Μορικαμβη

Attested:  Ptolemy 2,3,2 Μορικαμβη (or Μοριακαμβη) estuary

Where:  Around NY1657 in Cumbria, where the rivers Wampool and Waver flow into mudflats and a large joint estuary.

Name origin:  Since at least 1789 Μορικαμβη has been analysed as Celtic *mori ‘sea’ plus *cambo ‘curved’.  However, in Roman-era names *mori mostly meant ‘marsh’, which is very obvious here: marshes used to extend further inland, probably close to the Roman forts at Kirkbride and Wigton.  And in a landscape heavily sculpted by glaciers with lots of drumlins, *cambo did not necessarily mean river bends, but may have meant small hills (like the northern English word kame) sticking out of the marshes.  As explained here “Shallow tidal coasts are characterised by shifting tidal flats and emerging or eroding islands above the high tide line”.

Notes:  See also about Maglona and Olerica.  Lancashire's Morecambe Bay was so named in about 1700 from a mistaken idea that that was what Ptolemy intended.  The present estuary is now called Moricambe, presumably also a relatively recent but more accurate deduction from Ptolemy.

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Last edited 29 July 2019     To main Menu