d'ar gêr ! ***** à la maison ! ***** back home !

Noms de lieux Noms de personnes

Beauly Firth


page ouverte le 30.05.2006 forum de discussion

* forum du site Marikavel : Academia Celtica 

dernière mise à jour 04/08/2008 13:23:32

Definition : fleuve côtier d'Écosse, 

Il prend sa source à 

Il arrose : 

Il baptise : 

Il débouche dans le Moray Firth, au nord-est de Écosse


Extrait de Ordnance Survey : Map of Roman Britain.

Les points verts, representant les sources du bassin de la Teifi, ont ete rajoutes par JC Even

Étude étymologique 

* A.L.F Rivet & C. Smith, p. 485 : 


Ptolemy II, 3, 4: Ouarar eiscusis ( = VARAR AESTUARIUM), var. Ouararis cusiz ( = VARARIS.. . ) ; again, II, 3, 8

Ravenna 10813 ( =  R&C 227) : VORAN. It seems likely that Ravenna's entry, otherwise unexplained, belongs with Ptolemy's; it has two errors of a common kind.

DERIVATION. The name could be either Varar or Vararis; Millier suggested that in both Ptolemy's entries Ouraris (= Vararis) should be read, a syllable having been missed from the end of this in some MSS because of the similarity to the start of the following eisxusiz. If Ravenna's Voran belongs with this, however, it probably indicates a spelling with five letters. The origin of modem Gaelic Farrar in this is certain.

Older etymologies included Latin varus or varius, perhaps ' winding ' of a river (MacBain), and it was suggested that in form the name was similar to the Gaulish Arar 'noted for its slowness and supposed to be connected with Welsh araf "slow" ' (Watson CPNS 48). But the obvious solution is a root as in the next name, Varis. For this *uara is proposed, perhaps related to the second element in Durnovaria which is otherwise unexplained. Jackson in Britannia, I (1970), 79, says (of *uaro- as found in Gaulish river-names) that 'The meaning "water" is often proposed, chiefly because it is so often the name of rivers, but the evidence for such a meaning in western Indo-European is poor, and in Celtic it is nil.' With regard to derivatives in the medieval and modem Celtic languages, that is obviously correct. Continental scholars, however, see the matter differently. Dauzat TF 115-18 remarks that Celticists long denied that there could be a Celtic *uara 'water', but thinks it now widely accepted that there was an Italo-Celtic word of that form and sense, corresponding to Sanskrit va, vari 'water' and perhaps represented in Latin by urina. There is now an extensive bibliography of studies which agree with this; see e.g. Pokorny in ZCP, XXI (1940), 62; Nicolaisen in BZN, VIII (1957), 235; Krahe in BZN, XIII (1962), 275. Rostaing ETP 297-99 thinks the name pre-Indo-European, since it is found widely round the Mediterranean ; he perceives a sense-development 'rocher > ravin > ruisseau'. Krahe also sees the name as one which 'aus einem Fl.N. der groBen und weitbreiteten alteuropaischen Sippe stammt'. 

The most recent discussion of Varar along these lines is that of Nicolaisen in his book Scottish Place-names (London, 1976), 181-83; he thinks the name pre-Celtic but Indo-European, of a kind with such elements as *kar(r)- (see VINDOGARA) and those in the river-names Nassa, Nabarus, etc.

Names known from ancient sources (Holder III. 104, etc.) include Ligurian Varus > Var (Var, France) and Venetian Varanus (Pliny NH III, 126; now the Stella ?), and the following, all with recognised Celtic suffixes : *Varantia or *Verentia > Wernitz (Wornitz) in Bavaria, a tributary of the Danube; Vareia, a settlement of the Celtic Berones, > Varia near Logrono (Spain) ; Varenae > Varennes-le-Grand (Saône-et-Loire, France) ; Varenna > Varenne (river of Orne, France; and several other places of the same name in France). In addition to these, there are scores of more recent names in Var- and Ver- (for which an ancient variation *uera is supposed) in France and elsewhere, and many of these are in lands which were Gaulish-speaking ; they are listed by Rostaing and Dauzat.

It seems, then, that we must accept the fact that the word was not originally Celtic, since Celtic forms and derivatives are lacking; but that a non-Celtic word was early adopted into Gaulish and also into British, if not as a common noun then at least for place-name formation (with Celtic suffixes, as shown above). The parallel is perhaps with words like ville and polis, which without at any time existing as common nouns in English are widely used in place-name formation in modem Britain and America respectively.

The present name then presumably has the *-ar(a) suffix found commonly in Celtic water-names; see LEUCARUM.

IDENTIFICATION. Here the Beauly Firth or more probably (since Ptolemy does not list the river Ness) the inner part of the Moray Firth as far as Chanonry Point (as observed by Watson CPNS 48). The name Beauly is a back-formation, and above Struy tje river Beauly is still known as the Farrar (in Glen Strathfarrar).


Observation JC Even : 


Bibliographie; sources; envois

* Ordnance Survey : Map of Roman Britain. 1956.

* A.L.F RIVET & C. SMITH : The Place-names of Roman Britain. Batsford Ltd. London. 1979-1982.

Liens électroniques des sites Internet traitant du fleuve Beauly / Varar : 

* forum du site Marikavel : Academia Celtica 

hast buan, ma mignonig vas vite, mon petit ami

go fast, my little friend

Retour en tête de page