PLOWONIDA – LONDON’S ORIGINAL NAME & THE LONDON ‘RITUAL LANDSCAPE’

https://www.etymonline.com/word/*pleu-

Definition of the proto-indo-european route "pleu
https://www.etymonline.com/word/*pleu-

Richard Coates in a ground breaking article ‘A New Explanation Of The Name Of London’ Transactions Of The Philological Society Volume 96:2 (1998) Pgs 203 – 229 suggested the original name of London was Plowonida – or settlement by the wide flowing river. He deduces its name by comparing different versions of ‘London’ in different Celtic dialects and traces them back to what he believes is the common origin. This is the root *pleu meaning fleet flowing river, and onida which means ‘settlement by the’.

So, in the 2nd Millennia BC – the Bronze Age, there was a settlement by the flowing River. He thinks the Thames was the name for the river upstream of the Pool of London, and where it widened into an estuary it was called the Pleu. Etymonline.com says of the name Thames:

Thames – River through London, Old English Temese, from Latin Tamesis (51 B.C.E.), from British Tamesa, an ancient Celtic river name perhaps meaning “the dark one.” The -h- is unetymological (see th).

https://www.etymonline.com/word/thames

So, in the Bronze Age there must have been a small settlement probably in the area of the City or on the south bank in Southwark. It’s possible we have already found it in the occasional findings of post-holes, gullies, plough marks, brushwood platforms and burial mounds (particularly in Southwark) that have been found or we may be yet to find it. Or we may never find it. And if we do, unless it is significant in some way or has a signpost on it saying (“You are entering Plowonida”) we will never know.

Of course Coates may be wrong, but he is the most distinguished linguist of recent years to put his head about a dangerous parapet. Antiquarian journals were full of suggestions for the name of London. Previous suggestions include Lake Side Town, Lud’s Castle, Londinos’s settlement. None have survived scrutiny, and very few people were willing to make a guess after the late 70s, until 1998 and Richard Coates. However they all seem to accept that the name is pre-Roman in origin.

Archaeologists since the 1970s have been completely convinced there was no City before the arrival of the Romans. So, why bother finding the original name of a place that did not exist? However, last year in an excavation underneath Amazon’s new HQ, Principle Place, just north of Liverpool Street station, was found over 400 pieces of neolithic pottery, and evidence of extensive feasting. If you put this together with the burials found in the water margins of the River Thames, and the incredible finds of prestige metal objects: helmets, shields, swords, cauldrons, etc. from the River a case is beginning to be made (by David Keys in the Independent for example) that the area of the City of London might have been an important place for gatherings. So is it possible that the origins of London are as part of a ritual landscape?

If this is taken seriously it has a lot of implications for received opinion.

I discuss this and other issues in my Myths and Legends Guided Walks for London Walks. Click here to see the details

Bran's head taken to Tower Hill
King Bran’s head buried at Tower Hill

CHESTER – VIRTUAL TOUR & PODCAST

Chester City Walls and the Shropshire Union Canal (River Dee can just be seen at the back)

Sunday I am doing a Virtual tour of Chester. Here is a podcast as an introduction.

A VIRTUAL TOUR THROUGH THE WHOLE ISLAND OF GREAT BRITAIN. NO. 1 – CHESTER

Sunday 20th February 2022 7.30pm

A Virtual Walk Through Chester from Amphitheatre to Canal

Borrowing my title from Daniel Defoe’s early chorography, my first Circuit is from Chester to Edinburgh. We begin with a virtual walk around Chester.

Chester is one of Britain’s best known historic Cities. One of those places where the history of Britain can be told in one town. It was founded as a Legionary Fortress when the Romans sought to expand their imperium into the North and West of Britain. It remained an important military town with a thriving port. It is not clear exactly what happened in the centuries following the Roman withdrawal from Britannia but it retained its importance in the Saxon and Medieval periods before being besieged by the King’s Forces in the English Civil War.

The Industrial Revolution largely by-passed Chester but helped bring on the decline of its traditional industries, and soon it was relegated to a secondary status to Liverpool and Manchester in the North West. However, this meant the City retained much of its historic character, and we will enjoy the surviving Wall circuit, the timber framed shops and houses as we walk from the Station to the Amphitheatre, through the Roman town and into the Medieval Cathedral, before leaving by the Canal.

To Book:

MYTHS, LEGENDS, & CELTIC FESTIVALS GUIDED & VIRTUAL WALKS

Bran's head taken to Tower Hill
King Bran’s head buried at Tower Hill

MYTHS, LEGENDS, & CELTIC FESTIVALS LONDON GUIDED WALK

Sunday30th January 2022 2.30pm Tower Hill Underground

The walk tells the story of London’s myths and legends and the Celtic Festival of Imbolc.

The guided walk is led by Kevin Flude, a former archaeologist at the Museum of London, who has an interest both in the archaeological evidence as well as the myths and legends of London’s origin.

