VOSS in Great Britain

The name VOSS seems to have arisen from more than one source. so it would be incorrect to assume that all those bearing the name are somehow related.  Rather, as surnames became required, various people chose Voss as theirs, or the spelling was chosen for them by literate officials.

The path of the Fosse Way

In Britain the name is said to be a variant of the middle English word ‘foss’ or ‘fosse’, from the Latin fossa, meaning a ditch or moat. The Foss or Fosse Dyke is the oldest canal in England, constructed by the Romans around 120 AD and still in use.

The Foss Dyke meets the River Witham in Lincoln

The Fosse Way was a Roman road running from Lincoln to Exeter.  It may have started as a defensive ditch with a road running along it.  The Romans constructed their roads by digging out a drainage ditch and using the spoil for a raised road.

In Devon even today a raised path across a muddy estuary is known as a voss.  There are two such vosses on the River Yealm, one connecting Newton Ferrers with Noss Mayo across the Newton creek and one crossing Noss creek.  At their junction lies Voss Cottage.  It is easy to imagine the surname being adopted by someone who built vosses or worked on dykes or dwelt by one.

See also VOSS in Dorset.

Crossing the voss at Newton Ferrers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *