Quiet Flows the…?
Whilst the writer was studying the Ordnance Survey map recently his eye alighted on that pleasant Hertfordshire river, the Maran or Mimram. Nobody uses the first name now; locally it is always the Mimram. After a few minutes of idle speculation on the names, a pastime which thus indulged in, unsupported by documentary evidence, would be guaranteed to incur the immediate censure of any self-respecting student of place names, there came one of those flashes of inspiration which seem to lie at the source of most heresies.
The Maran was in the heart of the Catuvellaunian territory. The Belgae came from the area round Chalons-sur-Marne. Could the river name Maran be a transmogrified Marne? The English Place Name Society's volume for Hertfordshire gives, among others, the following early forms; Memeram c. 925; Meran c. 1000; Maeran c. 1100; Mimeram c. 1130; Maran 1577; Mimeram or Maran 1728. Dury and Andrews' map of 1766 shows Maran or Mimerum river and Stockdale's map of 1798 shows Maron only. The etymology, according to the E P N S, is doubtful.
Having set out on the slippery path of conjecture the writer feels impelled to raise a further query of the same nature. The river Ver, which flows past the Catuvellaunian settlement at Prae Wood, St Albans, had another name, now completely out of use. This second name was the Muse. The place name volume does not mention it, some of the early forms which they give being these: Waerlame, Wearlame c. 1025; Waerlume 1085; Verlam 1728; Ver 1736. Both of these names, the E P N S says, are back-formations from Waerlamacaester and Verulam, old names for St Albans. But Dury and Andrews' map and Stockdale's map both show Verlam or Muse river. Langley's map of Hertfordshire, in 1817, shows Ver or Muse, whilst Thomas Moule's map of 1838 shows only the river Muse. Can Muse be synonymous with the Meuse, which rises in the same department of France as the Marne?
On this interrogatory note the writer takes his leave.
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