Attested: Olenaco or Elenaco in the Notitia Dignitatum
Where: The Notitia lists this between Bremetenraco (almost certainly Ribchester) and Virosido (probably Bainbridge). Rivet & Smith cautiously suggested the Roman fort at Elslack, at SD92474944, near Skipton, which seems plausible, though Ptolemy's Ριγοδουνον competes to claim that site.
Name origin: Greek ωλενη ‘elbow’ would fit the way that the Roman road across England from Ribchester to York executes an elbow-shaped bend in the vicinity of Skipton. PIE el- led also to Latin ulna, Old Irish uilen, Old English eln, etc. The -acum part, seen also in Eburacum and Bremetenacum, is usually interpreted as an adjectival ending, rather like -ic in English, referring to people who lived in an area.
Notes: This analysis rejects a remarkable number of other potential meanings for initial Ole-. They include at least four more PIE roots of form *al- or *ol-, though PIE *ol- ‘beyond’ (as in ultra, alien, Allemand, etc) may be related. Delamarre (2003) saw Gaulish *ollos meaning ‘great’, like Old Irish oll or ‘all’ like Welsh oll, in 40 or so ancient personal names. Then Latin offers
oleo ‘to smell’,
-oleo ‘to grow’,
olor ‘swan’, or
olyra ‘spelt-like grain’. See also about Olerica,
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Last edited 7 April 2020 To main Menu