Saturday, 27 December 2014

Indian silver coins in Viking-age northern Europe & Britain

The following brief note is concerned with the small number of early medieval silver coins from India that have been found in northern Europe and Britain. Although the numbers of these items are small, with the PAS recording only three from Britain, it can be tentatively suggested that at least some of these coins are likely to be genuine arrivals from India in the early medieval period, rather than simply modern losses by tourists.

The distribution of Indian coins in northern Europe and Britain, along with the mints that produced them (drawn by C. R. Green). Also shown is the Helgö Buddha (found in Sweden), the locations of the mints in Afghanistan and Uzbekistan from which thousands of Islamic dirhams travelled to northern Europe, and the likely route taken by these dirhams and potentially by the Indian coins too.

Indian silver coins of the early medieval period have been found in small quantities at a number of sites in Germany, Poland, Estonia, Russia and Britain. These coins have received relatively little attention, but the evidence we have suggests that the continental coins, at least, were almost certainly fellow travellers with the hundreds of thousands of Islamic silver coins or dirhams that have been found in northern Europe (probably indicative of many millions of Islamic coins originally imported into the region) and whose presence is associated with the Vikings and their trading activities, perhaps primarily the slave-trade. Not only are the Indian coins found in the same areas as the Islamic dirhams are located and along the likely route that the dirhams followed northwards and westwards, but the continental Indian coins shown on the map above also all actually come from hoards of Islamic dirhams, confirming that their presence in northern Europe is indeed part of the same phenomenon as the movement of dirhams into this region.

A silver Indian 'Bull & Horse' coin of the Gandhāra kingdom (now northern Pakistan), dated c. AD 750–1050 and found near Warminster, Wiltshire (image: PAS)

Looking at the Indian coins themselves, it is worth noting in light of their association with Islamic dirhams in northern Europe that the Indian mint producing most of these coins lay immediately to the south-east of the dirham-producing mints of Uzbekistan and Afghanistan, at Ohind (Waihind, also known as Udabhandapura or Hund) in what is now northern Pakistan and was then the Indian Gandhāra kingdom, ruled by the Shahis. Furthermore, both Roman Kovalev and Thomas Noonan have noted that the hoards in which the Indian coins are found all date from the period in which dirhams were becoming increasingly rare, from the mid-tenth century onwards. In such circumstances, they suggest that the presence of Indian silver coins in northern Europe probably represents Central Asian merchants looking further afield for new sources of silver to fund their trade with northern Europe as the Sāmānid dirham supply significantly faltered, with the result that they started to occasionally supplement their silver dirhams with Indian silver coins from the regions that lay to the south-east of the dirham mints. Needless to say, such a scenario seems a credible explanation of the presence of small quantities of early medieval Indian coins in northern Europe and their clear association with Islamic dirhams there, and the notion that early medieval trading networks between northern Europe and Central Asia could indeed sometimes extend down to the Gandhāra region of India is in any case supported by the Helgö Buddha, a sixth-century statue from this area that was found in an eighth-century context in Sweden.

The Helgö Buddha, a sixth-century statue from the Gandhāra region found in Sweden (image: Swedish History Museum, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

If the above is the case for the early medieval Indian silver coins found on the continent, what then of those recorded from Britain? For the most part, there seems little obvious reason to divorce all of the British finds from either the general early medieval context of small numbers of Indian silver coins being found in northern Europe, or the occasional trading links between northern Europe and India (probably via intermediaries) additionally implied by the discovery of the Helgö Buddha in an eighth-century Swedish context. Certainly, Islamic dirhams are known in some numbers from Britain, as was discussed in a previous post, with the vast majority of these dirhams probably finding their way here as part of a westwards extension of the Viking bullion economy of northern Europe. As such, the presence of a few Indian coins in Britain might not be entirely unexpected, given the clear link between finds of dirhams and Indian coins on the continent. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, it is worth noting that two of the three Indian silver coins from Britain recorded on the PAS (the Wiltshire and the Norfolk examples) are both coins of the Gandhāra kingdom and of the 'right' period too, and so would seem to fit easily and naturally into the continental pattern, and the same is true also of another Indian silver coin recorded on the UKDFD as found in Britain, but which lacks a reliable, more specific provenance within the country.

On the other hand, we do still need to exercise caution. First, the three British finds of early medieval silver coins from Gandhāra recorded by the PAS and the UKDFD are single finds rather than constituents of Viking hoards, unlike the Indian coins recorded on the continent, and only one of three coins is known to come from the Danelaw area where dirham finds are concentrated (one of the others being of uncertain British provenance and the other being found in Wiltshire, outside of the Danelaw). However, it is worth remembering here that the reason why all of the continental finds analysed here come from hoards may simply be the fact that only Indian coins found in hoards were catalogued by Kovalev, the source used in creating the above map; there may well be single, non-hoarded finds of Indian coins from the continent too, but any such material has not yet been catalogued or published to my knowledge and so is not included here. Similarly, whilst only one of the coins from Gandhāra has a certain provenance in the area of Britain with the greatest concentration of dirhams, the Danelaw, one of the other two coins from Gandhāra could conceivably have come from this area due to its uncertain British provenance, and while the last was found in Wiltshire, Islamic dirhams are in fact known from this area, albeit in much smaller quantities than is the case in the Danelaw.

An Indian silver coin of the Palas dynasty of Bengal, dated AD 850–988, found near Hastings, East Sussex (image: PAS)

Map of early medieval India, showing the location of various dynasties and empires. The map shows the situation in the period before and around AD 900, but should serve to show the general geographic relationships of the various dynasties. The Shahis of the Gandhāra kingdom, now in northern Pakistan, are marked in the north of the map in the position they occupied in and after c. AD 900, with the location of their capital of Ohind also indicated. The fluctuating areas controlled by the Pratiharas dynasty of Gujarat and the Palas dynasty of Bengal in northern India are also marked (image modified slightly from a CC BY-SA 3.0 licensed map, Wikimedia Commons).

Second, there are a number of early medieval Indian coins found in Britain that are not silver coins of the Gandhāra kingdom of the type and era that appear in Viking-age hoards. It need hardly be said that these finds, which seem to fall outside of the general pattern of trading observable on the continent and have been found singly rather than in hoards, need to be potentially viewed with much more scepticism than those mentioned above, as there must be a significantly greater risk that they are in Britain as a result of eighteenth- to twentieth-century 'tourist' losses. Nonetheless, it is still not impossible that some of these too arrived here via the early medieval Central Asian and Viking trading networks, and consequently details of these finds are provided below.

