Attested: Trinobantes 3x in Caesar de Bello Gallico, 1x in Tacitus Annals 14
Ptolemy 2,3,22 Τρινοαντες in most mss; Orosius Trinobantum in most mss
Bede seems to have copied an Orosius variant Trinovantes, which was amplified by Geoffrey of Monmouth to support his idea of Britain as new Troy.
Where: People in Essex and nearby areas.
Name origin: The translation as Celtic for ‘very vigorous’ offered by Rivet & Smith is not really credible. It is more likely that Caesar's original word was *Trinohantes, containing a lower-case h, which medieval scribes often miscopied into b. They were ‘three haunts’ people, analogous with the Tuihanti ‘two haunts’ people mentioned on two inscriptions found near Hadrian's Wall, called Tubantes by Tacitus and Τουβαττιων by Strabo, who lived near modern Twente (Tuianti in AD 797) on the Dutch/German border, in a territory divided in two by low hills. *Hant was a Germanic word (etymologically related to Heimat) that passed via French hanter ‘to dwell in one place’ into English ‘haunt’. Alternatively, if the first element was not Latin trini ‘triple’, but plain tri ‘three’, the second part –novantes (literally Latin for ‘renewings’) might be related to navis ‘river’. Either way, the Trinobantes lived in three main river valleys of southern East Anglia, each fed by a pair of rivers: Crouch plus Roach, Chelmer plus Colne, Orwell plus Stour.
Notes: Pliny mentioned tribes in the south of France called Tritolli and Tricores, which could also be analysed as having three subdivisions. The Endlicher Glossary mentions Trinanto Tres valles.
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Last edited 12 June 2020 to main Menu