Identification: the river Witham


The river-name Witham is a compound in the river-letters b (changed to v which was later anglicised to w), t (changed to th) and m. The tham part of the name is essentially the same name as Thames. It thus appears that the river was called the Abi Tham, meaning ‘river Tham’ and for some reason Ptolemy gives the generic Abi rather than the proper name Tham. It may be noted that the river-letters t and m of tham correspond to the hill-letters l and n of Lindum, and Lindum Colonia was of course at Lincoln, on the river Witham. The hill-letter s corresponding to the river-letter b in Abi is present in Causennis (perhaps originally somewhat of the form Arcusendis or Racusendis), which appears to have been up on the high ground just east of Grantham, and Grantham is of course on the river Witham.


 [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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