Conjectural derivation of the Meon Valley name
The derivation of the name could be Celtic, as many river names in
England can still be labelled with their modern Welsh equivalents.
Bede gives the name as Mean when referring to the Meonware. As Welsh
has come down to us today, there could be four possible candidates,
listed here in alphabetical order:
MAEN (pronounced something like 'mine'), meaning stone, which
would compare with the River Gorlech = rocky.
MEHYN (pronounced with the last syllable stressed), meaning a
place, which would compare with the River Gafenni (Welsh spelling)
referring to a smithy.
MENA (pronounced as 'menna'), which is a personal name and would
compare with the River Elan.
MWYN (pronounced like 'moo-in as a dipthong), meaning gentle,
which would compare with the River Tawe = silent. Abertawe is
Swansea in Welsh.
Perhaps the most favourable candidates are the words MWYN, since
a number of river names are descriptive in Welsh, and MENA.
name, assuming it was used, might have paired with the appellation
of another river flowing into the Channel. The Eastern Rother,
further down the coast, was at one time called the Limen. The older
name might have derived from the Welsh Lli Mena = Mena's Flood,
referring to the strength of the tide pulling out and flooding back
into the Rother. MENA therefore seems to be the best choice.
the elements of Bede's Mean are easily traced back to MENA. Possibly
it was the name Afon Mena which became the River Mean (said as if
bisyllabic), and over generations the Meon, which is the source of
the name Meonware.