Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Brittany: The Northwest Frontier

Borders are designed to keep people in or to keep people out. We see them everywhere in history: walls, fences, hedges, barbed wire, scorched earth, chicken wire or place names.
There are quite a few Breton place names that speak of borders and boundaries. I've listed a few of them below and put some of them together in the map above. 

22 (Cotes d'Armor)
ÉVRAN Evrann [Ivran/Ivram, 12thC] ‘Borderland’ 
From G: iguoranda/equoranda ‘limit’, ‘boundary’ (of a city/region). Iguoranda/Equoranda refers to ‘limits’ and ‘frontiers’ and often corresponds to the boundary between two Gaulish tribes. Évran was on the border between the Redones and Coriosolites, representing a frontier zone between the Gallo-Roman cities of Rennes and Corseul. It now hugs the borderline between the departments of Île-et-Vilaine (35) and Côtes d’Armor (22).
See: Évriguet (56) ; Yvrandes (Normandy); Iguerande (Burgundy).
29 (Finistère)
BRASPARTS  Brasparzh [Bratberth, 11thC.; Braspers, 1368] ‘Prickly Bush’
From B: brath(u). ‘prickle’, ‘thorn’ [W: brath]; and B/W: perh/perth, ‘hedge’, ‘bush’.
This might indicate a boundary or frontier.
See: Le Pertre (35); Questembert (56); Penberth (Cornwall); Perth (Scotland); Berthllwyd, Arberth, Berth-ddu, Bryn-bras, Maen bras (Wales).
LAZ Laz [Laz, 1330] ‘Post’
From OB: lath/lazh, ‘rod’, ‘pole’, ‘post’, ‘beam’, ‘stick’, ‘spear’ [C: lath; W: llath].
This could refer to a milepost, a boundary marker or even a menhir (Laz has the 3m Menhir de Kermez).
35 (Ille-et-Vilaine)
CHELUN Kelon [Calumpniaco, 11thC; Chalunum, 1506; Chalun, 16thC] ‘Disputed Land’
From VL: calumnia, ‘dispute’, ‘quarrel’, ‘litigation’.
This must have been disputed territory between Brittany and Anjou; it is right on the border.
CINTRÉ Kentred [Sintreio, 1153; Cintreio, 1158] ‘Borderland’
From OF: ceintrey/cintre, ‘belt (-land)’, ‘border (area)’ [F: ceinture].
COGLÈS Gougleiz [Cogles, 1158] ’North’
From B: coglez, ‘north’ [W: gogledd].
This is on the northern border between the Départements of Îlle-et-Vilaine and Manche (Normandy).
See: Saint-Brice-en-Coglès, Saint-Étienne-en-Coglès, Saint-Germain-en-Coglès (35); Gogledd Cymru, ‘North Wales’.
FEINS Finioù [Fains, 1178] ‘Frontier Village’
From L: (ad) finis, (at the) ‘frontier’, ‘end’.
This indicates that it marked the outer limit of a Gaulish town, village or region.
See: Feins-en-Gâtinais (Centre), Saint-Michel-de-Feins (Loire).
GUERCHE-DE-BRETAGNE, LA Gwerc'h-Breizh [Guirch(i)a, 1096; Guirchiœ, 1152] ‘Defensive Works’
These defensive fortifiications are found in ‘buffer zones’ along the borders of Brittany. They consisted of defensive wooden houses built on raised square walls and surrounded by a moat.
From OF: werki, ‘fortification’, ‘defence works’ with a v/wgu/gwg sound change.
LOUVIGNE-DU-DESERT Louvigneg-an-Dezerzh [Lupiniaci, 11thC; Luviniacum, 12thC] ‘Wolf Moor’
From L: lupus [F: loup] and G/L: (suffix)–(i)acos, (i)acum, ‘place with’.
This must have been a wild border area with unoccupied forest, moors and thickets.
See: Chanteloup (35).
PERTRE, LE Ar Perzh [Pertum, 11thC; Pertrum, 12thC; Pertro, 1516] ‘Bush’
From B/W/C: perth, ‘bush’, ‘hedge’, ‘thicket’.
These are the borderlands and we might expect thorns and thickets to mark the frontier.
See: Perth (Scotland, Australia); Arberth, Berth-ddu (Wales); Penberth (Cornwall).
SAINT-PERE-MARC-EN-POULET Sant-Pêr-Poualed [Sancti Petri de Marcha Poelet, 1152] ‘Saint Peter’s on the Alet Border’
From Saint Peter, the Apostle; OF: marche, ‘limit’, ‘frontier’; B: pou [L/F: pagus/pays], ‘country’; and Alet, the ancient Gallo-Roman city which was situated where Saint-Servan is now.
56 (Morbihan)
ARZAL Arzhal [Arsal, 1128; Harsal, 1330] ‘Boundary’
From harzal, ‘frontier’, ‘limit’.
If the River Vilaine marked the boundary between the Frankish and Breton kingdoms in the 6th-9thC then Arzal marks the end of this border where the Vilaine heads out to sea.
Évriguet is peculiarly absent in the manuscripts, scrolls, cartularies and other public records. The absence of old forms means there is absolutely nothing to work on. It may possibly be connected be from G: iguoranda, equoranda ‘limit’, ‘boundary’ (of a city/region).This refers to ‘limits’ and ‘frontiers’ and often corresponds to the boundary between two Gaulish tribes. Évriguet was at a central point on the border between the Venetes, Osismes and Coriosolites. It now occupies a postion on the border between the departments of Morbihan (56), Île-et-Vilaine (35), and Côtes d’Armor (22). 
See: Evran (22); Yvrandes (Normandy); Iguerande (Burgundy). 

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