The walk is one of a series about London’s Myths and Legends which take place on or around one of the significant festivals of the Celtic calendar. On this tour we celebrate Imbolc, the festival half way between the winter and the Summer Solstice that celebrates the first signs of the coming of spring. The day is also dedicated to St Bridget, or St Bride.

The walk begins with the tale of London’s legendary origins in the Bronze Age by an exiled Trojan called Brutus. Stories of Bladud, Bellinus, Bran and Arthur will be interspersed with how they fit in with archaeological discoveries. As we explore the City we also look at evidence for ‘Celtic’ origins of London and how Imbolc may have been celebrated in early London.

The route starts at Tower Hill, then down to the River Thames at Billingsgate, to London Bridge and Southwark Cathedral, to the Roman Forum at the top of Cornhill, into the valley of the River Walbrook, passed the Temple of Mithras, along Cheapside to the Roman Amphitheatre, and finishing up at St Brides.

This is a London Walks Walk. Look at their web site for a list of other of their amazing walks.

To Book:

MYTHS, LEGENDS, & CELTIC FESTIVALS LONDON VIRTUAL WALK

Sunday 30th January 2022 7.30pm

The virtual version of the walk starts at Tower Hill, then down to the River Thames at Billingsgate, to London Bridge and Southwark Cathedral, to the Roman Forum at the top of Cornhill, into the valley of the River Walbrook, passed the Temple of Mithras, along Cheapside to the Roman Amphitheatre, and finishing up at St Brides.This is a London Walks Virtual Walk. Look at their web site for a list of other of their amazing walks.

To Book:

MYTHS, LEGENDS, MAY EVE LONDON GUIDED WALK

Sunday 30th April 2022 2.30pm Tower Hill Underground

The walk tells the story of London’s myths and legends and the Celtic Festival of Beltane

The walk is led by Kevin Flude, a former archaeologist at the Museum of London, who has an interest both in the archaeological evidence as well as the myths and legends of London’s origin.

The guided walk is one of a series about London’s Myths and Legends which take place on or around one of the significant festivals of the Celtic calendar. On this tour we celebrate May Day, or Beltane – the celebration of the coming of Summer.

The walk begins with the tale of London’s legendary origins in the Bronze Age by an exiled Trojan called Brutus. Stories of Bladud, Bellinus, Bran and Arthur will be interspersed with how they fit in with archaeological discoveries. As we explore the City we also look at evidence for ‘Celtic’ origins of London and how Imbolc may have been celebrated in early London.

The virtual route starts at Tower Hill, then down to the River Thames at Billingsgate, to London Bridge and Southwark Cathedral, to the Roman Forum at the top of Cornhill, into the valley of the River Walbrook, passed the Temple of Mithras, along Cheapside to the Roman Amphitheatre, and finishing up in the shadow of St Pauls

This is a London Walks guided walk. Look at their web site for a list of other of their amazing walks.

To Book

MYTHS, LEGENDS, MAY EVE LONDON VIRTUAL WALK

SUNDAY 30th April 2022 7.30pm

The virtual version of the walk route starts at Tower Hill, then down to the River Thames at Billingsgate, to London Bridge and Southwark Cathedral, to the Roman Forum at the top of Cornhill, into the valley of the River Walbrook, passed the Temple of Mithras, along Cheapside to the Roman Amphitheatre, and finishing up in the shadow of St PaulsThis is a London Walks Virtual Walk. Look at their web site for a list of other of their amazing walks.

To Book:

MYTHS, LEGENDS, & HALLOWEEN VIRTUAL WALK

Sunday 30th October 2022 2.30pm Tower Hill Underground

The walk tells the story of London’s myths and legends and the celtic origins of Halloween

The guided walk is led by Kevin Flude, a former archaeologist at the Museum of London, who has an interest both in the archaeological evidence as well as the myths and legends of London’s origin.

The walk will tell the story of a selection of London’s Myths and Legends, beginning with the tale of London’s legendary origins in the Bronze Age by an exiled Trojan called Brutus. Stories of Bladud, Bellinus, Bran and Arthur will be interspersed with how they fit in with archaeological discoveries.

As we explore the City we also look at the origins of Halloween celebrations and how they may have been celebrated in early London.

The route starts at Tower Hill, then down to the River Thames at Billingsgate, to London Bridge and Southwark Cathedral, to the Roman Forum at the top of Cornhill, into the valley of the River Walbrook, passed the Temple of Mithras, along Cheapside to the Roman Amphitheatre, and finishing up in the shadow of St Pauls.

This is a London Walks Guided Walk. Look at their web site for a list of other of their amazing walks.

