TAMARIS

Probable Settlement & Port

Plymouth, Devon

NGRef: SX4755
OSMap: LR201
Type: Roman Settlement, Port
Roads
River Tamarus: NNE (20) to VXELIS.

Tamaris - The Town on the River Tamar

There are two clues in Ptolemy's Geography (bk.II, ch.ii); near the the beginning of part 2, which reads:

"Description of the south side below which is the Oceanus Britannicus [English Channel]. After the Ocrium Promontorium [Lizard Point, Cornwall] is the mouth of the Cenio¹ river 14*003 5145 (then) the mouth of the Tamarus² river 15*40 5210 (then) the mouth of the Iscas³ river 17*40 5220 ..."
  1. This river remains unidentified.
  2. River Tamar, Devon/Cornwall.
  3. River Exe, Devon.

and also the very last sentence of part 2:

"Next to these [the Durotriges], but more to the west, are the Dumnoni, whose towns are: Voliba 14*45 5200 Uxella¹ 15*00 5245 Tamara² 15*00 5215 (and) Isca, where is located Legio II Augusta³ 17*30 5245."
  1. VXELIS (Launceston, Cornwall); the previous entry Voliba remains unidentified.
  2. At the mouth of the Tamar near Plymouth.
  3. ISCA DVMNONIORVM (Exeter, Devon).

The name Tamaris is mentioned in the Ravenna Cosmology (R&C#5) of the seventh century, where it is listed between the entries for NEMETOSTATIO (Nanstallon, Cornwall) and DVRNOVARIA (Dorchester, Dorset).

The river-name Tamar is ancient Celtic, possibly meaning 'the dark one' or simply 'the river'. There are several other British rivers whose names have the same root-meaning; the Thames (Latin Tamesis) in London, the Team in County Durham, the Thame in Buckingham/Oxfordshire, and finally the Tame, of which there are three, in Warwickshire/Staffordshire, Yorkshire/Cheshire and North Yorkshire.

See: Historical Map and Guide - Roman Britain by the Ordnance Survey (3rd, 4th & 5th eds., 1956, 1994 & 2001);
Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names by A.D. Mills (Oxford 1998).

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