Οκταπιταρον ακρον

Attested:  Ptolemy 2,3,2  Οκταπιταρον (or Οκταπoταρον) ακρον

Where:  St David's Head, Pembrokeshire, the westernmost point of Wales.  Offshore lies Ramsey Island, plus a straggle of islets, called Bishops and Clerks, whose furthest offshore rock is at SM651226.  Many shipwrecks have occurred around this coast, which has no safe harbour of refuge between Milford Haven to the south and Goodwick Bay (later Fishguard) to the north.

Name origin:  Greek, compounded from οκτα- prefix from οκτω ‘eight’ and πιτυρον ‘husks of corn, dandruff’ (or possibly απιτεον ‘one must go away’, etymologically off-go), plus ακρον ‘extremity’. 

Notes:  Eight sounds like a suspiciously exact number, but at the scale used in modern road maps just eight rocks are visible!  Delamarre (2017:65-70) stressed the sense of ‘winter, frosty’ for Octo-.  PIE *ou-g- ‘cold’ showed up Latinised as octo- and led to Irish ocht or úacht ‘cold’ and úar meaning ‘bleak, unfriendly’ in place names.  Even though it is possible that autumn and hygro- may embody that root, the danger to sailors seems not to be strongly enough seasonal to overrule a more general ‘unfriendly cape’ meaning.

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