A most interesting thing happened at The Aboyne Highland Games yesterday. It wasn't that I heard some excellent Pipe Bands outside our marquee. It wasn't that I had brilliant chats with customers who bought my books, and with others who chatted about Scottish history though didn't buy! There was one lady, I'm guessing in her early-to-mid seventies who stopped by my table. She browsed the selection of books with a fairly serious expression but on seeing The Taexali Game a huge smile wreathed her face.
She pointed to a copy and told me that she came from 'Taexali country' - pronouncing the word as in TIE-ZA-LEE with a heavy emphasis on the LEE. This is almost the same way I was told the Latin pronunciation would be. No-one to date has ever been able to pronounce the word so that was a big surprise. She went on to tell me it was her older sister who used to tell her that coming from the Peterhead area was Taexali Country. You can maybe guess what research I'll be doing this afternoon.
Why would older folks from that north-east corner of Aberdeenshire refer to their home area as being Taexali?
The first reference to the word Taexali that I ever came across was when I was researching the name of the Celtic tribes of Aberdeenshire and I learned that the Taexali tribe covered a very large geographical area. This was a good number of years ago, but it was only since researching as a novelist since 2011 that I realised the Taexali name came from the map work of Ptolemy- Claudius Ptolemaeus.
Ptolemy is credited for recording the tribal names of large parts of the island of Britannia. The original maps of Ptolemy's manuscripts are lost and copies only date from the thirteenth century. The most well known one to me is the one shown here - a fifteenth century copy.
But knowing that doesn't help me to find out why my customer (Yes, she bought a copy) knew that she was from Taexali country.
images from Wikimedia Commons