b) Etymology of her name

Her name is obviously similar to the Ardennes, the name of the massif and of its vast surrounding forest situated in the north-east of France and the south of Belgium. The Celticity of Arduinna’s name has been challenged by some scholars, such as G. Dottin, who questioned whether the divine names Vosegus, Abnoba and Arduinna were of Celtic origin.1124 Spickermann, Sterckx and Delamarre however argue it is related to a Celtic root arduo- signifying ‘high’ or ‘eminent’, cognate with Old Irih ard, ‘high’ or ‘big’, Welsh ardd, ‘hill’ and Old Breton ard, art, ‘high, steep’.1125 Arduinna would thus mean ‘the High One’ or ‘the Eminent One’.As for Olmsted, he connects the second element of her name binna, vinna, venna to a Celtic stem *benno- meaning ‘summit, hill’, similar to Welsh bann and Old Irish benn, ‘mountain, summit, hill’.1126 He suggests then to gloss her name as ‘the High Hills’, which is dubious, for Gaulish banna, benna, ‘point’, ‘tip’, ‘peak’, ‘summit’ seems to be a different word.1127 Arduinna’s name having nothing to do with woods or forests, the translation of her name as ‘Wooded Height’, which is sometimes encountered in the works of certain scholars, has no justification.1128

Sterckx compares Arduinna to an Irish goddess called Áirdean, whose name, coming from an ancient *Arden, would also mean ‘the High One’.1129 Yet, in the Lebor Gabála Érenn [‘The Book of Invasions’], her name is not Áirdean but Airgoen, the daughter of Flidais and the sister of Bé Chuille, Bé Théite and Dianann. Áirdean does not actually exist and Airgoen’s name is not etymologically related to Arduinna’s:

‘Flidais diatà buar Flidais; a cethri ingena, Airgoen 7 Bé Chuille 7 Dinand 7 Bé Theite.

Flidais, of whom is the ‘Cattle of Flidais’; her four daughters were Argoen and Be Chuille and Dinand and Be Theite.1130

Arduinna’s connection with the Iranian goddess Arddvī Sūra Anāhitā, as suggested by Heinrich Wagner, is not possible either, for Arddvī Sūra Anāhitā does not mean ‘elevated’, ‘high’ but ‘the wet one’.1131


Dottin, 1915, p. 327.


See also Latin arduus, ‘high, ‘steep’ and Greek orthos, ‘raised’, ‘upright’. Delamarre, 2003, pp. 51-52 ; Spickermann, 2005, p. 139 ; Sterckx, 1995, pp. 52-59 ; Sterckx, 1998, p. 33 ; Lacroix, 2007, p. 14.


Olmsted, 1994, p. 429.


Delamarre, 2003, p. 66.


Sterkx, 1995, pp. 52-53 refers to Lebel, P., ‘Appelatifs forestiers dans le nord de la France’, in REA, XLVI, 1944, p. 135 ; Pokorny, Julius, ‘Zu keltischen Namen’, in Beiträge zur Namenforschung, II, 1950, p. 34 ; Michel, J., L’onomasitque belge chez César, Viré, 1981, p. 142 affirms that the word Ardenne refers to the forest, while Herbillon, J., ‘Ardenne, Ardennais’, in Les Dialectes Belgo-Romans, VIII, 1950-1951, p. 48 demonstrates that the word Ardenne does not denote woods at all.


Sterckx, 1995, pp. 62-69 ; Sterckx, 1998, p. 26.


Macalister, 1938-1956, IV, p. 122, 132.


Wagner, 1981, p. 7 ; Sterckx, 1995, pp. 72-73.