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  • Writer's pictureHans Faber

A Collection of Frisian Forenames of the First Millennium

Despite the fact that some Frisian forenames still find their way into modern name-giving, like Doutzen, Femke, Hauk, Treintje, Finn, Jildou, Jitske, Sjoerd, Gemma, Dirk, etc., on the whole, authentic Frisian names are losing ground. It's a shame because the name-giving culture of Frisia is actually very rich. In this post, we present a random collection of 165 Frisian forenames that might inspire upcoming parents to explore the richness of Frisian name-giving for more than 2,000 years.

The collection presented in this post consists of the names of Frisians we encountered when reading about the early history of Frisia. It covers a span of a thousand years, namely from the first century AD until and including the tenth century AD. Sadly, we mainly found forenames of men and not as much of women (only 13). This is inevitable when considering the 'professions' associated with the forenames we came across: kings, bishops, abbots, saints, black- and goldsmiths, Roman imperial bodyguards, and many counts, warriors, raiders and (mercenary) soldiers. But we also found the occasional merchant, asega 'legal expert', slave, serf, rune writer, master of coin, abbess, a bard, and quite a number of farmers. If a woman's name is documented she is mostly 'the wife, mother, daughter or sister of'.

For most of history, Anonymous was a woman Virginia Woolf
A girl has no name Arya Stark, Game of Thrones

We divided the collection into two, namely the forenames from the Roman Period, ca. AD 1-325, which is a small corpus, and the Early Middle Ages (together with part of the Migration Period), ca. AD 425-1000.

The oldest name of a Frisian is probably that of farmer and former legionair in the Roman army Criptorix. He is mentioned in the year AD 28.

King Finn son of Folcwald is commonly situated around the year 440, and Folcwald is therefore the oldest name of the early-medieval era i.e. Migration Period. Another possibility, however, is that Folcwald was not a name but a title (Bliss 1982), meaning something like 'ruler of people'. From other early-medieval sources (Historia brittonum and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle) we know Finn son of Godulf or Godwulf. Then Godulf would be the oldest Frisian name of the Early Middle Ages (incl. the Migration Period). Reckon around the year 410, the year when the Romans left Britannia for good.

Instructive to know is that during the Roman Period, the Frisians, known as Frisii or Fresones, were probably a Celtic people. During the fourth century, most of the coastal lands of the Netherlands where the Frisian tribes dwelled were virtually depopulated. In the course of the fifth century AD, the lands were repopulated with peoples of Germanic origins coming from the east and north into Frisia, notably Saxons. These immigrants came to be known as Frisians too. Therefore, the first collection of names is (probably) Celtic, and the second collection is definitively Germanic.

When more information in one of our blogposts can be found about a certain historic person, a hyperlink is attached to his/her name.

1. Roman Period (AD 1-300)

Bassus (m) Roman imperial bodyguard in Rome; Caturix (m) slave; Criptorix (m) farmer in province Noord Holland; Frissiaus (m) Roman mercenary soldier; Hilarus (m) Roman imperial bodyguard in Rome; Hnaudifridi (m) also named Notfrid and Nothfried, Frisian chieftain and Roman soldier in Britannia; Malorix (m) a king of Frisii; Mandus (m) Roman mercenary soldier; Mausaeus (m) Roman mercenary soldier; Sextus Valerius Genialis (m) Roman mercenary soldier in Britannia; Verritus (m) a king of Frisii.

