Mixa

AttestedMixa comes second in RC’s list of 8 diversa loca ‘various places’ after the Roman incursions into northern Scotland.

Where:  Uncertain.  A plausible guess to show on maps is a rocky promontory on the south side of the Firth of Forth, now occupied by Blackness Castle, at NT055802.  The anchorage in its lee (now used by a boat club) was the number-two harbour of mediaeval Scotland and probably served the Romans as a supply base for the eastern end of the Antonine Wall.

Name originMixa does not obviously relate to PIE *meigh- ‘to urinate’, the root of some later place names ( via mixen ‘dung-heap’) and of micturate and perhaps of some river names.  A more likely source is PIE *meik-, which led to words for mixing in many languages.  Greek μιξις is best documented as meaning sexual intercourse, but it could also apply to any meeting of people, including to trade, which would fit Blackness.  Latin merx ‘merchandise’ has no generally recognised etymology.

Notes:  Blackness has much in common with other ancient long-distance trading places (Tintagel, Hengistbury, Cadiz, etc), while the closest parallel to the name Mixa is a water-side set of rocks, now offshore from Selsey, called the Mixon, which was probably at or close to Cymenshore of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and was for many centuries exploited as a waterside source of building stone.  If Blackness was indeed Bede's Urbs Giudi (Miller, 1885) and the original spelling was close to Urbs Iudeu (Fraser, 2008), a Roman title judex ‘judge’ might fit the official (a portreeve) who enforced the law and collected tolls there.

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Last Edited: 27 September 2016