The first of these coins was found near Chester, on the edge of the Danelaw. It is dated to the early medieval period on the PAS, and described there as an 'unidentified gold stater, possibly Indian or Afghanistan', so perhaps envisaged as being of the Gandhāra kingdom, as this encompassed significant parts of Afghanistan before the start of the tenth century? Given the uncertain identification and the fact that the coin is of gold, not silver, this find obviously needs to be treated with considerable caution. Another find is an Indian silver coin of the Palas dynasty of Bengal, dated AD 850–988, discovered by a metal-detectorist near to Hastings in East Sussex. This coin is not only found well away from the Danelaw, in an area with no known silver dirhams, but it was also issued by a dynasty from a region significantly more distant from the Central Asian trade routes than was Gandhāra. However, as can be seen from the second map included above, the Palas dynasty was not confined to modern Bengal but controlled a significant proportion of northern India at various times in this era, and the coin is of the right material and period. As such, it is not wholly impossible that it might have made its way to Britain as part of the trade process described above, after first being transferred to the Gandhāra kingdom as a result of trading within India.

Finally, two early medieval Indian silver coins of Gujarat are recorded by the UKDFD, one from Bedford (possibly of the eleventh or twelfth century) and another from Southwell, Nottinghamshire (dated broadly to c. AD 470–800). Both are of the right material and found in the Danelaw, where most Islamic dirhams occur, and the Gujarat Pratiharas dynasty certainly ruled on occasion right up to the southern edge of Kashmir, so it is again not entirely impossible that these coins could have been transferred to the Gandhāra kingdom and then moved on north and westwards. However, we do need to be wary with these two coins, particularly as the first coin appears to post-date the silver coins of the Gandhāra kingdom that are found in northern Europe and Britain by a potentially significant amount, and the second coin appears to pre-date them to an equally notable degree. As such, they need to be treated with caution.

The content of this post and page, including any original illustrations, is Copyright © Caitlin R. Green, 2014, All Rights Reserved, and should not be used without permission. 

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The distribution of Islamic dirhams in Anglo-Saxon England

The aim of the following post is simply to share a map that I produced recently whilst looking at some of the Viking-era finds from Torksey in Lincolnshire. The map in question depicts the distribution Islamic dirhams (silver coins) in Anglo-Saxon England and is based on PAS and EMC data collected in December 2014, supplemented by the pre-PAS/EMC finds catalogued by Rory Naismith in 2005—these three sources were then cross-checked against each other and duplicate entries and the like were removed before the map was plotted.

The distribution of Islamic dirhams (silver coins) in Anglo-Saxon England; click for a larger view of this map (drawn by C. R. Green). Also depicted on here are the locations of the few Islamic gold dinars known from Anglo-Saxon England and the location of Torksey, Lincolnshire.

Several points can be briefly made with regard to the distribution of these finds. First and foremost, the distribution of single finds of Islamic dirhams in Anglo-Saxon England is focussed on the Danelaw, and many of the coin found here have been cut, nicked or hacked apart in a manner characteristic of their use as part of the Viking bullion economy. Such a situation is unsurprising—Islamic dirhams are extremely common in Viking-age Russia and Scandinavia, and the vast majority of the coins found in England are very likely to have arrived here via these areas.

An eighth-century Islamic silver dirham found at Fingringhoe, Essex, struck at the Wasit mint in modern Iraq (image: PAS)

A probably ninth-century Islamic silver dirham found at Torksey, cut into a quarter to provide a smaller unit of exchange in a Viking bullion economy (image: PAS).

Locations of the mints that produced the Islamic coins found in Anglo-Saxon England, with an indication of the proportion of the total corpus that came from each mint and the likely route that many of these coins took to reach England (drawn by C. R. Green).

Second, a significant proportion of the single finds of silver dirhams come from a single site, that at Torksey, Lincolnshire—for example, 57 of the 80 Islamic coins recorded by the PAS come from this site, with over 100 known in total from here. The reason for this concentration of finds at Torksey is that the Viking 'Great Army' overwintered at Torksey in 872–3 and the dirhams come from their camp site, which was located on a high cliff overlooking the River Trent and has been thoroughly investigated by metal-detectorists in recent years.

Third and finally, a small number of Islamic gold dinars of the eighth, tenth and eleventh centuries are known from England. These items are much rarer than the silver dirhams and are thought to be indicative of a degree of knowledge of Islamic coinage in Anglo-Saxon England separate to the influx of silver dirhams that came with the Vikings. Perhaps the most eloquent testimony to a pre-Viking Anglo-Saxon knowledge of Islamic coinage is the gold dinar struck by Offa of Mercia in the later eighth century, which closely copied a dinar of the Abbasid caliph al-Mansur struck in AD 773/4. This coin, shown below and procured in Rome in the nineteenth century, is the only surviving example of this issue and may have been one of the 365 mancuses (a word that probably refers to Islamic dinars) that Offa agree to pay to the papacy every year. Alternatively, it may have been produced for use in overseas trade, and in this context it is worth noting that the coin has clearly circulated and is not in mint condition. In either case, its existence necessarily implies the presence of its prototype here and so constitutes additional evidence for the importation of Islamic dinars into pre-Viking England, above and beyond the finds of such coins that have been made here.

An eighth-century coin of Offa, Anglo-Saxon king of Mercia, copied from a gold dinar of the Abbasid caliph Al-Mansur struck in AD 773/4. Note, the legend OFFA REX is upside down relative to the Arabic (image: Wikimedia Commons).

The content of this post and page, including any original illustrations, is Copyright © Caitlin R. Green, 2014, All Rights Reserved, and should not be used without permission. 

Friday, 12 December 2014

Pagan pendants, sceptres, lead tablets & runic inscriptions: some interesting recent finds from Lincolnshire

The following post is intended to highlight some of the more interesting Roman, Anglo-Saxon and Viking artefacts that have been found in Lincolnshire in recent years.

