patrick, it ought to be on the Ravenna Cosmography. And by far the best fit is Nemeton - which is on this list as part of MedioNemeton. We are told there were seven forts along the wall. If we assume Medio-Nemeton was the combination of two names, Nemeton is  then the seventh at Old Kilpatrick. Nemeton is a close fit to Nemthur (as Th is often written T in other languages).

The next is Subdobiadon and many others have looked at Subdobaidon and said it looked like Dumbarton - so the closeness of that match is not in dispute.

The previous big fort with evidence for late occupation is at Balmuildy. Bal is  gaelic prefix meaning "settlement of" .. so its original name is contained in "Muildy" - the l is silent in the local dialect where the place is now pronounced almost as "Balmidy". So it doesn't take a lingustic genius to see that Muildy is close to Medio.

And finally, if you are not aware, the standard for attributing a Roman era place name is not that high. Many other Roman era names have been attributed with absolutely no compelling argument nor linguistic match. It many instances it seems that someone just had a spare name left over in an area where there was a spare place. The first person cautiously says "I suggest it may be". The next person says "is likely to be" the next "probably is" and by the time it gets to Wikipedia it becomes "is known to"

In contrast, the name matches I have, show a run of three good matches with compelling historical evidence to link Nemeton to Old Kilpatrick. You often get a name on an Itinerary with a place - but no obvious linguistic match. You also get good linguistic matches but no firm geolocation. But with these names we have BOTH a good linguistic match AND because they are on an ordered list, they're geolocated relative to the seventh name at the end of the wall.
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#6
(08-15-2018, 07:52 AM)MonsGraupius Wrote: However, Nemthus, the birthplace of the 5th century Saint Patrick ought to be on the Ravenna Cosmography. And by far the best fit is Nemeton - which is on this list as part of the sixth name "in a line": MedioNemeton. … But if we go back to Nemthus, the known birthplace of Saint Patrick, it ought to be on the Ravenna Cosmography. And by far the best fit is Nemeton - which is on this list as part of MedioNemeton.

I was under the impression that the historical Patrick came from Bannavem Taberniae (as stated in his Confessio).

(08-15-2018, 07:52 AM)MonsGraupius Wrote: But as there are more names on the RC than the seven we are told were on the wall, it is reasonable to think that the line should extend beyond the wall. …  We are told there were seven forts along the wall. If we assume Medio-Nemeton was the combination of two names, Nemeton is  then the seventh at Old Kilpatrick. Nemeton is a close fit to Nemthus (as Th is often written T in other languages).

Who tells us there were seven forts on the Antonine Wall?

(08-15-2018, 07:52 AM)MonsGraupius Wrote: The next is Subdobiadon and many others have looked at Subdobaidon and said it looked like Dumbarton - so the closeness of that match is not in dispute.

Hmmm, doesn't look like Dumbarton to me.

Or to A.L.F. Rivet & Colin Smith, The Place-Names of Roman Britain (London 1979), p. 463: "SUBDOBIADON (?). Derivation: The entry is grossly corrupt, and none can be suggested. Identification: Unknown, but either a fort on the Antonine Wall or a place not far from it."

Or to I.A. Richmond & O.G.S. Crawford, "The British Section of the Ravenna Cosmography", Archaeologia 93 (1949), p. 46: "SUBDOBIADON. A fort on the Antonine Wall. Derivation and meaning uncertain."

(08-15-2018, 07:52 AM)MonsGraupius Wrote: The previous big fort with evidence for late occupation is at Balmuildy. Bal is  gaelic prefix meaning "settlement of" ... so its original name is contained in "Muildy" - the l is silent in the local dialect where the place is now pronounced almost as "Balmidy". So it doesn't take a lingustic genius to see that Muildy is close to Medio.

The place was not always known as Balmuildy. My father's second cousin, a farmer from Balfron, knew it as Bemulie. This is the form found in the eighteenth-century literature. You are no doubt aware of the linguistic tendancy to mould names into more familiar patterns, so we cannot be sure that the place-name started life with a Bal- prefix, although Pont's sixteenth-century map shows it as Balmuydie. If the "muydie" element really derived from an original Latin medio, we should surely ask "middle of what?" I think Medio is otherwise only found in Roman place-names as a prefix.

