Μεταρις

Attested:  Ptolemy 2,3,6 Μεταρις (or Μεγαρις) estuary

Where:  The Wash

Name origin:  Greek μεταρρεω ‘to flow differently, ebb and flow, change from one side to the other’.  Its etymology is unproblematic, being distantly related to English mid-stream.  This word appears to have passed into post-classical Latin metarius ‘of boundaries’, for which various etymologies have been proposed that no longer seem convincing.

Notes:  In using a word for ‘estuary’ (rather than for ‘bay’ or ‘river mouth’), Ptolemy possibly implied that there was one predominant river flowing into the Wash in his day, whereas nowadays there are four main rivers.  The whole fens area has changed greatly since Roman times, when extensive areas of wet ground reached far inland from present sea walls.  The implication of this name is either geographical, in that the coastline was very changeable in Ptolemy's day, or political, that there was a boundary between different tribes in areas that would become Lincolnshire and Norfolk

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Last edited: 24 November 2019
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