Barcombe Hill

SacoHarry
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Joined: August 22nd, 2006, 9:29 pm

November 14th, 2006, 4:18 am #1

Today, Barcombe Hill rises up dramatically behind Vindolanda, as it has for millennia. The remains of Roman quarries near its peak are still visible from the fort. Roman watchtowers have also been found. But is there more still that might have survived the centuries? What about the name Barcombe itself?

The nearest Wall fort to Vindolanda is Housesteads, a few miles away to the northeast. A possible Roman road from Housesteads pointing toward Vindolanda was first identified in the 18th C. More recently, aerial photos appear to show structures lining the supposed road. A road link would make sense, and the shortest route from Vindolanda to Housesteads passes up and over Barcombe Hill.

What does this have to do with names? Housesteads' name in Roman times was Vercovicium. Is Barcombe Hill a fossilized memory of a "Hill to Vercovicium," passed down 1600 years?
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ericjacobson
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Joined: November 1st, 2006, 10:41 am

November 14th, 2006, 12:07 pm #2

Possibly; another etymology is suggested by 'combe':

...coomb, a valley in the flank of a mountain, in principle above the highest springs...

[from Celtic comb, in present day Welsh cwm, dale or valley]



http://rjd.home.cern.ch/rjd/Walk/etymology.html#head_C

So perhaps Barcombe Hill means 'the hill blocking or 'at' the head of the valley?
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SacoHarry
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Joined: August 22nd, 2006, 9:29 pm

November 14th, 2006, 4:48 pm #3

Hey Eric! That's a good one. Very appropriate too. I love etymology, linguistics, all that. Reminds me of the long-running debate over King Arthur's battle at Camlann. Was it Camboglanna fort (Birdoswald)? Or is "Camlann" the generic Celtic word meaning any of a thousand precipices overlooking a bend of a river? It's fun to sit back and watch the two sides duke it out!

- Harry
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Hadriana
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Joined: July 3rd, 2009, 12:13 pm

July 3rd, 2009, 12:53 pm #4

I like to think that Carvoran/Magna IS Briga! It would be great to solve that mystery.

As for Barcombe Hill - a group of us, volunteer-guides-to-be-at-Vindolanda 2009/2010, will go and see that Roman Quarry soon. It's a must!
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