According to Irish mythology, the first settlers of Ireland were the Fomorians. They were followed by the Fyr Bolg, and Tuatha Dé Danann came last.
The Fomorians (Old Irish: Fomoire, Modern Irish: Fomhóraigh) were a supernatural race. They were hostile and monstrous beings who come from the sea or underground. Later myths see them as giants and sea raiders. They were enemies of the Tuatha Dé Danann. Regarding the etymology of the name Wikipedia states:
“The first part is probably from the Old Irish fo, meaning under, below… The meaning of the second part is unclear. Perhaps from the Old Irish mur (sea), so the compound would be “the undersea ones”. This was the interpretation of some medieval Irish writers.”
But some Irish authors believe that the original name of Fomorians was actually Pomorians. In Germanic languages, the original Indo-European sound “P” at the beginning of the word, often became “F”. Similar examples are: pater-father, pyr-fire, pesces-fish, por-for…
Fomorians = Pomorians
If we apply the same logic to Fomorians, we get the name that sounds very close to the Slavic tribe of Pomeranians, or Pomorians. In the case of the Slavic tribe, the etymology is not debatable at all. It means simply “sea people”, or more precisely “people living next to the sea”, something that is very true for Fomorians of Irish mythology. Wouldn’t this etymology be more logical than “the undersea ones”?
The Pomeranians (German: Pomoranen; Kashubian: Pòmòrzónie; Polish: Pomorzanie) were a group of West Slavic tribes who lived along the shore of the Baltic Sea between the Oder and Vistula Rivers (the latter Farther Pomerania and Pomerelia). Pomeranians were highly skillful seaman with strong naval force – at least from early middle ages onwards. The name Pomerania comes from Slavic “po more”, which means Land at the Sea. This typically Slavic toponym exists in many Slavic countries, for example in Bulgaria. On the coast of the Black Sea we have cities Pomorie and Primorsko with the same etymology.
According to mainstream history, Slavs had settled the Baltic region only around the 6th century AD. They came from the east. In Irish mythology, Fomorians were the first settlers of Ireland. The Fomorians settled there right after the flood and were already there when Partholón arrived, around 2,680 BC. But in my article on Polabian Slavs, I showed that the dating of Slavic arrival to Europe is highly questionable. I also showed that Slavic tribes of the Baltic had strong fleets and that they inhabited the area that leads from continental Europe to Britain. So let us just entertain the possibility that the Irish Fomorians and Slavic Pomorians could be related. What other conclusions can we make from it?
Sorbiodunum – the city of the Sorbs
As we can see on the map above, Sorbs were one of the main tribes of the Polabian Slavs. They were the neighbors of Pomeranians. Nowadays there are only around 60,000 Sorbs left in Germany, but in the past Slavic tribes controlled one-third of modern German territory.
Both Slavs and Germans made circular towns, and scholars are still debating who started this fashion. Celts called them oppidum, Germans rundling, and Slavs gord. All of these names have the same root word meaning “circle, wheel”. The Slavic word is common for all Slavs and appears in many variations: gorod, grad, gradec, hrod…
The first circular towns in Europe date to 1300–500 BC and belong to Lusatian culture. This culture stretched from Germany to the Balkans, and to Ukraine towards east. With the exception of Germany, Hungary, and Romania, all of these countries are still Slavic today. But Slavic presence is undisputable even in these three countries. And finally, the oldest circular town that we know of is Arkaim, in the steppes of modern Russia. It dates to 2,000 BC, so the Slavic connection would be difficult to prove. However, the fact remains that this “fashion” comes from the eastern steppes.
The earliest name of Old Sarum, England, was Sorbiodunum. Its Welsh name was Gradawc. This is very interesting, as, besides the notion of a circular town, we also have the Slavic name “Gradec” and connection with Sorbs – Polabian Slavs.
There are two other similar toponyms of the antiquity. One is Gordoserbon, or Gordium of the Phrygians, modern Turkey. The other one is Serbinum (Ptolemy, 2nd century) in modern-day Gradiška, Republic of Srpska, Bosnia.
Are these just coincidences or the name of British Sorbiodunum really has to do with Sorbs? I think it has, and I can prove it.
Regni, Atrebates, and Belgae – Pre-Roman tribes of Britain
The city of Sorbiodunum lied between the border of Pre-Roman tribes Regni, Atrebates and Belgae. Historians agree that these tribes had migrated to Britain from the continental Gaul before the Roman conquest.
Rugii and Rani – Tribes of Rügen
Regni tribe came to Britain from the island of Rügen, modern Germany. Tacitus first mentions them in the 1st century AD. They were in Pomerania, modern Poland, but also bordering the Rügen of Germany. Ancient authors knew them as Rugii, Rogi or Rugians. Besides Germany and Britain, they also appear above the Azov Sea and in the Balkan Pannonia.