(08-15-2018, 07:52 AM)MonsGraupius Wrote: And finally, if you are not aware, the standard for attributing a Roman era place name is not that high. Many other Roman era names have been attributed with absolutely no compelling argument nor linguistic match.

… and thereby open themselves to legitimate criticism.
posted by Duncan B Campbell
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#7
(08-15-2018, 10:53 AM)D B Campbell Wrote:
(08-15-2018, 07:52 AM)MonsGraupius Wrote: However, Nemthur, the birthplace of the 5th century Saint Patrick ought to be on the Ravenna Cosmography. And by far the best fit is Nemeton - which is on this list as part of the sixth name "in a line": MedioNemeton. … But if we go back to Nemthur, the known birthplace of Saint Patrick, it ought to be on the Ravenna Cosmography. And by far the best fit is Nemeton - which is on this list as part of MedioNemeton.

I was under the impression that the historical Patrick came from Bannavem Taberniae (as stated in his Confessio).
Two names are given. one Nemthur (Not Nemthur as I wrongly wrote) which is given in the The Hymn of Fiacc, which tells us expressly that “Patrick was born at Nemthur ; ' and his grandfather Potitus a priest was from Bannavem Taberniae. So Bannavem Taberniae was not his birth place, but his "ancestral home".

(08-15-2018, 10:53 AM)D B Campbell Wrote:
(08-15-2018, 07:52 AM)MonsGraupius Wrote: But as there are more names on the RC than the seven we are told were on the wall, it is reasonable to think that the line should extend beyond the wall. …  We are told there were seven forts along the wall. If we assume Medio-Nemeton was the combination of two names, Nemeton is  then the seventh at Old Kilpatrick. Nemeton is a close fit to Nemthur (as Th is often written T in other languages).

Who tells us there were seven forts on the Antonine Wall?

There is rather helpful note to Nennius' History Of The Britons regarding the Antonine wall:

Caritus postea imperator reedificavit et vii. castellis munivit inter utraque ostra. (CCCC MS 139 f. 169 v)
After [emporer Severus] the emperor Carausius rebuilt [the Antonine wall] and fortified seven castles.
(see: http://www.islandguide.co.uk/history/nen...tonum7.htm)

We know its the Antonine wall as it refers to places like Kinneil.

For the exact reference: The manuscript numbered cxxxix. in the library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. It is a folio volume, written upon vellum, (apparently at Durham, see this Preface, § 16, note ',) in the thirteenth century. It contains the second of the two Prologues, to which it prefixes the title, * Eulogium brevissimum Britanniaa insulse, quod Ninnius Elvodugi discipulus congregavit.' The work itself is entitled, ^Res gestae a Ninio Sapiente compositaa.'

(08-15-2018, 10:53 AM)D B Campbell Wrote:
(08-15-2018, 07:52 AM)MonsGraupius Wrote: The next is Subdobiadon and many others have looked at Subdobaidon and said it looked like Dumbarton - so the closeness of that match is not in dispute.

Hmmm, doesn't look like Dumbarton to me.

Or to A.L.F. Rivet & Colin Smith, The Place-Names of Roman Britain (London 1979), p. 463: "SUBDOBIADON (?). Derivation: The entry is grossly corrupt, and none can be suggested. Identification: Unknown, but either a fort on the Antonine Wall or a place not far from it."

Or to I.A. Richmond & O.G.S. Crawford, "The British Section of the Ravenna Cosmography", Archaeologia 93 (1949), p. 46: "SUBDOBIADON. A fort on the Antonine Wall. Derivation and meaning uncertain."
(08-15-2018, 10:53 AM)D B Campbell Wrote: SUB is possibly a Latin prefix.

DOBIADON - Dau/Daum is two variants of a welsh word meaning "related to". Which possibly had very much the same meaning as "sub". A fairly common feature that we get two similar place name element from different languages. For example many "XXXDON hills" or "WinderMERE" lake.

So if you assume a Welsh like language in Strathclyde as many do, this could be written as DOMBIADON. And if you sound them both they are very similar to "Dumbarton".

