Σελγοουαι

Attested:  Ptolemy 2,3,8 Σελγοουαι (or Ελγοουαι) with 4 πολεις.

Where:  A tribe in the Scottish borders.

Name origin*Selgovae naturally means ‘seal banks’, compounded from words ancestral to OE seolh ‘seal’ and ofer ‘shore, riverbank’.  The North Sea coastline of Northumbria and the Scottish borders is still famous as a breeding area for seals, whose cultural importance underlies the Scots word selkie.

Notes:  R&S suggested that the *Selgovae were ‘hunters’, based on Old Irish selg ‘hunting’ and its cognates in other Celtic languages.  This seems a weaker explanation because (a) the Scots/Anglian language ultimately dominated this area, (b) semantic development from PIE *selg- ‘to pour out, to set free’ via a sense of ‘loose the hounds’ seems awkward, and (c) hunting was mostly just a recreational activity by Roman times.

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Last Edited: 22 June 2017