AttestedLucotion at position 170 in the Ravenna Cosmography

WhereGlenlochar fort and camps at NX73516452 beside the river Dee, upstream from Kirkcudbright, and near the hillfort of Carse Moat, on the grounds that the Cosmography lists Lucotion between Uxela (near Caerlaverock) and Corda (Kirkcudbright).

Name Origin:  PIE *leuk- ‘light, bright’ seems to have been applied to places with a wide lookout, especially over estuaries with lots of sand, including Λουκοπιβια, nearby at Wigtown.  Modern flood risk maps show that Glenlochar is on a slight ridge of dry land, with a large expanse of flat farmland to the south-west, which might have been semi-permanently flooded in Roman times.  However, it now seems better to follow Delamarre (2018) in thinking that *luco- meant ‘lynx’.  All the Germanic languages have words for wild cats, derived from *luhsaz and presumed to be named from the brightness of cats' eyes, but modern English has replaced the native word with lynx from Latin, taken from Greek λυγχ.  Celtic languages have shifted their related words to a meaning of ‘mouse’ (Welsh llygod, Irish luch).  The -otion part resembles Greek ωτιον and the lynx is famous for the tufts on its ears.

Notes:  The lynx is native to much of northern and mountainous Europe, including Britain until a few centuries ago, and would almost certainly have been common in this part of Scotland in Roman times.  Glenlochar was where the east-west Roman road, essentially from Carlisle towards Galloway and Ireland, intersected a north-south route penetrating by water deep into south-west Scotland from the Solway estuary.  Near Glenlochar is a modern barrage across the river Dee, which has created Loch Ken upstream, and whatever structure the Romans constructed to cross the river might have also served to raise the level of the Dee upstream to improve Roman logistics into the hinterland.  See here for a discussion of all Roman names in this area north of the Solway.

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Last edited 30 May 2023     to main Menu