Attested: Ptolemy 2,3,3 Τουεροβιος ποταμου εκβολαι
Where: Mouth of the river Teifi, in SW Wales, at about SN1649, located by Ptolemy's coordinates. The river flows through Cardigan.
Name origin: There is no easy Celtic explanation for this name, which was probably formed by analogy with the river Τυρας, which has a similar propensity to flood and also a sand-choked estuary. That river, now known as the Dniester, at the border between Ukraine and Moldova, was the core of an important early Indo-European society and then of a Greek trading emporium. The τουερο- part resembles τυρος ‘cheese’ and Latin obturo ‘to stop up’, from PIE *teuə- ‘to swell’. The –οβιος ending looks like the *uba/*oba ‘water, river’ element discussed here.
Notes: Ptolemy's main source Marinus lived at Tyre (Τυρος), an ancient port in Lebanon, which is also a good parallel, in terms of geography and commercial activity. Two epitaphs from Iberia show a personal name possibly derived from a river *Turobius, for which a good candidate is the modern Douro, also notorious for its river-mouth sandbar. Curds and whey may be an appropriate metaphor for “the notorious Cardigan bar ... a shifting sandbank that sits across the mouth of the estuary ... a challenge for vessels of significant draft, but it also magnifies any groundswell into a series of challenging waves that have caught out many an unwary mariner.” “At the mouth of the Teifi there is a sand bar which makes navigation challenging as it moves constantly.” “Between 1800 and 1910, some 200 ships were wrecked around the entrance to the estuary.”
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Last edited 29 October 2022 to main Menu