(08-15-2018, 07:52 AM)MonsGraupius Wrote: The previous big fort with evidence for late occupation is at Balmuildy. Bal is  gaelic prefix meaning "settlement of" ... so its original name is contained in "Muildy" - the l is silent in the local dialect where the place is now pronounced almost as "Balmidy". So it doesn't take a lingustic genius to see that Muildy is close to Medio.

The place was not always known as Balmuildy. My father's second cousin, a farmer from Balfron, knew it as Bemulie. This is the form found in the eighteenth-century literature. You are no doubt aware of the linguistic tendancy to mould names into more familiar patterns, so we cannot be sure that the place-name started life with a Bal- prefix, although Pont's sixteenth-century map shows it as Balmuydie. If the "muydie" element really derived from an original Latin medio, we should surely ask "middle of what?" I think Medio is otherwise only found in Roman place-names as a prefix.

(08-15-2018, 07:52 AM)MonsGraupius Wrote: And finally, if you are not aware, the standard for attributing a Roman era place name is not that high. Many other Roman era names have been attributed with absolutely no compelling argument nor linguistic match.

… and thereby open themselves to legitimate criticism.

Criticism is always good as it help pin point where people are having problems. Also to make it more readable, I've tried to cut down the length and in that process I might have missed out some important details which your post has indentified.

Thanks
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#8
(08-15-2018, 11:45 AM)MonsGraupius Wrote: Nemthur (Not Nemthus as I wrongly wrote) which is given in the The Hymn of Fiacc, which tells us expressly that “Patrick was born at Nemthur ; '

Stranger still, it looks like the Hymn of Fiacc (or Fiech) splits the word into two parts: Genair Patraic i nem Thur.

This could mean (according to some very dusty antiquarians!) that 'Patrick was born in holy Tours' or 'Patrick was born in the holy Tower'.

However, the transcribing of this hymn appears to have been a bit shoddy over the years, so who knows what it originally said... We're probably better off with 'Bannavem Taberniae', although as nobody knows where that was either it all seems a bit academic!
Nathan Ross
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#9
(08-15-2018, 01:24 PM)Nathan Ross Wrote:
(08-15-2018, 11:45 AM)MonsGraupius Wrote: Nemthur (Not Nemthus as I wrongly wrote) which is given in the The Hymn of Fiacc, which tells us expressly that “Patrick was born at Nemthur ; '

Stranger still, it looks like the Hymn of Fiacc (or Fiech) splits the word into two parts: Genair Patraic i nem Thur.

This could mean (according to some very dusty antiquarians!) that 'Patrick was born in holy Tours' or 'Patrick was born in the holy Tower'.

However, the transcribing of this hymn appears to have been a bit shoddy over the years, so who knows what it originally said... We're probably better off with 'Bannavem Taberniae', although as nobody knows where that was either it all seems a bit academic!
The early works tell us he was born in the region of Strathclyde and they mention Dumbarton rock. Sometimes it's right to be suspicious because churchmen used to "collect" saints and ascribe them to their own area. But I've not come across anyone who suggests any of these early works were written in Strathclyde which was then a separate Kingdom. So I think Tours is a viable option.

A holy tower is not impossible - as there are early Irish and Scots church towers, but I think they are all much later than Saint Patrick and none are in the area of Strathclyde. Indeed, I don't know of any substantial church structures from this period - and even if some buildings had bell towers, it would seem highly unlikely someone would give birth in one. The only other early structures of a "tower" form in Scotland are brochs - and they are very rare in central Scotland and I don't know of any in the area of Strathclyde.

In contrast, quite a few people have suggested that "Nemeton" - was frequently used in place names and meant some form of holy place or even "Grove". Indeed Wikipedia has a whole section: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nemeton.

By the way I was thinking of you this morning - in that I was thinking I ought to put a page together giving the suggestions for Boudica's last battle.
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#10
(08-15-2018, 11:45 AM)MonsGraupius Wrote: Two names are given. one Nemthur (Not Nemthus as I wrongly wrote) which is given in the The Hymn of Fiacc, which tells us expressly that “Patrick was born at Nemthur

So this is a later Irish source, I think.

