By Lady Wencenedl inigena Jagomus of Rokesburg
Written in 2003.
Septentria is currently made up of eight localities: six cantons, one citie and one college, each with a fascinating name. Three of the names are historical, five are descriptive.
The Historic Names:
Four Septentrian groups lie (mundanely) in the Greater Toronto Area, and that's a good place to start looking at names. Toronto is an Algonquin name meaning "meeting place" (which is appropriate), but the original English settlers established a fort there, which they called "York" after the capital of northern England.
The earliest record of that city (AD 150) names it as Eborakon and soon after references follow the standardized Latin spelling: Eboracum. The name was derived from Ebor (iubhar): Gaelic meaning "yew tree."
The Angles took the city, but did not understand the Latinized name. To them, the first part of the name, "Eborac" sounded like Eofor Wic, "wild boar homestead." So they called the town Eoforwic Ceaster (Ceaster meaning "at the Roman army camp"). Eventually it was just Eoforwic. So, our Royal Citie is named after what the Angles called York.
Originally the group that meets at York Univeristy was called the Canton of Noerlanda because it was north of Eoforwic. Unfortunately, this canton disbanded and when a new group formed it was determined that the old name brought along too much sad and unfortunate baggage. So a new name was sought.
After considering Albion, Jorvik and Eboracum, Canton members heard about a bridge in English York called Skeldergate. This appealed to the new group and they adopted it. Maybe in part because a number of interesting mundane combinations may be made with it that suit the personality of the College, like Helter Skeldergate.
Actually there were three Skeldergates in Old York: a tower, Skeldergate Postern, the aforementioned bridge over the River Ouse, and an important street upon which both the tower and bridge were located. The first reference to Skeldergate is from 1291 when the residents of the street requested that something be done about the silting of the river.
(Officially spelt "Vest Yorvik" out of fear that us modern Englishers can't handle learning a Germanic pronunciation.)
After the Angles, the Danish Vikings came to Eoforwic. They seized on the last part of the name, "forwic," and modified into a form pronounceable to them: Jorvik. By the thirteenth century, people had contracted the name to "York." Jorvik is a familiar name to many in Septentria with early period personas because of the treasure trove of archeological material from Coppergate and other Jorvik-era finds.
Of course, the "west" in West Jorvik comes from the fact the Canton is located west of York proper, in Mississauga and Oakville.
The Descriptive Names:
Ardchreag means "High Cliffs" in Gaelic, in reference to the Scarborough bluffs. Initially the group used the interim name, Canton-on-the-Cliffes, so the final choice is not that surprising. Nor are the mountains that figure twice on their device.
Caer Draeth ( Now Beremere )
Caer Draeth means "Stronghold on the Shore" in Welsh. This references the fact that the Canton is loosely centered in the mundane city of Barrie which sits on the shores of Lake Simcoe. The lake is also reflected in the waves on their device.
The canton was originally called Bryn Rekhart. Bryn means "hill" but I don't know who or what Rekhart is (or was).
Greenhithe means Green Landing Place, in Old English. The incipient canton is located in Oshawa, which has a decent sized port. The name is reinforced on the coat of arms, which feature a ship. The device also contains two dragons since the biggest industry in Oshawa is the General Moters AutoPlex and cars are commonly referred to as Dragons within the Society.
My sources say Monadh is a Gaelic name and that: "the common folklore is that [it] means 'tolerably level hilly place.' I can only tell you to take that for what it's worth as I hear it from Baron Foote and he is suspect at most times for using anything he can to cause a ruckus." However, hills tolerably level for farming (what we would probably describe as "rolling hills") is as good a description of the area around Orangeville as any. The choice of a Gaelic name is reflected in the choice of the Canton device: three thistles. Just about as Scottish as you can get.
If you go the their website, you'll find a definition of "helpful by nature" which apparently was a joke one of the canton members came up with one night at a meeting that stuck.
According to the chronicle of the Canton: "In the spirit of Pliny, the residents chose to officially name their home, Petrea Thule – meaning the 'rocky far-off place'." This is a clever way of saying the name is Latin. It's also a historical reference. In his "Natural History" (AD 77), Pliny identified the island we call Iceland and called it Thule. And later, the Norse called their northern-most colony in Greenland "Thule."
In keeping with the far north theme, their device features the northern star along with a chain of seven links symbolizing the first inhabitants of the Canton.
Septentria & Ealdormere
Although they aren't cantons, I also include the names of our Barony and Kingdom in this discussion since they also are descriptive names.
Ealdormere is fairly straightforward. It means "Ancient Sea" in Old French.
Septentria is a bit more complicated but I find particularly interesting. The simple meaning is "northland" in Latin. But why does it sound like "September"? Because the words come from the same root: septem, which means "seven" (September was the seventh month until Emperors Julius and Augustus made calendar reform into vanity projects). And "north"? Well, the constellations Ursa Major and Ursa Minor (the Big and Little Bears) each consist of seven stars. So North is in the direction of the Sevens.
Interestingly, there are two other words in Latin for north: aquilonius (a reference to the north wind) and arctos, the name of the constellation, The Great Bear (and also the same derivation as "Arthur"). Which suddenly explains why we call the far north the Arctic and why the symbol of Septentria is the Bear.