Britannia, by William Camden



Dimetae Ordovicae Ordolucae caesar Sir Membrosa sua Praefect Britanniae

Small T THose Countries of the Silures and Dimetæ which we have last survey’d, were in after-times, when Wales came to be divided into three Principalities, call’d by the Natives Deheubarth (or the Right-hand part,) and in English, as we have already observ’d, South-Wales. The other two Principalities (which they call Gwynedh and Powys, and we, North-Wales, and Powisland) were inhabited by the Ordovices, call’d also Ordevices and Ordovicae, and in some Authors (though corruptly) Ordolucæ. A couragious and puissant Nation these were, as being Inhabitants of a mountainous country, and receiving vigour from their native soil; and who continu’d, the longest of any, unconquer’d either by Romans or English. For they were not subdu’d by the Romans, till the time of the Emperor Domitian; when Julius Agricola reduced almost the whole Nation: nor were they subjected by the English, before the reign of Edward the first. For a long time they enjoy’d their liberty, confiding as well in their own strength and courage, as in the roughness and difficult situation of their country: which seems to be laid out by nature, for Ambuscades, and the prolonging of war.

To determin the limits of these Ordevices, is no hard task; but to give a true reason of the name, seems very difficult. However, I have entertain’d a conjecture, that, seeing they are seated on the two rivers of Devi, which, springing not far asunder, take their course different ways, and that * * Read Ar-dhyvi.
Oar-devi in the British language signifies, Upon the rivers of Devi; they have been thence call’d Ordevices. So the Arverni receiv’d their name from their situation on the river Garumna; the Armorici from inhabiting a maritim country; and the Horesci from their bordering on the river Esk.

Nor is the name of the Ordevices so entirely extinct in this country, but that there remain some footsteps of it. For a considerable part of it, which lies on the Sea, is at this day call’d by the inhabitants Ardudwy; out of which the Romans, by a softer pronunciation, may seem to have coin’d their Ordovices and Ordevices. But now this whole tract (except one small County) is call’d in Latin Gwynedhia, and Venedotia, and in British Gwynedh, from the Veneti in Armorica as some imagin, who (as Cæsar writes) were us’d to sail often into Britain. And if it were allowable to change one letter, I might suppose that this name was not unknown to the Greeks and to Pausanias, who in his Arcadia informs us, that Antoninus Pius had sufficiently chastis’d our Brigantes, for making Inroads into Genounia,Genounia. a Roman Province in Britain. Now if we may be allow’d to read Genouthia for Genounia, that word comes so near Guinethia, and this Guinethia ⌈or Gwynedh⌉ borders so much on the country of the Brigantes, that unless Pausanias meant this country, some Oracle must find out for us what country he meant. To the Ordovices belong’d those Countries which are now call’d in English by new names, Mont-Gomery-shire, Meirionydh-shire, Caernarvon-shire, Denbigh-shire, and Flint-shire.

North Wales map, left North Wales map, right

North Wales

Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 13:06