Attested:  Ptolemy 2,3,1 Κλωτα estuary;   Tacitus Agricola Clota;   Cled at position 274 in the Ravenna Cosmography
  insula Clota in Hiverione (variant Glota) in the Maritime Itinerary;   Bede Alcluith

Where:  The river Clyde.

Name Origin:  Possibly from PIE *kleuə- ‘to wash’, the root of words such as cloaca ‘drain’, κλυζω ‘to wash away’, κλυδων ‘rough water’, clyse (Somerset dialect) ‘sluice gate’, and probably Irish glais ‘stream’ (as in Glasgow).  Clota survived into Alt Clut (the kingdom of Strathclyde around Dumbarton Rock) and modern Clyde.  More likely is a link with κλωθω ‘to twist; to spin’, because the upper Clyde is distinctively twisty.

Notes:  The Ravenna Cosmography says, near the end: Per quam Scotiam transeunt plurima flumina.  Inter cetera quae dicuntur.  Id est: et Sodisinam. Cled. Terdec.  Richmond & Crawford interpreted that as referring to a river in Ireland, but etsi desinam would be standard Latin for something like ‘although I would close with’ and Terdec is a variant/abbreviated version of tredecim ‘thirteen’.  As it happens, there are 13 historically inhabited islands in the Clyde estuary: Bute, Inchmarnock, Arran, Holy Island, Great Cumbrae, Little Cumbrae, Eilean Dearg, Sanda, Pladda, Davaar, Horse Isle, Lady Isle, and Ailsa Craig.  However, in Ireland Ptolemy named 16 river mouths (possibly those leading to Derry, Coleraine, Belfast, Newry, Dundalk, Drogheda, Dublin, Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Kenmare, Tralee, Limerick, Galway, Sligo, and Ballyshannon), so it is entirely possible that 13 of them were significant harbours known to Roman sailors and would therefore figure on a source map for the Cosmography.

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Last edited 25 November 2022     to main Menu.