Leiden was formed on an artificial hill (today called the Burcht van Leiden) at the confluence of the rivers Oude and Nieuwe Rijn (Old and New Rhine). In the oldest reference to this, from circa 860, the settlement was called Leithon. The name is said to be from Germanic *leitha- "canal" in dative pluralis, thus meaning "at the canals". "Canal" is actually not the completely proper word. A leitha (later "lede") was a human-modified natural river, partly natural, partly artificial.
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