Attested: Pomponius Mela 3,44 Orcades
Ptolemy 2,3,31 ... μεν την Ορκαδα ακραν ... Ορκαδες
Dorcades at position 302 in the Ravenna Cosmography; and many other classical writers.
Where: The Orkney islands – 30 of them according to several writers.
Name origin: Latin orca ‘killer whale’, described by Pliny. It has no certain etymology, so perhaps Celtic-style loss of initial P from an ancient word like Latin porcus ‘pig’ (fat animal) should be considered.
Notes: 30 is a remarkably accurate estimate for the number of distinct Orkney islands likely to have been inhabited when Mela wrote, in AD 43, which implies that traders regularly visited Orkney before the Roman invasion of Britain. Thousands of years of settlement before that have been revealed by archaeology. Note also the Ορκας (or Ορκαδα) ακρα of Ptolemy.
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Last edited 29 September 2020 To main Menu.