Attested:  MAIS on Staffordshire Moorlands Pan, Rudge Cup, and Amiens Patera
   Maio at position 120 and Maia at 154 in the Ravenna Cosmography

Where:  Bowness-on-Solway Roman fort at the west end of Hadrian's wall, at NY225628.  Richmond & Crawford argued that Maio and Maia in the Cosmography were the same and the duplication arose simply because the Cosmographer took the name twice off his source(s) when approaching a coastal location in an area densely packed with names.  That seems likely, but it gives the Cosmography a slightly uncomfortable track across the map, so the possibility cannot be excluded that Maio was a distinct place, conceivably so named for fulfilling a similar function further south in Cumbria.

Name origin:  It is not certain, as Rivet & Smith explained, what is the best form to cite for the nominative singular of this name.  Latin maior ‘greater’ (in its neuter form maius) and/or the Roman goddess of nurturing Maia (from Greek μαια ‘good mother, foster mother’) would fit the second-largest fort on the Wall as a location to which stores could be brought by sea to supply troops on the Wall, as explained clearly here.  However, the name may have originated in Roman law, where the term imperium maius has been much discussed by historians.  Its classic example was the power given to Pompey to stamp out piracy in the eastern Mediterranean.  The obvious guess here is that Bowness was the natural location for a commander-in-chief given supreme authority over Roman interests in the Irish Sea and into the Solway estuary.

Notes:  Rivet & Smith unwisely dragged in Maiona, which was further north, near the Isle of Mull.  Maius was the name of a river in Spain mentioned by Pomponius Mela (2, 90).

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Last edited 21 April 2021     to main Menu