Friday, 18 April 2014

Isle of Ouessant

Isle of Ouessant


The island of Ouessant (Enez-Eussa in Breton).marks the most westerly boundary of France. 
It seems likely that the origin of the name is Gaulish and that the original name was Uxisama, 'the highest island' from G: ux-o, 'island' and G:-sama, 'the highest'. 'Highest' in this case might also imply 'the furthest'.
The earliest names Ouxisama/Uxisama are recorded by Strabon and Pliny and the later names are clearly derivations: Axantos (1st century), Uxantis ( fourth century), Ossan/Ossa/Exsent (up to the 14th century) and Ussent/Oessant (15th century onwards).
Migration of Britons to Brittany

Ouessant was undoubtedly on one of the major seaways for saints and migrants in the 4th -7th century and St. Pol (Paul-Aurelian) sailed here, it is said, in a stone vessel, converted the pagans and founded a monastery at Pen-ar-Lan  which might be the land around his abbey or the heathland at its edge (see L is for Llan, lan or lann).

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