Βριγαντες

Attested:  Ptolemy 2,3,16 Βριγαντες, a tribe with 7 πολεις: Επιακον (Whitley Castle), Ουιννοουιον (Binchester), Κατουρακτονιον (Catterick), Καλατον (?Burrow-in-Lonsdale),  Ισουριον (Aldborough), Ριγοδουνον (?Elslack), Ολικανα (?Ilkley), Εβορακον (York), and Καμουλοδουνον (?Adel).

Where:  The Brigantes were people in northern England, in and around Yorkshire.

Name origin:  PIE dictionaries follow Pokorny in reconstructing *bhergh- ‘high’ and *bhergh- ‘to protect’ as two distinct roots, each with a huge range of descendants in many languages, but it seems reasonable to guess that they came from a common origin.  Celtic orthodoxy would make a ‘high’ sense primary, both because the name element *briga ‘hill-fort’ defines the zone of ancient Iberia which contained Indo-European languages, within which Celtic may have evolved, and because of words such as Welsh bri ‘prestige’ and bre ‘hill’, or Irish bríg ‘power’.  Germanic and Italic languages have descendant words (e.g. borough) that point rather to a primary sense of ‘protection’.  Words such as Greek πυργος suggest a very ancient (possibly non-Indo-European) origin, without really deciding whether Brigantes were hill-dwellers or burghers, but since most places with burg- or brig- names are low down (water's edge or valley bottom) the burgher interpretation seems better.

Notes:  This name spelling was probably influenced to be unlike Burgundy by Brigantium (Bregenz, Austria), which had been an important Roman city for over a hundred years by Ptolemy's time.  Much nonsense has been written about the political structure(s) of the Brigantes.  Tacitus described Cartimandua ruling at least part of their territory when the Romans arrived.

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Last edited 4 August 2020     To main Menu