On this map, these figures indicate the number of square kilometers per name. The smaller is the figure, the higher is the density. Of course, this is a very superficial approach as I identify place names everyday, but this clearly indicates the main areas where these men created place names and settlements.
The surprise came from the Pyrenees in the South where the density remains very high while these mountains are supposed to be less populated. Obviously -and the place names confirm that feeling-the Vikings never looked at the Pyrenees as a hostile area, but as a crossing to Spain and Mediterranean trade. Without any surprise I found Scandinavian names on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees.
A Germanic toponymy.
Side picture. Seignosse (Hastein), Bénesse (Björn) and Hossegor (Asgeir) evoke the presence of these three leaders at the former mouth of Adour River.
The south of France has a very important germanic toponymy: Bergerac, Armagnac, Cognac, Cadillac, Aubrac, Larzac. These names sound very gascon. However, their root is germanic : Berger, Arman, Hakon, Ketill, Aubert, Lars. The Visigoths are supposed to be responsible for such a toponymy in the south west of the country and the Burgonds in the south east. As far as the Vikings are concerned, they are not supposed to have left any toponymic mark south of the Loire River.
If the Vikings colonized Gascony as we pretend, normally, we should find Scandinavian place names similar to those of Normandy. This hypothesis is absurd a priori, but if you search, you find.
We discovered the most important concentrations on the coast and noticed that the more you go inland, the less you find Germanic names. These place names seem to reveal that the German invaders who put their print in the land came from the sea.
The mouth of river Adour
In the adjacent 18th century map, the three mouths of the Adour River are visible. Le Boucau de Capbreton (until 1310), Vieux-Boucau (1310-1578) and le Boucau, close to Bayonne where the architect Louis de Foix dug the new mouth in 1578. Many of the place names in this map have no translation. They may have Scandinavian origins. Some seem to be simple names. Azur (Özurr), Tosse (Tossi), Ossegor (Asgeir), Saubion (Soybjörn), lAlbene (Hallbjörn), Bayonne (Björn), Arcangue (Areangue=Hearing), Arbonne (Harbjörn). Some place names are similar to those of Normandy, but instead of finishing with the Latin suffix –villa, they end with a very Scandinavian –hus. Asgeir: Angreville/Angresse ; Bard: Bardouville/Bardos; Geir: Guerville/Gueirosse; Björn: Benneville/Bénesse; Ondver: Ondreville/Ondres; Hastein: Senneville/Seignosse; Others are more original: Cambo (Kamborg), Saint-Jean-de-Marsac (Marshaug), Souston (Saxtoft)… Some of these names have basque or gascon translations, this is the reason why these Scandinavian translations are vigorously rejected.
Bordeaux and surroundings.
The city of Bordeaux was partially destroyed as soon as 840, except for its fortress. Asgeir finally took the city in 848 after a one year siege. He had to leave it as soon as 851 when he had to launch a counter-attack on the Seine River. The Duke of Gascony, allied with Charles the Bald, took the control of the city. By 855, Asgeir came back and conquered the city once again. Vikings remained there for more than one hundred years. They had their port outside the city walls, in a swampy area on the left bank, maybe in what had to become the mariners’ favorite place, les Chartrons.
On this map of Bordeaux and its surroundings, place names with Scandinavian translation are underlined. They refer to warrior names or to activities like slave trade. Slave trade is present in Talence, Le Taillan, Latresne, Sainte-Eulalie. Viking names that can be related to the place names are Bassi (Bassens), Boli (Bouliac), Maering (Mérignac), Grastein (Gradignan), Ivarr (Yvrac), Ketill (Cadaujac), Baeglir (Bègles), Halli (Le Haillan), Hastein/Stein (Cénac) and Lötmund (Lormont).
Cognac, Armagnac, Bergerac, Scandinavic names ?
Tourtinhac (Thorstein), Ventilhac (Vandil), Mayrinhac (Maering), Versilhac (Bersi), Verteilhac (Bertil), Gragnague (Grani), Les-Lèves-et-Thoumeyrargues (Thomrir), Biscarrague (Viskar), Agonac, Cognac (Hakon), Alleyrac, Alairac (Alar), Armagnac (Armund), Ambeyrac (Arnbjörn), Bentenac (Bentein), Bergerac (Berggeir), Bouliac, Bouillac (Boli), Blagnac, Blaignac (Blann), Brouzac (Brusi), Andillac (Endill), Falgayrac (Falgeir), Freyssignac (Freystein), Germignac (Germund), Granouillac (Granulf), Grizac (Gris), Grépiac (Greip), Ostenac (Oynstein), Artenac (Hardaeni), Almayrac (Ailmaer), Juillac (Jul), Jorignac (Jorun), Carcenac, Casternac (Karstein), Calvignac (Kolbein), Courbenac (Korbjörn), Cornac (Korni), Cussac (Kusi), Ladignac (Lodin), Marracq (Mar), Soucirac (Sössur), Espeyrac (Spoer), Estarac (Stari), Sénouillac (Steinulf), Tourtoirac (Thorstyr), Veyrignac (Vaering), Vignac (Vigi), Toutigeac (Tostig), Rancillac (Rankil), Sorlhac (Sorli), Bassignac (Basing), Frédignac (Freystein), Justiniac (Jostein), Gizerac (Gizur), Larzac (Lars).
The final -ac doesn't refer to the gallo-roman -acum, but to a very scandinavic haug, which means mound and more especcially motte.
I develop the subject in my last book "les Vikings au coeur de nos régions" Editions Yago, 2009, 528 pages, 22€. In this book, I mention more than 2000 place names in the south of France which could have a Scandinavian translation.
These place names reveal a "viking colony" and the military marches that surround it. They also demonstrate that the slave trade towards Spain was the main buisness of the Northmen in France.