Tava

Attested:  Ptolemy 2,3,5  Ταουα estuary;  Tacitus ad TaumTaba 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 OriginTava/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.

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Last Edited: 5 July 2017