The Ouse has a bore
Locals know as the Ager.
York's own tidal wave.
I teach evening classes on geology at the University of York, and they're a lot of fun. I have to put a fair bit of work into preparing them, but I always learn new things in doing so. I also learn new things from the people in my classes.
This week, teaching a geological history of Britain, I was discussing the Jurassic, and showed a picture of some tidal sedimentary rocks from the Yorkshire coast:
|Middle Jurassic sandstones with tidal mud bundles, Yons Nab, Cayton Bay, North Yorkshire.|
This led to a discussion of how far up-river a tidal influence could be noticed, and we talked a little about the Severn bore, and the influence of the Humber on the River Ouse. I mentioned that, in 1905, a beluga had been spotted in the river at Naburn, a few miles south of York.
One of the ladies then said, "I think the Ouse has a name for its tidal wave."
I confessed I didn't know, but was interested to find out.
"It's something like the 'Ager', I think," she said.
This was a word I'd never heard of, but then one of the other class members said, yes, he'd heard it too. So I looked into it after the class, and they were absolutely correct:
|Eagre, a tidal bore (first recorded from the Humber in 1592, as the 'Agar')|
A transcript of the Rivers of the East Riding, from Bulmer's Gazetteer (1892) provides a bit more detail:
When the tide begins to flow in the [Humber] estuary the waters of the Ouse rise with startling suddenness, and occasionally with considerable violence. This peculiar rising or water-rush is locally known as the "Ager," a name of doubtful origin, but supposed by many writers to have been derived from Oegir, the terrible water-god of our Teutonic ancestors.
|Ægir and Rán, not drowning but waving.|
Perhaps inevitably, the OED disagrees with those 'many writers', stating that it can't derive from a Norse god because the inflection is wrong. So where does the ager/agar/eagre come from? (The sea, obviously.)
I don't know, but whilst on the subject of etymology, I decided to try and find out what the Japanese would call a true tidal wave like the ager. Tsunami has properly entered our vocabulary as a replacement for the non-tidal, sudden displacement, ocean wave, so I'm sure we'd be able to deal with another.
|This is not a tidal wave.|
Sadly, my Japanese is non-existent, so although I knew that 'nami' meant wave, and discovered that 'shio' or 'chou' meant tide, I didn't know if this allowed me to presume that shionami or chounami were acceptable combinations.
Ocean Dictionary came to my aid, suggesting that 'shionami' actually means a tidal race, that 'chourou' is the word for tidal wave, and that a tidal bore is a 'shiotsunami'.
That solves that then. No need to worry about using the dialectal Ager any more: we can call it the Ouse shiotsunami. I'm sure the people of Yorkshire will have no problem with that.