The majority of specialists, understanding the name of Alan as an ethnonym, unconditionally consider them to be Iranian-speaking people, and mainly because their alleged descendants of Ossetians belong to the Iranian language family. However, there is another view on the ethnicity of Alan, when evidences are presented in favor of their Turkic origin, but such publications remain little known to a wide range of readers (LAYPANOV K.T., MIZIEV I.M. 2010; MIZIEV I.M. 2010-1 a.o.). On the contrary, works restoring the history of Alan in Iranian mainstream are very popular, an example of which can be the fundamental work of A. Alemany (ALEMANY AGUSTI. 2000) largely based on the works of V.I. Abayev, also very known. Abayev is considered a great authority in the scythology despite his obvious bias associated with nationality. His field of research is rather narrow, in particular, the epigraphy of the Northern Black Sea region he deciphered mostly erroneously because he did it only with the help of Iranian languages. At the same time, he onerlooked many facts that could lead his research to the true path. For example, with his rich imagination, he didn't suppose the possibility of Ossetian origin of such place names as Azov, Akhtyrka, Vorskla, Kalitva, Oskol, Sochi and other names without reliable etymology.
Similarly other reputable scientists, arbitrarily manipulating as by facts and archaeological cultures, but without regard to linguistics, as did this, for example, Tadeusz Sulimirsky (SULIMIRSKI T. 2008), readily draw for us the story of the Alans. However, when their ancestral home is looking for somewhere in Asia, considering that the Iranian people were arisen just only there, then also the Ossetians had to come from Asia.
At left: The Ancestral home of the Ossetians (yellow)
Long before the Scythian period the Ossetians have being forced from their ancestral homeland by Baltic tribes arriving from the right bank of the Dnieper. They had to migrate southward, and for a while lived in the neighborhood with Mordvinians, as evidenced by the Ossetian-Mordvin lexical parallels. The Ossetians appear in the area of the Lower Don River only in the Sarmatian time. At the same time the upper reaches of the Dnieper were populated by people known in the Pontic steppes under the name of Alans:
According to the Greek geographer Marcian (or pseudo-Marcian) from Heraclea Pontica (ca 400 AD), "… the Rudon river flows from the mountain Alan, about this mountain and in general in this country, a large area was inhabited by people of the Alans-Sarmatians, there were sources of Borisphen in their lands , which flows to Pontus. The land along the Borysthenes behind the Alans was inhabited by the so-called European Huns… " (Marcian P.: 39, quoted by Latyshev V.V. 1890). It is well known that Borisfen in ancient sources is the Dnieper River, while Rudon is one of the rivers of the Baltic Sea (KAZANSKIY M.M., MASTYKOVA A.V. 1999: 119).
The testimonies of ancient authors do not allow to draw a conclusion about the ethnicity of Alans, and their assessments of the related connections of the described peoples for the most part seem to be conjectures. It is appropriate to recall the prejudice that ancients were better informed about the times nearest to them than we are now. However, it is believed also that this was not so. For example, scholars at King Alfred's time knew very little about the origin of the Anglo-Saxons (COLLINGWOOD ROBIN J. 1996, 127). As we can see farther, this remark applies directly to our topic.
Most evidences about Alans were left by Ammianus Marcellinus. He, as well as some other historians of their time, believed that the Alans were the Massagetai of the past, however, no evidence for this didn't give. In citing his description of the appearance of Alan, at some time because of a translation error, a significant inaccuracy about their supposedly "somewhat slanting eyes" occured (Alemany Agusti, 2000, 36), what should be indicative of their Asian origin. In the latest translation this passage was read as follows:
Nearly all the Alani are men of great stature and beauty; their hair is somewhat yellow, their eyes are terribly fierce; the lightness of their armour renders them rapid in their movements; and they are in every respect equal to the Huns, only more civilized in their food and their manner of life. They plunder and hunt as far as the Sea of Azov and the Cimmerian Bosphorus, ravaging also Armenia and Media.
(MARCELLINUS AMMIANUS. 2009. BOOK XXXI. II, 21)
A certain similarity between Alans and Huns, marked by Marcellinus, is a consequence of the nomadic way of life. Thus the distinguishing feature of these judgments was rather the lack of permanent residence than similarity in the device of carts or transported dismounted cabins. Moreover, Marcellinus could not know about the ideological differences between the Alans and Huns, which are usually reflected in the types of burials of the nomadic peoples. Research of Hun graves revealed a significant difference between them – some of them were kurgan burials and other without kurgan. Because of this difference, it was concluded:
At common unity of culture, material for all its ethnic components, researchers found traits marking ethnic differences in the types of burial structures. However, according to most experts Hun Union also had a complex multicomponent ethnic structure. This allows us to offer as a version to explain the differences in the construction of burial structures (the mound – not mound) just some ethnic difference of the population, leaving them (IVCHENKO A.V. 2003, 46).
