By Mike Haseler


Three out of the five lives of St.Patrick locate his birthplace near Alt Clud or Dumbarton Rock on the Clyde Estuary that flows through Glasgow. Using this information we can identify the other name associated with his birthplace “Nemthur”  as the Roman Fort of Nemeton or Old Kilpatrick at the western end of the Antonine wall. This is both the key to identifying the main forts along the Antonine Wall and confirmation that St.Patrick was born in or near Old Kilpatrick.

A note to Nennius tell us there were severn principle forts along the Roman Antonine wall. The first at Carriden is already known to be VELUNIA. The Ravenna Cosmography lists six up to MEDIO NEMETON. But if this is considered as two names “MEDIO” & “NEMETON” it gives seven making NEMETON, the last fort at Old Kilpatrick. Fiacc's hymn tells us Patrick was born in Nemthur. This is linguistically close enough that a translation or copy error can readily explain the difference between Nemthur and NEMETON.

The name Dumbarton provides further confirmation as the next location listed in the Ravenna Cosmography after NEMETON is "SUBDOBIADON" . Dumbarton (or "Dunbarton", the form in the earliest records) is linguistically close to “SUBDOBIADON” . If we assume a copy mistake such that R→A and perhaps an omitted 'n' then the original form of Dunbarton would be: “SUB-DOnBIRDON” . Together with evidence that there was an early Christian community & late Roman occupation in and around Old Kilpatrick/Glasgow this appears to be conclusive evidence confirming Old Kilpatrick (or nearby) as the Birthplace of St.Patrick.

Having identifed the last fort we can then identify many of the principle forts along the Antonine wall using a number of criteria such as size and late finds. This gives the Latin names of the principle forts (running East to West) as: Carriden (VELUNIA), Mumrills (VOLITANIO), Castlecary (PEXA), Barhill (BEGESSE), the two next principle forts (COLANIA & MEDIO) are less certain but can be tentatively identified as Balmuildy (MEDIO) and Kirkintilloch (COLANIA), leaving the final Fort of Old Kilpatrick as NEMETON.

The Antonine Wall

The Antonine wall is a world heritage site. It was built by the Romans and stretches some 39 miles from Old Kilpatrick on the Firth of Clyde to Bo'ness on the Firth of Forth. Although called a wall, the Romans built most of it and many of the forts of stacked turf. Today all that can be seen of the turf wall is a slight rise in a few places. However, the ditch that lay to its northern defensive side still marks the landscape in places such as Croy where cuts across the landscape. 24 sites have been located spaced along the wall from the small fortlet of Kinneil to the extensive fort of Mumrills.

The names of the forts has long been a topic of speculation. We have a list of ten places in the Ravenna Cosmography from about 700AD. But whilst most agree the first fort in this list will be the most easterly fort on the wall (Carriden) previous attempts to match these to the many places along the wall have failed. This is because whilst there are ten names on the list from the Ravenna Cosmography, there are not ten obvious candidates for principal forts along the wall. Nor was there any linguistic or other rational proposal to link names to places.

As other attempts have failed, this proposal assumes that the text must be corrupt in some way. This is common in such early texts like the Ravenna Cosmography which have been copied from other sources which in turn were also copied by hand many times over the centuries. So there is a high probability of errors creeping into the list. Two obvious ways would be if a scribe were detailing places using a map showing the Roman wall, then they may have considered forts along the Clyde to also be part of the forts "along the line that crosses" from east to west. Another is that names in a list could be combined or separated by the mere addition or loss of a small punctuation mark.

As the Romans tended to be fairly regimented in their approach to life and e.g. we find regularly spaced forts along the Antonine wall, it is to be expected that the principal forts may also follow a regular patter. So, if we could identify even one additional place along the wall, then we have a good chance to identify most if not all the remaining principal forts. Where could we find such a place?

St.Patrick's Birthplace

It is recorded by the church in Rome, that St.Patrick was born some time in the fifth century. We are told his family home was in Banauem Taberniae (MacNeill 1926). His father Calpurnius was a deacon and his grandfather Potitus a priest (prestbyter). Patrick tells us his father was also a "decurio" which probably means that he was a member of the local governing body of their home-village. When he was about 16 he was captured and carried off as a slave to Ireland, he escaped and then returned to Ireland as a missionary. There is no modern sign of his birthplace, however as many assume that a “decurio” requires a Roman civic present, they assert that as the Romans left Scotland:

The only point about the birthplace of St. Patrick on which there is real certainty is that he was born in Roman Britain” (Needham 1963)

Fig 1: Dumbarton Rock
(Stoddart 1800)

However there is strong and compelling evidence to locate his birthplace in Scotland and specifically Strathclyde for as Turner (1890) asserts convincingly it must be somewhere near Dumbarton because:

four of the five perfect lives explicitly state that St. Patrick was born in Britain; three of them add, in the district of .Strathclyde! It is hard to imagine how any one could be so audacious as to reject such a weight of ancient testimonies,

But there have been heated debates about his birthplace mainly kindled by the presumed lack of Roman presence around Strathclyde at the appropriate time.

