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Scotia was originally a Latin geographical expression of the territory inhabited by the people Latin writers called Scoti or Scotii, the early Gaels, one of the tribes living to the north of the Central Uplands. Use of the name shifted in the Middle Ages to designate the part of the island of Great Britain lying north of the Firth of Forthmarker, the Kingdom of Alba. By the later Middle Ages it had become the fixed Latin term for what in English is called Scotlandmarker.

Etymology and the origins

The name of Scotland is derived from the Latin Scoti, the term applied to Gaels. The origin of the word Scoti (or Scotti) is uncertain. It is found in Latin texts from the fourth century describing a tribe which sailed from Irelandmarker to raid Roman Britain. It came to be applied to all the Gaels. It is not believed that any Gaelic groups called themselves Scoti in ancient times, except when writing in Latin. Oman derives it from Scuit; a man cut off, suggesting that a Scuit was not a Gael as such but one of a renagade band settled in the part of Ulster which became the kingdom of Dál Riata. The 19th century author Aonghas MacCoinnich of Glasgowmarker proposed that Scoti was derived from a Gaelic ethnonym (proposed by MacCoinnich) Sgaothaich from sgaoth "swarm", plus the derivational suffix -ach (plural -aich) However, this proposal to date has not appeared in mainstream place-name studies.

Medieval usage

Scotia was never one fixed place in the Middle Ages. It was a way of saying "Land of the Gaels"; compare Angli, Anglia; Franci, Francia; Romani, Romania; etc. Hence, it once could be used to mean Ireland, as when Isidore of Seville says "Scotia eadem et Hibernia, "Scotland and Ireland are the same country" (Isidore, lib. xii. c. 6)", but the connotation is still ethnic. Isidore and other authors assumed that the same ethnic group(s) lived on both sides of the Irish Sea and so both lands could be viewed as Scotia. This is how it is used, for instance, by King Robert I of Scotland and Domhnall Ua Neill during the Scottish Wars of Independence, when Ireland was called Scotia Maior, and Scotlandmarker Scotia Minor. In this way, the usage of the word Scotia in the Middle Ages might be compared with the 21st century usage of the word Gaidhealtachd. They both mean the same thing descriptively; and like Scotia, Gàidhealtachd has obtained an official and fixed meaning while retaining something of a descriptive meaning (i.e. the territory of Highland Councilmarker or the Highlands in general coincides with no linguistic frontier; and neither do the Gaeltachtaí of Ireland).

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the coasts on the Irish Sea were raided by pirates either from Eastern Ireland or Western Scotland (more likely, since those pirates were known as Scotii or Scots). They did gain power in Western Scotland, which since then has been viewed as having a celtic nature, originated new small kingdoms, and reinforced the idea of a common origin and that Scotland was somehow populated (or re-populated) by Gaelic Irish.

However, after the 11th century, Scotia, when Scotland was already stabilised as a nation-kingdom, was used mostly for northern Great Britain, and in this way became the fixed designation. As a translation of Alba, Scotia could mean both the whole Kingdom belonging to the rex Scottorum, or just Scotland north of the Forth.

In the bureaucratic world of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Leo X eventually granted Scotland exclusive right over the word, and this led to Anglo-Scottish takeovers of continental Gaelic monasteries (e.g. the Schottenklöster).

It is from Scotia that all Romance names for Scotland derive, names such as the Romanian Scoţia, the Italian Scozia, the Spanish Escocia, the Portuguese Escócia and the French Écosse.

Other uses

The term is also used in the Canadianmarker province of Nova Scotiamarker (New Scotland); the village of Scotiamarker in New York Statemarker, the Scotia Sea between Antarctica and South America, and in Scotiabank, a trade name for the Bank of Nova Scotia.

The term also is used to describe a piece of wood millwork that is used at the base of columns and in stair construction.

Scotia is also rarely used as a feminine first name.

Scotia Gas Networks (SGN) is the holding company of Scotland Gas Networks, Southern Gas Networks, SGN Connections, SGN Contracting and SGN Metering, in the UK.

Scotland's national LGBT pride festival is named Pride Scotia and involves a March and a community based festival held in June.

In Irish sources

In Geoffrey Keating's Foras Feasa ar Éirinn Ireland's "ninth appellation it received likewise from the sons of Milesius, who named it Scotia, from their mother's name, Scota, who was the daughter of Pharaoh Nectonibus, king of AEgypt; or perhaps from themselves, they being originally of the Scythian race."

According to the Middle Irish language synthetic history Lebor Gabála Érenn she was the daughter of Pharaoh Necho II of Egypt. - see entry on Scota.

Other sources say that Scota was the daughter of Pharaoh Neferhotep I of Egypt and his wife Senebsen, and was the wife of Míl, that is [[Milesius, and the mother of Éber Donn and Érimón. Míl had given Neferhotep military aid against ancient Ethiopia]] and was given Scota in marriage as a reward for his services. Writing in 1571, Edmund Campion named the pharaoh Amenophis; Keating named him Cincris or Forann.


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