Two pagan Viking pendants from Lincolnshire 

Two interesting Viking pendants have been recovered from Lincolnshire recently. The first of these is a gold Viking pendant in the form of 'Thor's hammer', which dates from around AD 850–950 and was found near to Spilsby in 2013. 'Thor's hammers' are believed to be amuletic pendants which resembled Mjölnir, the hammer of the Norse god Thor, and they have often been considered to reflect a pagan reaction to the spread of Christianity. In addition to the general symbolism of the item, this pendant is interesting in two regards. First, it is made of gold, whereas most known 'Thor's hammers' are made of other metals, notably silver and copper-alloy; in fact, only one other gold example is known from England (from South Lopham, Norfolk). Second, it is decorated with punched motifs resembling quatrefoils or miniature axes, whereas most English examples are plain or only minimally decorated.

A tenth-century, gold Viking pendant in the form of 'Thor's hammer' (image: PAS)

The second pendant was found in 2014 at Wintringham, north Lincolnshire. It is a cast silver pendant with a gilded face that depicts the Norse god Odin and his attendant ravens, Huginn and Muninn ('Thought' and 'Memory'). Odin and his ravens are depicted skeletally, with Odin shown with one sighted and one blind eye, clasping the two birds to his chest whilst they appear to whisper into each of his ears. It has been suggested that this tenth-century pendant 'proudly proclaims a militant paganism' in an era that saw the Christianisation of the Scandinavian inhabitants of the 'Danelaw'. Further, the possibility has been raised that the tripartite grouping of Odin, Huginn and Muninn might be 'a deliberately offensive pastiche of the Christian Trinity or of Christ crucified flanked by thieves', an intent that could also lie behind the resemblance of 'Thor's Hammer' pendants to Christian crucifixes, according to Kevin Leahy (cited in the Portable Antiquities Scheme record).

A cast silver, gilded pendant depicting Odin, Huginn and Muninn (image: PAS)

Some Romano-British sceptres in the form of Mars from Lincolnshire

Four sceptres in the form of the helmeted Roman god Mars have been found in Lincolnshire, three of which are illustrated below (the fourth came from the major Roman settlement at Kirmington, north Lincolnshire, and was published in 1989). Mars seems to have been a popular deity in this region and these four sceptre heads have been associated with two similar Mars sceptre heads recovered from the tomb of a Roman priest at Brough on Humber, East Yorkshire. Furthermore, it has been noted that the Nettleham find was made on land to the east of a probable Romano-British temple or sanctuary. A limestone plaque decorated with Romano-British motifs and bearing the inscription DEO MARTI RIGO/NEMETI ET NVMINI/BVS AVGVSTORVM/ Q NERAT PROXSI/MVS ARCVM DE SVO/ DONAVIT was found here in 1961, which has been translated as meaning 'To the god Mars, King of the Grove, and the divine spirits of the emperors, Quintus Neratius Proximus dedicated this arch at his own expense'. In light of the above, Adam Daubney suggests that the Nettleham sceptre head may have been once part of the priestly regalia associated with the temple here, and a similar suggestion might be appropriate for the other sceptres found in this region too.

A sceptre head in the form of a helmeted Mars and an ox-head spout, found on the important Romano-British site near Lissingleys/Wickenby, discussed in Britons & Anglo-Saxons, pp. 140–5 (image: Britons & Anglo-Saxons, fig. 27; now also at PAS NLM-5FBEB7 & NLM-5DF5D6).

Romano-British copper alloy sceptre terminal in the form of the head of Mars, found at Nettleham (image: PAS)

Romano-British copper alloy sceptre terminal in the form of Mars, found at Wragby (image: PAS)

Late Roman lead tablets from Fulstow

Three rather intriguing drilled lead tablets were recovered from Fulstow in 2007 by a metal-detectorist. One of these was blank, but the other two have negative impressions of a coin of the Roman Emperor Valens (364–78) at their centre. The exact purpose of these items is open to debate, but one credible interpretation is that they were used in the forging of late fourth-century silver coins; alternatively, it has been suggested that they possibly could have been intended as pictorial curse tablets used against the Emperor Valens. The site itself is located on the edge of the Late Roman coastal zone and other finds made from it include some bronze casting waste, a lead ingot, and 38 Roman coins.

A lead tablet containing the impression of a Roman coin of Valens, 364–78 (image: PAS)

A second lead tablet containing the impression of a Roman coin of Valens, 364–78 (image: PAS)

Two runic inscriptions from Lincolnshire

Two items with interesting runic inscriptions have been recovered by metal-detectorists in Lincolnshire. The first is a pair of silver-alloy, eighth- or ninth-century tweezers found at Honington (south Lincolnshire) in 2011. Both arms of the tweezers are inscribed with an Old English runic text, which has been examined and rendered by John Hines:
Side A: + þecblœtsigubilwitfæddæ. Side B: ondwerccagehwelchefænondecla. 
Hines observes that together the texts are remarkably close to a passage of three lines of verse in the Old English poem Azarias (lines 73–5) from the Exeter Book, translated as: Let the glories of the created world and everything made, the heavens and the angels, and the pure water, [and all the power of creation upon Earth], bless Thee, kind Father. These lines, in turn, represent a vernacular paraphrase of part of the 'Book of Daniel' about the three youths in the fiery furnace. The inscription itself is dated to c. 725–825 and the religious character of the inscriptions has led to the suggestion that the item may have had an ecclesiastical purpose, perhaps as tweezers or candle-snuffers used in church rituals.

Detail of the runic inscription on the pre-Viking tweezers from Honington (image: PAS)

The second item is a lead spindle whorl found at Saltfleetby St Clement in 2010. This piece is inscribed with a Norse runic inscription that probably dates from the earlier eleventh century. The text on the wall of whorl reads .oþen.ok.einmtalr.ok.þalfa.þeir., whilst that on the flat face reads ielba.þeruolflt.ok.kiriuesf.. John Hines suggests that the first part can be translated as 'Óðinn and Heimdallr and Þjálfa, they...', whilst the second part is more obscure but seems to carry on ' thee Úlfljótr and....' (the meaning of the last word, kiriuesf, is uncertain). Óðinn and Heimdallr are, of course, major gods of the pre-Christian Viking pantheon, and Þjálfa could be a previously unrecorded feminine counterpart to Þjálfi, a servant-boy of the god Thor known from Old Norse sources. Úlfljótr, in contrast, is a man's name, with the result that the inscription as a whole would appear to represent a simple personal invocation of traditional gods and powers for the support of Úlfljótr, whoever he may have been: 'Óðinn and Heimdallr and Þjálfa, they help thee, Úlfljótr...'. This is naturally of considerable interest, especially given the likely date of the object, and the inscription constitutes important evidence for the persistence of non-Christian cult on the east coast of Lincolnshire into the eleventh century.

