Lemanis

Attested:  (1) Lemana referring to a harbour estuary at position 266 in the Ravenna Cosmography
  (2) Lemanis at position 70 in the Cosmography, ad portum Lemanis (twice) in iter 4 of the Antonine Itinerary, Lemannis twice in the Notitia Dignitatum, and Lemanio in the Peutinger Table

Where:  (2) Lemanis meant the Roman fort of the Saxon Shore at Stutfall Castle, Lympne, Kent, at TR11743423, which has been largely destroyed by a landslip on a changing coastline.  (1) Lemana referred to the Roman harbour beside which the fort sat, but the whole Romney Marsh area has changed a lot since Roman times.  Cunliffe (1980:258-259) wrote that “In the early part of the Roman period the rivers Rother, Tillingham and Brede flowed into an extensive estuary which opened to the sea through a narrow outlet just to the east of the site of the Roman fort. The marshland surrounding the estuary was protected from erosion by the sea by a shingle beach ... the fort ... commanded the outlet but was provided with a protected anchorage by an ancient sand dune projecting southwards from the cliff base immediately to the east of the fort.”.  Sea-level rise, siltation, and longshore drift altered the coastline greatly so that by the AD 700s there was a river called Limen.

Name Origin:  The word liman (ultimately from Greek λιμην ‘harbour’, which diffused into various languages including Arabic, Turkish, Russian, and English) is a remarkably exact match to the fort's likely topographical situation.  There seems to be no consensus on which PIE root led to λιμην, but the top possibilities are *lei- ‘to flow, to pour’ and *lei- ‘slimy, to slip, to glide’, which led to words such as English loam and slime, or Latin limus ‘mud’.  Or else maybe Latin limen ‘threshold, entrance’ (of uncertain origin) is appropriate to a harbour entrance, especially with a bar at its mouth.  See under Λεμαννονιος for another slant on possible roots for this name.

Notes:  Nonsense Celtic elm-tree etymologies promoted by Jackson and others did not fool R&S, who wisely homed in on “water-names”.

You may copy this text freely, provided you acknowledge its source as www.romaneranames.uk, recognise that it is liable to human error, and try to offer suggestions for improvement.
Last edited 11 March 2020     To main Menu