Attested: Ptolemy 2,3,5 Ταουα estuary; Tacitus ad Taum; Taba comes fifth in RC's diversa loca discussed here.
Where: By the river Tay, whose mouth is around NO5229. Marx (2013) wrongly suggested the river South Esk. Both RC and Ptolemy tend to state explicitly when a name applies to a river, so a definite place needs to be sought, but the nearest known Roman camp (not a proper fort) is at Auchtermuchty in Fife, at NO242119. The best candidate seems to be Dundee Law, a high and prominent hill in the centre of Dundee, at NO391313, which may have been used as a lookout point in Roman times.
Name Origin: Tava/Taba belongs among the many early river names that began with Ta-, discussed under Tamesis. PIE *ta- ‘to melt’ plus *ap- ‘water’ seems like a natural explanation for Tava, but Ekwall (1928) drew attention to the way that PIE *teu- ‘to swell’ developed to *tav-, which produced words such as Sanskrit taviti ‘to be strong’, Lithuanian tvanas ‘deluge’, Avestan tavah- ‘power’, etc. Having the greatest flow of all British rivers, the Tay would certainly fit that interpretation.
Notes: Are all the other rivers with similar names (Tavy, Taw, Taff, etc) also “strong”? Would early people be more inclined to notice the volumetric flow or a propensity to spate? See also the Tuessis.
Last Edited: 5 July 2017