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The First Thousand Years of British Names

Appendix VI

Heather Rose Jones
copyright 1998, all rights reserved

Edited by Arval Benicoeur

Appendix VI - A special consideration of some Irish inscriptions in early Britain

(This section has been circulated previously as a separate pamphlet.)

The source for these names are funerary monuments set up by Irish colonists in Britain, mainly from the 5th and 6th centuries with a few from the early 7th. Most of them are found with parallel Latin and Ogham texts. The Irish (Ogham) generally consists only of a personal name in the genitive (possessive) form, meaning approximately "[the stone of] so-and-so". The Latin form often has a formula involving hic iacet "here lies so-and-so". For that reason, most of the given names are available only in the genitive form. For use in patronymics this is ideal, however people also need given names. In many cases, Jackson has suggested nominative forms, or mentioned other instances of the name in the nominative. Where he has given none, I have made a guess at a possible nominative based on the available information. These guesses should not be considered entirely reliable. My guesses are in curly brackets. All other information in these lists is from Jackson. The text of the inscriptions are given in upper case letters because that's what was used. Punctuation (such as hyphens) has been added by modern editors. Letters in parentheses in the inscriptions are ones that either are questionable or are missing entirely and have been filled in by the researchers. For those unfamiliar with the convention, an asterisk in front of a word or name means that it is a modern reconstruction rather than actually having been found in a text somewhere. To start with, here is a list of the given names. Except for Avitoriga, all given names are masculine. It is interesting, though, that there is a masculine version of this name, Avitorix, indicating that other given names ending in -rix can be feminized in the same way.

Given Names in the Inscriptions
Names of Irish origin
Ogham (gen.) Latin (gen.) Century   Nominative
BARCVNI 6th *Barrocunas (5th cent. form)
BIVADI 6th {Bivadas}
BIVITI ? Bivitas
BODDIBEVVE BODIBEVE 6th *Boudibiua, 5th cent. form *Bodibeua, Old Irish Buaidbeo
CAVE(TI) CAVETI 6th {Cauetas}
COBRANOR(IGAS) ? Cobranorix
CORBAGNI ? Corbagnas
CUNATAMI CVNOTAMI 6th {Cunatamos}, British genitive Cunotami, Modern Welsh Cyndaf
CVNOGVSI 6th {Cunogusas}
DOVATACIS DOB(I)TVCI 6th {Dovatacis may be nominative instead}
DOBVNNI 6th {Dobunnas}
DUMELI ? Dumelas
DVNOCATI 6th {Dunocatas}
ENABARR ENABARRI 6th *Etnobarros - means "Birdhead"
EVOLENGI 6th {Evolengas}
( )B( )CATOS AMMECATI 5th Imbicatos, Modern Irish Imchadh
MACCVDECCETI 6th {MaqqasDeceti - there's no significance in the capitalization except that the name is compounded from Maqqas "son" and Deceti}
MACVDECETI 6th {MaqqasDeceti}
MACCODECHETI 6-7th {MaqqasDeceti}
MAQQI-IARI ? Maqqas-Iari
MESCAGNI 6th {Mescagnas}
QVENATAVCI 6th {Quenataucas}
QUENVENDANI 6th *Quennouindognas (5th cent. form)
ROC(A)T(O)S ROCATI 5th *Rocatus, later Rochadh
SAGRAGNI SAGRANI 6th {Sagragnas}
TIGERNACI 5-6th {Tigernacas}
ULCAGNI VLCAGNI 5th {Ulcagnas}
Names of uncertain origin, whether Irish or British
AVITTORIGES AVITORIA 5th *Auitoriga (feminine)
AVITORI 6th *Auitorix {masc. equivalent of Avitoriga}
CUNACENNI CVNOCENNI 6th *Cunocennos (Celtic), *Cunogennos (Late British), Cyngen (modern Welsh), *Cunachennas (Primative Irish); Conchenn (Old Irish)
ILVVETO 6th {Iluuetos}
S(I)B(I)L(I)NI SIMILINI 5th *Similinos (British), {Sibilinos - possible Irish}
Non-Irish names found in Irish contexts
CLUTAR( ) CLVTORI 5th {Clutorix}, Clodri (modern Welsh)
CUNIGNI CVNIGNI 5th {Cunignos}
Bynames and Possible Bynames in the Inscriptions
DOVAGNI DOBAGNI 5-6th {Dovagnas} possible meaning unknown
MUCCOI DOVVINIAS ? "tribe of Dovinia" {I haven't tried to come up with a nominative because in use, the genitive would always be used. See under name patterns below.}
(TO)VISACI TOVISACI 5th {Tovisacos}, toisech (Old Irish), tywysog (Welsh), "prince"

Patterns Of Names In The Inscriptions

The formation of whole names, putting the pieces together, is the area in which information is most often lacking. Here we have an advantage in that most of the examples are full personal names.

