AttestedMavia in RC's list of harbour estuaries.

Where:  Probably the Dart estuary in the south of Devon, with its mouth around SX887502, near Dartmouth.  It is possible that Milidunum lay under Totnes Castle near the tidal limit of the river Dart and that Masona was at the estuary mouth, but neither location has yielded significant Roman archaeology.

Name origin:  Possibly a compound of PIE *ap- ‘water’, preceded by an M (perhaps having a sense of ‘movement’, ‘damp’, ‘mother’, or ‘small’), to create an analogue of the river names Tavy, Tay, etc that began with T.  Other possible parallels include maw (belly, pocket) and mew (seagull).  The name may survive in the modern rivers Meavy in Devon (which rises near the head of the Dart but does not feed into it) and Mawddach in Wales leading to Barmouth.

Notes:  See here for a discussion of RC's harbour estuaries in the West Country.  An alternative possibility is that the name Mavia got linked with a saint (possibly of Irish origin) called Maudez in Brittany, leading to the modern name St Mawes, around SW8533, on a peninsula opposite Falmouth.  Nothing links that area with the Romans, except perhaps a heavy tin ingot dredged from the sea off St Mawes, which might have been ancient (Beagrie, 1983).

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Last edited: 16 June 2019       To main Menu