The Roman Map of Britain Ptolemy's Geography - The Turning of Scotland
Few outlines are as readily identifiable as that of Ptolemy's Britain.
The remarkable eastward turning of Scotland is first to catch the eye and cause
for differing explanations.
Rotating Scotland counter-clockwise about a river mouth was the solution offered by Richmond (90 degrees on the Wear), Rivet (about 51 degrees on the Eden) and Strang (90 degrees on the Wear, but 70 degrees relative to a rotated England). Rivet supplemented the coastline between the Wear and the Aln with the otherwise missing Northumberland Tyne.
On Ptolemy's Galloway coast are two rivers, Abravannus and Iena. They head the sequence of Geography II, 3, 2 describing the western side of Britain south of the Mull of Galloway. Their incorporation at this point, rather than north of the Wear resulted in the 'turning of Scotland'.
In the Ravenna Cosmography's section dealing with rivers are two entries, Alauna and Coguveusuron (R&C 263 and 264). In PNRB Alauna is rightly identified as the river Aln, but Coguveusuron is considered a conflation of Coccuveda (R&C 186) and Usuron. Coccuveda is taken to be the name of the river Coquet mistaken for a habitation-name. Usuron is equated with Isurium Aldborough.
This author places Coccuveda at Chew Green and amends the form to Coccuvada 'Coccu-fords', which describes its location on the fords of the upper Coquet. (See Coccuveda for an alternate etymology.) In the list it follows Bremenium (R&C 185) High Rochester. (Cocc- equates with W. cog 'a cuckoo'.) Coguveusuron emended to Coguvensuron can then be divided into Cogu, again the Coquet, and Vensuron - the river Wansbeck. Wenspic 1137 is the earliest form, with copies of contemporary writings varying between Wen- and Wan-.
Ptolemy's missing Tyne, is found as Tinoa and Tinea (R&C 258) in the Ravenna Cosmography. Ptolemy's Thames, Iamesa (Geography II, 3, 4) is a transcriptional error for Tamesa. Thus, Ptolemy's Iena presents no unusual problems for consideration as the misplaced Tyne Tena.
Ptolemy's Abravannus (variants Avravannus, Avravanus, Abrananus, for Ourovannus?), the river north of Iena, inverts the order of Vens-uron. Uron compares with Gr. uron (Cf. Skt. vâri 'water', Lat. ur-ina.). [Is ABRA- the result of damage to the beginning of OMBRA-, OL is lost and LBRA is read as ABRA? A *Vensombra, written as *Vensôvra, would easily explain *Vensuron.]
rivers and their attendant coastlines, once repositioned, have the
anticipated effect on the orientation of Scotland. Note that the rotation is
less than 90 degrees. Ptolemy compounded a lesser rotation already present in
his data. This pre-existing rotation is shown in my analysis of the Ravenna
The co-ordinates of the Geography have been somewhat corrupted with repeated copying. Any calculations using those figures are of limited accuracy.