Attested: Eltabo at position 2 in the Ravenna Cosmography (not well separated from the preceding Giano in 2 manuscripts)
Where: The Cosmography's list of names places this site somewhere in the West Country, where several small rivers cut deep valleys through the cliffs of North Devon. The best candidate is probably the river Umber, through Combe Martin, around SS5847.
Name origin: Eltabo makes best sense divided elt-abo, with abo taking its natural meaning of ‘water’. The elt part is then related to Latin altus ‘high’, from PIE *al- ‘to grow’ (from an earlier form *h2el- containing a laryngeal), whose many descendants include Cornish als ‘cliff, hillside, shore’.
Notes: There is no hard evidence of Roman interest in that area, but it has hillforts, a sheltered bay for small boats, and rich veins of silver that were being exploited in the 1200s.
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Last edited 7 April 2020 To main Menu.