According to Marcellinus the Alans occupied the territory from Pontic steppes to the Vistula River in the north-west and till the north-eastern shores of Caspian Sea, but they penetrated farther to the east and southeast in separate groups. Perhaps the latter gave reason to separate the Alans on European and Asiatic parts, while Europe and Asia at that time was shared by the Tanais River (Don). However, it remains unclear whether all the Alans said the same language. Many other folks, collectively known also as the Scythians, inhabited throughout this vast territory. We can conclude from Marcellinus’ texts that gradually some warlike tribe subjugated all these people and united them into the union under the common name Alans. Among these tribes were Neuroi, Melanchlainoi, Gelonians, Agathyrsians, and other tribes, previously mentioned by Herodotus and the several ones that appeared later (ALEMANY AGUSTI, 2000: 34).
Describing different peoples, Marcellinus often speaks about peculiarities of their language and from the texts it is clear that he is well acquainted with the Persian language. However, he does not say anything about the Alan language. If they spoke one of the Iranian languages, he should have mentioned it. He simply says that the population of the Black Sea region, among whom he singles out the Jaxamatæ, the Mæotæ, the Jazyges, the Roxolani, the Alani, the Melanchlænæ, the Geloni, and the Agathyrsi, speaks different languages and has different customs (MARCELLINUS AMMIANUS. 2009. BOOK XXII, VIII, 31). The difference between the Alanian language and others can be seen from the narration of Lucian about the Scythian Arsakomase the Scythian Arsakomas (Αρσακομασ) and his loyal friends Longhates (Λογχατησ) and Makentes (Μακεντησ), which helped him kidnapping a bride. The latter, pretending to be as an Alan in an episode, was to speak their language (Ibid; 3,11). We can conclude from this that the Scythian and Alanian languages to some extent differed. Moreover, the names of these heroes have no good means of deciphering by the Iranian languages, but they are well explained by Old English. Name Λογχατησ (longchate:s) can be translated as "a long-haired" (OE lang, Eng long and OE hād/hæd “hair”).
While OE maca "a friend, companion" included, according to Holthausen in such Anglo-Saxon proper nouns as Meaca, Mackenthorp, Mackensen (A. HOLTHAUSEN F. 1974: 209, 216), and OE. ent "a giant" suit for the name Makentes. Thus, Makentes has not to pretend to be an Alan, he was really Alan. Being aware of the presence of the Anglo-Saxons in Ukraine in Scythian time (see the sections Anglo-Saxons on the Ukraine, The Ethnic Composition of the Population of Great Scythia According Toponymy), consider how they might be connected with the Alans.
The Urheimat of Anglo-Saxons found by the graphic-analytical method, was located on the ethno-producing area between the Sluč, Prypyat’ and Teteriv Rivers (it is marked by red dots on the map at left). This area is divided into three roughly equal parts by the Uzh and Ubort Rivers. It can be assumed that on these subareals formed close German dialects, the speakers of which formed three separate ethnic units.
Place names, which does not let deciphering by Slavic languages, but can be deciphered with the help of Old English and Old Saxon, not only confirms the localization of the ancestral home of the Anglo-Saxons, but also indicates their presence in continental Europe for a long time and sometimes graphically depicts the migration routes. During the long search for the toponyms of the Anglo-Saxon origin, more than four hundred were found (see the map Google Map below). This topic is discussed in more detail in the section Ancient Anglo-Saxon Place Names in Continental Europe, some of the most convincing examples from the general list are such:
Avratyn, a few villages in Right Bank Ukraine – OE ǽfre "after, constant", tūn "village.
Boriatyn, villages in Lviv and Zhytomyr Regions of Ukraine, Briansk and Tula Regionf of Russia, Bariatino, the adminostrative center of Kaluga Region, Russia, Boratyn, villages in Lviv, Volyn, Rivne Regions of Ukraine – OE bora "a son", tūn "village".
Bryansk, a city in Russia – OE bryne "fire", tūn "village".
Burtyn, a village in Khmelnytsk Region – OE būr "a peasant", tūn "village".
Delatyn , a town in Ivano-Frankivsk Region – dǽl, dell "valley", tūn "village".
Irpen', a river, rt of the Dnieper – OE ear 1. "lake" or 2. “ground”, fenn “bog, silt”, could mean “sludgy lake” or “boggy ground”.
