Ουακομαγοι

Attested:  Ptolemy 2,3,13 Ουακομαγοι

Where:  A tribe in eastern Scotland, between the Tay and the Moray Firth, with 4 πολεις, at Βανατια (near Comrie), Ταμεια (near Perth), Πτερωτον στρατοπεδον (Burghead), and Τουησις (Speymouth).

Name Origin:  Possibility 1: ‘militia power’, with first element from *weg- ‘to be strong’ (which led in English to wake and watch) and second element from *magh- ‘to be able, to have power’ and/or *magh- ‘to fight’.   Possibility 2: ‘cattle markets’, with first element related to Latin vacca ‘cow’ and second element having a sense of ‘open space’ or ‘market place’ as discussed for magis.   Possibility 3: ‘power vacuum’!

Notes: Rivet and Smith's discussion is lengthy but full of red herrings.  Their comment that “it is not credible that the name of a tribe in Sotland should be formed with a Latin borrowing” misses the point that Ptolemy described lifestyles rather than political units.  However, if Tacitus was right that 30 thousand native warriors fought at Mons Graupius, assembled from a catchment area whose total human population cannot have exceeded 300 thousand, that implies a remarkable social duty to turn out and fight.  Note, too, that pastoral cultures naturally evolve a cultural tradition of markets to avoid inbreeding and have a chronic problem of cattle rustling.

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Last edited 5 April 2020     To main Menu