Attested:  Ptolemy 2,3,5  Ταουα estuary;  Tacitus ad TaumTaba at position 232 in the Ravenna Cosmography, among its diversa loca discussed here.

Where: Ταουα is explicitly described as an estuary, which must belong to the river Tay, whose mouth is around NO5229.  The Cosmography tends to state explicitly when a name applies to a river, so a definite place needs to be sought for Taba, but the nearest known Roman camp (not a proper fort) is at Auchtermuchty in Fife, at NO242119.  The best candidate seems to be Dundee Law, a high and prominent hill in the centre of Dundee, at NO391313, which may have been used as a lookout point in Roman times.

Name Origin:  Ταουα/Tay is one of the many early river names that began with Ta-, discussed under Tamesis.  PIE *ta- ‘to melt’ plus *ap- ‘water’ seems like a natural explanation for Tava, but Ekwall (1928) drew attention to the way that PIE *teu- ‘to swell’ developed to *tav-, which produced words such as Sanskrit taviti ‘to be strong’, Lithuanian tvanas ‘deluge’, Avestan tavah- ‘power’, etc.  Having the greatest flow of all British rivers, the Tay would certainly fit that interpretation.

Notes:  Marx (2013) wrongly suggested the river South Esk.  Are all the other rivers with similar names (Tavy, Taw, Taff, etc) also “strong”?  Would early people be more inclined to notice the volumetric flow or a propensity to spate?  See also the Tuessis.

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Last edited 17 March 2020     to main Menu