[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 Trinobantes by both Caesar and Tacitus and as Trinovantes by Ptolemy.
The tribal name Trinovantes is based on a river-name, as are the tribal names Novantae and Taexali, amongst others. The river-name will have been of the form Trinobandion (or perhaps Trinobandena), this being a river-name of the kind comprising a river-prefix, here a compound of the river-letters t and r with an in ending, attached to a place-name comprising one or more hill-letters. The place-name here is bandion, this element using the hill-letter n1, meaning ‘high hill summit’ and referring to a place up on the top of high ground close to the river Pant/Blackwater (the name Pant will be derived from bandion). The people of that area will have been called the Trinobandes. With the common change d→t we obtain the form Trinobantes used by Caesar and Tacitus, and with the further common change b→v we obtain the better-known form Trinovantes.
[This page was last modified on 24 March 2021]