(08-15-2018, 11:45 AM)MonsGraupius Wrote:
(08-15-2018, 10:53 AM)D B Campbell Wrote:
(08-15-2018, 07:52 AM)MonsGraupius Wrote: We are told there were seven forts along the wall. If we assume Medio-Nemeton was the combination of two names, Nemeton is  then the seventh at Old Kilpatrick.
Who tells us there were seven forts on the Antonine Wall?
There is rather helpful note to Nennius' History Of The Britons regarding the Antonine wall:
Caritus postea imperator reedificavit et vii. castellis munivit inter utraque ostra. (CCCC MS 139 f. 169 v)
After [emporer Severus] the emperor Carausius rebuilt [the Antonine wall] and fortified seven castles.
We know its the Antonine wall as it refers to places like Kinneil.

The standard source for Nennius' Historia Brittonum is Th. Mommsen's Monumenta Germaniae Historica Vol. 13: Chronica Minora Vol. 3 (Berlin 1898), pp. 111-222. (He consulted your Cambridge manuscript amongst other manuscripts.) You can find the received text of Paragraph 23 on p. 165, for what it's worth. I think David Dumville may have produced a modern edition in the 1980s, but I'm not sure. (And I'm not sure why you would want to consult a confusing ninth-century source for fourth-century Roman history …)

The text actually reads: Carutius postea imperator reedificavit et VII castellis munivit inter utraque ostia domumque rotundam politis lapidibus super ripam fluminis Carun, quod a suo nomine nomen accepit, fornicem in victoriae memoriam erigens construxit.
It is conjectured that "Carutius" must be Carausius. But the rest is nonsense, so why try and identify a known personage?

The main point is to ask why we should credit this version of a seven-fort Antonine Wall when it's perfectly clear that the writer is hopelessly confused.

(I was typing this while Nathan was replying. Apologies if we've crossed over anywhere.)
posted by Duncan B Campbell
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#11
(08-15-2018, 02:14 PM)D B Campbell Wrote:
(08-15-2018, 11:45 AM)MonsGraupius Wrote: Two names are given. one Nemthur (Not Nemthus as I wrongly wrote) which is given in the The Hymn of Fiacc, which tells us expressly that “Patrick was born at Nemthur

So this is a later Irish source, I think.

(08-15-2018, 11:45 AM)MonsGraupius Wrote:
(08-15-2018, 10:53 AM)D B Campbell Wrote:
(08-15-2018, 07:52 AM)MonsGraupius Wrote: We are told there were seven forts along the wall. If we assume Medio-Nemeton was the combination of two names, Nemeton is  then the seventh at Old Kilpatrick.
Who tells us there were seven forts on the Antonine Wall?
There is rather helpful note to Nennius' History Of The Britons regarding the Antonine wall:
Caritus postea imperator reedificavit et vii. castellis munivit inter utraque ostra. (CCCC MS 139 f. 169 v)
After [emporer Severus] the emperor Carausius rebuilt [the Antonine wall] and fortified seven castles.
We know its the Antonine wall as it refers to places like Kinneil.

The standard source for Nennius' Historia Brittonum is Th. Mommsen's Monumenta Germaniae Historica Vol. 13: Chronica Minora Vol. 3 (Berlin 1898), pp. 111-222. (He consulted your Cambridge manuscript amongst other manuscripts.) You can find the received text of Paragraph 23 on p. 165, for what it's worth. I think David Dumville may have produced a modern edition in the 1980s, but I'm not sure. (And I'm not sure why you would want to consult a confusing ninth-century source for fourth-century Roman history …)

The text actually reads: Carutius postea imperator reedificavit et VII castellis munivit inter utraque ostia domumque rotundam politis lapidibus super ripam fluminis Carun, quod a suo nomine nomen accepit, fornicem in victoriae memoriam erigens construxit.
It is conjectured that "Carutius" must be Carausius. But the rest is nonsense, so why try and identify a known personage?

The main point is to ask why we should credit this version of a seven-fort Antonine Wall when it's perfectly clear that the writer is hopelessly confused.

