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Capital Portus Setantiorum (exact location not known)
Location Lancashire - Cumbria - Merseyside
Rulers None known

The Setantii (sometimes read as Segantii) were a pre-Roman British people who apparently lived in the western and southern littoral of Lancashire in England. It is likely they were a sept or sub-tribe of the Brigantes, who, at the time of the Roman invasion, dominated much of what is now northern England.[1]


Reconstruction of Roman roads in mid-Lancashire around 400AD showing possible location of Portus Setantiorum or Portus Setantii

The Setantii name is known from a single source only, the 2nd century Geographia of Claudius Ptolemaeus. Recorded there is the placename Portus Setantiorum (Port of the Setantii).[2] It could have long since been inundated by the sea.[citation needed] However, because of the pattern of Roman roads in the area, is widely believed to have been located near the modern port of Fleetwood off Rossall Point at the mouth of the River Wyre.[1] Also recorded by Ptolemy is the hydronym Seteia, assumed by its position in his text to refer to the River Mersey.

The name of the Setantii has been associated with the Irish hero Cúchulainn, whose birthname, Sétanta, bears clear similarities to it.[1] The first Professor of Celtic at Oxford University, Sir John Rhys, also suggested an association between these two and Seithenyn, a Welsh character known from the Black Book of Carmarthen.[3]

The extent of the Setantii territory is unknown, but it has been suggested that the southernmost boundary was the Mersey itself, with the northern reaches perhaps stretching as far as Borrow Beck, just south of Tebay, in Westmorland (now southern Cumbria).[1]

Over a number of years, Wyre Archaeology Group (WAG) have conducted regular excavations on Bourne Hill in Thornton, near Fleetwood, which has been mooted as the possible site of an Iron Age settlement. Features such as banks and ditches and cobbled tracks supported this theory but the most recent evidence (2013) suggests that the features were constructed in C17 or C18 to prevent flooding of agricultural land.

WAG have found evidence of some structures on the hill summit but the nature of these is uncertain. Small finds, including sherds of Black Burnished Ware and Nene Valley Ware, fragments of Roman mortaria and pieces of worked flint do suggest the presence of a settlement with Roman connexions nearby and the proximity to the safe harbour and navigable waters of the River Wyre make this more than likely.


  1. ^ a b c d "Who were the Setantii?". Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  2. ^ "PORTVS SETANTIORVM: The Seaport of the Setantii". Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  3. ^ Rhys, John (26 July 2004). Celtic Folklore: Welsh and Manx. University Press of the Pacific. Chapter VI: The Folklore of the Wells. ISBN 1-4102-1519-9. 

Further reading[edit]