AttestedGalava on iter 10 of the Antonine Itinerary

Where:  The Itinerary's mileage figures are a perfect match to Cartmel Priory, whose site, at SD37897881, overlooking Morecambe Bay, was given to Lindisfarne monks in about AD 680, and might overlie a Roman fort.

Name OriginGal- (or Cal) begins at least three ancient names in the Morecambe Bay area, with many possible explanations.  One, discussed under Galacum, is a word for ‘foreigners’ (?Gaels), as a comment on the ethnic mix in that area.  Welsh gallu ‘power’, suggested by Jackson (1970), is less attractive.  Possibly best is PIE *ghel- ‘to shine’, which led to English yellow, Irish gel ‘white’, Latin gilvus ‘pale yellow’, etc.  This might refer to the slight amber tinge of a river, resulting from mining and smelting of the iron ore that outcropped on the Cartmel peninsula, or else to the vast expanse of sand in Morecambe Bay (in the slot occupied by leugo- etc in some other early names).  The second part -ava resembles proto-Germanic *ahwo- ‘water, stream’, the parent of Old English ea ‘river’ and German -au ‘water meadow’.

Notes:  This was a difficult site to find.  Previous bad guesses have looked into wild moorland north-east of Lake Windermere and beside the river Leven, which empties the southern end of Windermere, and might relate to lava ‘lips, bottleneck, narrowed river’, discussed here.  The key now is to realise that the Roman fort at Watercrook, in the middle of a bow of a river, hence its name Medibogdo, was essentially the same as Alone.  Maybe there was a native settlement about 2km away at modern Kendal, or there was a deliberate displacement, as described here at Nijmegen, or there were two distinct periods of occupation of the fort, as described by Shotter.  Then the distances of some remarkly straight-sectioned lines on the map, i.e. hypothetical Roman road routes, are excellent matches to the Itinerary's distances, from Watercrook and then on to Ambleside.  Running beside the Priory, occupying the hypothetical site of Galava Roman fort, is a river now called Eea, formerly Ay (hence the place Ayside), hypothetically Roman -ava.  The Cosmography's Galluvio may be near here too.

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Last edited 9 June 2021     To main Menu