(I was typing this while Nathan was replying. Apologies if we've crossed over anywhere.)

So this "hopelessly confused" person goes on to talk about Arthur's O'en, a Roman temple on the River Carron where there are "VII castellis munivit". However, you read this, there were seven fortified castles and the writer of the note is clearly referring to the Antonine wall.

 I'm struggling to see the relevance of the extra text except to confirm that it refers to the Antonine wall - and you don't dispute that it refers to seven castles. Is your argument: "we should ignore any texts where we think there might be a mistake" - if so we may as well give up on Roman material.
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#12
(08-15-2018, 04:39 PM)MonsGraupius Wrote: So this "hopelessly confused" person goes on to talk about Arthur's O'en, a Roman temple on the River Carron where there are "VII castellis munivit". However, you read this, there were seven fortified castles and the writer of the note is clearly referring to the Antonine wall.
Is your argument: "we should ignore any texts where we think there might be a mistake" - if so we may as well give up on Roman material.

Please accept my apologies; I thought I'd made my point clear.
It is quite obvious that we know more about the Antonine Wall than Nennius did:
It wasn't Septimius Severus who built the Antonine Wall. It isn't 132 miles long. It doesn't begin at Kinneil (if that is what the writer means by "the villa called in Scots Cenail but in English Peneltun"). It doesn't end at Kirkintilloch (which seems to be the "Cair Pentalloch" of the text).
And it doesn't have seven forts.

But we have now travelled far down a rabbit hole from the original discussion about the Ravenna Cosmography (which doesn't, in any case, name seven places across the isthmus)!
posted by Duncan B Campbell
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#13
(08-15-2018, 05:06 PM)D B Campbell Wrote:
(08-15-2018, 04:39 PM)MonsGraupius Wrote: So this "hopelessly confused" person goes on to talk about Arthur's O'en, a Roman temple on the River Carron where there are "VII castellis munivit". However, you read this, there were seven fortified castles and the writer of the note is clearly referring to the Antonine wall.
Is your argument: "we should ignore any texts where we think there might be a mistake" - if so we may as well give up on Roman material.

Please accept my apologies; I thought I'd made my point clear.
It is quite obvious that we know more about the Antonine Wall than Nennius did:
It wasn't Septimius Severus who built the Antonine Wall. It isn't 132 miles long. It doesn't begin at Kinneil (if that is what the writer means by "the villa called in Scots Cenail but in English Peneltun"). It doesn't end at Kirkintilloch (which seems to be the "Cair Pentalloch" of the text).
And it doesn't have seven forts.

But we have now travelled far down a rabbit hole from the original discussion about the Ravenna Cosmography (which doesn't, in any case, name seven places across the isthmus)!

Is your argument that any text with, or suspected of being in error should be ignored? Because as you ought to know all Roman period texts have errors and if you took that attitude we'd discard almost everything we had and ... whilst we could be absolutely certain we didn't have any wrong information ... it would be because we had no information.

Or is your argument that this is a special case that deserves a specially difficult to pass test?

Because I don't think you dispute that the Antonine wall is clearly being referred to, nor have you disputed that there were seven castles. If you don't dispute these - then what then is your argument?

To answer specific points - We don't know how long it was at the time of the note. We do know that today the vast bulk of any visible remains of the Roman wall are between Barhill and Kinneil. Barhill is just east of Kirkintilloch - so if the writer were talking about the wall at their time (and remember it was built of turf) you cannot say they were wrong.

It doesn't say "built" but "rebuilt" - and Roman texts are lacking at the time of emperor Carausius so again it is very difficult to say "we know they are wrong". Thus there is only one substantial error, which is the length.

