[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 tribal name in the above form is given only by Tacitus. Variant forms appear in the work of Ptolemy and in the Antonine Itinerary.
The tribal name is based on a topographical place-name of the form Garirecenion, this name comprising the old-style element Gar (meaning ‘steep hill’) followed by the inversion-type element rec (meaning ‘hill steep’), both elements employing the hill-letter r, the hill-letter used by the Iceni (see ‘Ptolemy’s Celtic tribes: Part 1’, 2, accessible from the main menu above). This structure is unusual, but there are other cases of it, for example Omirededertis (original form of Ravenna’s Omiretedertis) at Ham Hill in Somerset. This name includes old-style red (meaning ‘hill summit’) followed by the inversion-type element dert (meaning ‘summit of hill high’), both elements employing the hill-letter r. For some reason the rulers of the Iceni used the ECENI part of the place-name Garirecenion (or selected letters of that part) as mint marks for their coinage, but when the Romans devised a name for the tribe they deleted the Gar and re parts of Garirecenion to leave the modified place-name Icenion, and on the basis of that form they called the people of the tribe the Iceni.
[This page was last modified on 24 March 2021]