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.
Where: Mons Graupius was probably in the Ochil hills, midway between Stirling and Perth.
Name origin: Calgacus 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.
Last Edited: 24 June 2017