Attested: (1) Lemana referring to a harbour estuary at position 266 in the Ravenna Cosmography
(2) Lemanis at position 70 in the Cosmography, ad portum Lemanis (twice) in iter 4 of the Antonine Itinerary, Lemannis twice in the Notitia Dignitatum, and Lemanio in the Peutinger Table
Where: (2) Lemanis meant the Roman fort of the Saxon Shore at Stutfall Castle, Lympne, Kent, at TR11743423, which has been largely destroyed by a landslip on a changing coastline. (1) Lemana referred to the Roman harbour beside which the fort sat, but the whole Romney Marsh area has changed a lot since Roman times. Cunliffe (1980:258-259) wrote that “In the early part of the Roman period the rivers Rother, Tillingham and Brede flowed into an extensive estuary which opened to the sea through a narrow outlet just to the east of the site of the Roman fort. The marshland surrounding the estuary was protected from erosion by the sea by a shingle beach ... the fort ... commanded the outlet but was provided with a protected anchorage by an ancient sand dune projecting southwards from the cliff base immediately to the east of the fort.”. Sea-level rise, siltation, and longshore drift altered the coastline greatly so that by the AD 700s there was a river called Limen.
Name Origin: The word liman (ultimately from Greek λιμην ‘harbour’, which diffused into various languages including Arabic, Turkish, Russian, and English) is a remarkably exact match to the fort's likely topographical situation. There seems to be no consensus on which PIE root led to λιμην, but the top possibilities are *lei- ‘to flow, to pour’ and *lei- ‘slimy, to slip, to glide’, which led to words such as English loam and slime, or Latin limus ‘mud’. Or else maybe Latin limen ‘threshold, entrance’ (of uncertain origin) is appropriate to a harbour entrance, especially with a bar at its mouth. See under Λεμαννονιος for another slant on possible roots for this name.
Notes: Nonsense Celtic elm-tree etymologies promoted by Jackson and others did not fool R&S, who wisely homed in on “water-names”.
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Last edited 11 March 2020 To main Menu