However, as far as I can tell, you do not dispute it was talking about the Antonine wall, nor do you dispute that it says Seven castles.
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#14
From the comments so far, it was clear I needed to produce a summary of the the article which I have now added online and post below:
 (URL: http://roman-britain.co.uk/nemthur.htm)

Summary


This paper securely assigns new Roman period place names to four places: three forts along the Antonine wall (VOLITANIO (Mumrills), MEDIO (Balmuildy), NEMETON (Old Kilpatrick) and one settlement beyond the wall SUBDOBIADON (Dumbarton). Three other sites can be tentatively matched to modern places based on their size and late occupation giving a total of seven new Roman place names to add to the only one previously known in central Scotland VELUNIA (Carriden) at the eastern end of the wall. Not only do we have four new Roman place names, but by finding the link between Saint Patrick's birthplace and the Roman names on the Antonine wall, we also securely tie Saint Patrick's birthplace to Old Kilpatrick.

Any solution to the names along the Antonine wall must start with the basic evidence. We are told in a note to Nennius that there are 7 forts along the wall whilst the Ravenna Cosmography gives us 10 names along a "line" where Britain was "thinnest". MEDIO-NEMETON & SUBDOBIADON are the sixth and seventh names on the Ravenna Cosmography. Most previous authors dismissed the note to Nennius and instead tried to shoe-horn all 10 names to forts along the wall, which gave such unconvincing name matches that none were accepted. These authors had ignored the possibility that the line from the Ravenna Cosmography extended beyond the end of the wall.
Likewise, most previous authors assumed Scotland was too barbaric to be the place of early an Saint whose family had Roman names, despite the early works on Saint Patrick telling us he was born in the area of Strathclyde. The coin evidence shows strong Roman links in the area toward the time of Saint Patrick. So it is quite reasonable that Christians with Roman names may have come to Strathclyde to escape the various persecutions against the Christians.

The town of Old Kilpatrick is known to be related to Saint Patrick and is a strong candidate for his birthplace. It also sits at the end of the Antonine wall, making it the seventh of the main forts along the wall - SUBDOBIADON. However, the Gaelic hymn of Fiacc records Nemthur as the birthplace of Saint Patrick and because it was recorded close to the relevant period, we must explain the mismatch between SUBDOBIADON and Nemthur.

If we postulate a mistake by a copyist joining MEDIO and NEMETON, we obtain not only a good match for Old Kilpatrick, but for three successive entries on the Ravenna Cosmography:
  1. between the new 6th entry MEDIO and Balmuildy (Gaelic for Town of Muildy), the previous big fort,
  2. between the new 7th entry NEMETON and Nemthur, and
  3. between the new 8th entry SUB-DOBIADON and Dumbarton, the next obvious place with a Roman association and the likely port serving the wall.

MEDIO
can be translated as "cultivated" or "meadow", which best fits the site at Balmuildy, as this is the only large fort on a river in arable land.

"Nemeton" is generally agreed to mean a sacred place, which would suit the religious background of Saint Patrick.
The missing "M" in Dumbarton versus Roman "Dobiadon" may be explained by the local Welsh-like language in Strathclyde. If we postulate that "do" in "Do-biadon" is the same as Welsh douu/dom, with the meaning "settlement associated with (another)", then SUBDO(M)BIADON can be translated: "Sub (Latin Under) + dou(m) (settlement associated with) + Biadon/Bia-don (the fort or hill of Bia). A weak "M" in the local dialect would explain the missing "M" in SUBDOBIADON compared to Dumbarton.

This week "well "M" may also explains the extra "M" in Nemthur compared to the local place name of (Dou)notyr, now Dalnotter, a site located above an important ford of the Clyde. This ford was undoubtedly always an important location and likely to be settled in the Roman period. Thus it is an obvious candidate for the original location of Old Kilpatrick.

Finally, if we accept a variant reading of an inscription at found Mumrills fort, this inscription confirms Mumrills was VOLITANIO, the second entry of the Ravenna Cosmography.

In the field of British Roman place names, Roman names have often been allocated to places based on far less evidence than even one of these matches. So to have three names in a run is exceptionally good evidence, as it is very unlikely to occur by chance. This compels us to conclude that Old Kilpatrick is the NEMETON of the Ravenna Cosmography, Nemthur of Saint Patrick, and that this name is likely retained in the name "Dalnotter", a small valley just at a key ford across the Clyde.
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#15
(08-18-2018, 11:29 PM)MonsGraupius Wrote: This week "well "M" . . .

Does this mean, 'This weak "Welsh" "M" . . .'?
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
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