Attested: Ardua ravenatone at position 9 in the Ravenna Cosmography, as two distinct words but not separated by the dot that separates most names.
Where: in Cornwall, possibly on the south coast.
Name origin: Latin ardua ‘steep places’ could fit any of Cornwall's sea cliffs. The PIE root *erədh- ‘high’ also led to Cornish ardh ‘high place’ and its Celtic cognates such as Irish aird. Raven- has no easy explanation in Latin or Celtic, but it survives as a word in Germanic languages, notably OE hræfn ‘raven’ from PIE *ker- ‘caw’. (The word is onomatopoeic and could have existed in other language families.) The ending –atone resembles early Germanic words for ‘to show, to appear’, such as OE æteowan or Gothic at-augjan (literally ‘at eyes’) related to modern Dutch tonen.
Notes: The meaning ‘raven-showing cliffs’ is persuasive because birds were important to ancient sailors as a sign that land was nearby. For example, Iceland was allegedly discovered after Hrafna-Flóki released hungry caged ravens and watched which way they flew. Ravenna itself, an important sea port ruled by Goths in the Cosmographer's time, but which has no agreed etymology, may even have been named from ravens. Cornwall's county bird, the chough, is one of many corvids that might also have been called ravens. One possible location is the tip of the Lizard Peninsula, where there would have been Veneti sailors revenant ‘returning’ to Cornwall. Ptolemy's Αβραουαννου river mouth was beside the Machar peninsula of Galloway, which is almost a twin of the Lizard, in shape and was the terminus of an ancient trade route by sea across the North Channel to Ireland.
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Last edited: 18 March 2020 To main Menu