AttestedAnava in RC's tour of harbour estuaries;  anavion on an epitaph and on Vindolanda tablet 99.

Where:  Probably the River Annan in south-west Scotland, with its mouth into the Solway estuary at about NY191643.  Its valley contains a remarkable number of Roman forts and marching camps.  Uncertainty comes from the way that RC's harbour-estuary tour compresses four names into the Solway estuary area.  Or possibly the Moricambe estuary south of the Solway.

Name Origin:  If Anava was indeed the river Annan, a geographically appropriate translation might be ‘opposite water’, with initial An- like the English prefix an- ‘against’ (seen in words such as answer), justified by the many names in that area apparently created by Roman soldiers recruited from around the lower Rhine.  Watkins (2011:4) was willing to accept a (debatable) PIE root *an- ‘to pour’.  Either could then be followed by a derivative of *ap- ‘water’.  Another possibility is Greek αναβαινω, much used in the Bible to mean ‘to go up, ascend’, but for the Roman military more likely to mean ‘to embark (on a ship), mount (a horse)’.

Notes:  R&C offered Welsh anaw ‘riches’ as a possible parallel.  Delamarre (2003:45) discussed Gaulish *anavo- ‘riches, poetic inspiration’ as a possible contributor to personal names; it might have come from the same root as Latin animus ‘soul’ and ανεμος ‘wind’, but analysis as an-avus ‘without ancestor’ cannot be excluded.  If richness (agricultural productivity) was indeed relevant, the river Waver flowing into the marshy, waterfowl-thronged Moricambe estuary is a serious candidate, but a spelling change from AN to W would need to happen in writing, which seems unlikely.  At the very least, ancient words and names beginning with ana- were often ‘wet’: PIE *anət- ‘duck’ had descendants in many languages, such as anas in Latin.  Gaulish anam was glossed with Latin paludem ‘marsh’ by the Endlicher Glossary.  There were river names such as Anas, Anatis, Anaurus; a river-god Anapos in Sicily.  Or Anava might just contain *navis ‘river’.

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Last edited: 4 January 2019