A Conversation for Anglo-Saxon (Old English)

Posses Hlaewe

Post 1

o1kric

Hi,

There is a round barrow in Wiltshire called 'Posses Hlaewe' on old maps / records. It is thought that 'Posses' was an Old English personal name. However, a satchel or special 'purse' was recovered from the barrow dating from the 7th century CE, and I wondered if 'posses' might be a half-memory of this, if the mound had been named after Anglo-Saxon 'purs', 'pusa' or especially 'posa', 'Hill of the Purse' or bag, perhaps? Would this make sense grammatically please?

many thanks

o1


Posses Hlaewe

Post 2

Gnomon [194]

When was the purse discovered?


Posses Hlaewe

Post 3

Medicus_Matt

Posses Hlaewe is named in an Old English charter dated to 940AD but it's actual location is still uncertain.
The ancient barrow (originally Bronze Age but reused in the 7th century)at Swallowcliffe Down was excavated in 1966 and has been identified as possibly being the 'Posses Hlaewe'mentioned in the charter.

The Swallowcliff burial is famous amongst those of us who get excited by this sort of thing because it's a high status 'bed burial':-

"a richly furnished Anglo-Saxon
inhumation of a female aged 18 to 25 years. She
lay on an ash wood bed with elaborate iron fittings,
and was surrounded by high quality grave-goods
including an iron bound bucket, a maplewood *casket*
containing a sprinkler, a spoon, and personal items,
an ornate satchel with gold foil mounts of possible
Christian significance, and a bronze-mounted bucket."
(Speake: A Saxon Bed Burial on Swallowcliff Down).

The 'Hlaewe' element of the name can mean 'hill' but, in the south of England, tends to refer to barrows and mounds.
The 'Posses' element is usually thought to be derived from a personal name; Poss and Possa are both known to be Old English monothematic names.
It's unlikley that it derives from 'pusa' the OE word for a bag or satchel as this was pronounced with a long vowel sound (like 'pooza').


Posses Hlaewe

Post 4

o1kric

hi,

i believe it was discovered c.1966


Posses Hlaewe

Post 5

o1kric

Medicus wrote: "The 'Hlaewe' element of the name can mean 'hill' but, in the south of England, tends to refer to barrows and mounds.
The 'Posses' element is usually thought to be derived from a personal name; Poss and Possa are both known to be Old English monothematic names.
"It's unlikley that it derives from 'pusa' the OE word for a bag or satchel as this was pronounced with a long vowel sound (like 'pooza')".

thanks: how would you say *mound of the bag* / 'pusa', in Old English please?

is 'hlaewe' the origin of 'hill' or if not, what word does it correspond to today?

what does the name 'Poss' mean - is this known?

many thanks

o1


Posses Hlaewe

Post 6

o1kric


well

'posa' meaning bag, a masculine noun - could decline in the genitive singular with an -es [-s] ending

giving 'posas hlaewe' or 'poses hlaewe', mound of the bag

this seems unlikely but not impossible and the fact that 'Poss' and 'Possa' are Anglo-Saxon male names may easily have led an Anglo-Saxon scribe drawing up a land charter to record the place name as 'Possa's Mound', all memory of the bed burial with remarkable bag having faded to oblivion by this time.

what survives from this secondary inhumation can be seen today in the South Wiltshire Museum.


Posses Hlaewe

Post 7

Gnomon [194]

If they buried the woman with all that stuff, it's unlikely they'd name the hill after just the bag. It's much more likely they'd name it after the woman.


Posses Hlaewe

Post 8

Medicus_Matt

"is 'hlaewe' the origin of 'hill' or if not, what word does it correspond to today?"

No, 'hill' derives from the Old English word 'hyll'. 'Hlaewe' can still be seen in the endings of some place names, usually as 'Law', 'Low', 'Lew' etc (Mutlow, Warslow, Botteslow etc).

It's also common in Scotland (Law Hill in Dundee being the most famous example and a tautology) but it's usage there seems to be derived from the Old English rather than it being a Gaelic word. One Scottish example, Traprain Law, was also the site of ancient burials and the source of one of the most impressive finds of Pictish metalwork discovered so far.

"how would you say *mound of the bag* / 'pusa', in Old English please"

Best guess (as OE pronunciation is the subject of much debate) "Pooza Llaw ('Ll' as in the welsh voiceless Ll, a short 'a' as in 'bat').

As for the name Poss/Possa, the monothematic name usually start off as nicknames. 'Pos' is listed as being an OE word for 'a cold/catarrh' so maybe it started as a nickname meaning 'snotty'.smiley - smiley


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