Perhaps some of the problem is that Murphy (1942) suggests that there were two Patricks. If so this may explain why it has been so hard to agree on a single birthplace. Murphy suggests that the first (probably the same as Palladius) came to Ireland around 431 and “made the Barbarous island Christian” and died 457. The second Patrick (and key one for this proposal) continued his predecessor's work in Connacht and:

broke wholly new ground in Ulster, journeying "to outlying regions beyond which no man dwelt, and where never had anyone come to baptize, or ordain clergy, or confirm the people " (Confession, 51 quoted by Murphy P.298)

If we accept that may have been two early Christians known by the name of Patrick and that this second Patrick is the one recorded in the lives of the Saints, then as Bishop of Armagh, he is recorded in the Annals of Ulster as dying in 491. If so, then he is in Ulster just before the Annals of Tighernach record in 500 that: "Fergus Mor, mac Erc, with the nation of Dalriada, took (or held) part of Britain, and died there" 1. This shows a strong link between Ulster and south west Scotland where the Kingdom of Dalriada was located, making Scotland the most likely location for this Patrick's home area.

Fig 2: Detail of Central Belt Coin finds in Central Scotland
1st century(blue), 2nd (Green), 3rd(Brown), 4th (Red) (Robertson 1952)

However this does not counter the argument that St.Patrick was born in a Roman area, from which it has been argued could not be in Scotland because it was not part of the Roman empire when St.Patrick was born. But this argument that it must be within the Roman empire ignore the possibility that Patricks family could be Romans outwith the Roman wall. As the fig 2 above shows, there is plenty of evidence of a large concentration of Roman coins around Strathclyde as shown by the Roman coin finds. Indeed as the concentration of red around Glasgow indicates, if anything this concentration of Roman coinage in this area grows from the 1st to 4th century. So, to argue there were no Romans at all in this area is difficult enough given the clear indication of habitual links in the form of coins, but to argue that a religion that was persecuted by the Roman authorities in the 4th century, habitually met in secret and so actively sought refuge, would not have been located beyond the boundaries of Roman Britain in the 5th century is perverse. To do so in light of the wealth of 4th century Roman coinage in the Strathclyde region and e.g. the Traprain Law hoard would appear unsustainable.

St. Patrick Born in Nemthur

However, another place is also linked to Patrick. The earliest information we have on the birth place of Saint Patrick is from a Gaelic Hymn written before 800. The hymn bears the name of St Fiec or Fiacc, Bishop of Sletty, a disciple of Dubhtach, who was one of the first converts of St Patrick. Right in the first line the Irish is: "Genair Patraic i Nemthur" - Patrick was born in Nemthur, (although an isolated text gives this as: in Emptur). Helpfully, an c11th century unknown Scholar informs us that Nemthur was Alcluid, which we know from Bede to have been the ancient name of Dumbarton rock.

Probus' fifth life of St Patrick states that St Patrick was sprung from the Britons of StrathClyde, and that Nemthur was the place or district of his birth. "De Britannis Alcluidensibus originem duxit Sanctus Patricius. Nemthur, quod ex vocis etymo coelestem turrim denotat, patria, et nativitatis locus erat ". The sixth Life is Jocelyn's, assigned to the year 1183, agrees with the others in stating that St Patrick was born in Nemthur of Strathclyde.

St Patrick was born in Nemthur, however another place name has occupied much academic time and that is Bannavem Taburniae. Patrick himself (allegedly) in his confession says:

Ego Patricius peccator, rusticissimus et minimus omnium fidelium, patrem habui Calpurnium diaconem, filium quondam Potiti presbyteri, qui fuit in vico Bonaven Taberniae ; villulam Enon prope habuit, ubi capturam dedi. Annorum eram tunc fere sedecim."

I, Patrick, a sinner, a most simple countryman, the least of all the faithful and most contemptible to many, had for father the deacon Calpurnius, son of the late Potitus, a priest, who was of the vicus (dwelling place) of Bannavem Taburniae; he had a small villa (house) nearby where I was taken captive.

