might expect for a city with such a rich Roman legacy, traces of York's
Roman past are abundant. The Minster's Undercroft, the Multiangular
Tower, the statue of Constantine and even the layout of several of
the city's streets.
aspect of the Roman legacy which is not as obvious is the city's
name, York. Eboracum, the Roman name for York, sounds exotic
and Latinised to our ears, and on initial consideration, appears
to have little in common with the city's modern-day name. But in
fact, the name York is a direct descendent of the name Eboracum.
the legendary Legio IX Hispana identified the natural advantage
of the land in between the junction of the rivers Foss and Ouse.
The area was selected by the invading army because of its elevated
ground and the natural protection afforded by the proximity of two
is known of a settlement before the Legio IX Hispana settled there,
although the area did have a Celtic name: Eburacon. According
to Herman Ramm in his book Roman York from AD71, the native
Britons' name translates as meaning 'the place where the yew trees
grow' or 'the place belonging to Eburos'.
are two variations for the Roman spelling of Eboracum,
the other being Eburacum. Both appear on Roman inscriptions
discovered in York. For the sake of simplicity, only the Eboracum
spelling is used in I Romans.
was typical of the colonising Roman army, the existing place name
was Latinised to become Eboracum. The Legio IX Hispana believed
the name meant 'place of the boar'. Subsequently the boar appears
on numerous inscriptions as a symbol of York.
the Romans' departure in c400AD, the Anglo-Saxon invaders substituted
Eboracum for their own word for boar and town, Evorwic.
However, the next set of invaders, the Vikings, couldn't quite get
their tongue round Evorwic, so they settled for Jorvik.
Pronounced 'Yorvik' the step to York is hardly surprising.
how should York's Roman name be pronounced? There are plenty of
different variations, but by general consensus amongst the archaeologists
and historians is as eeborarcum.
to how to pronounce Eboracum here
Real player required:
Leslie P Wenham, (Guide and Company Ltd, 1984)
York from AD71, Herman Ramm, (Yorkshire Architectural and York
Archaeological Society, 1985)
York, Patrick Ottaway, (B T Batsford, 1983)