Pronounced 'wotadini' and translated in Welsh the name
became first Guotodin, later Gododdin.
'W' becomes 'gu'. Strange enough, the fact that the name
Wotadini had to be adapted to the Welsh language logic,
from one alleged member of the Celtic family to one
other member, did not alarm the historical etymologists.
There is a reason for that.
British etymologists proposed some time ago
British Language, which is supposed to be a
member of the Celtic language family. Such a hypothetical
language (there is no evidence) comes very handy
because one can fill in oneself most of the
hypothetical language features and reconstruct most of
the supposed British Language words. This proposed
idiom has apparently some strange characteristics such
as being very different in some aspects from other
Celtic languages. One of these is the idea that there
are words in British Language which begin with 'w' and
that they have to be translated to the other
Celtic languages, where 'w' becomes 'gu'.
Is it a complete coincidence that the only attested
transformations ['w' -> 'gu'] concern
Germanic loanwords? An example is the name Wilhelm
(William) that became Guillaume in French. Or war
became 'guerre'. In general, the insular Celtic
languages (Welsh, Irish) react in the same way as the
French language does. French is a former Celtic
There can be only one possible conclusion: the word
Votadini is not Brythonic in origin but Germanic.
It has the same meaning as the name of the German
top-god Wodan. The root is 'wode' (anger, fury,
etc.). So 'Woda(n)den' = the angry ones, or,
according to their southern victims, those furious bastards,
with the Old English '-en' plural (like in children)
which became '-in' in Latin. They must have had a
habit of looting their richer southern neighbours. The
Welsh poem 'Y Gododdin' testifies of that.
The name could have be an exonym (name given by others =
their southern victims). This leads to a new conclusion:
the Votadini, living in southeast Scotland, spoke a
A alternative and attested name for the same people is 'Otadin', where the
'w' was dropped. This is not so strange as
it looks. Wodan is known as Odin in Norway. The English
word 'word' becomes 'ord' in Danish, Norwegian and
Swedish ( see: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/ord).
Scandinavians have a habit to drop the leading 'w'.
Which leads to the deductive conclusion that 'Otadin'
was the endonym, the local name of Wotadin(i) and not a scribal error.
To summarize: The Votadini had a Germanic name, spoke a
Germanic language and the alternative name Otadini
confirms our hypothesis that the region north of the
Humber, the former Northern Maglemosian language zone,
spoke a Scandi-proto-English language, a language much
closer to the Scandinavian languages than the southeast
proto-English language. Note also that the name
Votadini dates from the Roman times.
In Ptolemy's forms, it is to be noted
that d for l (d for l) and vice versa is not
uncommon in his text, hence Otalini. To explain the
omission of initial Ou- (V-), Williams suggested
that a blank was left in the archetype for a capital
to be decorated with penwork, and that this was
never filled. This is possible, as the name begins a
paragraph, but such an error does not appear to
affect precisely comparable names. Ravenna's entry
is as usual accepted as trustworthy by R&C, both
as a form and as a fort of the Antonine Wall (in
whose section it occurs).
Their etymology is : British *vo- (Old Irish fo-
glossed 'sub', Old Welsh guo, go 'rather, somewhat')
plus *litan- 'broad', hence 'rather broad place',
with reference to a small plateau. This is
acceptable up to a point, but it is very likely that
(as first suggested by Holder) Volitanio is simply a
rendering of Votadini, with metathesis of vowels of
a kind paralleled elsewhere in the text.
DERIVATION. There can be no doubt that the proper
form is Votadini, given the Welsh derivative
Guotodin, later Gododdin. On the latter, important
in the history of Welsh verse, see Jackson, The
Gododdin (Edinburgh, 1969), especially 69-75, on the
location of the Manau Guotodin of Nennius (62).
Watson CPNS 28 says that in an eleventh-century
Gaelic poem there appears Fotudain, which
corresponds exactly to the Welsh forms. According to
Watson the name can be compared with early Irish
fothad 'support' ('Fothad, a mythical ancestor of an
Irish people, perhaps derived from * Vo-tâdos'
: O'Rahilly EIHM 10, note), with a suffix -in- as in
many ethnic names. The sense is not entirely clear,
but seems preferable to others suggested by Holder
II. 887. See also I. Williams, Canu Aneirin
(Cardiff, 1938), xviii.
Etymology of Edinburgh
Present-day Edinburgh was the location of Din Eidyn, a dun or hillfort
associated with the kingdom of the Gododdin. Several medieval Welsh
sources refer to Eidyn. (Wikipedia)
The version Eidyn was mentioned in Welsh first. But that is not
sufficient to state that the region of Edinburgh was Welsh or Gaelic
speaking. After all, the first mention of Londinium was in Latin and
nobody will argue that it means that the locals spoke Latin.
