Identification: the river South Esk, Angus

This name, like the Tuesis estuary, is in the wrong place in Ptolemy’s coastal list. The full name will have been (Is)caelis, like the Iscalis listed in the territory of the Belgae by Ptolemy. (Is)caelis is a land-name referring to a location adjacent a steep slope, the name being that of the Roman fortlet at Inverquharity (there is a steep river embankment on the north side of the fortlet). The Romans transferred the name to the river now called the South Esk. Presumably at some later date the l in the river-name was mistaken by those who used the hill-letter n for the river-letter l which they applied to minor rivers. They thus regarded Isca as being the proper name of the river and it is this name which has survived in the modern river-name Esk. As to the Tuesis estuary and the (Is)caelis river being in the wrong place in Ptolemy’s coastal list, presumably Ptolemy received his information from two different sources, one of which listed the Tuesis estuary, the (Is)caelis river and the Taezalon promontory going from south to north, and the other of which listed the Taezalon promontory, the river Deva and the river Tina going from north to south. Ptolemy was then unsure how to fit these names together into one list and simply assumed, wrongly, that the Tuesis estuary and (Is)caelis river were between the Loxa river and the Taezalon promontory.


[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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