On Fomorians, Pomeranians and Sea people

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.

In the 2nd century AD, Ptolemy lists two Gaulish tribes as Morini and Aremoriti. In both cases, the etymology is the same as the Slavic one. But surely, this fact alone doesn’t mean much.

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.

Genetic evidence

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.

Archaeological evidence

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.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Fomorians were people of ”primitive” consciousness, in a sense that they were all about power, domination and controlling of others. They have had costume to kill their enemies by cutting their throats leaving the blood of the victims to leak in the sea, as this will leave the sense of loss and draining of life energy even in the next incarnations. Also, they often used to offer their victims to the demons they worshiped.
    I would like to know if Tuatha Dè Danann were linked to the Slavic tribes or not. There is a great article of David Frawley about their connections to Hindu tribes and Celts, also about dragons and maruts ect…

    • It is possible that this image of Fomorians is the result of demonisation in later times, when they were already a distant memory, as it is usually the case with the oral tradition. However, the image of the sea raiders is probably accurate.

      As for the Tuatha Dè Danann, I support the theory that they are related to Danu, the sea peoples of the Egyptians, and also believe that they could be related to Vedic tribe of Danavas, will write a separate article about that.

      • When we hear or read about supernatural races or giants, or semi-gods, we should know that rational mind was not always dominant part of humans, so their interacted with other realms in everyday life. Differentiation between ad. es. faerie realm, dragons, nagas ect. and what we call reality was not so strong as it is today. Also, these beings from astral and other realms /negative and positive/ lived in material world as well, as folk history of lots of nations can confirm. Vedic writings say that serpent kings/nagas ruled in India for many years, in Serbia there are stories about sons of the dragons that had supernatural powers, Irish history speaks about T.D.Danann and Fomorians, on Lemuria there were races that evolved into the beings of light and left the material world. There are beings, tribes and races that go on and of from one realm to another and that makes more difficult to understand history. Tuatha Dè Danann actually became a faerie people of Ireland.

        What I wrote about Fomorians comes from a shaman of ancient Dragon lineage and his experience. The best way to get historical confirmations is to connect to other realms as there everything still exist.

        Check it out if the David Frawley’s article ”Vedic origins of Europeans- The Children of Danu” can help you in your research.

        P.S. A fenomenal blog!

  2. Unlikely, the genetics do not match, the people under the sea more likely refers to the literal Irish meaning. Under the sea would mean under Ireland so from the south. (Morians) or (Mori) from under or (Mauri) from under. Most likely from Mauritania and North African Berber ancestry. The first Irish were dark skin as genetics have absolutely proven. Berbers share many cultural similarities, especially on the Irish Western seaboard. I wouldn’t rule out significant contributions with latter Slavic influence through Scythian invasions. The builders of Newgrange were the Formorians or Berber Atlanteans. The same genetics as the Guanches of Canary and Amazigh of Mauritania, Morocco and Libya. In the Connacht area on Western side of Ireland the majority of people have archaic dna subclades, the oldest in Ireland, remnants of formorian ancestors. The genetics are so old that they also exist in the area of Chad, Africa. These phenotypes occasionally are expressed in Irish Connacht and were significant enough that English used them for ethnocentric superiority in Ireland and in the early U.S. The average Connacht man still retains roughly 10% of this genetic marker.

  3. Ireland has one of the most ancient memory-stores of Western Europe. Hardly surprising, since it was the last refuge of older peoples displaced by new conquerors like the Celts and later the Romans. The island has been called ‘an antique-shop of ancient cultures’. The myths encode these memories for learning. The intellectual class the Druid Order used these to train their novices in memory-feats and history and, although they had a library at Tara, which Patrick sought to destroy, they discouraged literary culture, preferring to rely on their own memory-training using the myths and sagas. The early Christians wrote them down, so they are accessible to us.

    The earliest Irish people recognised by the Druids and recorded in the Lebor Gaba’la Erenn (pron. Le-bore-Gab-awla, Ey-renn, the Book of Invasions of Ireland) were the Parthalonians. Recent DNA studies show that the first modern people in Ireland were Iranian farmers who brought agriculture to the island. Iranians were called in ancient times ‘Parthians’, later ‘Persians’. They built the megaliths and the mighty tumuli, the womb-tombs shaped to resemble the womb and birth-canal of Dana (pron. ‘Donna’) the Earth-Goddess and Supreme Being.

    Another recognised ancient people were the Fe’ni’ (Fey-nee). These were of course the Phoenicians (Fey-nee-cians), who fled to Ireland when Carthage was destroyed by Rome.

    The Fomorians were feared sea-raiders. The name ‘Fo-mor’ can be translated from Gaelic as ‘the people from below the sea-horizon’.

    The Irish were known to the Romans as the ‘Scoti’. They drove the Romans back to Hadrian’s Wall and occupied the western coast of Alba (Britain) north of the Wall, giving their name to that country. The name may have been adopted by them in imitation and recognition of the Scythi, Sarmatian troops who were stationed by Rome in Britannia and admired by the natives for their horsemanship, their ‘chivalry’ (a word derived from ‘cheval’ meaning ‘horse’) and their egalitarian ways (Arthur, his round table and his knights).

    During the Tudor and later wars of conquest by English kings in Ireland and into the reign of Victoria the natives of the western isle were disparaged with the racist label ‘Scythians’, which the Irish admitted they partly were, culturally if not genetically.

    • Food for taught nr.1 – scot – in Slavic – skot domaci(home cattle, cow, tur(bull)
      nr.2 – – The action of riding a horse or a fast running horse in slavic ( HORSE – kôň – cvala, cvalal ( fast running specifically used only with horse ) (cavalerie, loads of charging horses and an obvious connection as Cavalry (from the French word cavalerie, itself derived from “cheval” meaning “horse”) according wiki.. still slavic
      Bull is a symbol of power and fertility as it has ever been artur (j)Ar (spring) Tur( bull) fertility etc… round table and 12 knight ( year months)

  4. The Fir Bolg of Irish mythology are obviously the Belgae, skilled metalworkers prized by the Romans. In Bath, Britain, I saw a plaque erected by his legionary comrades to a well-loved armourer. I forget his name but his Belgic ethnicity is mentioned on the plaque. The Belgae were widely spread in Gaul, Britannia South Coast, and Ireland where they were honoured for making brass harp-strings, not an easy thing to do.

    In Irish mythology the ‘Parthalonians’ (Parthians) built the megaliths and the mighty tumuli, the womb-tombs shaped to resemble the womb and birth-canal of Dana (pron. ‘Donna’) the Earth-Goddess and Supreme Being. These Irish monuments were built six hundred to a thousand years before the great Egyptian Pyramids.
    Later arrivals the Celts (Galli or Gauls) saw these great ‘tombs’ of unknown antiquity built by an ancient race and owned and understood by no-one and concluded that the Parthalons had all died suddenly of a plague and that these were their tombs. But, er, um, who then built them? It is more likely that they were/are ‘resurrection’ chambers.

    The Tuatha De’ Danann the worshippers of the Earth Goddess were challenged by the Fomorians for the ownership of Ireland at the two battles of Moytura, so they must in my opinion have pre-dated the Fomor there. The Danaans are referred to in the monuments of Rameses II (two) as one of the Sea Peoples ‘The Denyen in their islands’, whom he threw back from Egypt. Their islands may have been on the eastern coast of the Adriatic.

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