The lead spindle whorl from Saltfleetby St Clement, view of the flat face and side (image: PAS)

The lead spindle whorl from Saltfleetby St Clement, view of the side and conical area (image: PAS)

Original content on this post and page is copyright © Caitlin R. Green, 2014. This post also contains text sourced and adapted from the Portable Antiquities Scheme website (licensed under a Creative Commons CC-BY 3.0 license) and images from this site too (licensed under a Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0 licence).

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The Anglo-Saxon trading-site at Garwick: a brief update

The pre-Viking, fen-edge trading site at Garwick in southern Lincolnshire—'the wīc (trading site) on a triangular piece of land' or 'belonging to *Gæra'—was discussed at length in Britons and Anglo-Saxons, especially at pp. 191–4, 197–200. As was noted there, this highly productive site has produced a very significant quantity of material, including a sixth-century 'Pressblech' Style I die and other early Anglo-Saxon artefacts, a large number of late sixth- to seventh-century continental gold coins or tremisses, and the largest non-hoarded group of Middle Saxon coins in England after that recovered from Hamwic (Southampton).

A continental gold tremissis, dated 600–675, found at this site (image: PAS LIN-B70DC6)

Needless to say, a full analysis of Garwick is beyond the scope of the present post. The site is clearly extremely significant and, as noted above, an extended discussion of it is available in Britons and Anglo-Saxons, with a standalone publication envisaged in due course. The current piece is instead simply intended to revise and update the find totals reported in Britons and Anglo-Saxons in light of new finds over the last few years. The latter publication noted that, as of 2009, around 160 late seventh- to mid-eighth-century sceattas had been found at the site, in addition to other types including a mid-seventh-century gold shilling, thirteen tremisses, and a gold blank flan. As of December 2014, these figures have increased so that approximately 195 sceattas are now known from Garwick; an additional three tremisses have come to light too, taking the total of these to 16 (plus the gold shilling and a gold blank flan). 

The sixth-century, ‘Pressblech’ Style I die from this site, used for making foil mounts (image: Britons and Anglo-Saxons, fig. 37; PAS LIN-4F6CE7)

A silver sceat from this site, series G (Quentovic), c. 710–20 (image: PAS LIN-DED9E4)

The content of this post and page, including any original illustrations, is Copyright © Caitlin R. Green, 2014, 2019, All Rights Reserved, and should not be used without permission. It also includes images from the Portable Antiquities Scheme/The Trustees of the British Museum, licensed under a Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0 licence.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Villas and ranches on the late Roman Lincolnshire Wolds: the Welton le Wold villa and its landscape context

The following brief post is concerned with the significant Roman villa that was located at Welton le Wold, Lincolnshire, on a spot with good views out over Louth to the Lincolnshire Marshes and coast beyond.

St James's Church, Louth, as seen from close to the villa site on the hilltop at Welton le Wold, with the Lincolnshire Marshes lying beyond (photo: C. R. Green).
The Welton le Wold villa has been discussed in print previously in Lincolnshire's Archaeology from the Air (1998) and my Origins of Louth (2011), and is evidenced via a combination of cropmarks/soilmarks, chance finds recovered from walking the site, and metal-detecting. The crop and soilmarks, which Jones identifies as a villa complex, extend over an area of 650m by 300m—see illustration, below—and are centred on a large rectangular enclosure that measures 200m by 100m, within which there was a sizeable, double-ditched open D-shaped enclosure. Associated finds recorded by Dilwyn Jones and the Historic Environment Record include Romano-British pottery, oyster shell and possible tile (the latter a rare find in eastern Lincolnshire and indicating the presence of a Romanized building). In addition, further material has been recovered from the villa site in recent years by a metal-detectorist, although the site is now apparently impossible to detect on due to contamination.

A Roman silver Siliqua, probably unclipped, of Valentinian I (364-375), found at the Welton le Wold villa site (image: PAS).

Confusingly, the metal-detected material has been recorded on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database under a variety of grid-references and parish locations, but the detectorist who found the artefacts has confirmed in writing that all of the following finds actually came from the site of the villa (see the gazetteer to Origins of Louth, p. 148). The Romano-British material he recovered from this site consists of a number of first- to second-century items—including brooches and a button & loop fastener—and over 300 bronze and silver Roman coins, primarily belonging to the third and, especially, the fourth century. Needless to say, this is a very significant quantity of coinage for this part of Lincolnshire, with coin concentrations here being otherwise thin, rarely reaching into double figures. Perhaps most important of all, however, is his find of an important silver British proto-handpin of the later fourth or fifth century. Although given a general 'Welton' location by the PAS, it too was recovered from the villa site. Such silver pins are very rare indeed and its presence here would seem to confirm that there were high-status Britons living at the Welton le Wold villa site at the end of the Roman period.

A silver and niello proto-handpin from Welton le Wold, found on the villa  site (image: Green, Origins of Louth, fig. 28)

The distribution of 'Insular Military-Style silver pins', drawn by C. R. Green after Gavin, 2013; click for a larger version of the image (map contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011).

With regard to landscape context of the Welton villa, two aspects deserve comment. First and foremost is the fact that the villa appears to be part of a larger Romano-British cropmark landscape, running for around 2km from Welton to the prehistoric Bluestone Heath ridgeway. The image below shows the location of two of the other key features in this landscape. The most westerly of these is a 'ladder enclosure', a form of large rectilinear enclosure with regular internal divisions that is found associated with villas and small Roman 'towns' in Lincolnshire. The other is an extensive, irregularly shaped group of rectilinear cropmarks located to the south-west of the villa site, covering an area 500m by 400m. This expanse of cropmarks has produced a Romano-British quern stone, samian ware and third- to fourth-century pottery, and has been interpreted by Jones as a potential dependent village associated with the Welton villa estate.

The second thing to note with regard to the landscape context of the Welton villa is the apparent lack of a cropmark arable field-system accompanying the villa and the potential dependent village. Such a lack of evidence for an associated arable field-system is, in fact, replicated around the other known Romano-British settlements on the Lincolnshire Wolds and is intriguing, as is the presence of a large double-ditched, non-defensive enclosure at Welton, which is probably best interpreted as a feature associated with stock control or stock rearing. Needless to say, the occurrence of this feature alongside the lack of an accompanying arable field system has been seen as evidence that the Lincolnshire Wolds in the Roman period was largely an open range, with villas such as that at Welton le Wold functioning principally as a stock farms or ranches within this landscape.

