The Roman Map of Britain Senua River Alde Suffolk

Senua  (R&C 269) next


    I expect whatever river-name is hidden in Senua to be in the general vicinity of the Thames, between the Dour and the Yare. It is also possible that Senua might also be in the general vicinity of the Helford and the Fal of Cornwall.


Since my original analysis -

British Museum Magazine Summer 2003 p7
'A new goddess for Roman Britain' 
Ralph Jackson Department of Prehistory and Europe
    The article announces the find of votive inscriptions dedicated to the previously unknown goddess Senua. Senua appears to have been equated with the Roman goddess Minerva, as was Sulis at Bath. The find site located near Baldock (Herts.) suggests an nearby temple or shrine.

    Short of a chance occurrence, this would confirm the form of the name Senua found in the Ravenna Cosmography. The above news also suggests that the river Senua might more likely be found between the Thames and the Yare. I would remind the reader that the rivers listed in the Cosmography are rivers emptying directly into the sea.


And further -
    If Senua is based on British *seno- 'old', perhaps there is a happy confluence of the old and new. From the Tabula Peutingeriana we have Sinomagi, and its presumed equivalent  in AI4801 (iter ix) Sitomago. Positioned as the first stop after Caistor St Edmund, and several before Colchester -  Senomagus, 'old market' as PNRB has it, or the alternatives 'Senua river-plain' or 'Senua market' can be somewhat localized. Rivet first placed it in the vicinity of Dunwich, then later near Yoxford tm3968. Close by Yoxford is the river Alde, whose name is widely considered a back-formation from Aldeburgh 'old stronghold' Aldeburc 1086. So then, the question becomes, could Old English ald be simply a translation of Brittonic *seno- ? And, how would a Senomagus on the Alde/Senua fit into the equation?

    The Roman roads known as Margary 34b (Baylham-Coddenham-Peasenhall)and Margary 340 (Barham-Wickham Market) offer a number of crossings of the Alde. Rivet did not mention the possibility that Margary 340* was part of the route taken when analyzing Iter IX. While its eastern extent is not fully documented, there should be little doubt that it would link with Margary 36. Projecting the main course of M36 further southeast toward the expected junction with the A12 (the likely extension of M35), the junction of the three roads would be halfway between The Red House Farm and White House Farm at TM384665 north of Kelsale. Kelsale tm3865 would satisfy the mileage requirements of the Itinerary, 32 mp to Caistor St Edmund and 23 mp to Bayhlam House. The Alde/Senua equivalence would explain the name Senomagus of AI and TP. The position of the river Senua in the Cosmography would fall between the Thames and the Yare, as expected. All we lack is a Roman town or villa. A12 SAXMUNDHAM BYPASS DUALLING; SAXMUNDHAM  Roman site TM3865 EHNMR-1248931 (1992) has been queried for further detail. 

On the Alde, there is a Roman pottery kiln at Blaxhall TM3757, but the site does not match the mileage figures.


    A discussion on the relationship of *sen- and alde called into question the exact meaning of *sen- as found in Senua.
Ekwall, in ERN p 148 under Ennick:
    "It seems possible that Hennuc, Henwy &c. are derivatives of hen 'old', but the common occurrence of the element in stream-names is somewhat curious, and we may perhaps assume that hen was used in some transferred sense which would make it liable to be used in names of streams."
    As often, river names simply mean 'water' or 'river', and it seems possible that a *sen-  meaning 'stream', 'spring', or 'water' existed, perhaps from an earlier stratum of language. A goddess of streams and/or springs would fit into the Senua/Minerva equation. The idea that *sen- was translated to alde is still viable in that it would have been the most commonly understood, though technically incorrect meaning. This would have been translated by a bi-lingual Briton for his Anglo-Saxon master.

   A query has be sent regarding Roman remains found in 1992 during work on the A9 at Kelsale.


    Pokorny, under sen(o)-, has an early sense that offers a possible answer: 'ewig, unvergänglich, beständig'. If correct, *sen- could have been used for streams (and springs) that were not W. Hafhesp or OE Somergelde 'summer dry', but 'constant, everlasting, eternal'.


*Rivet apparently did not read the 1973 edition of Margary's Roman Roads in Britain to reconsider his earlier work before the publication of PNRB in 1979. The Roman road M340 was not recorded in the 1955 edition.