Saturday, September 28, 2013

Colum Cille & the Picts notes

Another Facebook comment  from my Celtic Surnames and Place-names - History and Origins group. We were discussing the roots of placenames with aver, inver. I created a long list. I will post it here later—when I find it! I am conversing with someone whose handle is Celtic England (in italics.) The rest is mine


St. Adamnán, 9th abbot of Iona (627– 704 AD), in a centennial celebration of his distant cousin, St. Columba, scribed Vita Columbae. St. Adamnán wrote that Colum Cille (521-597 AD) was able to converse with King of the Picts, Bridei ca. 565 AD in Inverness.

Of course, Inverness—Inbhir Nis—is a Gaelic word—dating from at least 679 AD—according to Adamnán.

Bridei is mentioned in 558–560 AD in the Irish annals. The Annals of Ulster report "the migration before Máelchú's son, i.e., king Bruide"—which makes him a pagan Irish king in Pictland? Or Bruide— son of Máelchú, or Maelcom/n, an Irish name, or Melcho; or possibly even Maelgwn-Welsh. It would certainly explain why Columba, who spoke Irish, could converse with him. An overlooked detail.

Adomnán of Iona, Life of St Columba, tr. & ed. Richard Sharpe. Penguin, London, 1995.

(Celtic England wrote that Maelchu and Malcolm are different names. He also notes that he used a translator.)

I'm merely gathering from many sources. But we're not so much debating the spelling of King Brude's father's name—the thread is more watery in nature as in river, mouth. Pictish vs Gaelic place names, no?

One source noted Maelwyn. It was also distinguished as Maelchon vs com. I wondered over the spelling. Máel (disciple/follower of) + Con (Máelchon), or Máel Com. Máel + Coluim = Malcolm. I found this too: Mael means 'prince' in Breton and Welsh.

Celtic England: given that he subdues a monster in the river ness we might not want to take what Adamnan says too literally, especially as the Vita Columbae was finished in about 703 and that Columba's visit to Bridei's court was supposed to be in 566 or so. 


Nonetheless, Inverness was an Irish place-name in Adamnán's time. That, we can take literally. Forms: inber; Inber; indbir. VC, Book 1: chs, 26, 29, etc.

Abhainn is Irish for river. Don't let the spelling throw you off*, it sounds like Aven, or Awen.

(*IE in which the consonants count for very little and the vowels for nothing at all.)

You disparage the text because of the Loch Ness monster? Note that Adamnán refers to the monster as an account told to Columba by the Pictish inhabitants of Loch Ness: "according to the account of those who were burying him…"
"ON another occasion also, when the blessed man was living for some days in the province of the Picts, he was obliged to cross the river Nesa (the Ness); and when he reached the bank of the river, he saw some of the inhabitants burying an unfortunate man, who, according to the account of those who were burying him, was a short time before seized, as he was swimming, and bitten most severely by a monster that lived in the water;"
ALIO quoque in tempore, cum vir beatus in Pictorum provincia per aliquot moraretur dies, necesse habuit fluvium transire Nesam: ad cujus cum accessisset ripam, alios ex accolis aspicit misellum humantes homunculum; quem, ut ipsi sepultores ferebant, quaedam paulo ante nantem aquatilis praeripiens bestia morsu momordit saevissimo: —Book II, ch 28.
Vita Columbae was written in Latin–so I doubt that the translator's veracity is in question. Vita Columbae was written 100 years after the death of St Columba aka Colum Cille (521-597 AD) —to commemorate the centennial of his death. It would've been completed loser to 697AD  than 700 AD. So 703 AD is a bit late. Besides, Adamnán was doing some serious traveling in 703 AD, the year before he died. No time to work on a treatise that was due in 697 AD. 
"Adomnan had almost certainly finished the Life of Columba before traveling to Northumbria for his last visit. Bede tells us that Adomnan had an extended visit in Northumbria and then traveled to Ireland where he discussed eucmentical relations between the Irish and Rome and then he returned home where he died before the next Easter"
http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/columba-l.asp


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