The general location of the Welton le Wold villa and associated Romano-British landscape features, including a possible dependent village to its south-west: click image for a larger version of this plan. Base image © 2014 Google; red shading reflects Romano-British landscape features, based on D. Jones, 'Romano-British Settlements on the Lincolnshire Wolds', in R. H. Bewley (ed.), Lincolnshire's Archaeology from the Air (Lincoln, 1998), pp. 69–80 at p. 74, and cropmarks visible on the Google aerial photograph.

The content of this post and page, including any original illustrations, is Copyright © Caitlin R. Green, 2014, All Rights Reserved, and should not be used without permission.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

What actually fell in 476?

I wrote the following many moons ago, but was reminded of it whilst reading a recent blog-post on the significance of AD 476. I'm posting it now just for the sake of interest—needless to say, this isn't a topic covered in my main research, nor something that I've looked into much in recent years! 

'The Roman Empire fell in 476', or something similar, is a phrase which often finds its way into popular history books, but there are many different interpretations as to what this means. Indeed, in order to fully understand what actually 'fell' in 476, we need to ask both what didn't fall then and what had already fallen before this date.

The Western and Eastern Roman Empires after c.AD 395 (source: Wikimedia Commons).

First and foremost, it does need to be remembered that a general belief that the Roman Empire fell in 476 can only ever work if one is willing to forget that the empire had been intermittently split into two halves ever since the later third century and that the eastern halfbased at Constantinoplecontinued in existence for nearly another 1000 years up to its final destruction in 1453. Although this 'Eastern Roman Empire' is known to most modern scholarship as the 'Byzantine Empire', this name was first coined in the mid-sixteenth century: in the medieval period it was usually known as the Imperium Romanorum, 'the Empire of the Romans', or Rhomania, 'the land of the Romans'. Indeed, in the Middle Ages the 'Byzantines' were usually considered by both themselves and outsiders to be quite simply Rhomaioi, 'Romans', living in Rhomania under an emperor whose official title was the Basileus ton Rhomaion, 'Emperor of the Romans'. In consequence, any claim that the Roman Empire as a whole ended in 476 is completely without foundation in face of the continuing imperial presence in Constantinople.

An animated gif of the varying extent of the 'Byzantine Empire', AD 476–1400 (source: Wikimedia Commons).

Given that a general notion that the Roman Empire ended in 476 cannot be sustained, what of a more specific one referring only to the end of Western Roman Empire? Can it be said that 476 was a key date in the end of a 'Romanised' western Europe and the fall of the Western Empire? Certainly with regards to the former point, the answer is probably no, 476 signified little in terms of the Roman 'character' of western Europe. Italy provides an obvious case study in this context, particularly during the time of Theoderic (AD 493–526). Here, in the ancient core of the Western Roman Empire, there remained strong ties to the Roman past through the later fifth and sixth centuries. Although political power had passed to the Ostrogoths, the administrative and taxation systems continued to be run by Romans in the Roman manner, and Roman judicial arrangements continued for the non-Gothic element of the population. Indeed, Theoderic appears to have adopted a deliberately Roman style of rule, with the resumption of the supply of corn to the masses and programs of reconstruction and rebuilding of public works such as bath-houses. In other words, the Italian state remained essentially Roman in structure and character, with the native population retaining its Roman culture; moreover, the 'barbarian' Goths actually became Romanised themselves over time, adopting Roman customs, language and religion.

The mausoleum of Theoderic at Ravenna in the nineteenth century (Photo by Fratelli Alinari, c.1865–95)

Something similar appears to be the case with respect to the fifth- and sixth-century Visigothic kingdoms in Gaul and Spain. In Gaul, it has been argued that the Visigoths were settled directly onto the land and simply took over the empire's role in this area along with all of the governmental structures that this implies, with the result that Roman administration and aristocratic life and culture (including schools of higher education) was allowed to continue with free relations to the outside world, as witnessed by Gallo-Roman letter-writers such as Sidonius Apollinaris. In Spain, the Visigothic 'barbarian' successor state was even more 'Roman' in character than that in southern Gaul, due to the fact that, up until the 490s, the Visigoths didn't settle in this region but instead merely administered and garrisoned it. As Roger Collins has observed, the Visigoths effectively took over the role of the Praetorian Prefect and the Master of the Soldiers in Spain, leaving the rest of the society relatively untouched. Such continuity was not, of course, the case throughout the whole Western Empire—other areas, such as northern Gaul and Britain, exhibited far fewer Roman administrative and cultural features from the middle of the fifth century onwards. However, this only reinforces the core point, namely that there is no real evidence that 476 represented an unusually important date from the perspective of Roman-style governance and culture. Put simply, in Britain and northern Gaul the Roman administrative system and culture had already disappeared or declined severely by 476, whilst in Italy and Spain it seems to have continued to be a real force for many years after this date.

The question must therefore be, was 476 at least a key date in the fall of the Western Roman Empire as a political unit? The evidence here is a little more promising, as in 476 Italy itself ceased to be 'part' of the Western Roman Empire and instead became a 'barbarian' kingdom under Odovacer. If we are to pursue this line of reasoning, however, we must acknowledge that it was not until 480 that the Western Empire can officially be said to have fallen, as up until this point Julius Nepos continued to live as Western Emperor in Dalmatiaonly when this had ceased would the Eastern Emperor would recognise that the Western Roman Empire had truly fallen. Similarly we cannot say that the Roman Empire in the West fell around this date, as the 'barbarian' kingdoms remained, in theory at least, part of the Roman Empire. The creation of 'barbarian' kingdoms was seen as merely the delegation of practical authority in the areas of administration and defence to Imperial appointeesit was not seen as 'giving away' portions of the empire, and the Imperium Romanorum fully expected to be able to take back this delegated authority when it wished to do so (as in the case of the Visigoths, when Aëtius decided to try to do just this). Moreover, though the Western Empire may have ended, from the point of view of the Eastern Roman Empire, this merely meant that the Roman Empire was reunified and that the emperor in Constantinople 'inherited' all the theoretical rights that had belonged to the Western Emperor. The result of this is that, even though the unit known as the 'Western Empire' had ended, the 'successor' states continued to be, in constitutional theory, constituent elements of the Roman Empire. Thus, for example, Odovacer ruled Italy as a theoretical subject of the Eastern Emperor, Zeno (who made him a patrician), and Clovis, the king of the Franks in Gaul, apparently accepted the consulship from Emperor Anastasius in 508.

