AttestedLinnonsa (or Linonsa) at position 289 in the Ravenna Cosmography, at the end of a sequence of names apparently heading northwards among the Inner Hebrides.

Where:  An island off western Scotland.  Possibly Lunga (one of several islands that share that name) or Luing to its east.

Name Origin:  Possibly from λινον ‘linen’ or from ληνεων ‘wine-press’, from ληνος ‘anything shaped like a tub or trough’.  The ending -sa was common on geographical names around the Mediterranean, especially islands, of which surviving examples include modern Linosa and Lampedusa.  Other Greek words for wool or harbour are also in the running.

Notes:  Flax grows well in the soils and climate of Scottish islands, unlike grapes.  A linen industry is recorded there only from the 1700s, but it is conceivable that the Roman navy might have encouraged one earlier, because linen was the preferred material for Roman ships' sails from about the time of Pliny.  Ardinamir on Luing has a flax-steeping pool, a hill-fort, and a protected anchorage.  Many more names were topographical than referring to agriculture, and both Lunga and Luing have bay anchorages that might fit the tub idea.  However, all arguments in favour of any particular island are weak, and the preference stated here (rather than for Ptolemy's Λιμνου island, off Ireland, perhaps the Nose of Houth) mainly rests on giving the neatest path across a map for Cosmographer reading names of his source map.  The Italian island of Linosa is similar, but that name is relatively recent.

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Last edited 3 May 2020     Go to main Menu