[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 Carnonacae are referred to in the Geography of Ptolemy.
The tribal centre of the Carnonacae will have had a name of the form Carnonacion. This topographical place-name is a compound in the old-style element Car (meaning ‘steep hill’), the hill-letter n used in the old-style manner and the inversion-type element nac (meaning ‘hill steep’), also using the hill-letter n. This structure, a name having an old-style element in one hill-letter followed by an inversion-type element in that same hill-letter, is unusual, but there are a few other examples, including Omirededertis (Ravenna’s Omiretedertis), in which one sees the old-style element red (meaning ‘hill-summit’) followed by the inversion-type element dert (meaning ‘summit of hill high’). Ptolemy’s Carnonacae would then be the people of Carnonacion and they would be a people who used the hill-letter n2. Ptolemy’s information indicates that the tribe lived on the northwest coast of Scotland. Their territory probably lay north of Loch Ewe since a “Pictish” Class I stone was found just south of Loch Ewe and such stones were produced (of course much later than Ptolemy’s time) by people who used the hill-letter r, such as the Cerones (or the Decantae or Boresti), who lived to the south of the Carnonacae, but not by people who used the hill-letter n2, such as the Carnonacae (or the Vacomagi or Venicones)(see ‘The Celtic “Picts”: Part 3’, 7.6).
[This page was last modified on 24 March 2021]