Attested: RC Olcaclavis, Olciclavis, Oleclavis (in the 3 manuscripts)
Where: RC appears here to be following the Roman road (Bishop, 2014:166) from Alnwick to Berwick-on-Tweed.
Name origin: Puzzling. Maybe:-
1) R&C preferred to read Olcaclavis ‘famous fertile place’. They likened the first part to a late Latin word olca ‘kitchen garden’ mentioned by Gregory of Tours in the region of Reims, also present in the place name Οτταουιολκα/Octaviolca
in Cantabria, and the second part to PIE *klewos- ‘fame’.
2) R&S preferred to read Olea Clavis, and emend that to *orea classis, representing a Roman navy stores depot analogous to, but different from, Horrea Classis.
3) Classical Latin clavis ‘key’, clava ‘club’, or clavus ‘nail’ might explain the ending. Strangely enough, in just the right area a key is writ large in the landscape by the shape of the mud flats exposed at low tide beside Lindisfarne (Holy Island) and along the Northumberland coast to the adjacent Budle Bay. Near there, Outchester hints at a lost Roman site, possibly under later Bamburgh castle on the coast at NU18333497, in an area that was the core of a post-Roman British kingdom that became the Anglian Bernicia (a name of uncertain origin). In that case, the first part might come from Latin -oleo ‘to grow large’ (only in compounds) or from oleo ‘to smell’ (Northumberland kippers anyone?) or from PIE *olki- ‘brown’.
Last Edited: 8 August 2016