Bona, Inverness-shire

Alister Chisholm of the South Loch Ness Heritage Group found a map that includes “site of the Roman station BANATIA” where the north east end of Loch Ness meets the River Ness / Caledonian Canal – across from Bona. This prompted research into the the prospective derivation of the names Bona and Banatia which places them very firmly into the context of a Roman military presence in that geographic area.

Bona, at the north-east end of Loch Ness, has a few houses and is near a relatively modern castle – all well hidden from roads but very visible from cruise boats. There was a ferry at this point where the River Ness joins the end of Loch Ness – remains of piers are still visible. Its importance goes back much further than being the start point of the eastern section of the Caledonian Canal to Inverness from the early 1800s or, prospectively, St Columba sailing by in 565 CE. From my research into the name “Bona” and carvings on nearby Pictish Stones it seems that Bona may have a connection back to a Roman Legion.

Having explored several possible derivations for “Bona”, the only one with a context that fits is from Encyclopaedia Brittanica (1911) which shows Bona (Arabic Annaba) identified with the Algerian seaport of Hippo Regius or Ubbo. Seemingly when it became a Roman colonia the city name was latinised to Hippo from the original Punic name Ûbôn or Ubbo meaning harbour.

Perhaps the key to a connection between Bona, Scotland and Bona, Algeria lies in the prospective deployment of Roman auxiliary forces from North Africa. That link comes from interpreting the significance of carvings of boars on Pictish Stones near to Bona and the boar being the emblem of the 20th Roman Legion.

The full article (now published by the South Loch Ness Heritage Groups) is in a PDF here Bona (Inverness-shire), Boar Carvings and a Roman Legion.