But there is no no record to locate his family home of Banauem Taberniae (or even Bannavem Taburniae) in Strathclyde, nor is there any other place which bears that name. So assuming that this place could not be in Scotland many have decided to locate this in various places:

Place Notes

Banwell, five miles east of Weston-super-Mare.

A settlement of late Roman date is known in the area.

an undated, unexplained earthwork

Bannavem → Bannaventa → Banwell

Berniae → Bairn's (Green)


De Paor glosses it as "[probably near] Carlisle" (De Paor, pp. 88 & 96)

Birdoswald (Hadrian's wall)

Thomas argues at length for the areas of Birdoswald, twenty miles (32 km) east of Carlisle on Hadrian's Wall. (Thomas, pp. 310–314; )

Bannaventa (Northamptonshire)

There is a Roman town called Bannaventa in Northamptonshire, but this is likely too far from the sea. (Bury, p. 17. )

This place “hardly satisfies any of the requirements ... and cannot seriously be considered” (Thomas p.312)

Banna (Cumbriia)

Banna comes after Camboglanna in Rudge Cup and Amiens Patera. Long identified as Bewcastle. Mark Hassall has proposed that a gap in the Notitia text has lost two lines with the result Camboglanna becomes Castlesteads and Banna is Birdoswald where a stone inscribed Cvenatores banniess (es) 'the Banniensan Hunters” provides some confirmation.

Table 1. List of places previously identified as possible places of St.Patrick's birth.

However all these fly in the face of evidence such as Thomas (p.310) which tells us that any traces of Patrick's activities are decidedly northern. Against this we are told by Patrick himself (Conf. 1) that he was taken captive when he was at his father's villula (diminuative for what we would call a 'villa') from which it has been supposed that this must mean the site is in Roman Britain and so it lay south of Hadrian's Wall. There is also evidence that Patrick was part of a Roman family as his father was a member of the Curial class and three generations bear Latin names. [[Tacitus' German chieftan 18]]

But do these Roman terms really require these places to be within the Roman Empire? Regarding the: "Vicus bannavem taburniae" – Thomas (p.311) states that a “vicus [is] the commonest term for a small settlement or village unimportant enough to lay claim to any better official title or popular description.” We also know that Latin taberna means "inn" or "tavern". These are words that could describe many places either within or without the Roman empire.

So, we cannot exclude Strathclyde simply because the limited textual evidence doesn't contain this exact name. Nor should we assume that because Patrick's father's position uses the Latin word "decurio" for councillor, that it means the council was Roman, because it could be a translation of native word for council and we know the Britons had councils (Civitatis) as we have a inscription by decree of the ordines for public works on the tribal council of the Silures." (RIB 311) Patrick was most closely associated with Ulster, later church links were in the Argyll area, multiple sources link his birthplace to Strathclyde and the singular evidence against – the lack of Romans presence in the area at the time – seems to be at odds with the evidence of coin finds which shows a strong Roman presence in the area around Glasgow.

Therefore the evidence is strongly in favour of a location for the birthplace of St.Patrick somewhere in the region of Dumbarton rock and the modern place known as Old Kilpatrick. So is there any way to locate the two places: "Nemthur" and "Bannavem Taburniae" somewhere near to Dumbarton Rock?


Bannavem Taburniae in Scotland?

There is no place that can be easily identified as Bannavem Taburniae either in ancient or modern place names. So in order to try to identify it with the Roman fort of Bannaventa (Northamptonshire) some have suggested that this should be read: “Bannavem-Ta burniae”. However as Northamptonshire is a and 160 km away from Chester, the nearest point of navigation on the Irish Sea, there is nothing except for the coincidence of name to link this site. However, if we follow the same argument, there is another possible candidate mentioned in Ptolemy's Geography as being near the Clyde and this is Bannatia. Again we have to argue the text has been corrupted some way, but the location on the Ptolemy map is close to Dumbarton so it is very likely to be the same place. (see at end for further discussion)

So, in Bannatia we have one possible candidate to add support to Patrick's home being near Dumbarton, but what of “Nemthur”?

Nemthur in Scotland?

Is there any place that is linguistically similar to "Nempthur" and located close to Dumbarton Rock in any text? The answer is yes because there is an obvious candidate in the Ravenna Cosmography which reads:

“Here are listed the stations within Britain joined together along a straight track where the Island is at its very thinnest from ocean to ocean, they are named:


MEDIO NEMETON or perhaps just “NEMETON” is so close to Nemthur that unlike Bannatia, it doesn't require any juggling. Anyone who has studied place names will be familiar with the idea that names change over time and indeed even today e.g. Dunbarton(shire) and Dumbarton are spelt differently but clearly refer to the same place. We also know that place name often add prefixes and suffices. E.g. Roman Venta became *VentaChester known today as Winchester. Also latin and other languages have different endings when e.g. the word is used as the subject or object of a sentence. So the most important part of the word is the first few letters and so it is extremely important that Nemeton and Nemthur share the first three letters.