So, the Roman Empire certainly didn't cease to exist in 476, Roman-style governance and culture didn't suddenly disappear, and even the territory of the Western Roman Empire continued to betheoreticallyunder imperial jurisdiction. Nonetheless, 476 still has a modicum of legitimacy as a notional end-point, at least for the Western Roman Empire as distinct political unit, as after this date even Italy was no longer under its control. However, even here there are questions, not least whether the Western Roman Empire still existed in any meaningful form up until 476, or if it was just as ephemeral before Odovacer's conquest of Italy as the post-476 claims of imperial authority over the West were.

A solidus of Odovacer struck in the name of the Emperor Zeno, testifying to the formal submission of Odovacer to Zeno (source: Wikimedia Commons)

There are really two questions that must be answered in relation to the pre-476 Western Roman Empire. The first of these is, quite simply, how significant was the Western Empire in the years before 476? In the fourth century there seems to be very little evidence for any change in the nature of Roman power, rule or security; the army was still strong and the much-discussed 'barbarian' invasions posed very little problem for them except in times of civil-war. So, for example, the civil wars of 350–53 led to the abandonment of all the frontier forts north of Mainz with result that the Franks and the Alamanni invaded; nonetheless, the continuing strength of the Roman army was such that, once the internal difficulties were resolved, these 'barbarian' invasions were successfully dealt with. Indeed, for the most part the 'barbarian' incursions took the form of small-scale raids rather than invasions, and in 367 and 369 the Empire was able to lead armies in an offensive against the Goths.

By the fifth century, however, this situation had changed dramatically. The first indications of a change comes with the entry of the Visigoths into Roman territory in the late 370s, which seems to have taken the form of a full-scale tribal migration and attempt at settlement, rather than a transient raid. In the early fifth century such a situation becomes almost commonplace, with the Roman Empire seeing massive incursions into its territory by invading and migrating groups of 'barbarians', which far surpassed anything that the army had had to deal with previously. As to why this sudden change in the nature of the 'barbarian menace' occurred, Peter Heather has argued persuasively that the answer lies with the Huns. The Roman army seems to have been able to deal effectively with the 'barbarians' previously because they were usually raiders rather than settlers who were not united, attacking piecemeal. As such they presented the Empire with a manageable problem. The threat of the Huns seems, however, to have 'united' the 'barbarians' in a common causeto get away from the Huns by moving permanently within the borders of the Roman Empireand this meant that the advantage that the imperial army had previously enjoyed had ceased to exist.

Attila the Hun meeting Pope Leo, from a fourteenth-century miniature (source: Wikimedia Commons)

The result of this was that the Roman army was overwhelmed and alternative solutions other than the simple application of force had to be used in order to 'solve' these problems. Now the usual policy became one of calming the situation whilst, at the same, time saving face until arrangements could be made to deal with the 'barbarians' from a stronger position. So, in 418 a settlement was reached with the Visigoths that delegated political control of southern Gaul to them as 'political appointees' and then, over the next few decades, the Empire attempted to wrest this delegated control back. This would seem to be a sensibleand the only really viablepolicy given the situation, but it suffered from a continuity in Roman obsessions. In the fourth century, the Roman generals and rulers had usually preferred to deal with internal problems and struggles first before dealing with any 'barbarian' troubles, with (for example) the Frankish and Alamannic invasions left unchecked until internal hostilities had been resolved. Unfortunately, this ordering of priorities was retained despite the changed tactical situation. The result of this was that, whilst the Roman generals conducted their internal power struggles, the 'barbarians' secured their hold on the territories they had taken control of, including the economically vital province of Africa, which passed into the hands of the Vandals in the 430s. As a direct consequence of this situation, the Empire suffered a major decline in revenues, which meant that it was increasingly unable to support its army and was, therefore, increasingly incapable of retaking its 'delegated' territories as it intended toindeed, by the 450s there seems to have been no military force available to even protect Italy from the invading Huns.

The above description makes the nature of pre-476 rule appear to be much like that after 476, particularly from the 440s onwards when the aftershock of the loss of Africa starts really to be felt. This is not, of course, entirely true, as Rome and its empire still seem to have been important in and of itself to the 'barbarians' in this period, whilst after 476 it could be argued that the 'barbarians' found it merely convenient to subscribe to the myth of continuing Roman rule in the West as a way of legitimising their own rule. What we see is perhaps better characterised as a gradual decline throughout the fifth century from direct imperial control to increasing 'delegation' and eventual insignificance. Up to the 450s Rome still seems to have been respected and the focus of provincial loyalties, but its impotence in the face of the Huns led to attitudes slowly changing. After Aëtius's death, the Visigoths felt bold enough to sponsor their own Emperor (Avitus) and there is evidence of increasing numbers of Gallo-Romans switching allegiance away from Rome towards the Visigoths, who were obviously seen as being politically more significant than the Western Roman Empire in mid-fifth-century Gaul. By the 470s, it was deemed more advantageous for Ricimer's nephew and successor to compete for the control of the 'barbarian' Burgundian kingdom than to stay and support the puppet emperor Glycerius that he himself had set up, and in 475 Euric the Visigoth ignores the remnants of the Empire in favour of conquering Spain and Gaul. The polity that 'fell' in 476 thus cannot really be said to be any more than a pale shadow of what the Western Roman Empire had been. It was no longer a military power and it was of little importance beyond the use of its titles in legitimizing 'barbarian' rulethe Western Roman Empire's rule had become an anachronism and can probably be said to have been over for some time before Odovacer took control of Italy.

A coin of Glycerius, Western Roman Emperor from 473–4 (source: Wikimedia Commons)

Secondly, we must ask what was the nature of the Western Roman Empire itself? This is partly answered by the aboveit was an anachronism that seems to have been, in reality, dead for sometimebut we ought also to recall that part of the fundamental character of the Roman Empire was that it was ruled by an emperor who controlled the military forces and therefore the means of power. Indeed, many Roman emperors, including Constantine the Great, gained their position by rebelling against an existing emperor with the backing of a large number of troops, who then elevated them to the imperial throne. In the Western Roman Empire, however, there seems to have been an alteration to this basic definition of power within the state from the late fourth century onwards, with power devolving to the generals without the need for them to become emperor.