In the Wikipedia article is also affirms that the Old English word burgh meant fort. That is probably not right. More about berg/burg/burgh
here. It meant 'protected, fenced, walled, village'. The castle is
younger than the city. The castle was build to control the city, as a
sign of power, not to protect it.
More likely is that Eidyn is derived from Odan, from (V)Otadini
(see previous chapter above). The pronunciation in Welsh is close to
'Aa-dunn' (the 'u' could be aphonic or a schwa,
similar to the 'a' in Odan). We have to take in account that the sound
represented by the first 'o' could not have been accurately noted.
People who wrote the word could have done it with a Latin twist or a
Latin/Welsh twist. Place-names have been constantly altered, twisted,
adapted when it were foreign place-names. Dover became Douvre in French,
London is Londres in French or Llundain in Welsh, Antwerpen even
Amberes in Spanish. Odan > oaden > Aaden (=Eidyn) is possible.
Then we have some choice in semantics: Odan/Odin can refer to the god or
it is simply short for something like 'the [people of] Odens'
Possible is also that the original name was simply 'Burgh', for the
natives needed not to remember themselves how they were called. The
Welsh/Gaelic version Eidyn was then an exonym, which for some reason was
taken over by this Burgh's citizens as 'edin-'.
Sicambri: Latin version of sic + camber. Sic is 'sich'
(German) or 'zich' (Dutch). The word does not exist in English and is
translated as 'oneself'. It refers to people 'themselves'. Camber is a
German plural for 'cambe' = tooth, what sticks out. Hills are meant
here. Therefore, Sicambri are 'people from the hills' or 'high ones'.
Bructeri: probably 'burgh' + suffix '-ter'. One has 'brough' and 'burgh'. The '-ter, -er' suffix is also found in e.g. walker.
Bructeri means 'burger' or 'burgh people', where burgh does NOT refer to a
possibly fenced place on a imaginary hill but to a protected, possibly
Teutons (titans?): from Germanic 'deut-', compare: Deutsch, or 'Diet-'
(Dutch) both meaning 'folk', people. The word 'Dutch' is derived from
'deut-'. Teutons are simply 'the people'.
What could be closely related is the word 'titans'. This word,
meaning in ancient Greek 'the oldest gods', could have the same meaning.
This could be an indication that 'deut-' initially referred to
hunter-gatherers, the original people. The word persisted in
proto-Germanic. After the arrival or agriculture, a new generation took
over. This generation would then be represented by the classic Greek
gods. The (new) gods defeated the (old) Titans like the first farmers chased the
hunter-gatherers. It was the dawn of a new time.
Caedwalla: not a Celtic name! The last part is probably -walla, walda, meaning
power, force, strength. Derived is the verb walden, 'to
rule'. The word is found in all Germanic languages. Latin: valere.
Names are: Walfried, Waldemar (Voldemor!), Waldrada, Walbert, Wealdwine,
Walram, walraven, Walter, and more, e.g. Herald, where -wald comes
last. However, the difference with -wahl, foreigner from the south, is
sometimes difficult to make. Against -walla = Welsh is the fact
that the Welsh called themselves Cymry. So the name is probably not
Welsh, remains: Germanic. A third possibility is wahl, OHG wale =
The first part is the OE word (ge)gada, 'companion'; OS gigado, 'id'; DU
gade, 'partner, wife'. The verb in MDU gaden, 'to hear'; MNG gaden, 'to
fit, unite'; OHG bigaton, 'to fit, come together'; OFR gadia, 'to
unite'. English: to gather. This could be a substrate word. I plead for
Caed-walla = who gathers power, or, who has the power to gather [men] -
as the most likely etymology.
(WIKI) Modern discovery: Although Bede specifically
notes that English was Cædmon's "own" language, the poet's name is of
Celtic origin: from Proto-Welsh *Cadṽan (from Brythonic *Catumandos).
Several scholars have suggested that Cædmon himself may have been
bilingual on the basis of this etymology, <<
about a modern discovery! How easily bilingual people were in the
distant past! This solves a lot of problems apparently. Forget Bede's futile specification: Caedmon was Brythonic speaking!Forget the fact that neither Bede nor Caedmon were known as Welshmen.
This Caed- is the same as in Caedwalla. Caed= comrade, companion; mon =
short for -monde, -munde = tutor,
protector, possibly related to 'mond, mund' = mouth > he who speaks
in name of. Compare: Edmund. Caedmon = protecting/protected [by the
Not Celtic at all. Very English.
Cartimandua, queen of the Brigantes (1st century.) where the
first part is probable 'care, cared' + munda = protector [+ 'wa,wo' =
woman]. Cartimandua = caring protector.