Επιδιοι

Attested:  (1) Ptolemy 2,2,11 Επιδιον, one of 5 islands called Εβουδαι
   (2) Ptolemy 2,3,1 Επιδιον ακρον;  (3) Ptolemy 2,3,11 Επιδιοι people by Επιδιον ακρον.

Where:  Presumably the Επιδιοι lived throughout Kintyre, with their ακρον ‘promontory’ at the Mull of Kintyre, whose southern tip is near NR618059.  The island is a problem.  Perhaps it referred to Sanda (which was important to early mariners), but that may have been the Cosmography's Minerve.  Or maybe the whole Kintyre peninsula was considered an island, because it may have been at least a tidal island in Roman times, since when post-glacial rebound, plus siltation, may have raised its Tarbert neck of land faster than sea-level rise.

Name Origin:  Early names beginning with Ep- make many scholars think of horses, with particular attention paid to a goddess Epona, and to Welsh ebol ‘foal’.  The argument is set out by Delamarre (2003:163).  However, there are huge problems with applying that logic to these people, in terms of zoology, ethnography, and archaeology.  There is no obvious reason why horses were specially important in Kintyre, and a Punic word for ‘sheep’ has also been suggested.  Επιδιοι is most simply explained as a compound of Greek επι ‘upon’ plus δυο ‘two’ or δια ‘through’, which would be an appropriate description of Gaelic people living on both sides of the North Channel.

Notes:  It is conventional to date the entry of Gaels into Scotland after AD 300, when Scotti raiders started becoming troublesome, but extensive maritime contacts across the North Channel to Ireland must date back earlier in much the same way as contacts across the English Channel between Britain and France.  See also about Ebio in the Cosmography.

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Last edited 26 March 2020     To main Menu