[NB The brief explanation given below has been drafted on the assumption that the reader is already familiar with the basic building-blocks used in Celtic topographical place-names (Chapter 1 of the Home menu), with the structure of compound place-names (Chapter 2) and with the structure of Celtic river-names (Chapter 19)]
This tribal name is sometimes written Caledoni in the ancient texts, as in Ptolemy, and sometimes as Calidoni.
The above difference in spelling is of no consequence. The tribal name is clearly based on a topographical place-name which could be written Caledonion or Calidonion, where Caled/Calid is an old-style element in the hill-letter l and means ‘steep hill summit’. The people of Caledonion/Calidonion would then be the Caledoni/Calidoni or the Caledones/Calidones. The important information is in the consonants c, l and d, the vowels used and the ending being of no importance. The place called Caledonion (to keep to this one form) would thus be a hillfort at the top of a steep hill and that hill was most probably adjacent the river which Ptolemy calls the Itis river, this river-name including the river-letter t corresponding to the hill-letter l in Caledonion. Caledonion will have been north of Dunadd and most probably on the eastern side of the Firth of Lorne or Loch Linnhe.
[This page was last modified on 24 March 2021]