This process started with the reform of the army by Diocletian, who gave the command of frontier armies increasingly to professional soldiers instead of civilian provincial governors. This reform was then carried further by Constantine and his successors, who created a new, mobile army that wasn't linked to the frontiers and the high command of which was reorganised, with the civilian Praetorian Prefect's military authority being transferred to a Master of Cavalry (Magister equitum) and a Master of Infantry (Magister peditum). This did produce a more efficient army, but it also gave far more power to the generals too. In the Eastern Roman Empire this was less of a problem, as it was the seat of the 'senior' Emperor, who kept direct control of his forces. The Western Empire, however, was a different matter, as it was the seat of the 'junior' Emperor who was usually young, weak or weakened so as to prevent challenges to the Eastern Emperor's authority. Hence, for example, Valentinian II acted as a puppet for Emperor Theodosius, who separated the imperial person in the West from his military forces by giving control of the field army to General Arbogast. Needless to say, this was a very significant event. From this point, the Western Empire saw a series of 'military dictators' who held the real power, most notably Stilicho in the late fourth and early fifth centuries and Aëtius and Ricimer in the early to mid-fifth century. Indeed, the fact that these generals saw their position as preferable to that of the actual Western Emperor becomes increasingly obvious over this period. Arbogast, after the death of Valentinian II, raised Eugenius to the imperial rank in the West rather than himself; Stilicho was happy to remain as commander of the field armies rather than to depose the young Emperor Honorius; and from the 450s puppet emperors, set up by the generals, become very common indeed. In other words, in the Western Empire, men who would have in previous generations sought to make themselves emperor were now more often than not satisfied to remain generals in control of the military, rather than become the head of state.

A copy of an ivory diptych of Stilicho, right, and his family, carved c. AD 395 (source: Wikimedia Commons)

The inference to be taken from the above is, of course, that the rank of Roman emperor was no longer desirable in the West for most potential candidates, and that it was increasingly associated with weakness and puppet government. Power in the Western Empire rested rather with the man who controlled the armed forces, the Master of the Soldiers. Indeed, by the time we reach the 470s it becomes clear that these 'military dictators' no longer even feel a debt of loyalty to their puppet head of states. Gundobad, for example, was a Master of the Soldiers who installed the Emperor Glycerius on the throne, but in 473 he abandoned the Western Empire in order to compete for the control of the Burgundian kingdom. Not only was the de facto ruler of the Western Empire not the emperor, but the 'Master of the Soldiers' was only interested in his own power by this point—when the Western Empire became effectively irrelevant in contemporary politics, it was simply abandoned in favour of more advantageous posts.

In light of the above, we are in a position to answer the question of 'What actually fell in 476?'. It was not the basic governmental and cultural features of the Roman Empire in the West, which in some areas had disappeared long before and in others would survive for several generations; it was not the Imperium Romanorum itself, which continued to be based at Constantinople for nearly another 1000 years; and it was not the legal theory of Roman authority over the West, which seems to have been maintained by both the emperors in Constantinople and the 'barbarian' rulers of western Europe. What 'fell' in 476 was merely the political structure known as the Western Roman Empire, and even this had arguably 'fallen' many years previously. The Western Empire of 476 bore little resemblance to the polity that bore this name in the fourth century—it had very little power and virtually no influence; it was restricted to a few core areas; and its de facto ruler was the 'Master of the Soldiers', not the Western Roman Emperor. In other words, all that seems to have actually ended in 476 was the fiction that the Western Roman Empire still existed in any meaningful form whatsoever.

The content of this post and page, including any original illustrations, is Copyright © Caitlin R. Green, 2014, All Rights Reserved, and should not be used without permission.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

A 'Sorcerer's Stronghold' in Anglo-Saxon Nottinghamshire: Teversal, Sherwood... & Tolkien's Dol Guldur?

A previous post on this site looked at Teversham in Cambridgeshire (Teuresham in 1086), which is best interpreted as an early Anglo-Saxon place-name meaning 'the estate of the sorcerer', 'sorcerer' probably being the original sense of Old English *tēafrere/*tīefrere. Needless to say, such an origin is rather intriguing. Teversham does not, however, stand alone, and the following note is intended to examine the meaning and possible literary influence of another place-name that is believed to derive from the same first element as Teversham.

The location of Teversal, shown against a map of modern Nottinghamshire. Image drawn by C. R. Green, using a Creative Commons map from Wikimedia, contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2010; an approximate depiction of the extent of the medieval Sherwood Forest is also included, based on its extent in 1600 and the recorded medieval boundaries.

The place in question is Teversal, which is a village near to Mansfield (Nottinghamshire) that lay on the western edge of the medieval Sherwood Forest. Early forms of the name include Tevreshalt and Tevershald (1086), which seem to reflect the same first element as Teversham plus a different second element.(1) In the case of Teversham, the second element is Old English hām, 'estate or homestead', whereas in Teversal it appears to be Old English (ge)heald, Anglian hald, 'protection', probably here having the concrete sense of a 'stronghold' or 'refuge'.(2) As such, one credible interpretation of the name Teversal is that it originally meant 'the sorcerer's stronghold' and/or 'refuge'!

Such an explanation of the place-name Teversal naturally raises all sorts of interesting questions, although it does need to be recognised that other interpretations of the name are possible. For example, whilst the suffix in the name Teversham—Old English hām—suggests that the Cambridgeshire place-name is likely to date from the early Anglo-Saxon period and so was probably coined at a time when Old English *tēafrere/*tīefrere still retained its original sense of 'sorcerer', rather than the later secondary sense of 'painter', the situation is not so clear with regard to Teversal.(3) Anglian hald lacks such generally agreed chronological implications as hām and so the name Teversal could have been coined rather later than Teversham is usually believed to have been—consequently, a meaning of 'painter', rather than 'sorcerer', for the first element is perhaps more plausible for the Nottinghamshire name than it is for Teversham. Nonetheless, despite such concerns, Ekwall, Watts and other commentators clearly consider that a reading of Teversal as 'the sorcerer's stronghold' is still perfectly acceptable.(4)

