[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 given as Meatae by Jordanes and as Maeatae by Xiphilinus.
The name is based on a topographical place-name somewhat of the form Megaton, the people then being the Megatae, where megat is an inversion-type topographical element meaning ‘hill steep high’. The tribal name appears to have been applied to a union of the Damnoni and the Venicones, so the place called Megaton was probably close to the old frontier between the two tribes. That place was thus most probably the hillfort called Dumyat, a little northeast of Stirling, this latter town itself being called Mugulesde and thus being in the territory of the Damnoni, who used the hill-letter m. Dumyat, although close to the frontier, was also actually on Damnonian territory and so the place-name Megaton uses the hill-letter m. The qualifier g meaning ‘steep’ is used in the proposed form Megaton simply because the Damnoni used g in nearby Mugulesde at Stirling. So the place was called Megaton and the people the Megatae. The intervocalic g was then lost or omitted (a common change in Romano-British place-names) to yield the modified place-name Meaton and tribal name Meatae.
[This page was last modified on 24 March 2021]