[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)]
The Geography of Ptolemy appears to be the only ancient source which refers to the Vacomagi.
The tribal name Vacomagi appears to be based on a topographical place-name, as indeed do most British Celtic tribal names. The name appears to be like the place-name Magiovinto (Dropshort farm) but with the elements in the other order, so first vinto and then magi. The t of vinto (meaning ‘high’) has been replaced by the c meaning ‘steep’ and the hill-letter n is missing from Vacomagi (the initial vowel in the name is of no consequence). If the name is indeed topographical one would expect there to be an n between the v meaning ‘slope’ and the c meaning ‘steep’ since the Vacomagi appear to have used the hill-letter n2. The place-name in its full form, probably somewhat like Vancomagion, tells us that the settlement in question had earlier been occupied by a people who used the hill-letter m (the Damnoni?) but had been taken over by the Vacomagi. No suggestion can be made here as to the location of the settlement called Vancomagion, though if the initial V is correct that settlement will have been on the slope of a steep hill, and it was presumably the tribal centre at the time when the tribal name was coined.
[This page was last modified on 24 March 2021]