If we thus have potential place-name evidence for an Anglo-Saxon 'sorcerer's stronghold' (and/or 'refuge') that was located on what was the western edge of one of the great forests of medieval legend, Sherwood, what else can we say about this? Whilst we cannot now know what real-life context lay behind the coining of such a name, I have to say that I find it a little difficult not to think of J. R. R. Tolkien's Dol Guldur when considering the above etymology for Teversal! For example, just as Teversal can be read as 'the sorcerer's stronghold', so too is Dol Guldur described in The HobbitThe Lord of the Rings and Unfinished Tales as a 'dark tower' of a 'black sorcerer', the 'dark hold' of 'the Necromancer', 'the stronghold of the Enemy in the North', and 'the first stronghold of Sauron'. In other words, 'the sorcerer's stronghold' is a description that would fit Dol Guldur very well, and Tolkien does, in fact, use the relatively rare and archaic Modern English form of Old English (ge)heald, Anglian hald, to refer to this fortress in The Hobbit when he calls Dol Guldur a 'dark hold'!(5) Similarly, both Teversal and Dol Guldur are located on or near to the western edge of great legendary forests, Sherwood in the case of Teversal, Mirkwood in the case of Dol Guldur, with the name of the latter reflecting, for Tolkien, Old English mirce, 'darkness, mirk', a word that is identical in form to Old English Mirce, 'the Mercians', within whose kingdom Sherwood Forest was once located.(6) And, finally, just as Teversal might be read as either 'the sorcerer's stronghold' or 'the sorcerer's refuge', so too is it clear that Dol Guldur was both a stronghold and a place of refuge for its master. It was to here, after all, that the 'dark sorcerer'—Sauron, the Necromancer—retreated and where he lay hidden for many years, in order that he might regain his 'shape and power' in secrecy after his defeat by the Last Alliance at the end of the Second Age (e.g. Lord of the Rings, Book 2, chapter II).

This could, of course, all be mere coincidence, but it is diverting to wonder if this is necessarily the case. After all, Tolkien was a gifted philologist and Anglo-Saxonist, plus he had an aunt in Nottinghamshire, Jane Neave, with whom he stayed for a formative period in 1914.(7) In such circumstances, it is tempting to speculate—and speculate is very much the word here!—that a knowledge of Teversal as a potential 'sorcerer's stronghold' and/or 'refuge' on the edge of Sherwood Forest might have contributed to Tolkien's concept of Dol Guldur as a sorcerer's stronghold near the western edge of Mirkwood. Whilst Ekwall didn't publish his etymology of Teversal until 1936—only a year before The Hobbit appeared—he and Tolkien were professional colleagues who knew each other and, as such, it is by no means impossible that Tolkien might have encountered Ekwall's etymology sufficiently long before its publication to have been influenced by it when working on The Hobbit, although the case obviously cannot be proven at present.(8)


1    E. Ekwall, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names, 4th edn (Oxford, 1960), p. 464; V. Watts, The Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names (Cambridge, 2004), p. 605.
2    E. Ekwall, Studies in English Place-Names (Stockholm, 1936), pp. 54–5; Ekwall, Oxford Dictionary, p. 464; A. H. Smith, English Place-Name Elements (Cambridge, 1956), vol. 1, p. 222.
3    On the development of the first element in the names Teversham and Teversal, see the previous post on Teversham and Watts, Cambridge Dictionary, p. 604. On the dating of hām names, see, for example, B. Cox, 'The significance of the distribution of English place-names in -hām in the Midlands and East Anglia', Journal of the English Place-Name Society, 5 (1972–3), 15–73, and J. Insley, 'Siedlungsnamen §2. Englische', Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde, 28 (2005), 344–53, especially pp. 346–7.
4    Ekwall, Studies, p. 55; Ekwall, Oxford Dictionary, p. 464; A. D. Mills, A Dictionary of English Place-Names (Oxford, 1991), p. 323; Watts, Cambridge Dictionary, p. 605.
5    W. G. Hammond & C. Scull, The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion (London, 2005), pp. 237, 310—see J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit (London, 1937), chapters 1 and 19; J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring (London, 1954), Book 2, chapter ii; J. R. R. Tolkien, Unfinished Tales (London, 1980), p. 280, n. 12. On 'hold' and Old English (ge)heald/Anglian hald, see Oxford English Dictionary, 'hold, n.1'.
6    See the map of Mirkwood included in The Lord of the Rings. On Tolkien's Mirkwood and its roots, see P. Gilliver et al (eds.), The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford, 2006), p. 165; Hammond & Scull, Reader's Companion, pp. 12–13; J. Evans, 'Mirkwood', in M. D. C. Drout (ed.), J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment (New York, 2007), pp. 429–30; T. Shippey, 'Tolkien, medievalism, and the philological tradition', in I. Moskowich-Spiegel & B. Crespo-García (eds.), Bells Chiming from the Past: Cultural and Linguistic Studies on Early English (Amsterdam & New York, 2007), pp. 265–79 at p. 277; and J. R. R. Tolkien, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún (London, 2009), pp. 227–8. See also J. Bosworth, An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, ed. T. N. Toller (Oxford, 1898), p. 689.
7    C. Duriez, 'Neave, Jane', in M. D. C. Drout (ed.), J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment (New York, 2007), p. 455; on Tolkien as a philologist and Anglo-Saxonist, see for example Gilliver et al, Ring of Words, and T. Shippey, The Road to Middle-Earth, 2nd edn (London, 1992).
8    On Tolkien and Ekwall, see for example Tolkien's reviews of some of Ekwall's key works in the 1920s and his role as a signatory to the introductory note included in the 1942 Festschrift in honour of Ekwall's sixty-fifth birthday: S. B. Liljegren & J. Melander (eds.), A Philological Miscellany Presented to Eilert Ekwall (Uppsala, 1942). The etymology for Teversal discussed here was published in Ekwall's 1936 Studies in English Place-Names, pp. 54–5, and also presumably in the 1936 first edition of Ekwall's Oxford Dictionary (it appears on p. 464 of my fourth edition, published in 1960). Note, whilst Tolkien's Guldur, 'sorcery, dark sorcery' (Hammond & Scull, Reader's Companion, p. 237) does not resemble Old English tēafor/*tēafrere, 'sorcery/sorcerer', in form, it does resemble another Old English word that relates to magic and magical practices, galdor, 'an incantation' (cf. Old Norse galdr): Bosworth & Toller, Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, p. 359.

The content of this post and page, including any original illustrations, is Copyright © Caitlin R. Green, 2014, All Rights Reserved, and should not be used without permission.