To Book:

MYTHS, LEGENDS, & HALLOWEEN VIRTUAL WALK

MONDAY 31st October 2022 7.30pm

The virtual version of this walkstarts at Tower Hill, then down to the River Thames at Billingsgate, to London Bridge and Southwark Cathedral, to the Roman Forum at the top of Cornhill, into the valley of the River Walbrook, passed the Temple of Mithras, along Cheapside to the Roman Amphitheatre, and finishing up in the shadow of St Pauls.

This is a London Walks Virtual Walk. Look at their web site for a list of other of their amazing walks.

To Book:

NEW MASS IMMIGRATION FOUND IN LATE BRONZE AGE.

Screen shot of BBC web page announcing report of mass migration in the Bronze Age  discovered by DNA
Screen shot of BBC web page

This BBC article reports on a genetic discovery by the Francis Crick Institute, co-authored with Prof. Barry Cunliffe, which shows a new genetic trait arriving in Kent and then, after a pause, spreading throughout England. It did not spread into Scotland and there is not enough data to show whether it moved into Ireland.

It is possible that it either brought the Celtic language with it. Or did it bring the Brythonic version of Celtic to England, leaving Scotland and Ireland speaking the pre-existing Goidelic version of the language branch?

The article also discusses the spreading of a gene for tolerance to lactose which spread rapidly, suggesting it must have contributed greatly to genetic survival. They postulate some existential threat during the Bronze Age which allowed those who could drink milk to survive much better than those who did not.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-59741723

31st October 2021 HALLOWEEN

From the Perpetual Almanack of Folklore by Charles Knightly

This blog is to celebrate the Year. I will post, hopefully, once a day so we can follow the seasons, as they happen naturally, and as people in Britain and Ireland have responded to the changes in the year.

I start today because Samhain (pronouced Sow-in) was the beginning of the year for the Gaelic world. It may mean Summer’s End. In Wales it is Calan Gaeaf (first day of winter) and Kala Goafiv (beginning of November in Brittany.

When Venus and Adonis meet the world flourishes and is bright and warm. Adonis is injured hurting a wild boar, against his lover’s advice, and descends to the underworld, and nature withers and dies until he comes back again on May Day. There is a similar story in Babylon of Ishtah and Tammuz.

Julius Caesar says the Gauls venerated the Dis Pater God on this day – the Roman one was an aspect of Pluto the God of the Underworld, ruler of the Dead. There was a Roman Festival on calends of November dedicated to Pomona, the goddess of the fruit of trees. This may influence the use of Apples which are prominent on Halloween festivals.

PREHISTORIC SITES IN THE LONDON AREA

London before the Romans
View of London from the SE as it might have looked before the Roman Invasion

In researching my Prehistoric Virtual Walk (Sunday 25/04/21 Details) I came across many great sites of interest. Here are a few

Barn Elms – London’s Oppidum?

This is a lecture by Alex Barnes – only 15 minutes, long and about a site in South West London that just might be an important Iron Age centre of power, which might explain all that great metalwork found in the River Thames over the centuries.

Barn Elms talk

The Early River Thames – the Iron Age and Before

This is a lecture by Jon Cotton in the Gresham College Series.

Gives interesting insights.

The Early River Thames

Horton Neolithic Houses

I don’t know how I missed this site, as it was reported in archaeological magazines I read, but it is an amazing multi-period site in the Thames Valley. Excavations before gravel extraction have shown a particularly amazing sequence of Neolithic and Bronze Age discoveries.

They found 4 or 5 early Neolithic Houses, about 15% of those that have been found in the entire UK, and an amazing placed deposit, which contained a collection of objects dating back thousands of years. In effect, a ‘museum’ collection.

I’ll let you read it from the horse’s mouth. To read click here.

Screenshot of Wessex Archaeology's page on the excavations of Kingsmede Quarry, Horton.

LONDON BEFORE LONDON – PREHISTORIC LONDON VIRTUAL WALK

This has been a long time coming and only made possible by the need to go Virtual during the Pandemic. I have never done a prehistoric walk around London as such. I have done sections of it, and given lectures on the subject. But they were mostly overviews. This has therefore been a challenge putting this together, but a necessary revision of my knowledge.

So please do join me on:

Sunday 25th April 2021 6.30pm

An exploration of London before the foundation of Londinium

It was long thought that London was founded by a Trojan Exile in the Late Bronze Age. But historical analysis and archaeological excavation gradually demoted the idea to a myth.

On this tour we explore what was in the London area before the Romans. We begin at Heathrow and tour Greater London for evidence from the Paleolithic to the invasion of the Emperor Claudius.

We concentrate on the period since the introduction of farming, and bring together evidence for the prehistoric Kingdoms that controlled the area on the eve of the Invasion. We look for henges, barrows, hill forts, hut circles and look at genetic evidence for identity of prehistoric Londoners. The tour will end in the City.

This is a London Walks event by Kevin Flude, ex Museum of London Archaeology and Museum Curator

To book

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