was a Celtic tribe that was located in Fife (now in
Scotland) and on both
banks of the Tay. The tribe's existence there was recorded between the first
and second centuries before perhaps merging into other, later tribal groupings.
They were bordered by the Taexali to the north, the Caledonii to the west (perhaps
the original tribe of that name into which was lumped all the other western
tribes by Roman
writers), the Epidii to the south-west, and the
to the south. Unfortunately for the Venicones, they occupied the very region that
the Romans needed to invade several times in order to quell attacks by
in the east of the Highlands, including attacks by the 'Pictish navy'. A legionary
fortress was built at Inchtuthill, Tayside (Pinnata Castra), which remained occupied
during the late first century by the Twentieth Legion Valeria.
The Venicones name was pronounced 'Wen-ichones', most likely due to a shift
in the language. In the case of this tribe, the original name was Venet (the 't'
becoming a 'ch') plus '-on' (plural genitive) plus the later addition of '-es', which
is another (possibly unnecessary) plural suffix. The Romans would probably have mispronounced
it. They apparently added their plural suffix to the already-present plural genitive, giving
us Venicones. The origin of the name suggests a link to the Veneti tribe of
Elements may have fled Roman advances, arriving in northern
and also, according to the geographer Ptolemy, settling in County Donegal in
Gwynedd is said to have been founded by Britons
from Manau Gododdin which was located on both sides of the Firth of Forth and
the River Forth. These Britons had a fort believed to be at what is now Clackmannan
('Stone of Manau'), north of the Forth. A second possible candidate for their fort
could be above Tillicoultry (Castle Craig, five kilometres to the north, but unfortunately
destroyed by a quarry). Another natural area for a citadel can be found at Stirling (a few
kilometres to the west). Bede mentions Stirling as urbs Guidi, and this was adapted
to provide the Firth of Forth with its early
Welsh name of merin Iodeo, 'the sea of
Iudeu'. Unlike later British writers, Roman writers did not describe this area as
Gododdin territory. To them it was the land of a Pictish (British) tribe called
the Venicones, and it was these people, perhaps tributary to the Gododdin Britons, who
founded Gwynedd, coming from a fort in Fife called Manau, which was nominally under Gododdin
overlordship, hence 'Manau Gododdin'.
The region's most famous son is, of course, Cunedda Wledig, the chieftain
who, according to Welsh tradition, was invited to found Gwynedd on the
condition that he freed the region from Irish raiders. As he hailed from
Venicones territory, his traditional ancestry is shown in this list. Much of
the list dates from anything up to the tenth century, so its believability
beyond Tacitus ap Cein is highly doubtful and preceding names are
backed in lilac to reflect their legendary status. However, given that the
tribe may have fled the first century BC arrival of the Romans in Armorica,
the assumed dating for the first name in the list (apart from the dubious
addition of a British high king before him), that of Afallach, does lend it
something of an air of authenticity. It might be highly speculative to
suggest, but perhaps it was this chieftain who led the migration to Britain.
(Information by Edward Dawson, and additional information from The
La Tene Celtic Belgae Tribes in England: Y-Chromosome Haplogroup R-U152 -
Hypothesis C, David K. Faux. Sources listed in the 'Barbarian Europe'
section of the Sources page.)
83 - 84
heartland, firstly north of the Firth of Forth (in AD 83) and then at Mons Graupius
(or Mons Grampius, in AD 84), the
under Governor Julius Agricola win victories over what they call the 'Caledonides'
led by Calgacus. The first area of operations, north of the Firth of Forth, is
probably against the Venicones and their navy. The idea is to pre-empt an intended
attack by the Caledonians, but it almost proves disastrous in the first year as the
Ninth Legion is surprised by a night assault and is only just rescued by the main force.
fighting off raids by the northern Britons (Picts), Cunedda and his branch of Romanised Venicones are transferred from the Manau dependency of the
kingdom, traditionally by Magnus Maximus. They are moved to the former
territory of the
in western Wales to secure the region from
and it is here that they found the kingdom of
Some historians dispute the traditional view of Cunedda being moved by a
authority and instead claim that he sails down the Irish Sea and invades
north Wales of his own volition, forming a kingdom at a time when there is
no one left to stop him.
Cunedda Wledig's first name is a fairly typical Brythonic play on words, taken from 'cuno'
meaning dog (ie. servant) and 'dda' meaning the god Da or Dagda, making him the
'servant of Dagda'. The title 'wledig' is later
'prince'. His son, Typaun, remains behind to assume whatever role it is that
Cunedda is relinquishing.