Associated Latin names in Gloucestershire and their meanings
Gloucestershire is steeped in Roman history and areas of the county retained names after Roman rule in the second century. Fosse Way, Corinium and Glevum are all Latin-inspired names given to regions by the Romans.
With the Romans came the complex language of Latin. Many words of which have found their way into the English language as well as others and some are well known throughout Gloucestershire.
And many parts of the county still have their names that have a Latin origin. George Sharpley is one of the country’s leading experts in Latin and explained more.
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He said: “Did you know that circus, joke and virus are all words that come from Latin? There are many Latin words now recycled into English.
“Latin words began to appear in English shortly after the Romans left these shores. What was first a trickle before 1066 with words like cup, thousand, purse, turned into a flood after the Norman Conquest with the arrival of the French.
“French is one of the languages derived directly from Latin, along with Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian. Then, during the Renaissance, the flow became a deluge.”
Latin-related places in Gloucestershire
Path of the Ditches
Mr Sharpley said: ‘The Fosse Way was a main road under Roman occupation. It was built shortly after their arrival to mark the boundary of the territory they had secured.
“Fosse” means ditch in Latin – pit. It runs from Exeter to Lincoln, and now the A429 passes through Cirencester, Stow and Moreton-in-the-Marsh. A good example of how they built their roads straight too.
“Corinium is also the Roman name for Cirencester. At its height it was Britannia’s second largest city,” Mr Sharpley said.
“Finally, Glevum in Gloucester which was built across the Fosse Way. Originally a fort, to protect the Fosse Way and to accommodate soldiers campaigning in the east, it became a major centre.
George is often asked how we know the Romans spoke Latin. He said: “A lot can be inferred from the way Latin was written in other languages. Of how it evolved into later languages, with the usual misspellings, puns and their poetry too.
He will hold a beginners course at Gloucester Cathedral to explore the language.
“I’m having a Latin Beginners Day at Gloucester Cathedral on May 14th. It’s a wonderful place to recreate the sound of Latin in the cloisters, but we spend most of the day in the Parliament suite, but it’s a gloriously ancient setting for a lesson in the ancient world.”