AttestedManavi (or Manani) at position 233 in the Ravenna Cosmography, as number 6 out of 8 diversa loca ‘various places’ discussed here.

WhereManavi can be identified fairly confidently with the Manaw Gododdin people of Welsh tales about events around AD 550 (Watson, 1926).  Surviving place names Slamannan and Dalmeny, plus likely locations of battles, suggest that their home area lay mostly south of the river Forth, but also extending north into Clackmannan.  The immediately preceding name in the Cosmography's list was Taba, by the river Tay, probably at Dundee, and the Cosmography's track across the map generally does not self-intersect, so it is tempting to seek Manavi well north of the Forth, perhaps at a hill-fort such as Castle Craig (Tillicoultry, NS912977), or Castle Hill (Culross, NS971899), or Saline Hill (NT043933).  None of these locations is really convincing, so maybe the Cosmography's list executed a jump, and the last three diversa loca were south of the Forth.  Candidates include Gillies Hill fort at NS769918 near Stirling and West Plean homestead at NS811876.  There used to be extensive wetlands around the head of the Firth of Forth between Edinburgh and Stirling (plus some further north around the Tay), any or all of which were probably where the Emperor Severus and his son Antoninus Caracalla needed to divide up marshy areas with causeways to pursue their barbarian enemies (Herodian 3,14).  All this still does not pin down Manavi, but the approximate location chosen to show on maps is Bannockburn NS811901, famous for its later battle.

Name origin:  The natural meaning of Manavi is something like ‘wetland people’, compounded from PIE *man- ‘man’ plus *ap- or *akwa- ‘water’.  The water part is uncontroversial, especially with a river Avon running through this area, but Celticists are reluctant to interpret Man- as ‘man’, preferring ‘outstanding, prominent, high’ (James, 2014:2,268).  Presumably this is because man/men developed particularly in Germanic languages (e.g. tribes such as Marcomanni) not in Welsh, and because bogtrotter became an unkind term for poor Irishmen.  Perhaps the ‘prominent’ idea can be salvaged by arguing that raised mires naturally get higher over the centuries or that people in wet areas live on the high spots.  On the other hand, the Man- part might mean ‘mean, common, shared’, from PIE *mei- ‘to trade’, focussing on lifestyle more than terrain.

Notes:  Related names appear to include the Menapii tribes around the mouth of the Rhine, the Μαναπιοι (Ptolemy 2,2,9) and Μαναπια (Ptolemy 2,2,8, at Wexford) in Ireland, and Monapia, the Isle of Man.  Later survivals include Fermanagh and parts of Pembrokeshire (former Menevia and possibly Carn Menyn).  All these areas had flourishing prehistoric populations and extensive bogs, which can be hard to see nowadays after centuries of drainage, peat cutting, and land “improvement”.  It is unlikely that there was a single Menapian people who migrated en masse to all these areas.  More likely, Ptolemy and others used a similar name for peoples with similar lifestyles and environments, but no close political or genetic relationships.

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Last edited 11 May 2020     to main Menu.