At right: The Irpen' River. The photo from the site Foto.ua
Khotyn, a few of towns and villages with this or with derivate if it in Ukraine, Russia, Belorus, Poland – OE. hof “court, area”, tūn "village".
Konotop, ten towns and villages in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Poland aand a few derivatives of it – OE. cyne- «royal», topp "a top".
Korsun, several villages and rivers in Ukkraibe? Russia, ans Belorus – OE cursian «to braid, plait, weave».
Kyrdany, a village in Zhytomyr Region – OE cyrten, "nice".
Mius, a river flowing in Sea of Azov – OE mēos «moss, swamp».
At left: The Mius River Photo 0f Îlga GOK. Rostov on Don.
Myrutyn, a village in Khmelnytsk Region and the village of Myrotyn in Rivne Region – OE mūr "wall", tūn "village";
Resseta, a river, rt of the Zhizdra, lt of the Oka – OE rǽs "running" (from rǽsan "to race, hurry") or rīsan "to rise" and seađ "spring, source".
Rikhta, a river, lt of the Trostianytsia Rive, rt of the Irsha River, lt of the Teteriv River, rt of the Dnieper and a few villages in Kiev and Khmelnytsk Regions – OE riht, ryht, “right, direct”;
Romodan a town in Poltava Region – OE. rūma „space”, dān "humid, humid locality".
Seym, a river, lt of the Desna River, lt of the Dnieper – OE seam "side, seam";
Werhulivka (Vergulivka), a village in Luhansk Region – OE wergulu "nettle”.
Wolfa, a river, lt of th Seym River, lt of the Desna River – OE wulf “wolf”.
Wytebet', a river, lt of the Zhizdra, rt of the Oka – OE wid(e) "wide", bedd "bed, river-bed".
Yagotyn, the town in Kiev Region – OE iegođ „a little island”.
Anglo-Saxon place names in continental Europe
On the map Anglo-Saxon place name are indicated by dark-red point. Hydronyms are marked by azure colour.
Red space marks the area of Sosnitsa culture. Blue space is the Urheimat of the Anglo-Saxons. The yellow – Sarmatia.
The red asterisk represents the battlefield at Adrianople in 378, in which the Alans took part.
Convincingly about the presence of the Anglo-Saxons in Eastern Europe in Scythian time is shown by the decoding of the epigraphy of the Northern Black Sea Coast and some realities with the help of Old English language, compiled in The Alan-Anglo-Saxon Onomasticon, a small part of which is given below.
ακινακεσ (akinakes), a short, iron Scythian sword – OE ǽces "an ax" and nǽcan "to kill" suit well.
Αργαμηνοσ (argame:nos) – OE earg “cowardly”, mann “a man”.
Αριαπειθεσ (ariapeithes), the name of a Scythian king – OE ār „honor, dignity, glory” (ārian "to honor"), fǽtan „to decorate” (“adorned with glory”).
Beorgus, the Alanian king who invaded Italy in V century AD – OE beorg 1. "a mountain, hill", 2. "protection".
Βουδινοι (budinoi) Boudinoi, rather, Woudinoi, the people who lived, according to Herodotus, in the country, overgrown with various trees – OE widu, wudu “tree, wood", Eng wooden.
Γωαρ (go:ar), Alanian leader in Gaul at the beginning of the 5th century. – OE gear "protection, weapon".
Ηλμανοσ (e:lmanos), Olbia, Vasmer – OE el “strange”, mann "a man".
Eochar, Alanian king in Armorica (north-west France) – OE eoh "a horse" and ār "a messenger, herald, apostle".
Ιδανθιρσοσ (idantirsos), Scythian king – OE eadan "performed, satisfied” and đyrs "a giant, demon, wizard".
Ιεζδραδοσ (iedzdrados), Olbia – OE. đræd "thread, wire”, while the first part of the name semantic approach OE īse(r)n "iron, of iron".
Λικοσ (likos), the son of Spargapeithes – by OE līc "body" could be called a man of large stature.
Μαστειρα (masteira), the Alanian, the wife of the king of the Bosporus Leukanorus – OE māst "most", āre "honor, dignity."
Respendial, Alanian king in Gallia in early 5th century – OE respan "to reproach" and deall “proud, brave”.
σαγαρισ (sagaris), battle axe, the Scythian weapon – OE sacu "strife, war" and earh "an arrow".
Σαδιμανοσ (sadimanos) – OE sǽd "sated, satiated" and mann "a man".
Sangibanus, Alanian king in Gallia in the 5th c. – OE sengen "to burn" and bān "a foot, bone" are better.
Σαυλιοσ (saulios), the son of Gnuros – apparently from OE sāwol "soul."
