Encyclopédie Marikavel / Jean-Claude Even

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Cenio ?

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* forum du site Marikavel : Academia Celtica

dernière mise à jour 17/09/2009 13:45:58



jean-claude Even


Extrait de Ordnance Survey : Map of Roman Britain.

Les sources de la Kenwyn et de ses affluents sont pointés de vert Mammoù ar rinier Kenwyn hag hi eil-sterioù a zo merket e gwer


Étude étymologique :

* Rivet & Smith, p. 306-307 :



- Ptolemy II, 3, 3 : Keniwnos potamon ekbolai  (= CENIONIS FLUVII OSTIA), var. Kenniwnos (= CENNIONIS)

Beyond this it is probable that four names from Ravenna are, with different types of corruption, versions of this name : 

- 10547 (= R&C 3) : ELCONIO

- 10830 ( = R&C 249) : COANTIA, var. COANCIA

- 10841 (= R&C 270) : CUNIA

- 10911 ( = R&C 279) : CUNIS 

It is apparent, first, from other examples, that Elconio is Fl(umen) Conio, misread from a map and then listed as though it were a habitation-name. Coantia and Cunia both figure properly in the river-list, but it is to be noted that each time the name is listed immediately after Sena (Senua), giving strong indication of being a repetition, and probably a clue to identification. Cunis figures in the island-list and might just possibly be an island (Ptolemy's Kwounnosxç?), but this part of Ravenna's list is so corrupt that this is not a strong argument. Cunis follows mention of Minerve, which we take to be an attribute of Sulis at Bath (see AQUAE SULIS), and it is very probable that Cunis is yet a further repetition of the same river-namc. For the miscopyings involved, see p. 203. It seems a priori likely that Ptolemy, whose MSS agrée on Ken- (= Cen-), would have a more trustworthy form than any in Ravenna. As is their usual practice, R&C regard all the forms as distinct and try to provide each with an etymology and a location, but this is to place a naive trust in the textual source. Quadruplication in Ravenna has a precedent, in the four versions of the name of Moridunum1; moreover, the present name seems to be somewhere in the south-west, to judge by Ptolemy's position, by the citation of Cunis after Minerve, and by the listing of Fl(umen) Conio in a group of south-western names and after *Fl(umen) Tabo (see TAVUS2) in N. Devon : it was precisely for south-west England that Ravenna employed an extra source, which enhanced the danger of repetition (see p. 197). Dillemann (65) thinks that at least Ravenna's Elconio and Cunia = Ptolemy's Cenio and refer to the same river.

DERIVATION. This name can hardly have the Celtic root *cen- *gen(n)- 'to be born of, descend from', discussed under BRANOGENIUM, for although this is quite common in personal and place-names it is normally present in compounded forms only (for examples, see GPN 175-77). It is impossible to see how the sense of this could be present in uncompounded Cen- names or in simple forms with suffix, and it is still more difficult to see how such a sense could suit the present river-name (*Cen- with *-io-suffix ?), which is the only river-name listed under this head in GPN. Since, however, we know of such place-names as Cenabum / Genabum (now Orléans) and personal names Cenia, Cennia, Cennius, etc., it is likely that these and others are formed on an element *cen- of unknown meaning, which was able to use a variety of suffixes in name-formation; the other *cen- roots mentioned in GPN seem inapplicable here, for différent reasons, and the name is best left unresolved.

IDENTIFICATION. Ptolemy's location suits the river Kenwyn, Cornwall, and the Fal estuary, by which it reaches the sea, would certainly have been noted in any coastal survey. But the modern river-name is almost cartainly a back-formation from the village of Kenwyn, so the identification must remain uncertain.

Bibliographie; sources; envois

* A.L.F RIVET & Colin SMITH : The Place-names of Roman Britain. Batsford Ltd. London. 1979-1982.

Liens électroniques des sites Internet traitant de la Kenwyn / Cenio ? :  

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* forum du site Marikavel : Academia Celtica

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