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Peoples of Northern Britain according to Ptolemy's map

The Epidii (Greek: Επίδιοι) were a people of ancient Britain, known from a mention of them by the geographer Ptolemy c. 150. Epidion has been identified as the island of Islay in modern Argyll.[1] Ptolemy does not list a town for the Epidii, but the Ravenna Cosmography (RC 108.4) mentions Rauatonium, which is assumed to be Southend.[2]


The name Epidii appears to include the P-Celtic root epos, meaning "horse" (c.f. Welsh ebol, “a foal”).[3] The Q-Celtic equivalent would be *ekwos, which became Old Gaelic ech. It is suggested that they were named after a horse god, whose name could be reconstructed as *Epidios.[4] The Q-Celtic equivalent would be *Ekwidios, which may be the origin of the Old Gaelic name Eochaid.[4] The root *ep-anto-s, 'those who belong to the horse' or 'those who own horses', has also been proposed.[5]

The Dagda, a Gaelic god, is often referred to as Eochaid Ollathair.[6]


Although their name appears to be Brittonic/P-Celtic, some authorities suggest they were Goidelic/Q-Celtic speakers. Dr Ewan Campbell says "Ptolemy's source for his Scottish names was probably from the Scottish Central Lowlands, and may have transmitted the Brittonic form of a Goidelic tribal name, or even the external name given to the tribe by Brittonic speakers".[7] Their presumed territory later became the heartland of the Goidelic kingdom of Dál Riata. Alex Woolf suggests that the Epidii became the Dál Riata, but argues that they were Brittonic-speaking in Ptolemy's time.[4] He also suggests that the Hebrides, called the Ebudae by Ptolemy, were named after the Epidii.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Watson (1926) p. 37
  2. ^ Fitzpatrick-Matthews (2013) p. 69
  3. ^ Delamarre 2003:163–164, Dictionnaire de la Langue Gauloise
  4. ^ a b c d Woolf, Alex. Ancient Kindred? Dál Riata and the Cruthin. 2012.
  5. ^ Sergent, Bernard (1991). "Ethnozoonymes indo-européens". Dialogues d'histoire ancienne. 17 (2): 13. doi:10.3406/dha.1991.1932.
  6. ^ Gods in Scotland. Tairis.
  7. ^ Campbell 2001, Were the Scots Irish?; cf. Foster, Picts, Gaels and Scots, pp. 9 – 10 and Armit, Celtic Scotland, pp. 21 – 24


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