Attested:  RC Raxtomessasenua

Where:  In or near the Solent, deduced from its position in RC’s tour of harbour estuaries between Novia and Cunia.

Name origin:  Clearly written as a single word in all three manuscripts (with a penultimate letter that might be N not U) this name looks like a pile-up of three elements.  The first part fits PIE *reig- ‘to stretch’, which led to Scots rax, equivalent to rack, meaning ‘to stretch out’.  It also led to the sailing term reach, meaning to hold a straight course for a while, which shows up in Regulbio (Reculver), the turning point at the north end of the Wantsum Channel. Raxto-is also close to ręhte ‘it reaches’ from OE ręcan ‘to reach’.  The next part is like Latin messa ‘cut off’.  The third part, –senua or –senna, may just come from PIE *senə- ‘apart, separated’.

Notes:  An experienced Roman sailor seeing the Solent would have thought of the Strait of Messina, a name derived from Μεσσηνια in Greece, possibly within miscopying range of messasenua.

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Last Edited: 25 July 2016