Having found in the above list the names of several Alanian leaders (Αρδαβουριοσ, Beorgus, Γωαρ, Eochar, Μαστειρα, Respendial, Sangibanus, Τασιοσ a.o.), we can assume that the Alans were in fact either related to the Anglo-Saxons, or a part of them. However, since there are reasons to consider the descendants of the Alans as modern Ossetians and the Turkic peoples of the Caucasus, recognizing diversity of the population of the Northern Black Sea region, we have no choice but to agree with the asumption that a tribal alliance, in which the main role was playing by the Anglo-Saxons, was hidden under the common name Alans. It should be borne in mind that the identification with the "prestigious" ethnos by individuals or groups of people, even without adopting its language is a widespread phenomenon even in our time. The Anglo-Saxons could play a major role in this alliance, and the ancestors of the Ossetians were the only members of the union. Explanation of a dominant position of the Anglo-Saxon in this tribal alliance is that a part of them occupied an area in the Donbas rich on deposits of copper ore. Copper smelting and fabrication of objects of everyday use allowed them to gain economic advantage over population of other ethnicity in the Northern Black Sea and, as a consequence, the political dominance. Evidence of the Anglo-Saxons' stay in the Donbas is given in sections The Sarmatians and The Ethnic Composition of the Population of Great Scythia According Toponymy).
Herodotus wrote that among all Scythian tribes “Royal Scythians” were. Strabo also singled out “Royal Sarmatians” among the tribes of the Iazyges, Urgs, Roxolani, Aorsi, the Siraces. Obviously the definition of "royal" refers to the dominant tribe. J. Harmatta believes that the peak power of the Sarmatians occurred for the last quarter of the 2nd and the first half of the 1st cent BC (HARMATTA J., 1970, 39). Under conditions of stability, the development of trade, ways and means of communication had resulted that different ethnic groups began to appear in the Black Sea steppes at the beginning of the 1st mill AD. They were included in the tribal alliance of the Alans. Historians come to the conclusion about the possibility of rule power of a warlike tribe, ethnically alien to the masses of population:
Ethnic diversity and flexibility, cultural exchange, often over long distances, long-range policy and regional differences occur in the study of steppe empires ever more apparent. The understanding of modern social anthropology, that the early medieval folks consist of different groups which gather around a relatively small core, and soon feel to being attached to it, is confirmed (POHL WALTER, 2002: 3).
In addition to names of the Alanian leaders, the Germanic origin of Alans is confirmed also by friendly relations of the Alans with the Germanic tribes of Goths, Vandals and Suevi (Suebe). These relations supposed to have some more serious explanation than a situational alliance of the tribes of different languages without a purpose and reason. Obviously, the common Germanic ethnopsychology helped Alans quickly find mutual understanding with the Goths and Vandals, than with other people. In 378 the Alans in alliance with other Gothic disparate units under the general command of Fritigern participated in the defeat of the Roman army at Adrianople.
The Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Alans, migrating under pressure of the Huns in search of new lands for settlement, has not moved a single stream, but each of these people by their own way and only temporarily united for military purposes. Even the Alans moved at least in two groups, making it difficult to establish their migration routes. As always during migration of peoples, their way has been marked by settlements, where a part of the migrants remains to stay for various reasons. This phenomenon was observed by the ancient migrations of the Bulgars, Cimbri, Angles, and Saxons. The way of the Alans to Adrianople is marked by the cities of Bulgaria Varna (OE wearnian "to warn, be careful") and Burgas (OE burg "borough"). The chain of place names that may mark the path of further movement of the Alans after Adrianople, consists of the following:
Haskovo, a village in southern Bulgaria – OE hassuk "wet, row grass", Eng. hassock.
Rashkovo, a village in Sofia Region, Bulgaria – OE. ræscan "to tremble, swing", īw, eow "yew". Place-names with the root rashk are common in Eastern Europe and is doubtful that a narrow meaning of tremor or swing lay in their stem. Most likely the Old English word had another meaning, as it does in its related the Old Norse raska, which is translated as both "to tremble", and as "to rock", "to displace". This meaning is much better suited for names of settlemants of migrants,
Berkovitsa, a town in Montana Province, Bulgaria – OE berc "birch".
Raška, a town, the center of Rashka district in Serbia – OE ræscan "to tremble, swing". See Rashkovo
Sige, a village in the municipality of Žagubica, Serbia – OE sige 1. "lowland", 2. "victory".
Raškovići, a village in the municipality of Goražde, Bosnia and Herzegovin – OE ræscan "to tremble, swing". See Rashkovo
Berkovica, a village in Bosnia and Herzegovina – OE berc "birch".
