I Didn’t Know That About Lincoln… Actually I Did!

body of water
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Its strange what you forget and then remember, years afterwards.

Place names, particularly English place names can be pretty strange sometimes, testimony to all the tribes who have invaded this fair isle over the millennia.

Take Lincoln, capital city of Lincolnshire in eastern England, for example. The name that has come down us is composed of two elements, one Celtic or Ancient British, the other Roman.

Lyn or Lindum means a settlement near a pool, in this case what we now call the Brayford Pool, where the university is situated. King’s Lynn in Norfolk probably refers to a pool also.

Then the last element, coln… what is that? It’s a condensed version of the Roman word Colonia, which were settlements dotted throughout the empire where retired soldiers would go to live – Lincoln being one them. So the full Roman or latin name would have been Lindum Colonia. In later times the name got shortened to its present form.

There are other examples too, of course, the most famous one being Koln in Germany, usually referred to as Cologne in English and French.

Very often a place name can tell you quite a lot about the origin of the settlement and can make travelling and map reading so fascinating.

copyright Francis Barker 2020

On This Day 218 BC: Hannibal Routs the Romans at Trebia

temple of hercules at the amman citadel jabal al qal a
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The first serious encounter of the Second Punic War ended in a decisive victory for Hannibal and his Carthaginian army at Trebia in northern Italy in 218 BC. Whilst the Carthaginian losses were relatively few, the Romans sustained massive casualties, quite possibly losing up to three quarters of their 40,000 strong army.

Although Hannibal was to ultimately fail in defeating the Romans in the long term, he came very close to succeeding. The Punic Wars were all about who controlled the Mediterranean and beyond. In the early years the Carthaginians were masters of the region, with settlements in Sicily and Spain, as well as their burgeoning homeland in north Africa.

When Rome began to flex its muscles and seriously rival the Carthaginians during the third century BC, war was inevitable. Hannibal famously took the war to the Romans with an incredible invasion with a massive elephant led army through the Alps and into Italy, an audacious attempt to finish off the Romans once and for all. It nearly came off – but not quite.

Eventually, as the Romans later got the upper hand, they were to literally wipe Carthage off the map in one of the most heinous acts of revenge ever seen.

copyright Francis Barker 2019

Poem: Crows

birds black crow
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The crows are gathering,
swooping with impunity.
They joust amongst themselves, 
invirtuous caws signalling
our entry into autumn
when trumpets may blow
some strange advent in the sky.
They seem happy, as if
Imperial Rome had fallen again,
a feast to be had. Fast
and feast are opposites – yet
so nearly the same

copyright Francis Barker 2019