Attested:  Ptolemy 2,3,5  Βοδερια estuary;  Tacitus Bodotria

Where:  Firth of Forth, which opens up seriously at about NT2779.

Name Origin:  Rivet & Smith spelled out the “variety of speculations” that have been offered in the past.  Surprisingly, none of them seems to have homed in on the key geographical fact that the Firth is a huge bite-out-ery from the land.  PIE dictionaries offer two relevant roots *bheid- ‘to split, to pierce’ and *bhedh- ‘to dig, to pierce’, which overlap, and can also be confused with other roots that led to bed, bottom, and beat.

Notes:  One could discuss at length which language families might have supplied a name beginning with Bod-, and what that says about Roman army naval logistics.  As parallels, Celtic languages offer Welsh bedd ‘grave’ and Irish bįt ‘boat’, while Germanic languages offer embed (but not bed) and Bošvar (used as a kenning for Beowulf).  BODVOC appears on coins of the Dobunni in an area close to the later English-Welsh border, but it is not clear whether *bodu- in early names should be related to beadu ‘battle’, or to boda ‘messenger’, or to ravens.  A Gaulish word *bedo- ‘ditch, canal’ (Delamarre, 2003:70) may explain some names of small rivers such as Bied, but for the fullest discussion of *bed- see Prosper (2011).  Similar words in Latin began with F, and Pliny translated Bodincus (river Padus = Po) with fundus.  The best parallels are in Greek βοθρος ‘trench’ and Russian бодать ‘to butt’, but there are also possible parallels outside Indo-European languages.

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Last edited 28 September 2021     To main Menu