Olerica

Attested:  RC Olerica

Where:  RC lists Olerica between Maio (probably Bowness-on-Solway) and Derventione (Papcastle), so it was probably a Roman fort in the relatively flat farmland of north-west Cumbria.  The strongest candidate is Kirkbride fort at NY22955732 at the head of the Wampool estuary, which was much bigger in Roman times than it is now.  Other forts in that area are allocated to other names, including Maglona and Magis, while the Caermote fort at NY20233681 was only short-lived.

Name origin:  Initial Ole- in this name, plus Olenaco, Ολικανα, and Oleaclavis may be related to the initial Ol- of 40 or so ancient personal names that prompted Delamarre (2003) to translate Gaulish *ollos as ‘great’ (like Old Irish oll) but sometimes as ‘all’ (like Welsh oll).  It is not obvious how these relate to the five or more PIE roots of form *al- (or *ol-) or to Latin olea ‘olive’, oleo ‘to smell’, -oleo ‘to grow’, olla ‘pot’, olor ‘swan’, or olyra ‘spelt-like grain’.  Olericium mentioned in AD 451 is modern Lirey, in France.  Ολοριγος was mentioned on an epitaph in Galatia, and might be a precursor of the name Alaric.

Notes:  North-west Cumbria was an important part of the post-Roman kingdom of Rheged, where one may guess that an indigenous population speaking Cumbric (similar to Welsh) became dominant over a former ruling class speaking Latin or a retired soldiers' dialect.  Extending that guess, Ole- could have been an ethnic designation from PIE *ol- ‘beyond’ (as in ultra, alien, Allemand, etc), so that –rica referred to the base of a chieftain (rix).

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Last Edited: 12 December 2016