[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 known from the Geography of Ptolemy, sometimes being spellt with one n, sometimes two. It is assumed below that the n should be doubled.
Dobunni appears to be a tribal name like most of the British Celtic tribal names, i.e. it is based on a topographical place-name, presumably the name of the tribal centre at the time the tribal name was coined. That topographical place-name was probably somewhat of the form Derobundion, where Der means ‘summit of hill’ and bund means ‘high hill summit’. The chronologically later of the two elements, Der, of course uses the hill-letter r because that was the hill-letter used by the Dobunni (see ‘Ptolemy’s Celtic tribes: Part 2’, 11). The people of Derobundion will have been called the Derobundi, which form, with loss or omission of er and the fairly common change nd → nn (cf. Gabaglanda → Amboglanno), yields the well-known form Dobunni. Derobundion will have been a hillfort on the summit of a high hill, but as there were many hillforts in Gloucestershire, and in the neighbouring parts of adjoining counties, it is difficult to identify any particular hillfort as having been Derobundion.
[This page was last modified on 24 March 2021]