Attested: Ptolemy 2,2,12 Μοναοιδα (or Μοναρινα), reported as an island and as part of Ireland.
Where: Probably Arran, around NR9633, or possibly Kintyre.
Name origin: It is usually asserted that this name, like Mona, came from hills visible from the sea, but Greek μονος ‘alone, solitary’ is a better parallel. The final part –οιδα might be Greek for ‘swollen’, from οιδεω ‘to swell’ (compare modern oedema). The alternative final –ρινα looks like ρις/ρινος ‘nose, projecting spur of land’ and Gaelic word rinn ‘promontory’.
Notes: Ptolemy's latitude/longitude coordinates around Ireland are a bit weird, but for this island his latitude figure (61.5°) lies between that of Ireland's northern point (presumably Malin Head) and of Rathlin Island (Ρικινα) while his longitude is further east than anywhere else in Ireland. That narrows down the candidates to Kintyre (which is a peninsula not an island, but it is joined to the mainland by only a narrow neck about 1km wide at Tarbert), Sanda (which is tiny), and Arran. Arran wins because of Manna in the Cosmography. Most of the ancient island names up the west of Britain can be explained best with the aid of Greek, perhaps reflecting the speech of sea captains who first brought them to the notice of literate Mediterranean geographers, rather than of local people. Mona ± an extra qualification seems to have been a general name for big, isolated islands, where not all ancient authors may have been clear about the distinctions between Arran, Man, and Anglesey.
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Last edited: 3 September 2018