Κωουννος

Attested:  Ptolemy 2,3,33  Κωουννος (or Κωουηννος) island

Where:  An island in the mouth of the Thames estuary.  Majority opinion used to favour Canvey Island, around TQ7983, but current thinking is that Canvey was not a proper island in Roman times: see here, here, and here.  Foulness, around TQ9990, seems more likely to have been a definite island back then, ahead of Sheppey.

Name origin:  The English word coune ‘united in one’, from Latin *co-unus, would fit any island that is separated from its mainland by only a narrow, muddy channel, but the second spelling Κωουηννος would fit a compound of prefix co- ‘together’ plus Latin venosus ‘full of veins’ to make an excellent description of islands such as Foulness and Canvey.

Notes:  Κωουννος looks as if it was transliterated from Latin into Greek, rather than being freshly created in Greek.  Ptolemy's longitude figure seems to have suffered a scribal error.  The outer Thames estuary is fringed by coastal marshes and full of sandbanks, so it is entirely possible that in Roman times there was an island noticeable to Ptolemy's informants, where there is now just open sea.

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Last Edited: 22 November 2017