AttestedDevionisso at position 10 in the Ravenna Cosmography

Where:  Somewhere in Cornwall, best guess near St Austell, SX055520.  Other candidates include Devoran, well inside Falmouth harbour, towards Truro, and not far from modern Devichoys Wood.  The river Carnon there used to be navigable a long way upstream, into the heart of the Gwennap district where tin and other metals including copper have been assiduously mined since deep in prehistory.  Until 1620, quite large vessels could still go 3 km upstream to Bissoe.

Name origin:  Compare διψα ‘thirst, search for’ plus ωνησις ‘buying’.

Notes:  This analysis discounts Latin devio ‘to deviate’ and deveho ‘to carry away’ as not relevant, along with Cornish devr ‘water’.  It also discounts an ending based on PIE *neigw- ‘to wash’, from which came English nixie ‘water spirit’, Sanskrit nedati ‘to flow’, and Greek νιζω ‘to wash’.  A weak candidate to be Devionisso was near St Michael's Mount, for a portage across to the river Hayle and St Ives.  Notice also Cornwall's rivers formerly called Devy and Dewey (Ekwall (1928:125), which flow ultimately into Padstow Bay.  In mining districts Roman-era river configurations are hard to guess, because such prodigious quantities of mine tailings got displaced into river valleys, as in Roman Spain (Bird, 2004).

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Last edited 1 February 2023     To main Menu.