Raškovci, a village in the municipality of Doboj, Bosnia and Herzegovina – OE ræscan "to tremble, swing". See Rashkovo
Vinkovci a city in eastern Croatia – OE wincian "wink".
Valpovo, a city in eastern Croatia – OE hwelp(a) "whelp".
Szekszárd (Szekszárd), a city in Hungary, the capital of Tolna county – OE sex, siex, "six", eard "land, place, settlement".
However, judging by the density of the Anglo-Saxon toponymy (see Google Map above), most of the Alans first moved to the Carpathian Mountains, and then, after crossing the Carpathians, advanced to Transylvania. This path among others is marked by the following place names:
Rakhiv, a city in Trancarpathia – OE. raha "chamois".
Bârsana, a village in Maramureş County, Transilvania, Romania – OE. bærs, bears "perch".
Rohia, a village in Maramureş County, – OE. raha "chamois".
Brad, a city in Hunedoara County in the Transylvania region – OE. bræd "width".
Arad, the capital city of Arad County, Romania – OE. ared, arod "quick, rapid".
A further way of the Alans through the territory settled by Germanic tribes is difficult to trace because of the similarity of local dialects to Old English. However, it is known that the Alans together with the Vandals and Suevi reached Spain, where they founded their kingdom, and after the destruction of the kingdom by the Visigoths, they along with the Vandals crossed into North Africa. While driving through France the Alans also founded their settlements and their way to Spain across southern France can be marked as follows:
Bourg-en-Bresse, a commune, the capital of the Ain department,– OE burg "borough, town", bræs "ore, bronze".
Lyon, a city in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region
– OE lion "to lend", "to preserve".
Lemps, a commune in the Ardèche department – OE. limpan "to belong", "to be fit".
Gignac, a commune in the Hérault département in the Occitanie region – OE. geagn "against", gegn "right".
At left: Alanian kingdom in Spain. The map of Wikipedia.
The Alanian kingdom existed In Spain for a short time (409-426), but Alanian presence here is reflected in a few place names, allowing decryption using the Old English language. For example:
Alenquer, a municipality in the Oeste Subregion in Portugal – there is an explanation of the name as "Alanian temple" involving OG kerika "church". The name can be given by Visigoths, but this word is not fixed in the Gothic language, and there was in OE cirice "a church".
Madrid, the capital of Spain – the first mention of the city is preserved in the Arab transcription: مجريط (Majrīṭ,
pronounced as maʤrit). There are several versions of the origin of the name, but we can stand up about Alanian origin: OE māg "bad, shameless" and rīđ "a stream, river". Madrid is located on a small river Manzanares.
Murcia, a city in south-eastern Spain, the capital of the Autonomous Community of the Region of Murcia – OE murcian "be unhappy, complaining".
Utiel, a municipality in the comarca of Requena-Utiel in the Valencian Community, Spain. – OE ūtian "to banish, steal".
It should be said that the idea of the German ethnicity of Alan is not new. Norman Davies is reckoned among the East Germanic tribes, except for Swabians, Lombards, Burgundians, Vandals, Gepids, Goths, and Alan too (DAVIES NORMAN. 2000. 241).
Some evidence of friendly relations between the Alans and Goths provides also archaeology. While the Slavic tribes of the Zarubintsy culture were displaced by the Sarmatians from the Forest-steppe Dnieper Land between the rivers Tyasmyn and Stugna, "the relation the Sarmatians and the bearer of the Cherniakhiv culture in the 2nd-4th centuries was totally different than the situation between the Sarmatians and Zarubintsy people". The Sarmatians were involved in the creation of the south-western region of the Cherniakhiv culture, and their funerary rites are like Chernyakhiv ones (BARAN V.D., Otv. Red., 1985: 9-10). The Chernyakhiv culture was created by the Goths who came to the Black Sea but its cultural Sarmatian traits were superstrate, "that is, they are superimposed on the already established culture in the process of its spread to new territories" (GUDKOVA O.V. 2001:39). In this connection, we can assume that cultural interaction of the Goths and some part of the Sarmatians was due to the similarity of their languages and customs preserved since Germanic community.
Taking all this into account, we have to make a final conclusion that only the part of the Alans could be the Germanic-speaking people, which during the Great Migration had gone to Central Europe and then in Spain and Africa, and, as it turned out, even the British Isles. In other words, the name Alans could hide as German-speaking, Iranian-speaking, and even Turkic-speaking tribes of the Northern Black Sea region, causing by the transfer of the name of a dominant tribe to the other participants of the union of different tribes.