From the 6th century onwards, the name Rugii was a synonym for the Slavic tribe of Rani, who lived on the Rügen island. Rani lived here until the 10th century. Their territory was occupied by Franks, and they were Germanized.
Now, German scholars claim that before the 6th century, this territory was also Germanic and that the original Rugii have nothing to do with Slavs. Slavic scholars disagree with this theory.
The problem with the Germanic theory is that there is no evidence whatsoever that Rugii were Germanic. Even their migration to Azov and Pannonia speaks of the Slavic connection. Most of the toponyms of the Rügen island have Slavic origin, and one of the most important western Slavic pagan temples – Arkona, was here. The archaeological records show uninterrupted continuity from the earliest times.
And finally, the names of the Slavic leaders are known, while there are no records of any Germanic leaders of the Rugii. The whole Germanic theory is based on speculation, coming from the fact that mainstream history denies Slavic presence in Europe prior to the 6th century AD.
Tacitus claimed that Rugii were specific, as they “obeyed kings”. Most of the neighboring tribes had tribal councils. And as Wikipedia on Rani claims: “Medieval chronicler Helmold of Bosau claimed that Rani was the only Wendish (Slavic) tribe who had a king.
Indeed, these two claims are key for understanding the name of this tribe. It comes from Latin *regnum – kingship. As such, it is not a native name, but a foreign designation. The Slavic ethnonym Rani is less clear, but it is worth a mention that *rani means “queen” in Sanskrit.
But that the Slavic Rani were the same people as Rugii becomes crystal clear only once we take a look at ancient Britain.
British Regni and Slavic Rugii
The Regni of Britain were there before the Romans. And as we saw, everyone agrees that they came from the Rügen island. Therefore, the Regni of Britain can help us settle the score once for all. Were they Germanic or Slavic?
First of all, the city of Sorbiodunum makes it quite obvious that we are dealing with Sorbs, Slavic people of Pomerania. The Welsh label “Gradawc”, from Slavic “gradac”, should only seal the deal.
But if this is not enough, we can analyze the Regni names. Luckily, history remembers one Regni name. It is the name of their ruler – Tiberius Claudius Cogidubnus. The first part “Tiberius Claudius” is Roman, and it means that he became a Roman citizen during the rule of the emperor Claudius. As for Cogidubnus, his real name, Wikipedia nicely illustrates how hardly are western scholars trying to find a Germanic etymology, but to no avail.
But if we look at Slavic languages, the name Cogidubnus could easily come from Kozhidub (Кожедуб). This is still a very popular family name in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia. The etymology of this name (Ukrainian link only), comes from the words “Kozha” – skin, and “dub” to dig, deepen. Before it became a name, “kozhidub” was an old Slavic term for a skinner, tanner, currier – a person who works with skin.
Atrebates – Trzebowianie
The differences between the British Regni and the Atrebates are not clear, and scholars assume that these tribes were closely related. The same is true of Slavic Rani and Trzebowianie, the neighboring Slavic tribe.
Moreover, one of the kings of Atrebates was Tincomarus, (20 BC-7 AD) while one of the kings of Rani was Jaromar I (c. 1170 AD). The coins of Tincomarus spell “Tinc”. In Turkic languages, Tinch (Тинч) is a personal name meaning “peaceful”. I am not sure if this is a correct translation, but I find it more plausible than the proposed “fish” in Celtic.
And the last leader of the Atrebates was Verica. Verica is a Slavic girl-name meaning “faith”.
Belgae – Volgars
In another article on Polabian Slavs, I have already explained that the Belgae could designate people of the Volga river. And that one of their cities, Samarobriva, carries the name of Russian Samara, while “briva”, meaning “bridge”, has a cognate in Slavic “brvno”. Moreover, the Belgae could be the same people that (besides Belgium) named modern-day Bulgaria, just like the Sorbs and Serbs of the Balkans share the same ethnonym. As such, they could be of both, Turkic and Slavic origins.
In short, all three tribes have eastern origins. They are also clearly related to Slavs, whether modern scholars like it or not.
Slavs on northern Britain
There is an interesting map of Britania, made by George Lily in 1546. On this map, we clearly see Slavic toponyms “Rossia”, “Moravia” and “Stribogi” (from Slavic god Stribog). There is also a place called Butha, which might relate to Budini, a Scythian tribe of Slavic stock. Perhaps it also relates to Boudica, who came from this precise region.
There was indeed a tribe of Bodunni in Britain. Texts sometimes spell Dobunni, but as you can read on the highlighted article, the original name seems to be Bodunni, not Dobunni.
