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 Anglian and Viking York

Rosemary Cramp

Borthwick Papers, No.23 (1967)

‘Hanc Romana manus muris et turribus altan fundavit primo’. Alcuin writing in the eighth century, a long Latin poem on the Church and Saints of York chose to point out not only the actual delights of the site ‘the Ouse full of fish, its fertile banks, woods ad rich farmlands’, but also the impressive Roman defences of York. One could wish for a more detailed conducted tour or eighth century York than Alcuin gives, for despite considerable historical and archaeological research, the process whereby Eburacum, the Roman capital of Britannia Inferior, seat of an Imperial governor, became Eoforwic, capital of the kings of Northumbria and seat of Archbishops, is extremely obscure. The Latinised form of the city’s name, Eburacum, was never forgotten and remains in learned use until the thirteenth century, but it seems of some significance that the English invaders adapted the late British pronunciation of the word Evorocadding the simple terminal wic – town. In fact this borrowing has been confidently assessed as ‘late fifth century’.

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