Levioxava

AttestedLevioxava at position 222 in the Ravenna Cosmography.

Where:  Perth, on the river Tay.  The Cosmography lists Levioxava after Poreoclassis (Carpow) and before Cermium (Strageath), and Perth otherwise has no Roman name.

Name origin:  The Lev- part came from PIE *leb- ‘lip’, referring to a river squeezed between higher ground, as discussed at length here.  Here it clearly refers to the river Tay, as also at Leviodanum, a little way upstream.  If the name is segmented Levi-oxava, a meaning is required for oxava, perhaps like the Oxus, a great river of ancient Asia.  If it is segmented Levio-xava the second part could be a variant of *sava, well known as an ancient river name, as discussed under Sabrina.  However, the river Tay clearly had an ancient name like Tava, and it would make sense for Perth to be at the ‘lips of the Tay’.  Possible reasons why a letter X might occupy the slot of a letter T include the infamous Tau Gallicum, pronounced like TZ and written like a crossed D or S, or miscopying of the name off an original Roman map: see the little piece of one Cosmography manuscript here and compare the X in Levioxava with the CT in Victorie.
[Levio mss part]

Notes:  Fitting the Cosmographys's sequence of names to known Roman sites is like a game of musical chairs, with Levioxava ending up without a seat when the music stops.  Perth is a clear winner, but previously here a range of other possibilities were discussed.  The Roman camp near Forteviot would be a strong candidate if Marcotaxon had not already claimed it.  A previous best guess focussed on the river Earn, which flows into the river Tay in much the same configuration as the river Sava flows through former Yugoslavia into the Danube.  Near Bridge of Earn, a canoeist reports “a weir about 150m below the road bridge ... which washes out at high tide”.  At about NO107194 there is a curious figure-8 structure in the river Earn, around Kirkton Pouch and an oxbow lake, at about the modern limit of potential flooding from an exceptionally high tide, where conceivably some kind of Roman weir or causeway remains to be discovered, which would have served to deepen the river upstream so that boats could carry supplies to the fort at Strageath.  Ekwall (1928:308) suggested that the river names Okement, Ogmore, Ogwr, and Ogwen had a first element related to Greek ωκυς ‘swift’ or Latin ocior ‘swifter’.  Both the Ock in Surrey and the Ock in Oxfordshire (whose alternative name may be Charn, from Cearn) run fast upstream where they sdrain hills, but lower down they tend to spread out and cause floods, much as the river Earn does; see here for one map of its potential flooding.  Celtic scholars have been slow to recognise the significance of PIE *oku- ‘swift’ because its descendants are a bit hidden, such as Welsh diog ‘lazy’, eog ‘salmon’, and ebol ‘foal’ (from equus ‘horse’).  And Selkirk (1995) “would like to bet ... that Inchaffray Abbey hides a Roman site”.

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Last edited 9 June 2021     To main Menu