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Period Welsh Models for SCA Households and the Nomenclature Thereof

copyright © 1994 Heather Rose Jones, all rights reserved

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Tribal Names

Two origins stand out for the names of the largest regions: those derived from old tribal names and those based on the given name of a (perhaps apocryphal) early ruler. The former, while fascinating, would be a difficult model for SCA group names since the knowledge involved in "evolving" an old tribal name through to a hypothetical medieval form is considerable. Of the three major divisions of Wales, only one is clearly a tribal name. Dyfed comes from the tribe of the Demetae, which occupied roughly the same territory in Roman times. Gwynedd comes from Brythonic Veneda, perhaps from a tribal name Venii, but this is not entirely certain. [Richards 1965 p.205] The tribe associated with this area in Roman times was the Ordovices, who seem not to have left any mark in place names. Powys derives from the Latin Pagenses "country districts".

The Decangli of north-eastern Wales left their name behind as the cantref of Tegeingl. The Cornovii and Dobunni of the Marches left the area to give their names to Cernyw (Cornwall) and Devon respectively. The Silures of southern Wales left no easily-findable traces in names unless Silwy in Anglesey (a long ways from their normal stamping-grounds!) is an example. Richards notes several placenames that appear to be an old tribal name plus -wy: Dindaethwy (i.e. dinas+daeth+wy), Dygannwy from the Decantae, and Cornwy from some tribal name beginning in Corn- (perhaps another relic of the Cornovii?). [Richards 1965 p.205]

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