COCCIVM

Minor Romano-British Settlement

Wigan, Lancashire

NGRef: SD5806
OSMap: 108/109
Type: Minor Settlement
Roads
Iter X: N (15) to Walton le Dale (Lancashire)
Iter X: ESE (16) to MAMVCIVM (Manchester, Greater Manchester)
S (13) to Wilderspool (Cheshire)

Coccium - The Cookhouse? ... or was it a Brothel?

The classical evidence for this minor settlement is slight, with only a single entry in the Antonine Itinerary of the late second century. This document lists a road-station named Coccium, 20 miles from Bremetenacum (Ribchester, Lancashire) and 17 miles from Mancunium (Manchester, Greater Manchester). These distances match the location of the Wigan settlement quite well.

It is possible that the Roman name for Wigan is derived from the Latin word coccum (plural cocci) meaning 'scarlet in colour, scarlet cloth', less likely is a derivation from the Latin cocus (plural coci) meaning 'cook, chef'; perhaps associated with the Gaelic word cocaire, which has the same meaning. So Coccium may mean 'the [place of] scarlet [things]' - which could be fields of poppies, a battlefield spattered with blood, or even a particularly notable brothel - or even 'the [place of] the cooks' or 'the cook [house]', perhaps indicating the presence of a particularly good guest-house or a well-run mansio. Much more likely, however, is the alternative that Coccium has some other derivation which I simply cannot guess.

Epigraphic evidence for Wigan is also lacking with no inscriptions on stone mentioned in the R.I.B..

"Although several coin hoards are reputed to have orignated from Wigan, on the Gas Works site, the Market Place and in Millgate, on the whole they are poorly recorded. The best source of information is the Powell Museum Catalogue which lists 9 coins, mostly copper, but with a Aureus of Vitellius (R.I.C. 2) and a silver sestertius? of Antoninus Pius. Other emperors represented in copper were Pius, Aurelian, Maximian (2), Constantine I, Constantius I and Crispus. Although these coin finds together with sporadic pieces of Roman pottery have been recorded over the years at Wigan (i.e. Watkin 1883), which had led antiquarians to voice the possibility of a settlement (Coccium) here, it was not until 1984 that R.B. structural evidence was unearthed (vid. TindallGtr. Man. Arch. Journ. I (1985) pp.25-34)." (Shotter)
See: Roman Coins from North-West England by David Shotter (Lancaster 1990) pp.40-41.

Coccium Related Lynx

Wigan Local History - An Ace Place! Complete with groovy mouse-following JavaScript.
A Brief History of Wigan from HotPots.com
The Borough of Wigan In the Greater Manchester Metropolitan County

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