Ωταδηνοι

Attested:  Ptolemy 2,3,10  Ωταδηνοι (or Ωτααηνοι)

Where:  A tribe with 3 πολεις, at Κουρια (probably Inveresk), Αλαυνα (possibly Low Learchild) and Bremenium (High Rochester), which places them in the Scottish borders, between Northumberland and Edinburgh.

Name origin:  It is usually suggested that this name was Roman-era *Votadini, which suffered a classic Greek loss of initial W to become Ptolemy's Ωταδηνοι, because Welsh Gododdin and Gaelic Fothudan probably descend from this name.  They are known mainly from the medieval Welsh poem Y Gododdin, which tells how 300 warriors set out from Edinburgh around AD 600 to attack Catterick and got wiped out.  All the main language families have candidate explanations for this name.  From a Celtic perspective James (2016:298-9) suggested that PIE *upo- ‘under’ plus *sta- ‘to stand’ led to a hypothetical Celtic form *wo-tādo- ‘foundation, support’, which became a personal name, then gained an adjectival ending similar to Latin –inus.  Latin offers votum ‘vow, promise to a god’ plus dine ‘whirlwind’, while Greek has ωτος ‘of the ear’ plus δινη ‘whirlwind’.  On the Germanic side, appropriate to the later Scots (Anglian) speech around Edinburgh, or to Roman soldiers recruited from around the lower Rhine, precursors of OE woş‘sound, cry, noise’ or woda ‘madman’ plus dyne ‘din, noise’ offer a much simpler fit to the name.

Notes:  Most of Ptolemy's ethnic names looks as if they were created by outside observers of the lifestyle or peculiarities of people who were not politically united.  Maybe the brittunculi made crazy noises with precursors of bagpipes or the Highland Charge.  Or maybe bardic recitals implied by Ptolemy's other ethnic name Δεκανται were noisy affairs.  Most likely the *Votadini/Ωταδηνοι cried out to Wotan/Odin, a god claimed as the progenitor of the ruling dynasties of many Germanic kingdoms.

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Last Edited: 14 March 2017