The next letter (e) is a "small" difference because we often see vowels being lost or inserted between adjacent consonants such as the N-Th in Nemthur.The next change is t => th. This may sound significant, but as some alphabets like Greek and Anglo Saxon Runes had a separate letter for the sound "Th" whilst Latin did not, two different scribes may translate NEMTh - as NEMT or NEMTH. So, this is a minor different which leaves the biggest change in the suffix "-ur" and "-on" which again could be the result of a change in the language in which the place was recorded.

The big problem with Medio Nemeton is that Ravenna Cosmography tells us this is a list “from ocean to ocean” and this is usually assumed to be mean the list is only sites along the line of the Antonine wall and unfortunately, NEMETON being the sixth on the list of 10, suggests this site is somewhere in the middle of Scotland and therefore not on the coast like Old Kilpatrick. But why should these sites only be on the wall? The text specifically says "ocean to ocean" and not "along the wall". If that was what was meant, why does it not say this?

There is rather helpful note2 to Nennius' History Of The Britons regarding the Antonine wall:

Caritus postea imperator reedificavit et vii. castellis munivit inter utraque ostra. (CCCC MS 139 f. 169 v)

After [emporer Severus] the emperor Carausius rebuilt [the Antonine wall] and fortified seven castles.

The reference to the emperor Carausius is odd as there is no other record of such work associated with the Antonine wall, but there is archaeological evidence that Severus did reoccupy large amounts of Scotland and construct many other fortifications.

If MEDIO NEMETON were the last on the Ravenna list before leaving the Antonine wall there is a problem as then there are six forts, not seven. Two possibilities present themselves. First that there was a fort beyond Kilpatrick, perhaps Dumbarton, which was considered part of the wall, or secondly that “MEDIO NEMETON” may be the names of two forts: MEDIO and NEMETON. This gives us seven places names to match the seven castles of Carausius.

There are several other forts, like Bothwellhaugh, around the end of the Western terminus of the wall that could easily have been added on to the list "from ocean to ocean". Given the large number of transcription errors known in the text, it is also very likely that there has been a typographical error. For example the end of the list of forts along the wall is marked by the short note: “Also (there are) cities which have been designated:We do not know if this text is original. It could have been a note annotating the list which was then included in the list when it was copied. In so doing, it may have been copied into the wrong place on the list making the list longer than originally intended.

The Likely list of Seven Forts

So which Roman forts along the Antonine wall correspond to these places? TheRavenna Cosmography has a similar list for Hadrian's wall which does not list all the forts, partly because some are listed separately and partly because some appear too small. All the forts listed are larger than 3 acres, and the largest fort which is not listed is around 2acres. So, we would expect any forts listed along the Antonine wall to be a similar size. Looking at the evidence for early forts we find:



Evidence \ Site

Old Kilpatrick






Bar Hill





'3rd period occupation'








Late coins










Late inscription





Size >3acre

















1st-century glass






1st-century samian-ware






1st-century coins











'pre-Hadrianic' pottery









Table 2. List of candidates for the seven forts along the Antonine Wall

The two forts highliighted stand out as prime candidates for the list of seven and Carriden's Latin name is known to be VELUNIA. Based on size and dating evidence we have four other good candidates in addition to Carriden as the prime forts whose names are most likely to have been known by Nennius:

Mumrills: being half as big again as the next biggest fort is undoubtedly the principal fort of the wall.

Castlecary: this is likely because there is a continuous record of settlement over a long period which suggests it would have continued in use after the wall was abandoned.

Barhill: Is a strategic hill top Fort from which it is possible to view much of the length of the wall. Because it dominates the wall it is likely to have had an important fort.

Balmuildy: At 4 acres (c.1.6 ha), this is large but in addition it had battlements made of stone, not the usual turf or clay and protected a critical point where the wall crossed the River Kelvin.

Old Kilpatrick: Being at the end of the wall, it would be an important fort with a well known name.

Although we are told there are seven forts and we only have six sites, based on the likely spacing of the forts and linguistic similarities we can suggest Kirkintilloch & Balmuidy (but see discussion below) to provide the following list of seven Roman Forts along the Antonine wall:-






Suggested in the Ravenna Cosmography



Largest site



Continuous Occupation



Site dominates wall


(see below)
Key site in still occupied today on hillock with rivers to two sides. Size of fort uncertain.


