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Victoria County History of Kent Vol. 3  1932 - Romano-British Kent - Towns - Page 64

The historical meaning of this will be discussed below. Here we note the clear testimony which it affords to the Romano-British name of the place.
   Two conclusions may be drawn from the name. The plainly Celtic character of  ‘Durovernum‘ might be thought to give a further reason for the belief that the site was inhabited before the Roman period. But this inference is by no means inevitable, for the Romans often gave native names to new foundations of their own. The full form ‘Durovernum Cantiacorum’ gives better reason for a more interesting conclusion. Ravennas cites it along with other town-names with tribal appellations affixed. Their meaning is plain. These towns were the centres or capitals of their tribes and the meeting-places of their cantonal magistrates and councils.14  In Roman Gaul such tribal centres were common. There they almost invariably came to be called by their tribal names. Thus Durocortorum Remorum was known as Remus or Remis—these being the accusative and dative of Remi, converted (according to late Roman fashion) into an indeclinable noun—and the fact is enshrined in the modern ‘ Reims ‘ with its final s.. In Britain this development did not occur. Though the cantonal system existed, it was weaker than in Gaul. It has, indeed, been conjectured that Canterbury may be an example.15  On this theory, Durovernum would have been called Cantius or Cantiis, and that would have provided the first syllable of Canterbury. Historically, this is possible. Phonetically the idea seems out of the question. Cantius or Cantiis would not yield Canterbury, but something like Kants- or Kentsbury, while Canterbury has a clear derivation of its own : it is Cantwara-bvrig, the burh of the Cantwara, and these Cantwara are the men of Kent, and not of any one city or village.
   When we pass from the name to the place, we exchange certainty for a host of doubts. The site of Canterbury has been inhabited continuously for more than thirteen centuries. Durovernum lies buried beneath the dust and debris of those many years : the floors of its houses are 8 ft. or 10 ft. underground: its features are dim and hard to discern. Remains occur freely— here a patch of mosaic or a broken wall, there a handful of pottery, elsewhere the bones or ashes of the dead. But they are scattered and sundered fragments; they form no clear and coherent picture. What time has thus wrecked man has reduced to greater confusion. The antiquaries of Canterbury, absorbed perhaps in medieval interests, have ill-observed and ill-recorded the Roman remains of their city. At Trier, in Germany, the Romano-Gaulish Augusta Treverorum, the introduction of drainage was used many years ago to recover almost the whole Street plan of the Roman period. At Canterbury a part of the modern town was drained in 1860—61, and the whole in 1867—68, and on the latter occasion nearly every street and lane was trenched from 8 ft. to 16 ft. deep. Plentiful traces of older roads and houses were then uncovered, and many minor objects found. But the structural remains were not properly examined, their dates were not fixed, and their relations to one another were not determined, while the minor objects were hardly recorded at all. The engineer employed in 1867—68, Mr. James Pillbrow, sent to the
   14 Faussett, Arch. Journ. xxxii, 373, supposes that Ravennas knew Canterbury to have become in his time the capital of the Englishmen of Kent and that he added Cantiacorum to express that fact. This is out of the question. The phrase must be interpreted along with its fellows, Calleva Atrebatum, Venta Belgarum, etc.
   15  Baldwin Brown, Arts in Early England, i, 65 Faussett, Arch. Journ. xxxii, 380. Icinos may be possibly a parallel (V.C.H. Norfolk, i, 286, 300).

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