Attested: Varis on iter 11 of the Antonine Itinerary
Where: A Roman fort at St Asaph, in north Wales, probably under the cathedral at SJ039744 (Waddelove, 2004). It sat on a ridge of land rising to about 25 metres above two fords where the Roman road from Chester to Anglesey crossed two rivers, the Clwyd and the Elwy, about 1 km apart. See here for Lidar and flood-risk maps.
Name origin: Welsh gwar ‘back of neck’ is commonly seen in later place names with a sense of ‘upper’ (Breeze 2002) and is usually traced to PIE *uper- ‘over, above’. However, Latin varix ‘dilated vein’, which is usually traced to PIE *wer-1 ‘high raised spot, could be argued to fit the elongated ridge at St Asaph better, and was recorded 1500 years earlier.
Notes: This name illustrates the problems posed by the multiple potential meanings of ver etc in ancient names.
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Last edited 8 April 2020 To main Menu