The Epidii (Greek: Επίδιοι) were a people of ancient Britain, known from a mention of them by the geographer Ptolemy c. 150. Epidion has been identified as the island of Islay in modern Argyll.[1] Ptolemy does not list a town for the Epidii, but the Ravenna Cosmography (RC 108.4) mentions Rauatonium, which is assumed to be Southend.[2]

Although their name appears to be Brittonic/P-Celtic, some authorities suggest they were Goidelic/Q-Celtic speakers. Dr Ewan Campbell says "Ptolemy's source for his Scottish names was probably from the Scottish Central Lowlands, and may have transmitted the Brittonic form of a Goidelic tribal name, or even the external name given to the tribe by Brittonic speakers".[3] Their presumed territory later became the heartland of the Goidelic kingdom of Dál Riata. Alex Woolf suggests that the Epidii became the Dál Riata, but argues that they were Brittonic-speaking in Ptolemy's time.[4] He also suggests that the Hebrides, called the Ebudae by Ptolemy, were named after the Epidii.[4]

The name Epidii appears to include the P-Celtic root epos, meaning "horse" (c.f. Welsh ebol, “a foal”).[5] The Q-Celtic equivalent would be *ekwos, which became Old Gaelic ech. It is suggested that they were named after a horse god, whose name could be reconstructed as *Epidios.[4] The Q-Celtic equivalent would be *Ekwidios, which may be the origin of the Old Gaelic name Eochaid.[4] The Dagda, a Gaelic god, is often referred to as Eochaid Ollathair.[6]


  1. Watson (1926) p. 37
  2. Fitzpatrick-Matthews (2013) p. 69
  3. Campbell 2001, Were the Scots Irish?; cf. Foster, Picts, Gaels and Scots, pp. 9 10 and Armit, Celtic Scotland, pp. 21 24
  4. Woolf, Alex. Ancient Kindred? Dál Riata and the Cruthin. 2012.
  5. Delamarre 2003:163 164, Dictionnaire de la Langue Gauloise
  6. Gods in Scotland. Tairis.


  • Armit, Ian, Celtic Scotland, (2nd ed.) London: B.T. Batsford/Historic Scotland, 2005. ISBN 0-7134-8949-9
  • Campbell, Ewan, "Were the Scots Irish ?" in Antiquity, 75 (2001), pp. 285–292.
  • Delamarre, X., Dictionnaire de la Langue Gauloise (2nd ed.). Paris: Editions Errance, 2003. ISBN 2-87772-237-6
  • Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Keith (5 August 2013) "Britannia in the Ravenna Cosmography: a reassessment." (pdf) Academia.edu. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  • Foster, Sally M., Picts, Gaels, and Scots (2nd ed.) London: B.T. Batsford/Historic Scotland, 2005. ISBN 0-7134-8874-3
  • Ptolemy (150), Thayer, Bill (ed.), Geographia, Book 2, Chapter 2: Albion island of Britannia, LacusCurtius website at the University of Chicago (published 2008), retrieved 2008-04-26
  • The British Section of the Ravenna Cosmography in Archaeologia 93 (1949), 108.4
  • Watson, W. J. (2004) The Celtic Place-Names of Scotland. Edinburgh. Birlinn. ISBN 1-84158-323-5. First published 1926.

See also

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