AttestedClavinio at position 29 in the Ravenna Cosmography

Where:  Probably lost to the sea in Somerset, off the Steart Peninsula, in Bridgwater Bay, at about ST2747.  Its position in the Cosmography's sequence of names narrows down the location.  Coastlines around the Severn Estuary have changed by hundreds of metres since Roman times.

Name origin:  PIE *klau- ‘hook, peg’ led to Latin clavis ‘key’ and clava ‘knotty branch’, plus English claw, close, etc.  The closest parallel is actually Olcaclavis in a similar coastal setting near Lindisfarne.  Notice how the modern name Steart, from a Germanic word for ‘tail’, essentially translates the earlier name.  In Latin -inium was a common noun ending, seen particularly on towns, such as Londinium.

Notes:  See the general discussion of ancient names in Somerset here.  This analysis rejects as parallels Latin glaeba ‘land, soil’ and words such as clay, cleave, and clump, probably descended from a PIE extended root *gleibh- ‘to stay stuck’.  Modern Clavelshay is not relevant, most likely named from Domesday landlord Walter de Claville.

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Last edited 21 April 2020     to main Menu.