Attested: Masona at position 21 in the Ravenna Cosmography
Where: Somewhere in south Devon, where the Comography's sequence Apaunaris – Masona – Alovergium is very uncertain. Best guess = the Dart estuary.
Name origin: Greek μασσω ‘to knead, press into a mould’ might fit the unusual entrance of the Dart estuary, narrowly squeezed between cliffs. An -ona ending usually means ‘river’.
Notes: Totnes, at the inner end of the Dart estuary seems to have been important in early British history, causing the Historia Brittonum and Geoffrey of Monmouth to name it as the landing place for Brutus, whom they supposed to have founded Britain. Place-name dictionaries currently explain (unconvincingly) Tot- as derived from a personal name, but a Latin / Old English glossary from the 700s (see here) says Artura tot, where artura looks like a verbal noun from arto ‘to press together, to narrow down’. Dictionaries discuss toot-hill, from Old English totian ‘to peep out’, as if its semantic core was to look outwards, but maybe they should focus on a narrow viewing aperture instead.
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Last edited: 28 December 2019
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