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Lundy, Isle of Avalon by Les Still ePublished by Mystic Realms

Lundy, Isle of Avalon

Saint Patrick

   Lundy, Isle of Avalon         Gods, Saints and Heroes

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'About 389 a son was born to Concessa, wife of a Romano-British deacon called Calpurnius. Calpurnius was a decurion,a Roman citizen of some standing.His father Potitus had been a Christian priest. The family lived at Banna Venta Bernia. The son had two names; Magonus and Patrick'.     Elements of Celtic Christianity p36.

 '..trans of 'Confessions.'... 'I, Patrick, a poor 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, of the settlement (vicus) of Bannavem Taburniae. He had a small villa nearby where I was taken captive.'  from 'In the steps of Saint Patrick p153

The word Patrick uses for his family home is actually 'VILLULA..' The correct translation of 'VILLULA.' is either a country house or villa in the Roman style or a substantial native farmstead. (Tacitus uses villula in this context when describing the home of a Germanic chieftain.)

 ' Patrick's home was certainly a villa owned by his father Calpurnius .... It must have been near the west or south-western coast of Britain to be exposed to raids from Irish pirates and if we are to be guided by the statistics of villas so far discovered it is more likely to have lain in the south than in the north of the country.' from 'Life and Writings of St. Patrick.

Patrick's home was near ( PROPE ) a place called ' VICUS BANNAVEN TABURNIAE.'

'......the particular reading of the vicus as BANNAVEN TABURNIAE is established from a comparison of surviving manuscripts and the only variant that need be considered -from MS D, the Book of Armagh written shortly after 800 - would be TABERNIAE. There is no connection with Latin TABERNA -'inn, tavern'; the better approach is to write the name as 'bannaventaberniae' and then to separate the elements. A division into the known forms banna, venta, and berniae/burniae at once suggests itself. Banna occurs by itself, and in compounds, in Romano-British place- names; venta, apparently descriptive, is also found in compound names.' from 'Christianity in Roman Britain to AD 500

( Winchester was  known as 'Venta Belgarum')

If, as suggested by Professor Thomas, we read 'Bannaven Taberniae' as 'Banna Venta Berniae. The meaning becomes clearer. Most authorities agree that 'BANNA' is a British word, and in place- names indicated a notable 'horn', 'spur' or promontory of rock. The word 'VENTA' was used by the Romans as a prefix for three civitas capitals ( Winchester was  known as 'Venta Belgarum') . The exact meaning of 'Venta' is disputed, it seems to be of Celtic or non- Latin origin. 'Vendo' (Latin) means 'I sell' and the late Latin word 'vendito' means 'market sale.' The general consensus seems to be that a meaning of 'local centre, market place, or meeting place' is close to the original use. 'BERNIAE' is supposed, by most experts, to be related to the native population as in many other Roman - British place- names.

We have the following 'Banna' - ' promontory of rock', near, Venta' - 'marketplace and local centre' of the 'Berniae.' 

In his 'Itinerary,' written ( when? ), Leland states unequivocally that the suffix 'staple' when applied to Barnstaple in North Devon means 'MARKET.'

Barnstaple = Barn market = Venta Berniae.

In case the derivation above seems unnecessarily complicated one ancient writer turned the Roman name for Exeter 'Isca Dumnoniorum' into 'Scadum Namorum'!

Beyond this one of the few, identifiable, places in Britain mentioned by classical authors was Hartland Point, not far from Barnstaple, which  Ptolemy called the Promontory of Heracles. There is an old tradition of a Roman villa on Hartland Point with an ornate mosaic floor which has since crumbled into the sea as a result of erosion.

' Tradition says there was a third of these .... at Hartland Point, now undermined by the sea.' - Hoskins.p405 

The author Charles Kingsley, who lived in North Devon and knew the area well enough to use the locale in several of his highly popular books refers to a Roman villa on Cattern Tor and to Cloverly as being Roman.

Between Barnstaple and Instow is the village of Yelland. 'Yelland means -'old farm'-'old land.' The 'old land' in question was land which had been under cultivation but which had become wasteland by the time of the anglo-saxon conquest in the late 7th century. The majority of these Yelland  place-names are in or near parishes where Celtic place-names survive or dedications to a Celtic saint confirm an early Celtic Christian connection.

In his later life, as he tells us in his writings, Patrick returned to his home district where he received his ecclesiastical training

Aside on the word 'Decurion'

The Latin word 'Decurion' is equated with 'deacon' a word which describes an officer in a Christian church.and in this context also denotes 'a Roman citizen of some standing'. However, 

Laurence Gardner in 'The Bloodline of the Holy Grail' suggests the meaning of 'overseer of mining estates' for Decurio. He goes on to suggest that the term originated from Spain where, as mentioned above, Jewish / Phoenician traders were active and there were many Jewish refugees. There is good reason to believe that the Cornish mines were worked by Jewish slaves deported from Judea by the Romans after the various rebellions.

The Life of St. Carantoc tells how Carantoc, the son of a welsh king, crossed to Cornwall in a coracle to sit at the feet of Patrick. The saint landed at the mouth of the River Gannel and founded Crantock, on the West bank of the River.



Joseph / Patrick

The legend of St. Patrick driving out all the snakes and demons from Ireland is too well known to need repeating here. However, according to one leading ecclesiastical writer, Archbishop Ussher (vols.v,vi and xvii), it was through the wisdom and teaching of Joseph of Arimathea (handed down from Solomon) that Ireland was cleared of venomous reptiles.

Joseph lived 500 years before Patrick, but if Patrick lived near and was educated in a Christian community which traced it's foundation directly to Joseph this makes sense.

'According to Ussher (vols.v,vi and xvii), it is stated to have been through the wisdom and advice of Joseph of Arimathea (learnt from the teachings of Solomon) that Ireland was freed from venomous reptiles (,p.300). If Patrick was the saint who accomplished this work, the source of his knowledge is directly attributed to Joseph. A much less romantic but more direct connection between St. Patrick and Joseph is that afforded by the old tradition that is was Patrick who drove the venomous reptiles out of Ireland, for it is worthy of note that there is another legend regarding this which gives first place to Joseph of Arimathea.' from Taylor, J.W. ---The Coming of the Saints ----Covenant Pub. ---- 1969

In some versions St. Patrick was aided by the Archangel Michael when he banished all snakes and demons from Ireland

One of the most eminent and respected of Lundy's historian's, the Rev. J. R. Chanter in 'A History of Lundy Island,' relates the local fable which attributes the fact that there are no snakes or reptiles, mice or any other vermin on the Island of Lundy to St. Patrick having called there on his way to Ireland



related pages

gravestones on Lundy
Joseph of Arimathea
St. Michael



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