AttestedTraxula at position 236 in the Ravenna Cosmography

Where:  The name describes the Isle of Portland, located by its position in the Cosmography's tour of harbour estuaries, but that does not apply to Portland harbour, which is modern and man-made.

Name origin:  Latin tragula ‘kind of javelin or dart attached to a strap’ is similar in shape to the pointed Isle of Portland at the end of long, thin Chesil Beach.  Tragula is discussed carefully by Descroix (1948); it survived into French dialect as trachlle.

Notes:  The Roman harbour entrance was probably by Weymouth, at SY684787, where the river Wey led to Radipole, and then to Dorchester (Durnonovaria), rather than the medieval harbour of The Fleet, sheltered by Chesil Beach.  Roman authors were unsure whether to derive tragula from traicio ‘to throw across’ or from trago ‘to drag’.  The letters G and X were closely related in Latin: think of lex/legis, rex/regis, the ancestors of lax and languid, and the Runic alphabet, which used X to represent a G sound.

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Last edited 13 April 2020     to main Menu