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Land's End

Antivestaeum / Belerium

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* forum du site Marikavel : Academia Celtica

dernière mise à jour 27/11/2008 13:30:40

Définition : Cap de l'extrémité sud-ouest du Cornwall, en Grande Bretagne.



Ferdinand Lallemand, Pythéas, Glossaire, p 252, commet une erreur en plaçant le cap Land's End en Pays de Galles. Il est possible qu'il ait suivi en cela une indication de Diodore de Sicile qui identifie Belerium avec la péninsule de Penwith.


Extrait de la carte Ordnance Survey : Map of Roman Britain.


Visité par Pythéas lors de ses voyages dans la partie nord de l'Océan, à partir des Colonnes d'Hercules / Détroit de Gibraltar.

S'il est probable qu'il ait été dépendant de populations successives, étant situé à l'extrémité sud-ouest de la (G)Bretagne, il fait donc partie du territoire des Dumnonii dès l'implantation de ceux-ci, vers 300 avant J.C, et le restera durant toute la période de l'empire romain. 

Ce n'est qu'avec la chute de la cité des Dumnonii face aux West-saxons, et au démembrement de celle-ci, que le cap Land's End re^^présente la cap extrême sud-ouest du Cornwall (Cerniu o Wealas), partie restant aux Bretons. 


A. Antivestaeum

cf : Rivet & Smith, The Place-names of Roman Britain, p. 252 : 

- Ptolémée, II,3,2 : Antiouestaion akron to kai Bolerion ( = ANTIVESTAEUM SIVE BOLERIUM PROMONTORTIUM); variante Antiouesteon ( = ANTIVESTEUM); 

- Ravenna, 1061 : VERTEVIA

- Ravenna, 1063 : MESTEVIA.

The two forms of Ravenna (taken as separate Devonian names by R&C, who even provide an etymology for the latter) are rightly referred by Dillemann (p. 65) to Ptolemy's name. On the map(s) used by the Cosmographer, the first element Anti- must have been written 'in the sea', or separated by being placed above, and the remaining portion was understandably taken to refer to a settlement on land. That the Cosmographer also duplicates, with different mistakes each time, might show that he was using two maps which coincided in their manner of entering the name; and both seem to have written the ending of the name as -eum (Ptolemy's var.), then misread as -evia. There is no ready parallel for the miscopying of initial V- as M-, but probably the line of the coast on the rnap interfered with the letter. A further indication of the identity of Ravenna's names with Ptolemy's entry comes in the order of their listing: Dillemann notes that Ravenna lists Vertevia immediately after Uxelis, just as Ptolemy does; also, Ravenna's two forms both immediately precede listing of Moridunum1 in mistakenly duplicated forms.

DERIVATION. As is plain from Ptolemy, Antivestaeum is an alternative name to Belerium, and we know the latter to be much the older. It is also Graeco-Latin whereas Belerium (*Belerion) is the native British name. Antivestaeum probably represents a coining by the Roman fleet; in the same region, 'Promontory of Hercules' is another. The name seems to be adjectival. The first element is Graeco-Latin anti- 'opposite', found in such names as Antilibanus 'mons celeber Syriac, ita dictus, quia Libano oppositus', Antirrhium . . . 'promontorium . . . ita dictum, quod sit adversus Rhion'. The second element is based on Vesta, not so much a divine name but one representing Greek 'Estia. This equivalence is doubted by Ernout & Meillet, but Hamp in Ériu, XXV (1974), 258-61, links the Latin name with an earlier *uosta, a ' personified noun of instrument', = 'thing to burn with', i.e. 'hearth', with the suggestion that in Latin vesta actually meant 'hearth'; the Indo-European root is *eus- burn. This takes us towards a sense of 'ever-burning flame' or 'beacon', and implies that Latin -vestaeum is a translation of, or refers to the same feature as, earlier Belerium. The precise significance of the element anti- is uncertain. Possibly the tip of the promontory was, in the eyes of the fleet, opposite another on which a beacon stood. But perhaps, as Professor C. Thomas suggests to us, the reference is to the important shrine at Nor'nour in the north-eastern Scillies; and, as he points out, this possibility would be strengthened if the name of the Scillies (see SILINA) was ultimately connected with that of the goddess Sulis, of Bath, who, though equated by the Romans with Minerva rather than Vesta, was connected with an ever-burning flame (see Solinus, 22, II, p. oo). This sacred site might then have been identified as an 'Estiaion (latinised as Vestaeum).

IDENTIFICATION. Land's End, Cornwall. 


B. Belerium :

- Diodore de Sicile, V,21 : Belerion ( = BELERIUM);

- Ptolémée, II,3,2 : Bolerion ( = BOLERIUM); variante Bolairion ( = BOLAERIUM).

Etude de la racine : *bel-, à rapprocher du nom de divinité *Belenos, identifié à Apollon = le Brillant.

Sources :

* Ordnance Survey : Map of roman Britain.

* ALF Rivet & Colin Smith : The Place-Names of Roman Britain. Batsford Ltd. London. 1979. 

* Ferdinand Lallemand : Pythéas le Massaliote.

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