0

The Gododdin were originally called the Guotodin in Old Welsh.

Wikipedia

The Gododdin (Welsh pronunciation: [ɡɔˈdɔðɪn]) were a Brittonic people of north-eastern Britannia, the area known as the Hen Ogledd or Old North (modern south-east Scotland and north-east England), in the sub-Roman period. Descendants of the Votadini, they are best known as the subject of the 6th-century Welsh poem Y Gododdin, which memorialises the Battle of Catraeth and is attributed to Aneirin. The name Gododdin is the Modern Welsh form, but the name appeared in Old Welsh as Guotodin and derived from the tribal name Votadini recorded in Classical sources, such as in Greek texts from the Roman period

According to the Wikipedia article the Gododdin were derived from the Votadini, however given its name similarity with the Norse god Odin, I just can't help but think that there is some connection, though historically speaking there probably should not be, as conventional history does not have the Angles invade the Gododdin territory until after 600ad. However I did google the word "guot" and it took me to Wiktionary, and according to Wiktionary, Guot was a Proto-Germanic term meaning "god".

Guot, Wiktionary

From Proto-West Germanic *gōd, from Proto-Germanic

So what does this mean? Is the term Gododdin derived from the Votadini? Or is it derived from Norse mythology? Or, did the term Votadini also have Norse connotations? Or is it just coincidence?

The old North

2
  • 2
    Your "historically speaking there probably should not be" and Old Welsh "Guotodin" and Latin "Votadini" look correct, so no.
    – Henry
    May 8, 2023 at 15:35
  • 1
    @John Strachan I can't help making a pun. "Y Gododdin! How could someone think that Brythonic speakers who might never have even heard of the Germanic god Woton or Odin might have based their ethnic name on it?" I don't know whether there was single temple or priest of Odin in Aanglo-Saxon England, nor whether his name was ever written in runes in pagan Anglo-Saxon England. Though the genealogies of the Anglo-Saxon royal families were traced back to Odin in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and other sources written in Christian England..
    – MAGolding
    May 9, 2023 at 20:24

1 Answer 1

7

Votadini is the Latin version of the name which dates at least to the 2nd century when the tribe appears on Ptolemy's map of Britain as the Otadini. The early middle ages spelling of Guotodin reflects the loss of case endings typical of the time. Another example of this are two towns called Venta. Both lose the 'a' to become Caer Went and Caer Wynt. The Went element in Caer Went was retained in the modern village of Caerwent in south Wales but it changed spelling to Gwent to refer to the region of that name.

Initial v in Brythonic often ends up as g or gw in later Brythonic languages. Hence Vortigern appears in Old Welsh as Guorthigirn and modern Welsh as Gwrtheyrn. This is the same with Votadini to Guotodin and then Gododdin.

There's no reason to think that the Votadini/Gododdin who are counted as a Brythonic tribe by the Romans and later included as one of the Brythonic peoples of the Hen Ogledd (the Brythonic kingdoms that existed in northern England and southern Scotland during the early middle ages) were anything other than a Brythonic people. A group of Gododdin under their lord/king Cunedda settle in Gwynedd after defeating and apparently expelling the Irish that had settled there.

It would be odd for a Brythonic tribe to have a Germanic god as their namesake.

When the Angles did arrive they brought their paganism with them and one of the gods they worshiped was Woden, not Odin. Edin's Hall Broch in Berwickshire retains the name and while Edin suggests Odin the older names of Edin Hall show it to come from Woden. Likewise Woden Law in the Cheviots shows the Angles worshiped Woden not Odin. Wednesday also shows the Angles and the Saxons worshiped Woden. Modern Scandinavian languages call their Wednesday Onsdag after Odin. Odin worshipers don't show up in the territory of the Guotodin until the mid 9th century when the Great Heathen Army overruns Northumbria.

As the Anglian conquest of the former Guotodin lands appears to have been completed around the mid 7th century with the capture of Din Eiddyn (Edinburgh) there's around 200 years of Anglian rule before the vikings show up with their Odin.

Woden is considered to be from proto-Germanic *wōdaz (the asterisk means the word is hypothetical) related to proto-Celtic *wātis which gives Gaulish Uatis. This was a class of seer mentioned by the Romans as being a rank/division within the Druidic order. Modern Druids use the similar word Ovate. The welsh word gwawd comes from the same origin with that initial v/u becoming a gw. Gwawd though has taken on a negative connotation of satire, scorn instead of the original poetic/seer meaning it originally had. The point of all this being that if the Guotodin had been named for Odin/Woden then it's more likely the connection would involve a word closer to gwawd than the od in Guotodin. Woden/Odin being gods of both poetry and divination which the Celtic druidic classes of Uatis, Ovates, Old Irish Fáith and Welsh gwawd do likewise showing that common Indo-European tradition. The Vatican in Rome is another example of this group with the name deriving from the ancient Roman vates who were diviners.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.