Attested: Ptolemy 2,3,12 Δεκανται or δε Κανται
Where: People in northern Scotland, possibly towards the east.
Name origin: Celticists point to Irish dech ‘best, noblest’ (Watson, 1926:18), related to δικαιος ‘righteous’, decent, etc. Or else *Dekantae might mean ‘looking out’, beginning like the Hindi-English word dekko, possibly from PIE *derk- ‘to see’ as in Condecor. Or it might come from Latin decanto ‘to chant, enchant, say over and over again’. Or de Kantae might mean ‘from the edge’, as in Καντιον Kent. Or maybe initial deca- meant ‘ten’, so the name referred to tithing.
Notes: On the whole Ptolemy's tribal names seem to be outsiders' descriptions of lifestyle in a particular area rather than self-designations used by locals or evidence of political unity. Latin decanto may be the most likely parallel, because all pre-literate Indo-European societies had a class of bards trained to memorise prodigious amounts of sacred poetry that needed to be chanted aloud, as explained by Olmsted. There may have been another group with a similar name in North Wales, where the Druids were strong, because one manuscript of the Cambrian Annals mentioned De cantorum for AD 812 and Arcem detantorum for 822, which are usually related to Degannwy Castle, in the mediaeval cantref of Tegeingl, which contained the lead/silver-mining area attributed to people called *Deceangli.
Last Edited: 13 March 2017