Balmuildy (see below)

Large, stone battlements, key location


Old Kilpatrick

End of wall & Size

Table 3. Provisional list linking fort to place name (See below regarding COLANIA & MEDIO)


Having identified Carriden, Mumrills, Castlecary and Barhill which (as shown below) are separated by 3,4 & 2 intermediate locations respectively, there is then 10 spaces which is roughly right for the remaining two sites. Given its size and strategic position one of these is likely to be Balmuildy. This means the Balmuildy could be either MEDIO or COLANIA.

MEDIO: The main reason for believing MEDIO is Balmuildy is because of the similarity of MEDIO with the last part of Bal-muildy. However as the consonants are the key markers by which we match names and as there are only two of them, the chances of a match by accident is high. Also we require that either a transcription error removed the first three letters of BAL-MEDIO or that Bal- is a suffix in an unidentified language. The Pont map from about 1600 lists it as Balmuydie. So the L letter is missing in early forms of the name and this means it is a better fit to MEDIO but the William Roy map of the Roman sites where it is given as Bemulie, even less like MEDIO than the modern name.

However the William Roy map further complicates matters because to the west at Bearsden is marked an estate known as Kilmerdinie. Kil- is a prefix for church leaving Merdine which is a good match with all the first four letters of MEDIO having a match in Merdine. Although Kilmerdine is a mile north of the wall, Bearsden Fort at 2.5 acres could have been large enough to include in the list.

Map of the Antonine Wall. Key forts highlighted yellow. Balmuildy and Kirkintilloch in orange.
(courtesy of

COLANIA: But let us assume Medio is Balmuildy, then based on size, COLANIA is likely to be Kirkintilloch or Cadder. Both have some promise. Cadder pronounced CAWDOR like COLD-ER has a similar sound at the beginning (COL-). The L is born out by the Pont map of 1600 which records it as Caldar. Also Cadder was the site of an important local castle so it seems to be of strategic significance. However against Cadder is its small size of the fort and close proximity to Balmuildy. The size of the fort at Kirkintilloch is unclear because of later medieval earthworks, however the location is closer to midway between Balmuildy and Barhill. This presents a possible linguistic connection. The Parish of Lenzie or as formerly known linyie had its church near Kirkintilloch. The possible link is co- LaNIa and LiNyI however although the parish church was about a mile from the fort and the fort within the parish, the old parish of Lenzie also extended as far as Cumbernauld.


But against Kirkintilloch is its identification in some texts with Cairpentaloch. In a note added to one of the Manuscripts of Nennius there is mention that a wall goes 132 miles from Cenail to the Cluth and Cair Pentaloch. Cluth is the River Clyde and Cenail has been identified as Kinneil near the east of the Antonine wall. However no other texts of the period mention Cair Pentaloch.

Because Pictish P is often transcribed in Gaelic is K, this would be CairKentaloch in Gaelic and this is linguistically very close to Kirkintilloch. So even though this site is nowhere near the end of the wall Cair Pentaloch is usually given as the early name of Kirkintilloch. This is at odds with my suggestion above that it is Colania.

However Cairpentaloch can be readily broken down. Cair is the word used in the same text of Nennius to mean a fort so we know this means the fort of Pentaloch. Pen is a common element in place names in Wales and means head. Tulach is a Gaelic word for hillock. So the common derivation is that this is the "Fort at the head of the hill. This however is extremely odd because it requires an original Gaelic word to pre-date Pictish when we know the Picts (who spoke a Welsh-like language) were present in Scotland before the Gaelic speaking Scots invaded. So, this translation is not at all convincing. More likely is that the original name was "taloch" and that the pictish element "Pen" was added to form "Pentaloch". But this does not help as there is still no match for this place "at the end of the wall".

Other Names from the Ravenna Cosmography

From the original list of ten Roman place names of the Ravenna Cosmography we are left with SUBDOBIADON LITANA CIBRA & CREDIGONE which are unassigned. Can we find these remaining forts from the Ravenna Cosmography? The earlier list from Ptolemy has these forts in the area of the Clyde- Forth:


I can make some form of argument linking several of these sites:

1. VOLITANIO (Mumrills on the wall)

The first name to tackle is VOLITANIO. This comes next of the list after the site known to be Carroden near Bo'ness. As the biggest fort on the wall and the first big fort after Carriden, it's placing alone is enough to identify this as the site. But as the biggest fort we might also expect some kind of linguistic evidence as well. Apparently there is none. But we do have one inscription (RIB 2140), found on an altar stone at MUMRILLS:


This is usually translated as:

"To holy Hercules Magusan, Valerius Nigrinus, Duplicarius of the [First] Tungrian Wing [dedicates this]."

