Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Île de Sein

'Sena, in the Britannic Sea, opposite the coast of the Osismi, is famous for its oracle of a Gaulish god, whose priestesses, living in the holiness of perpetual virginity, are said to be nine in number. They call them 'Gallizenae', and they believe them to be endowed with extraordinary gifts, to rouse the sea and the wind by their incantations, to turn themselves into whatsoever animal form they may choose, to cure diseases which among others are incurable, to know what is to come and to foretell it. They are, however, devoted to the service of voyagers only who have set out on no other errand than to consult them.' Pomponius Mela, 'De Chorographia'

ÎLE DE SEIN Enez Sun. [Sena, IstC; Sina, 4thC; Seidhun, 11thC] ‘Isle of Sena’

The Island (Sein) and the cape/headland (Cap-Sizun) have the same name. The island was called Sena by Pomponius Mela, a 1stC Greek writer. It was named after a Gaulish god, guarded by nine priestesses who ruled the waves. 

Seidhun, a name which appears in the 11thC, recalls OW/OB/CB: seith/saith/sextan, ‘seven’ but it probably indicates a sound change rather than two of the priestesses being bumped off.

L'île de Sein en Finistère (Bretagne)

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