Identification: the river Tyne, East Lothian

The v of this name is the ending of the original name, presumably Novia. Then Novia acquired an ending in the form of the river-letter t, applied by those who coined inversion-type place-names in the hill-letter l2. And then at some later date the name was simply reversed and the v dropped, thus yielding the modern name Tyne. This reversal of names is not so unusual as one might think, but it is not clear in all cases whether it is related to the transition from old-style names, such as Banva, to the corresponding inversion-type names, in this example to Venta. Thus Ravenna’s Tagea appears to have been reversed to yield the geath of modern Strageath, and likewise Decha to yield the keith of Inverkeithing, of course with minor changes to the consonants, d becoming th and ch becoming k. And down in the southwest of England the uxel (ucsel) of Ravenna’s Uxelis appears to have been reversed to yield the Lisk of modern Liskeard. But the present writer’s favourite example is Ravenna’s Olerica at Maryport (for an explanation of this identification see Chapter 15: Navione to Alavna (187)). This name doesn’t look quite right as it stands. There is no problem with the l and r – these are just two different hill-letters - but the ca at the end looks decidedly odd. It was probably originally isca, referring to the steep slope up to the fort or possibly the steep slope, cliff actually, on the west side of the fort. The original name was thus probably Olerisca.  Now, if one simply reverses this name and adds dunum to the end one obtains Acsirelodunum. If now one deletes ir, because it makes the name unwieldy and difficult to pronounce, one obtains Acselodunum, which is of course the Axelodunum of the Notitia Dignitatum. There can thus be no doubt that the ND's Axelodunum was at Maryport and is not Uxellodunum at Castlesteads in the wrong place in the list, as has been suggested by various scholars in the past.


 [NB. Detailed information as to the different river-letters and as to how they were combined to form compound river-names, together with information as to the four categories of Celtic river-names, is given in Chapter 19: the rivers of Roman Britain. Detailed information as to the different hill-letters is given in Chapter 1 and information as to how the hill-letters were combined to form compound place-names is given in Chapter 2]



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