This is not helpful to us, but there is a big assumption in this translation. These inscriptions often have shortened forms of words, and the above also has one: “VAL”. In the normal translation it is assumed to be a name: “Valerius” making it part of the name “VAL... NIGRINVS”. But, it could also be part of the the preceding text: HERCVLI MAGVSAN SACRVM VAL. If so it would translate as: “To holy Hercules Magusan, of VAL...”. And the person's name would just be Nigrinus. If this is true, VAL could be a shortened form of VALITANIO or VOLITANIO. This would change the translation to be:

"To holy Hercules Magusan of Valitanio, Nigrinus, Duplicarius of the [First] Tungrian Wing³ [dedicates this].


This place is the next after (Medio) Nemeton. If Nemeton is Old Kilpatrick as suggested then this site ought to be somewhere near to teh west. If it were written “SUB-DOBIADON” or perhaps with the merest addition: “SUB-DONBIADON”, could it be identified with Dunbardon a site of known Roman activity beyond the Antonine wall? This may seem unlikely because all the modern texts talk of the original name as being Alcluth which modern writers claim became DonBreton (fort of the Britains). But it is easy to show that the original name of Dumbarton was unlikely to be Dunbreton but instead the earliest recorded form was Dunbarton. It appears that DunBritton was just some fanciful thinking in the 17th century trying to impose their own misguided view on the origin of the name. Because as the following list shows, the "dunbreton" form of the name was late and was only shown on a few maps:




Alexander III charter



Transumpt by Pope Clement IV. of all the Churches, Lands and other

Privileges belonging to the Monastery of Paisley.



Lennox Mun. II. 44.



Donation of Regality, by James II., King of Scots



Letter of Conflrmation by our Lord the King.



Timothy pont



Trublanee Sempill and Morton



John SLEZER - The Prospect of Ye Castle of Dumbritton from Ye East - on Slezer website



Ross Charles, A map of the Shire of Dumbarton



John Thomson's Atlas of Scotland

Table 4. Timeline showing the various changes to the name of Dunbarton as recorded on old maps

Given all the other transcription errors that have crept in, it is easy to see how a scribal error could convert A → R so that DON-BIADON → DON-BIRDON. Then, the transition of don → ton is understandable, given the linguistic similarity and how don and ton pretty well have simlar meanings (-dun is a fort and -tun means enclosure, homestead). SUB, is Latin for “under”. So possibly the original was SUB-DON-BIADON or SUB-DON-BIRDON which would mean the station or town under DON-BIADON, DON-BIRDON. So SUBDOBIADON is a very convincing match to Dunbarton.

3. PEXA (Castlecary)

From its placing on the list, Pexa would need to be Castlecary. There is no obvious link. However, from the text of Nennius, we learn of a town called Penguaul which was known in Scottish as Cenail now kinneil. This suggests the first letter could be K- which might just be related to the present name castle Cary.


The following two places are not necessary for the identification of Old Kilpatrick or the names along the wall but are included for completeness

1. CREDIGONE (not on the wall)

There is no obvious station on the Ptolemy list but there is a REREIGONIUM. It's a long shot, because to make them match we need the following:-




Some scholars have identified CORIA with CIBRA and a station preceding the list called RUMABO with the fort at Cramond.

Full list of names along the wall plus the next site at Dumbarton

Using all the assumptions & arguments above a fair guess at the likely list of forts is as follows:


Stations Along Wall
Ptolemy Stations Near Wall   Matching Letters Early Modern
Modern Name

    Karreden (1122-1159)
Presumed original
Cair Eden
First fort on wall linked to first station in the Ravenna Cosmography
VOLITANIO       Mumrils Mumrills
Largest fort and possible inscription with "VAL"
Pictish P => K
in Gaelic

Castel cary Castlecary
Fort shows continuous occcupation
BEGESSE     B- Bar Hill Barhill
Site dominates wall




Pont 1600

Kirkintilloch in parish of Lenzie
Note this identification is uncertain



Pont 1600

William Roy 1750

The site is a strategic location where wall crosses River Kelvin. Note name split from NEMETON.
(But see text)
An old text states St.Patrick was born in Nemthur. Although disputed, this has been identified by authorities such as the Catholic church as Kilpatrick.
      N-T Dunotyr
Gordon 1636-52
Dun Otter
Rob Roy 1750
Dallnotariron, Charles Ross 1722-1806.
Next to Kilpatrick is Dalnottar. Nottar could be a very corrupted form of Nemeton.