This is the only such map that I know of. There seem to be no ancient sources either, so I can’t give more details.
According to the book I have – “The origins of the Irish” by J.P. Mallory, in terms of Ydna, the pre-farming communities were the bearers of R1a, R1a1, R1b3, IJK, PN3, N3 I1a, I1b2, and I1c.
Nowadays R1a and R1a1 are considered to be Balto-Slavic. This is certainly what Pomeranians were, even though we still can’t be sure that we are dealing with the same people in the case of prehistorical Ireland. However, genetics confirms that haplogroup R1a arrived in this part of the world several millennia before the R1b. R1b is now dominant in almost 80% of the Irish.
But most importantly, one recent discovery caused a great shock in the scientific community. Genetics confirmed that the earliest people of England, possibly even the builders of Stonehenge, come from Anatolia and the Mediterranean region. Here is an example from the BBC. Scholars are still debating whether these people followed the land route, or they arrived in Britain via sea.
But as we saw, the capital of Phrygia, Gordium or Gordoserbon – the city of Serbs. Phrygians migrated to Anatolia from the Balkans, around the time when the sea peoples started raiding the Mediterranean region. Could this be another link to Sorbiodunum, Old Sarum, England? This city lies just 15 kilometers from the Stonehenge.
Around the 3rd millennium BC, the dominant culture in Britain was the Bellbeaker culture (2,800 – 1,800 BC). On the map below, we see the spread of its influence. Note that one of the European “hotspots” falls precisely in the region of Pomerania and continues further down towards the modern Slavic lands.
The influence of Bellbeaker culture, Wikipedia
Slavs of ancient Ireland
Back to where we started. Sorbs of Germany are known as Lusatian Sorbs. The region that they inhabited was named Lusatia. The etymology comes from the Slavic word “lug”, meaning “swamp”. But Lug was also one of the most important gods of Irish pantheon. Lug’s mother was Ethniu of the Fomorian tribe.
Irish myths claim that the first people of Ireland were Fomorians, followed by the Fyr Bolg. The Irish word “fyr” means “people”, but the term “Bolg” is not clear. Isn’t it quite obvious that what we see here are the names of Pomorians and the Belgae? Perhaps the myth states that the first settlers were Slavs, followed by Turkic nations. Tuatha dé Danan have already been connected to “sea peoples” – the Denyen. The Denyen are considered to be the same as Danaans, Mycenean Greeks. If the Mycenean Greeks thrived between 1,600-1,100 BC, when did the first two tribes settle Ireland?
There are many toponyms that mirror in modern-day Serbia and Ireland. For example, Hill of Tara in Ireland and Tara mountain in Serbia, or Boyne river in Ireland and Bojana river in Montenegro. Or Iber river in Ireland (Ptolemy map) and Ibar river in Serbia. Some scholars have noticed these connections but consider them as a result of a later “Celtic expansion”. However, one of the most famous Fomorian giants was Searbhán.
The sea people?
The arrival of the Bellbeaker culture marks the end of the Neolithic period and the beginning of the Bronze age. It is also very interesting that another “hotspot” was in Sardinia and Sicily. Sardinia is named after Shardani – “sea people”. According to the Lebor Gabála, Partholón came from Greece via Sicily and Iberia. As his presumed arrival to Ireland is off for just a few hundred years in terms of the appearance of the Bell beaker culture, perhaps tells us that we should not regard this story as pure mythology.
In the Genealogies of Rawlinson, we see that one of the early ancestors of the Fomorians was Philist, a name very reminiscent of Pelest, from whom the Philistines originated. They too were originally the sea peoples.
“Philist m. Fuith m. Caim m. Nóe m. Laméch”. Ancestors of Fomorians, Rawlinson B 502, Section 26, page 330.
The term “sea peoples” comes from ancient Egyptian. We don’t know if Egyptians used this word for various groups of people that appeared from the sea, or this is how some sea peoples really called themselves. In the second case, the term Pomoriani would be quite appropriate.
Moreover, on the coasts of the Adriatic sea, in the 9th and 10th century there was a Serbian tribe of Narentines. Their other names were Primorjani (next to the sea) and “Marjani” (literately “sea people”) They were highly skillful seaman and pirates, just like their relatives from Baltic Pomerania. According to Encyclopedia Britannica:
“A strange republic of Serbian pirates arose at the mouth of the Narenta. This region is called Pagania, from the fact that its inhabitants had only accepted Christianity about 890, or 250 years later than the other Slavs. These Pagani, or Narentani, defeated a Venetian fleet in 887, and for more than a century exacted tribute from Venice itself.