Romans in Britain and Welsh rabbits

Dewi Evans says the Welsh word for rabbit is very similar to its Romance counterparts; Brian Ayers says rabbit bones found in East Anglia are also proof of Roman connections

How remarkable that Historic England, the Sussex Archaeological Society and other English institutions have only now discovered the link between the Romans and the arrival of rabbits in Great Britain (Roman villa discovery sheds new light on the Easter bunny , 18 April). Anyone with a knowledge of the Welsh language worked that out centuries ago. One only needs to compare the Welsh word for rabbit, cwningen (plural cwningod), with its Italian name, coniglio, or its Spanish name, conejo, to appreciate that the similarities between the Welsh word and its Romance counterparts is indicative of a connection going back to Roman times. Perhaps our worthy academics need to get out more. Wales is very attractive this time of year. Plenty of cwningod around too.
Dr Dewi Evans

• Pity the academics of Exeter, Oxford and Leicester did not consider East Anglia, a major centre of rabbit-rearing for centuries, when looking for their Easter-related story. Six late iron age or early Roman butchered rabbit bones were discovered at Lynford in Norfolk in 2002 and fully published in 2005 (Norfolk Archaeology 44, 676-701). Sorry to catch them on the hop.
Brian Ayers

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