Οκταπιταρον ακρον

Attested:  Ptolemy 2,3,2  Οκταπιταρον (or Οκταπoταρον) ακρον

Where:  St David's Head, Pembrokeshire, the westernmost point of Wales, whose furthest offshore rock is at SM651226.  Many shipwrecks have occurred around this coast, which has no safe harbour of refuge between Milford Haven to the south and Goodwick Bay (later Fishguard) to the north.

Name origin:  Greek, compounded from οκτα- prefix from οκτω ‘eight’ and απιτεον ‘one must go away’ (etymologically off-go), plus ακρον ‘extremity’.  PIE *ou-g- ‘cold’ showed up Latinised as octo- and led to Irish úar meaning ‘bleak, unfriendly’ in place names.

Notes:  Eight sounds like a suspiciously exact number, considering that the offshore rocks there (called Bishops and Clerks) are an untidy straggle, but at the scale used in modern road maps just eight are visible!  Delamarre (2017:65-70) stressed the sense of ‘winter, frosty’ for Octo-, but (even though it is possible that autumn and hygro- may embody that root) the danger to sailors seems not to be strongly enough seasonal to overrule a more general ‘avoid this unfriendly cape’ meaning.

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Last edited: 19 August 2018