(D => T)
(IA => ER)
1241- 1286
Known as important early site.

Table 5. Likely modern identity of key Latin places names on the Antonine wall (plus the next at Dumbarton)
**% = 100* ( 2 x matching letters + 1 x close match - number of additional rules like D => T)
/ (letters in starting word + letter in end)

Other Possible names identified whilst doing the research

(T => D)
  Modern place unknown. 41%
CIBRA CORIA   C-R-A   " " 60%
" " 70%
BANNAUEM-TA BURNIAE Old texts say St.Patrick's family came from BANNAUEM TABURNIAE. 56%
      BANN-TI- Bennothine
This is a possible identification of this site as it is close to known early christian & Roman sites. Bonnington is just south of Lanark.
Cair-R-M- O
Fort to east of wall has already been linked to RUMABO in the Ravenna Cosmography.

Table 6. Possible modern identity of other Latin place names found during research (near but not on the Antonine wall)
**% = 100* ( 2 x matching letters + 1 x close match - number of additional rules like D => T)
/ (letters in starting word + letter in end)


Many places have been suggested as the Birthplace of St.Patrick. But whilst KilPatrick near Dumbarton is supported by no less than three of the five lives of the Saint, modern scholars have steadfastly ignored the evidence linking it to this site.

The main evidence against Old Kilpatrick is only the supposed lack of Roman occupation in the area of Glasgow. This is assumed to make a Roman names and a Roman style council impossible. However as this could as easily be a Latin translation describing a native council, it is difficult to understand why contrary to the ancient texts, Old Kilpatrick has been rejected. Is this just anti-Scottish prejudice, if not amongst modern scholars at least amongst older ones?

It might have been possible to make an argument at the time of the early Antiquarian when few finds would be available. But now in light of the wealth of Roman coins which if anything increase toward the 4th century  rather than diminish as would be required, it seems the evidence of late Roman occupation or trading links is compelling. Therefore Old Kilpatrick can not be rejected based on an assumed absence of Roman links necessary to bring in Roman people such as St. Patricks family.

This proposal has shown that several of the Latin place names of forts along the Antonine wall are very good matches linguistically to modern places names, notably NEMETON and Nemthur & Modern Dunotter (now a park under the Erskine bridge), SUBDOBIADON for Dunbarton and MEDIO with Balmuildy. In addition a different translation of the text of inscription RIB 2140 would identify Mumrills as VOLITANIO. This gives convincing argument for 4 out of the key 8 sites with possible albeit more tenuous matches for the others. This is far better than many Roman place names where modern names are linked to a Latin name with almost no evidence at all.

Taken as a whole this linguistic evidence and evidence of late Roman occupation around Glasgow provides a clear and compelling case confirming the ancient texts. They in turn clearly state that St.Patrick was born near Alcluid or Dumbarton Rock presumed to be SUBDOBIADON. Therefore there is only one reasonable conclusion that can be reached based on this evidence and that is that the modern town of Old Kilpatrick is the Roman fort of NEMETON and the Birthplace of St. Patrick.


Additional Figure

Fig 3: Overview of distribution of 1 -4th century coins
1st century(blue), 2nd (Green), 3rd (Brown), 4th (Red) (Robertson 1952)



1 According to Campbell (2001) this is a much later insertion.

2 K. The manuscript numbered cxxxix. in the library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. It is a folio volume, written upon vellum, (apparently at Durham, see this Preface, § 16, note ',) in the thirteenth century. It contains the second of the two Prologues, to which it prefixes the title, * Eulogium brevissimum Britanniaa insulse, quod Ninnius Elvodugi discipulus congregavit.' The work itself is entitled, ^Res gestae a Ninio Sapiente compositaa.'



Whilst the original article used information on the birthplace of St.Patrick to identify the Forts along the Antonine wall, the correlation between the forts and the Revenna list placing Nemeton/Nemthur at Old Kilpatrick makes it all the more likely this is his birthplace. But this then raises the thorny question of Banauem Taberniae or also written bannauem taburniae as St Patrick himself, in his autobiography (the “Confessio”) apparently says this was “the town of his father” - which is presumed to mean his "home town".