Quite recently correspondences has been revealed between the cycle of legends about King Arthur, Knights of the Round Table and the Holy Grail with Scythian-Sarmatian world. In 2000 a book was published which in authors try to explain these relationships (LITTLETON C. SCOTT, MALCOR LINDA A. 2000). The book was controversial in the scientific world, as evidence of the authors are based on analogies which maybe not convincing. The reasons for these connections in influencing a small number of the Yazyges served in the Roman legions in Britain in the 2nd cent on the culture of the indigenous Celtic population look unconvincing too.
The one of the Slide Show: Morte D'Arthur by Daniel Maclise
The Celts, hostile to the Romans, could not have close cultural contacts with them, the more it is doubtful that they were subjected to the cultural influence of the Yazyges. Such an influence could have been made by new numerous migrants, namely by the Alans, who undoubtedly had common cultural elements with the Iranian-speaking population of the Northern Black Sea Coast, but trustly historical data on the relocation of the Alans to Britain are absent. Although Linda Malcor explains the name of Lancelot, one of the knights of King Arthur as “(A)lan(u)s à Lot” (Alan of Lot, the area in Southern Gaul, where at one time massed Alans). One would assume that other Alans came to Britain with Lancelot.
If the Alans arrived in Britain from Southern Gaul, the more they could do it from Northern Gaul. It is known that Flavius Aetius, the honored leader, the actual governor of Gaul, known for his victory over the Huns on the Catalaunian Plains in 451 near the city of Châlons-en-Champagne, gave Armorica area (north-west France) into the possession to Alanian King Eochar (otherwise Goar).
It is known that Eochar with a part of the Alans did not follow the king Respendial to Spain and stayed in central France.
Invasions of Roman Empire by Goths, Huns, Vandals, and Anglo-Saxons in 4-6 cen AD
In the subsequent time there were several rulers named Alan in Armorica and, in addition, the local place names testify that the peninsula of Brittany and the adjacent area were inhabited by the numerous Alan horde:
Brest, a city in the Finistère département in Brittany – OE. breost "breast".
Kerlouan, a commune in the Finistère department of Brittany – OE. ceorl "man, peasant", own) "own".
Landéda, a commune in the Finistère department – OE. land "land", ead "wealth, happiness".
Landerneau, a commune in the Finistère – OE. land "land", earnian "earn, win, gain".
Landivisiau, a commune in the Finistère – OE. land "land", eawis "apparent".
Locarn (Locarn), a commune in the Côtes-d'Armor department of Brittany – OE. loc "lock", ærn "house".
Rostrenen, a commune in the Côtes-d'Armor department of Brittany – OE. rūst "rust, red", ren "house".
A chain of place names deciphered by the Old English language stretches from the battle area of the Katalaun fields to this cluster of place names. It includes the following settlements: Sézanne, Bernay-Vilbert, Rambouillet, Brou, Berne-en-Champagne, Laval, Cornillé, Rennes. It is significant that the name of Rambouillet is deciphered by Old English as "sheep's wool". Obviously, the local population has long been engaged in sheep breeding here and subsequently there was created a royal sheepfold where a fine-fleeced sheep rambulie breed was bred.
English monk Bede the Venerable in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People asserted that the tribes of the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes arrived to Britain in the 5th after Roman legions left it. He reports the names of the leaders of the Angles Hengist and Horsa (BEDE, XV), which can be translated from Old English as "a stallion" and "a horse". Such names are suitable for men of the people of horsemen, what were the Alans, but the people of Central Europe, where from Bede's opinion the Angles, riders were not. Bede described the event after more than 150 years and we don't know what sources he used.
There is in the English county of Oxfordshire on a hillside near the town of Uffington strange figure by length of 110 m and by form resembling a horse. Mysterious figure is made by filling ditches with broken chalk, but its origin is unclear. The prevailing view is that the figure is of Celtic origin and this is proved, among other things, by similarity of the strange head of the figure to images on Celtic coins of the first cen. AD. However, with careful study it turned out that there is overlapping of two different figures – a horse and a dragon or a snake (BOTHEROYD SILVIA und PAUL F. 1999: 416). It can be assumed that the original figure of the dragon was later turned into thr figure of a horse. It is not be excluded that this was done during the reign of King Alfred the Great as is also supposed. In this case, the figure could be modernized by riders Alans which had horse as a symbol of worship borrowed from the Iranians which were a part of the multinational Sarmatian alliance.
Uffington White Horse. Photo from Wikipedia.
In principle, the similarity between the ethnonyms of Angles and Alans can indicate their common origin, the more the name of the tribe of the Ρευκαναλοι (Reukanaloi) ie the "Light" or "Wild" Alans says of a possible metathesis in word Alan. If n in this ethnonym sounded like ng (ŋ), then the transformation of "Angl" in "Alan" would be quite possible (angloi → aŋloi → alŋoi → alanoi). This explanation assumes the German origin of the word.
