Attested: Ολικανα, a πολις of the Βριγαντες Ptolemy 2,3,16
Where: Olicana has long been identified with the Roman fort at Ilkley, West Yorkshire, SE11634789, a reasonable fit to Ptolemy's coordinates according to Kleineberg, Marx, and Lelgemann (2012). This was a Roman road junction, on the banks of the river Wharfe (Verbeia), where lead (and silver) could be mined, which was always of interest to the Romans. However, the fort was presumably shadowing some indigenous central place, to fit Ptolemy's πολις, which might fit the fort known as Castleberg, which has been little investigated, but overlooks the river Wharfe from a strong defensive position a mile upstream from Ilkley.
Name origin: A meaning of ‘bendy river’ would be a fair description of the river Wharfe, just as Verbeia possibly meant ‘winding’. Initial Ol- would come from PIE *el- ‘to bend, elbow, forearm’ (with vowel O as in the river Ολινα = Orne, which is a notably bendy river), plus adjectival -ic, plus watery ending -ana.
Notes: This analysis outranks the parallel of Greek ολεκω ‘to ruin, destroy, kill’, which would fit archaeological evidence suggests the fort was twice destroyed by fire. (Many roots of form el- or ol- always need to be considered in old names.)
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Last edited 3 April 2020 To main Menu