There are no close matches in the Revenna Cosmography (c700AD). The only clue we have is that there is a place in the area of the Clyde on the 2nd century AD map of Ptolemy called "Bannatia". We know that there are many scribal errors. So e.g. the ending of one word "TA" may have been wrongly appended to the next so that BANNAUEMTA BURNIAE, became BANNAUEM TABURNIAE. However the Ptolemy map itself is severely corrupted because it appears that the section of Scotland has been turned through 90 degrees with the join being somewhere to the south of the Clyde. (For details see: Mons Graupius Revealed). This makes locating Bannatia quite complex and raises too many complex issues to go into here. (but see note)

But, assuming the placing is correct, then most likely Bannatia was originally given as a place such and such a distance, east,west,north of such and such a place. The most likely place to locate Bannatia is the nearest geographical point which is the "LEMMANONIUS" bay. My best guess is that this is either Loch Fyne or Loch Linnhe. Using this information Bannatia would be somewhere in an area from Greater Glasgow to Rannoch Moor. Or from one of the most densely populated regions of Scotland to the least. For reasons of common sense, a significant town in the Roman era is not likely to be in one of the most desolate regions of Scotland which makes Glasgow the most likely region in which to find Bannatia.

However despite frequent searches no suitable place name, let alone a place name with known iron-age or Roman links has been found except that Glasgow and Govan have early Christian associations. This does not move us any further forward, ... but what if the place name had been lost but it remained as a family name?


The family name Bannatyne is first recorded in Lanarkshire (which used to contain Glasgow). According to Scot Clans:

William de Bennothine witnessed a grant by David Olifard to the Hospital of Soltre [now Soutra south of Edinburgh] between 1153 and 1177. Nicholas de Benothyne witnessed a charter by William de Moravia benefitting the same Hospital between 1278 and 1294. Nicol de Benauty of Lanarkshire rendered homage in 1296 and is the first of the name to be connected with the west coast of Scotland where the clan eventually built Corra Castle at Corehouse [ 23mile SE of Glasgow and just south of Lanark] in the 15th century. In 1362 Johannes de Bennachtyne de le Corrokys (Corehouse) resigned the land of Nudre (Niddry) [10mile west of Edinburgh, 30mile east of Glasgow] with pertinents in the sheriffdom of Edinburgh. Richard Bannachtyn, dominus de Corhouse, is recorded in 1459, also Richard Banauchtyn de Corhouse appears as a witness in 1467.

Intriguingly almost within spitting distance on the other side of the Falls of Clyde from Corra Castle is a place called "Bonnington" (1750 William Roy Map) where there was "Bonnington House". Sir James Carmichael became ‘of Bonington’ by purchase of a Baronetsy for £100 [c. £7,700 @ 2000] from Mr. John Bannatine, minister in Lanark in about 1676. But Bonnington is first known from 1552 when there is a reference to Sir John Cunningham chaplain of St Katherine’s Altar who in the following year is described as being "of Bonnington". At this stage the Cunninghams had been in possession of the lands of Bonnington for almost a hundred years. (link)

This raises the intriguing prospect (but no more) that there was a place called "Bennothine" or "Bennachtyne" in or around Glasgow which was first recorded as "Bannatia" in the 2nd century and was corruptly recorded as Banauem Taberniae in the life of St.Patrick. It is also possible that Bannatia became "Bennachtyne" & Bannachtyn" and then "Bonnington". However against this is the lack of any finds of a suitable age (except Roman Samian at Hydford Crannog just over a mile away)

Note: My best guess is that the sites on the Ptolemy map in this region are not one continuous series of observation. I think one set of observations wrongly assign parts of Ireland as being mainland Scotland and that this series of sites continue up around the west coast of Scotland (which is also turned on its side) and that another journey recorded what amounts to a list of places up the west coast up to Glasgow. The two join somewhere around Glasgow or Carlisle.

Addendum Postscript

This site is looking more and more promising. Looking for potential early Christian sites which might indicate an early presence I find that in Scotland there is only one medieval church dedicated to St Kentigern under that name. There are many others dedicated to him under the name of St Mungo. The church of St Kentigern lies immediately to the south-east of Lanark and one mile north of Bonnington. Tradition tells that it was founded by the Saint himself, shortly before he died in 603AD

Also there are a multitude of Roman marching camps and the Roman fort of Castledykes as well as iron age fort at Cairngryffe across the Clyde. As Clydesdale Heritage say: "The area surrounding Castledykes Roman fort is historically one of the most interesting in the whole of Scotland."




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1According to Campbell (2001) this is a much later insertion.

2K. The manuscript numbered cxxxix. in the library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. It is a folio volume, written upon vellum, (apparently at Durham, see this Preface, § 16, note ',) in the thirteenth century. It contains the second of the two Prologues, to which it prefixes the title, * Eulogium brevissimum Britanniaa insulse, quod Ninnius Elvodugi discipulus congregavit.' The work itself is entitled, ^Res gestae a Ninio Sapiente compositaa.'