Ancamna

Meaning of name: Ancamna is a very mysterious name. It’s nearly impossible to find anything certain in today’s resources. From a website with defunct external sources, it’s suggested that the name is derived from reconstructed Proto-Celtic *Ank-ab(o)-nā, which could mean ‘Crooked River’. That name might have developed into *Ankbna, and was transcribed in Latin as Ancamna[1]. From a discussion with a linguistic student, *Ank-ab(o)na is a valid reconstruction with -bn- resulting in -mn- due to a sound shift or the root is *Ank(a)- and a agentive suffix -mno-, but this leaves *ank(a) with an unclear meaning. If it were *Ank-o-, it would be ‘to reach’[2]. If it were *Angu, it would mean ‘narrow’[3]. Another possibility could be *Anku, which would mean ‘death’[4]. This would result in ‘Reaching river’, ‘Narrow river’, or ‘Death River/River of death’.  

From another conversation had on the Gaulish Polytheism Community, Steve Gwiríu Mórghnath Hansen (one of the creators/big names in the Modern Gaulish/Galáthach hAthévíu movement) proposed a few other interesting ideas. Ancorago, a word that describes a salmon-like fish from the Rhine, exists in the Gaulish corpus. Ancorago translates to “hooked-front”[5]. This could give the meaning “hook-do-er” to Ancamna, implying that She hooks things like fish, or is related to the bends and twists in the rivers of Treverian country. Considering that Treveri translates to “They who pass across [the river]”, i.e “the ferry-people, it’s not hard to consider this to be the case. 

Pronunciation: Onk-OMN-ah

Function: According to Wightman, Ancamna functioned as tribal protector along with Lenus-Mars to the Treveri pagi [6]. Wightman also proposes that while Rosmertâ and Sironâ, consorts of Mercury and Apollo, are widespread, others like Ancamna and Inciona are more localized. They can fall into a similar class that Nantosueltâ and Sucellos fall into[7]. 

Iconography: An unfinished bas-relief of Ancamna and Mars Smertrius shows a young woman. Associations with Victoria would point to wings. If Nantosueltâ associations are correct, a bird/raven would also be appropriate[8]. Either way, wings or birds would work well for more martial or protective aspects of Her. Rosmertâ associations give Her a patera and cornucopia (which seems standard for river goddesses)[9][10][11], and are present in Nantosueltâ representations as well. 

Attested Sources: At least 2 inscriptions in Feyen, Germany[12]. A few others described by H. Finke (the author couldn’t find said other inscriptions outside of archived posts)[13].

Interpretatio Romana: Possibly Victoria. Deo Mercurio makes the argument that there are inscriptions honoring Lenus-Mars and Victoria, Lenus-Mars and Ancamna, as well as Mars and Ancamna[14]. 

Senobessus Bolgon interpretation: She is the tribal goddess of the Treveri and consort to Lenus, therefore a good focus for the Treverian focused Bolgoi. Her name points to dealings with rivers, which is logical considering rivers provided much to tribal peoples. Her possible Interpretatio Romana of Victoria gives the possibility of a war/victory/protector goddess, which is rational considering Her pairing with Lenus. She is also a patron of fishermen and is related to twisting and bending rivers (especially in the country of the Treveri). Assuming She indeed is a localized/tribal version of both Nantosueltâ and Rosmertâ, Ancamna would be associated with fertility and sovereignty of the land, as well as being a psychopomp. 

ancamna
Artwork by Selgowiros Caranticnos. Vectoring by Wōdgar Inguing.

 

Resources:

1.https://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Ancamna#Etymology_.26_Fundamental_Nature

2. An etymological lexicon of Proto-Celtic by Ranko Matasovic P. 11

3. An etymological lexicon of Proto-Celtic by Ranko Matasovic P. 11

4. An etymological lexicon of Proto-Celtic by Ranko Matasovic P. 12

5. Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise by Xavier Delamarre (2003) P. 45

6. Roman Trier and the Treveri by Edith Mary Wightman P. 214

7. Gallia Belgic by Edith Mary Wightman P. 180

8. Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend by Miranda Green P. 157-158

9. Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend by Miranda Green P. 180

10. Lady with a Mead Cup: Ritual Prophecy and Lordship in the European Warband from LaTene to the Viking Age P. 241-242

11. Gods of the Celts and Indo-Europeans by Garrett S. Olmstead P. 300-302

12. American Jounal of Archeology, Second Series, Volume XXI 1917 P. 349

13. New inscriptions. Reports of the Roman-Germanic Commission, 17, inscriptions 12, 13, 20, 254 by H. Finke (1927)

14. DEAE ANCAMNAE: to the Goddess ANCAMNA, http://www.deomercurio.be/en/ancamnae.html#artnotes1