Relationship patterns

The overwhelming pattern, both in numbers of variants and in sheer numbers of examples is something along the lines of <given name in the nominative> <relationship word in the nominative> <given name in the genitive>. The spelling of the words for the relationship vary considerably and Jackson specifically notes that the alternation between single and double internal consonants is not significant. The relationship words used in these examples are mostly in the genitive, but luckily we have clues to the nominative for most of them.
"son of"
The examples in the inscriptions are MACV, MAQI, and MAQQI. We find the nominative in a compound given name that uses it as a starting element: MAQQAS (or presumably MAQAS or MACAS, etc.) This is, of course, an early form of "Mac".

"descendent of, grandson of"
There were fewer examples of this but it appears in two genitive forms: AVI and AVVI. The nominative may be found in Lewis & Pedersen's A Concise Comparative Celtic Grammar. This is an early form of "ó".

"nephew of"
There is one example of this relationship in a name - interestingly, the only name that has three elements: X son of Y nephew of Z. It is impossible to tell whether X was both the son of Y and the nephew of Z or whether it was Y who was the nephew of Z. At any rate, such a relationship might be emphasized perhaps if a man's mother's brother were particularly important. The word used is NIOTTA and is presumably in the genitive. I would hesitate to guess at a nominative form, but if you put a gun to my head I'd go with {niottas}.

"daughter of"
We are incredibly lucky that there was one (but only one) inscription for a woman, giving us the proper term (and in the nominative already in this case) for "daughter of": INIGENA. This inscription also gives us another arrangement for the elements in the name, for the Ogham version is in the form INIGENA <father's name in the genitive> <woman's name>, although the Latin version takes the more standard order.

unknown relationship, possibly "servant of"
Jackson mentions the appearance of the word MOSAC in one inscription that is glossed in Latin as PVVERI, the genitive of a word that can mean "child of either sex, boy, servant or slave of any age, unmarried man". Since there are clearly more specific terms for children, the logical conclusion is that the person in question was being identified as another person's servant or, more likely, slave. I won't even guess what the proper nominative form would be on this one.

Other Patterns

In addition to the use of "relationship words" with the given name of another person, there is one example in which the individual is noted as being the "son" of a tribe: MAQQI-IARI ... MAQQI MUCCOI DOVVINIAS, "[of] MaqqiIaras son of the tribe of Dovinias".

There are three inscriptions where a given name is followed by another word, also in the genitive (as far as I can tell). Two have no clues as to whether the second word is a name or a byname, but in the third it is clearly a byname: SIMILINI TOVISACI where the second word is cognate to modern Welsh tywysog and modern Irish toisech "prince". (Given the extreme similarity of the early forms of these words, it may be impossible to tell whether it is meant to be Irish or British in this context.)

The final pattern I found is a bit frustrating because most of the Ogham inscription has been lost, leaving only the final name. The Latin reads DOBVNNI FABRI FILII ENABARRI "[of] Dobunnas the smith, son of Enabarros". It is probably safe to assume that the word order was the same in the Ogham inscription.

So to summarize, I found the following patterns (names and words are in the nominative unless otherwise noted):

<given name> <relationship word> <given name in the genitive>
where the relationship word may be maqi, aue, niottas, inigena, or mosac (in the nominative, whatever it is)

<relationship word> <given name in the genitive> <given name>
where the given name of the bearer is the last item

<given name> <relationship word> <tribal name in the genitive>
only maqi is found for the relationship here, although inigena would also be a natural

<given name> <title, occupation, or possibly other byname>

Various combinations of the above such as:
  • <given name> <relationship word> <given name in the genitive> <relationship word> <given name in the genitive>
  • <given name> <occupation> <relationship word> <given name in the genitive>

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