Attested: Ptolemy 2,3,5 Τουεσις estuary; RC Tuessis
Ptolemy 2,3,13 Τουεσις a πολις of the Ουακομαγοι
Where: River Spey, with a probable Roman camp at Bellie, Fochabers, NJ355611
Name Origin: Probably from PIE *teuə- ‘to swell’, describing the estuary (as Ptolemy called it, not a river mouth), possibly in terms of shape, rather like the next river along the Moray coast, the Loxa (Lossie). The Spey is the fastest-flowing river in Scotland and must have dropped a lot of sediment since Roman times (in addition to the effect of isostatic rebound) so its estuary was probably wider back then. The only generally accepted successor of an extended form *tus- is thousand (and its cognates), but the name Τοισοβιος (Conwy) may be related. As explained under Tava, roots based on *teu- developed a sense of ‘strong’, which would certainly fit the Spey, whose modern name has no accepted etymology but looks suspiciously close to the words spew, spate, etc.
Notes: Welsh tywys ‘guide, lead’ has been suggested as suitable for what may have been the northernmost outpost of the Roman army. This word, related to Irish taoiseach ‘leader’, probably came from *to-wissu-, which puts it among other leadership words such as toga (in heretoga ‘Herzog’), which may derive from a sense of pulling (like tug, tow) or of showing (like OE ęteowan or Gothic at-augjan, literally ‘at eyes’). Also unlikely is a derivation from PIE *teuə- ‘to pay attention’. The obvious guess for a native power centre to explain Ptolemy's πολις would be Castle Hill, but the whole area is rich in stone circles.
Last Edited: 15 May 2016