The German tribe of Anglii has been known since the Roman historian Tacitus (ca. 56 – ca. 117 AD) The preferred etymological theory deduces this name from *angula “hook," supposedly because the country inhabited by them had a curved shape.
Other, namely Turkic origin of ethnonym is more suitable in terms of semantics. Old Turkic oğlan (ohlan) "a son, boy, young man" had another meaning, namely, "a rider " (Chuv. dial. yulan "a horseman"). The name of the light cavalry (Pol. ułani, Eng. Uhlans) is arisen from this Turkic word. This plausible explanation encounters phonetic difficulties which overcoming is tentative. The root oğ is represented in Turkic languages by only a few derivative words, but by itself has no sense. We can assume that it is a variant of the root oŋ (oŋğ) having several meanings – "a pat", "right", "light, convenient", "to improve ", ie oğlan originally could exist in the form oŋğlan and it gave angl- and alan-. Attempts to connect the ethnonym Alan with the Turkic oğlan have been known for a long time, but they are considered questionable (LAYPANOV K.T., MIZIEV I.M. 2010: 73), for some reason unknown .
The Alans, having moved to the left bank of the Dnieper, were in close contact with Iranian tribes for quite a long time and could participate in the formation of a common cultural environment. How much Angles and Saxons were involved in it is difficult to say. Most likely, elements of the Sarmatian culture were brought to Britain by the Alans. In the north of France in the Calais area there are several toponyms, deciphered using the English language: Berck, Bernay-en-Ponthieu, Rambures, etc. Distance from here to the island of Britain is only one step, not without reason the name of the Passa de Calais, which separates it from the mainland, is translated from French just so. In good weather, the Alans could repeatedly safely cross the island long before the invasion of England by William the Conqueror in 1066. Wenn the Vikings began their predatory attacks on Normandy in the 9th century, it was already populated by people speaking the French language, because by the middle of the 10th century they had adopted the religion and language of the French (SAWYER PETER. 2002: 11), that is, the Alans were absent there. William the Conqueror went on a campaign from the mouth of the Somme River near Calais. It is not excluded that the Angles and Saxons also used this same way. Still, a sea voyage from Jutland to Britain for people who did not have a long tradition of navigation would be a very risky venture.
Of course a part of the Alans remained in the North Caucasus and this is evidence by local place names, the most convincing examples of which are given below:
Yeya, a river flowing to Azov Sea and originated names – OE. ea "water, river".
Sandata, a river, lt of the Yegorlyk, lt of the Manych, lt of the Don River – OE. sand "sand", ate "weeds".
Bolshoy and Malyi Gok (Hok in local pronunciation), rives, rt of Yegorlyk, lt of the Manych, lt of the Don – OE. hōk "hook".
Guzeripl' (Huzeripl' in local pronunciation), a settlement in the Maikop municipal district of the Republic of Adygea – OE. hūs "house", "ìåñòî äëÿ äîìà", rippel "undergrowth".
In general, the distribution of Anglo-Saxon plkace names in the North Caucasus corresponds to the territory of the Caucasian Alania (see map below).
Some information about the Caucasian Alania was left by Hungarian monk Julian, who visited it in 1235 during the search for the ancestral homeland of the Hungarians on behalf of the Hungarian King Bela, moving from the city of Matrica in the country of Sikhia on the western slopes of the Caucasus:
… the inhabitants (of this country – VS) represent a mixture of Christians and pagans: how many towns, so many princes, of whom no one considers himself subordinate to another. Here is the constant war of a prince with a prince, a small town with a town: during the plowing all people of one place armed together go to the field, together mow, and then on the adjacent space, and in general the exits out of their settlements for the cutting of firewood, or for whatever work, they all go together and armed, and in a small number they can not go out safely from their settlements (GARDANOV V.K. 1974: 33).
It is clear from the description that no tribal alliance or the leading tribe in Alanya can be spoken of. If there were still Anglo-Saxons in these places, then in very small numbers. William Rubruk, sent by King Louis IX ambassador to Mongolia, in 1253 met with the Alans in the Crimea, and noticed that they are called there aas (RUBRUK WILGELM de, 1957: XIII). He also noted that the Alans do not drink Kumys, from which it can be concluded that they were not Turks, for whom Kumys is a national drink (Ibid: XII). Further, he sometimes mentions the Alans on the North Caucasus, but he does not write about them in detail, because he did not visit the Caucasian Alania.
