Iena estuary

Identification: the estuary of the Water of Fleet 

Iena is a river-name which has retained its ena ending but has lost its river-letter(s). The Iena comes after the Devas (the Dee in Dumfries and Galloway) in Ptolemy, so since Ptolemy refers to the Iena estuary the Iena was presumably the Water of Fleet. Ptolemy lists the Nith, the Dee and the Water of Fleet presumably because there were Roman forts on all three rivers. And he proceeds to list the river Abravannus, presumably because that river was associated with the tribal centre of the Novantae tribe.

Whilst we cannot know what river-letters have been omitted from the original form of Iena it is interesting to note that the commonest hill-letters in that region (represented in some cases by the corresponding river-letters in river-names) are s, m and l and these hill-letters generally appear in that chronological order (in old-style names). The corresponding river-letters are b, r and t. If we put these river-letters into  Iena we obtain the form Britena. If we then carry out the common b → v change and the r/l  interchange we obtain the form Vlitena. If now we assume that the Northumbrians changed the initial V to F (and it is generally believed that it was the Northumbrians who destroyed Trusty’s Hill, just west of Gatehouse of Fleet, early in the 7th century) then we have Flitena. This may explain the origin of the modern river-name Water of Fleet.  


[This page was last modified on 07 January 2021]


[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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