Various parts of the north end of the island of
Britain (previously called Alba or Albion) in what we think of today
as Scotland were referred to in ancient times as Caledonia.
The tribe or tribes there were called Dicalidones
by Ammianus Marcellinus, and the ocean to the west of Scotland was
called the Oceanus Duecaledonius by the Roman geographer, Ptolemy.
This gives us a prefix of di- or due- to
di- which means 'of', 'from'
de (prep. + abl.) which means 'down from', 'from', 'concerning', 'about'
duo which means 'two'
di- a prefix in Greek which means 'two', 'twice', 'double'
So the prefix could either mean 'two', indicating a
double land or double tribe; or it could mean 'from'. The latter is
supported by the Welsh 'Coed Calydon' (Caledonia forest) to which
was said to have fled .
If the Caledon were the highlands, then
a tribe from there would be dicaledonii. Keep in mind that there was
very little in the way of uniform spelling conventions until modern
This discussion of Caledonia has a direct bearing
upon another pair of British tribal names: the Gangani, and the
Deceangli. There appears to have been a tribe which was split between Ireland
and Britain that was called the Concani or Gangani in Ireland,
directly across the Irish Sea from their Gangani or Deceangli
cousins in Wales.
The addition or subtraction of 'di-' or 'de-' at
the front of the tribal name seems to have a precedent in Caledonia
That a tribe is split between multiple locations is
nothing new. Roman history is full of encounters with more than one
group of Goths, Suevi, Belgae, etc. In and around Pre-Roman Britain we find
the Belgae and Parisi in both Britain and Gaul, Brigantes and Venicones
in both Britain and Ireland, Cornovii around Chester or Wroxeter and
in north Scotland, and Dumnonii, Damnonii, Domnann variants in Devon
and Cornwall, the
Clyde Valley of Scotland, and western Ireland no less.