AttestedOlenaco or Elenaco in the Notitia Dignitatum

Where:  The Notitia lists this between Bremetenraco (almost certainly Ribchester) and Virosido (probably Bainbridge).  Rivet & Smith cautiously suggested the Roman fort at Elslack, at SD92474944, near Skipton, which seems plausible, though Ptolemy's Ριγοδουνον competes to claim that site.

Name origin:  Greek ωλενη ‘elbow’ would fit the way that the Roman road across England from Ribchester to York executes an elbow-shaped bend in the vicinity of Skipton.  PIE el- led also to Latin ulna, Old Irish uilen, Old English eln, etc.  The -acum part, seen also in Eburacum and Bremetenacum, is usually interpreted as an adjectival ending, rather like -ic in English, referring to people who lived in an area.

Notes:  This analysis rejects a remarkable number of other potential meanings for initial Ole-.  They include at least four more PIE roots of form *al- or *ol-, though PIE *ol- ‘beyond’ (as in ultra, alien, Allemand, etc) may be related.  Delamarre (2003) saw Gaulish *ollos meaning ‘great’, like Old Irish oll or ‘all’ like Welsh oll, in 40 or so ancient personal names.  Then Latin offers olea ‘olive’, oleo ‘to smell’, -oleo ‘to grow’, olla ‘pot’, olor ‘swan’, or olyra ‘spelt-like grain’.  See also about Olerica, Olcaclavis and Ολικανα.

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Last edited 7 April 2020     To main Menu