[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 Taexali in Ptolemy, there being variant forms Taezali, Taxali and Texali

Taexali would seem the best form of this name, though there will originally have been a consonant between the a and the e. Bearing in mind that X in a Romano-British place-name normally stands in for CS in the corresponding Celtic name it is clear that the missing consonant is b, this yielding a river-name somewhat of the form Tabecsalena (though the ending might not have been ena). It is thus clear that the tribal name Taexali is based on a river-name of the kind having a river-prefix attached to a place-name comprising one or more hill-letters. The place-name here is Becsal(ion) and the river-prefix is the river-letter t corresponding to the hill-letter l in Becsalion. The element becs means ‘high steep hill’ (cf. Becsa at Cockleroy in West Lothian, this name having been transferred as Pexa to the Antonine Wall fort at Mumrills). Becsalion will have been the name of the hillfort on Tap o’ Noth in Aberdeenshire, the river-name Tabecsalena having developed to the modern river-name Bogie (the river flowing south-north up the eastern side of the hill) by deletion of Ta and s, change of c to g and l  to i, and modification of the vowel after the b from e to o. There remains the question as to why the tribal name is based on the river-name and not simply on the name of the hillfort. Presumably the hillfort had been abandoned before the compilation of Ptolemy’s data as to tribal names and the population had moved into new settlements along the course of the river.

But note that Tabecsalena may be a composite river-name of the kind discussed in Chapter 19, 11.4, i.e. one which had earlier comprised a place-name Ecsalion placed before a river-element bat including the river-letters b and t corresponding respectively to the hill-letters s and l1 of Ecsalion. The river-element bat was then made inversion-type by moving the river-letter t to the front of that element and then the whole river-name was made inversion-type by shifting the modified river-element to the front of Ecsalion, the modified river-name then being Tabecsalena.

Note further that regardless of how the river-name Tabecsalena was arrived at the deletion of b and the change of cs to x yielded the modified river-name Taexalena, the tribe then being called the Taexali.



[This page was last modified on 26 March 2022]