AttestedAbisson at position 175 in the Ravenna Cosmography

Where:  At or near Portpatrick, NW998540, on the west coast of the Rinns of Galloway, suggested partly by the order of listing in the Cosmography and partly by the meaning.  This is the end of the road on the northern side of the Solway Firth, west from Carlisle and Hadrian's Wall.  It is also the terminus for the shortest sea crossing to Ireland, of just 35 km, which a modern canoeist can easily do in 5 hours on a fine day.

Name origin:  Greek αβυσσος Latin abyssus ‘bottomless’.

Notes:  Between Galloway and Ireland lies the North Channel, within which is a sea trench up to 300 metres deep known as Beaufort's Dyke.  It was hugely important to ancient sailors to know if coastal waters were unusually deep, because their main defence against being wrecked on a lee shore by adverse winds was to let down an anchor.  Ptolemy reported an Αβυσσαπολις on the coast of Oman, where the sea also becomes deep very rapidly, most likely at modern Khor Rori.  See here for a discussion of all Roman names in this area north of the Solway.

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Last edited 30 May 2023     to main Menu