Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sacred Groves

I have just been reading Roger Deakin's Wildwood, and one chapter immediately catches my interest. It is called the Sacred Groves of Devon, and he gives a list of village names all with Nemet/Nimet in their names. Celtic mythology, or at least here be our Romans naming an old celtic site and calling it sacred grove., so the villages are called Nymet Tracey, Broadnymet, Nichols Nimet, Nymet Roland, Nymet Wood and Nymphays. All named probably after the River Yeo(also after Nimet/Nymet) who's source is at Nymph. He also mentions that Beer, Bear or Beere are versions of the old english bearu, again the meaning is close to Celtic nemeton.
The Roman fort of Nemetotacio, the romans built a mile or two away on the banks of the River Taw, is obviously the place where it stems from Nemetotacio meaning "The Road Station of the Sacred Grove".
What visions this conjures up, history falling through time in its etymology, Deakins speculates that the Dumnonii people of the area refused to surrender their sacred woods and holy rivers of Nimet and Nemet to the Romans, for there are other forts in the area as well, and they put up a stout resistance.
Also about 20 years ago a wood henge at Bow was discovered by Frances Griffiths by aerial photography, information here on the Megalithic Portal ........ http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=17581,
Now Deakin goes on to say that the name Bow has contracted over the last seven years from Nymetbowe (the bend in the sacred river) and Nymetboghe, its root in the old english boga, a curve describing the wide curve in the River Yeo nearby. In fact very similar to the relationship of Durrington Walls and the River Avon. Frances Griffiths also discovered a large cluster of barrows and ring ditches surrounding Bow, and feels that this area was a major focus of ceremonial activity.
The flow of history is incredibly beautiful, Bronze age barrow cemeteries round the wooden henge, the river acting as a focus, and the names remembered through the Celts, the Romans and the small village settlements.
Terminology; Here I will break off to stand by my use of Celts/Celtic, there is so much contempt for the usuage of these words that perhaps we should use the term indigenous British people, but to be quite honest I like the term Celts, it has a far more romantic ring....
And what about the sacred curve of the river, does it not call to mind Silbury also surrounded by the curve of the Winterbourne, with the Swallowhead marking the rising of the River Kennet.

1 comment:

  1. Nempnett Thrubwell (wonderful name!) in Somerset's Chew Valley might be another such location.
    And let's hear it for Celts!