Abandinus

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{god, call, give}
{math, number, function}
{land, century, early}
{language, word, form}

Abandinus was a name used to refer to a Celtic god or male spirit worshipped in Godmanchester in Cambridgeshire during the Romano-Celtic period.

Epigraphic evidence

Abandinus is represented in Britain on a single altarstone. He is unknown throughout the rest of the Roman Empire and is therefore thought to have been a local god of the Roman fort at Godmanchester in Cambridgeshire, possibly associated with either a natural spring or a stream in the neighbourhood [1]

The Roman fort at Godmanchester, a strategic site on Ermine Street at the crossing of the River Great Ouse, is thought to have been called Durovigutum [2]. The god is known only from an inscribed bronze feather, very likely some sort of votive object, dedicated to him [2]. The inscription on the bronze feather reads:

"DEO ABANDINO VATIAVCVS D S D"

  • ‘To the god Abandinus, Vatiacus dedicates this out of his own funds’[2].

Semantics of the theonym

The semantics of the theonym are unknown. All the same, linguistic knowledge of Proto-Celtic lexis permits a narrowing of the likely possibilities of the theonym’s semantics. The name could be interpreted as an extended form of a stem composed of Proto-Celtic elements deriving from Proto-Indo-European roots *ad- ‘to’ [3] + either *bʰend- ‘sing, rejoice’ [4] or *bʰendʰ- ‘bind’ [5]. Along these lines, the name would mean ‘(the god) who sings to (something/someone)’ or ‘(the god) who binds (something/someone) to (something/someone).’ However, it is also possible to see the name as an extended form of a variant form of the Proto-Celtic word *abon- ‘river,’ derived from the Proto-Indo-European root *ab-, *h₂eb- ‘water, river’ [6]. The Romano-Celtic name for the Humber is documented as having been Abus [7] which suggests that a shorter element *abo- existed in the Proto-Celtic lexicon as a word for ‘river’ or ‘water.’ This *abo- element could have been the source of the Ab-- element in the theonym Abandinus. So the name can also be analysed as *Ab-AndinusAndinus of the River,’ Andinus being a theonym attested elsewhere in the ancient Roman Empire.

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