Attested: Elete at position 294 in the Ravenna Cosmography
Where: An island off western Scotland. Coll, around NM2158, would allow the Cosmography's list of names to follow a plausible track across the map.
Name origin: Richmond & Crawford and Rivet & Smith could suggest nothing reasonable, but Homer used ελετη, from Greek ελετος ‘can be taken or caught’, which might refer to hunting of seabirds or seals. El was a generic name for god in Semitic languages (including that of Punic traders) and eten is an English word for ‘giant’, most familiar when spelled eoten. This is significant, because Adomnan's name for Coll was Colosus, which has prompted suggestions that there was originally a giant statue on the island, which would of course have since been destroyed by Christian zealots. Coll now has just one pair of standing stones.
Notes: See here for a general discussion of islands off Scotland. Rejected parallels include Welsh elet which meant something like ‘you should go’, English elet, an obsolete word for ‘on fire’, and Latin elate ‘loftily’.
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Last edited 23 April 2020 To main Menu.