Attested: Ptolemy 2,3,3 Ρατοσταθυβιου (or Ρατοσταβιου)
Where: On the Welsh side of the Severn estuary. R&S suggested the mouth of the river Taff (joined by the Ely and Clun at Cardiff), a location accepted by Kleineberg et al (2012). Several rivers reach the sea in that area and there seems to be no strong reason for choosing a particular one to fit this name. It is tempting to suggest Magor Pill because that was a site of medieval boating, or to look further down the coast, to Barry, but the best guess appears to be the mouth of the river Rhymney around ST216781.
Name Origin: For initial Ρατο- see the discussion of Latin ratis ‘raft, logboat’ versus Irish ráth ‘earthen rampart’ under *Ratae. The second element meant something like ‘standing place, harbour, posting station’, with parallels in Greek, Latin, and English: σταθμος, statio and stathe, or (if the –θυ– is taken seriously) σταβλον, stabulum and stable. The –υβιου ending looks like the *uba ‘water, river’ element discussed here.
Notes: Recorded Roman-era names cluster thickly in south-east Wales, so it is hard to allocate them confidently among the known forts, roads, farms, etc. Boatmen at this
location might have crossed the Severn, and travelled up the rivers Severn and Usk, or around the Welsh coast.
Last Edited: 2 September 2016