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Sabrina in the thorns: place-names as evidence for British and Latin in Roman Britain


University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies
National Library of Wales
Ceredigion, SY23 3HH


This article reviews published work which draws on various kinds of evidence to assess the linguistic situation in Roman Britain. Having reached some interim conclusions about the state of scholarship, it proceeds to examine the particular contribution that place-names can make to the debate on how far Latin may have taken hold in the province at the expense of the native British Celtic. While there is rather more evidence of Latin here than has often been allowed, the widespread continuity of British across much, at least, of Lowland Britain is reaffirmed, in the face of a recent suggestion to the contrary.