CALGACUS

Attested:  Tacitus (Agricola 39) used the name Calgacus for a Caledonian leader who addressed the British warriors (in a speech that was probably Tacitus' own invention) before the battle of mons Graupius.

WhereMons Graupius was probably in the Ochil hills, midway between Stirling and Perth.

Name originCalgacus is usually claimed as Celtic for ‘swordsman’ because of Old Irish colg, calg ‘anything pointed’.  Alternatively, it could be compounded from PIE *gal- ‘to call, to summon’ plus a second element related to German gackern ‘to cackle’ and OE geák ‘cuckoo’, implying that Calgacus was a sort of herald who travelled around to summon the tribal warriors rather than a great fighter himself.  Tacitus described the British warriors assembling, but wrote nothing about how their host was commanded.

Notes:  Adomnan mentioned locum qui in Scotice dicitatur Daire Calgaich as a harbour in Ireland in the late 500s AD, in his life of Saint Columba (2,39), where Calgaich has been interpreted as the genitive of a personal name *Calgach with daire (oak wood) being modern (London)Derry.

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Last Edited: 24 June 2017