The undoubted presence of the Turkic tribes among the Alans is shown by their completely Turkic names (Ιτιλησ, Αραβατησ, Thogay), and the ethnonyms Alans and Asses are still in use to refer specifically to the Turkic peoples. For example, the neighbors of Karachai, the Megrels, call them Alans, Karachais and Balkarians use the term "Alan" when referring to the word "kinsman", "fellow tribesman" (LAYPANOV K.T., MIZIEV I.M. 2010: 268, 294), and the Chuvash, especially the elderly, say: "Epir Assem" (we are Asses), just as the Ossetians call the Balkars as Asses too. True, they themselves are called with a similar word the Asses (Avsses) by the Georgians. At the same time, there is no single self-name for Ossetians, their widespread name comes from Georgian, and the self-identification of individual Ossetian sub-ethnoses (Digorians, Irons, etc.) do not contain any hints of the ethnonyms of Alans or Asses.
However, the greater part of the Anglo-Saxons had no direct relation to the Alans. While the Alans, which could have been one of the three ethnic units formed on the ancestral home, migrated south-west, the Angles and Saxons moved their way towards Germany, and from there they already reached the British Isles. The study of Anglo-Saxon place names in Central and Eastern Europe helps to restore the picture. As is the case with the mass migration of peoples, part of migrants remain always at the place of temporary residence, whereas the rest of tribesmen set out again after some time (a year or two or more). So a chain of settlements, whose names often survived to our time, arises along the way. In our case, we have two such chains of the Anglo-Saxon place names, one of which crosses the central Poland, and the second goes along the Carpathian Mountains and through the Moravian Gate to Bohemia. Obviously, the Angles moved through the central Poland and then through northern Germany they reached Yutland Peninsula. The Saxons came in Bohemia and through the valley of the Elbe River entered Germany where is now the states of Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt. Here, most of them stayed permanently. The other part has moved on to the North Sea coast where is now the state of Lower Saxony. In the 5th millennium, the Saxons and the Angles of Jutland with the Jutes migrated to Britain.
One of the evidence of movement of the Anglo-Saxons through Poland can be decoding of the name of the village Czorsztyn in Lesser Poland Voivodeship as "jutting rock" (OE. scorian "to jut out", stān "stone, rock"). Really, there is in this village a steep rock on the shore of the reservoir formed by the Dunajec River (see. photo at the right). Similar words are or were present in German (OHG N. scorra "rock", Stein "stone"). In addition, there are in Poland several settlements, which contain the component sztyn (Wolsztyn, Falshtyn and possibly others), all they can have as German (Teutonic) as Anglo-Saxon origin. Anglo-Saxon origin may be assumed more justified only if they are part of a chain or cluster of names as we can see inthe case with Czorstyn. However many place names in the band passing through the Central Poland have clear Anglo-Saxon origin. For example, the name of the village of Kornaty can be interpreted using OE. corn "grain", ate "oats". However another fact is more interesting. There are in the band ten settlements called Konotop and four called Konotopy. These names have Slavic appearances, but that they are so numerous with questionable Slavic interpretation and that they form a strip, caused to assume their non-Slavic origin. Only the Anglo-Saxon could provide such opportunity. The movement of the Saxons Czech Republic is marked by place names such as the Olomouc, Chrudim and several others, including those component tyn corresponding OE tūn "village". Interpretation of other place names can be found in The Complete List of Anglo-Saxon Place Names in Continental Europe
Talking about the Anglo-Saxon presence in Eastern Europe at the Scythian-Sarmatian times, we can not ignore the similarities of the ethnonyms "Saks" and "Saxons". The Saks were a Scythian tribe which settled in Central Asia, but their language is unknown. One can judge of it only on certain words. One of such word is the name of one of the Sakian leaders Skunha. This "Sak Skunha" was depicted on the monuments of the Achaemenid’s epoch, consisting of several rock-hewn figures and inscriptions to them in a few hundred kilometres from Hamadan. As can be seen from the inscription, Darius seized Skunha captured and mastered by his country. The search for explanations of Skunha’s name was carried out in Iranian languages and for this purpose Os sk'uänxun (Digorian dialect) and sk'uyxyn (Irons dialect) having the sense "to different" have been involved. Participle of the verb, which from origin these words, could mean "famous", "valiant" (FREIMAN A.A. 1948: 239). This explanation is convincing enough, but the scientific objectivity makes check other options. A. Freiman believed that the Ossetian word is cognate with other Iranian and also has a match in some Indo-European languages which are based on the concept of "pay attention". However, there is OE scunian “to avoid" of obscure origin and having no matches in the other Germanic languages. Semantic relation, albeit remote, exists with the Ossetian word (for example, the source sense could be "to separate, distinguish”), so it's possible their common origin. These considerations suggest that the issue of ethnicity of the Saks yet can not be resolved definitively.