2. Early Middle Ages (AD 400-1000)

A – B

Abba (m) also Alfbad, count; Adolf (m); Adujislu (m) name preserved in runic writing ᚪᛞᚢᛡIᛋᛚᚢ; Aib (m) name preserved in runic writing ᚪᛁᛒ; Aladram (m) brother of count Hatto; Alberik I & II (m) also Alfrik, bishops of Utrecht, Alberik II brother Frederick of Utrecht; Albóð (m) Frisian merchant living in Sweden; Aldburga (f); Aldchravan (m) farmer; Aldgisl (m) also Aldgilles and Eadgils, king; Aldo (m); Aldolf (m) farmer; Alétha (f) also Aleth, wife of raider Corsoldus and lover of Coarchion; Alguskaþi (m) also Lguskaþi, actually a Wurst-Saxon but early fifth century thus little distinction with Frisian, name preserved in runic writing ᛚXᚢᛋᚲᚫᚦI; Altfried (m) son of Hriathrud, abbot; Arnulf of Ghent (m) count; Ating (m) priest; Atte (m) see Wrssing, count; Audulf (m) also Audulfus and Audulfo, local ruler or king; Æbbe (m) warrior fighting for King Ælfred the Great of the West Saxons; Æðelhere (m) warrior fighting for King Ælfred the Great of the West Saxons; Æhæ (m) name preserved in runic writing ᚫᚻᚫ; Æniwulufu (m) also Aniwulufu, name preserved in runic writing ᚫᚾᛁᚹᚢᛚᚢᚠᚢ, possibly blacksmith; Æpa (m) name preserved in runic writing ᚫᛈᚪ; Bernlef (m) blind bard; Betto (m).

C – F

Coarchion (m), brother of Corsold, raider in Brittany; Corsold (m), also Corsoldus, Corseul, Corseult, Corsult, Corsolt, Corsoult, Cursoul, Corseu, Courseu, and Corseulle, brother of Coarchion, raider and ruler in Brittany; Daeġhrefn (m) also Dagoramn, warrior fighting for the king of Frisians, possible slayer of King Hygelac of the Geat; Dirk I, II and III (m) also Tidericus, Ditericus, and Diederik, counts; Þorbjǫrn (m) Frisian rune writer living in Sweden; Þorkell (m) Frisian merchant living in Sweden; Edo (m); Eisolf (m); Elburga (f) also Atelburga and Adelburg(a), ancestor of St. Ludger; Erulf (m) also Herulf and Erulfus; Eurin (m) also Eurin, the sacrificed by St. Wulfram; Evorbald (m) farmer; Evurhard (m); Finn (m) son of Folcwald, or son of Godulf, king; Folcker (m) also Fol(c)kerus and Folker, Saxon ruler probably Frisian from mother's side; Folcwald (m) also Folcwalda, Folcwalding, Folkwaldan and Foldepald, father of Finn, perhaps king; Folkhard (m); Folkric (m); Frederick of Utrecht (m) also Friderici, Frethericus and Frederik, brother of Alberik II, saint, bishop of Utrecht; Frideburg (f) weatlhy Frisian woman living in Sweden and mother of Katla; Frithuwulf (m) possibly the son of King Finn; Fris (m), soldier in Frankish army, saint in France.

G – H

Gardulf (m) also Gardulfus, brother of Gerulf the Elder, count, Garhelm (m); Gárulf (m) possibly Frisian, warrior in the retinue of King Finn; Gebo (m); Geldis (m); Geldolf (m); Geldulf (m); Gemberht (m) also Gebbo, first Frisian pupil of St. Boniface; Gerbraht (m); Gerfried (m) son of Reginthrud, abbot; Gerhart de Fresia (m); Gerhelm (m) farmer; Gerulf the Elder (m) also Gerdulf and Gerdulfus, count and brother of Gardulf and father of Gerulf II; Gerulf II (m) son of Gerulf the Elder, count; Gerulf III (m); Gerwali (m) also Gerwalda; Godulf (m); also Godwulf, father of King Finn, king; Gozewijn (m) son of Hartbert of Bierum; Habuku (f) also Habuke, name preserved in runic writing ᚻᚪᛒᚢᚳᚢ; Hada (m) also Hadda, name preserved in runic writing ᚻᚪᛞᚪ, possibly blacksmith; Hardbraht (m); Hartbert of Bierum (m) also Heribert, father of Gozewijn, bishop of Utrecht; Hatto (m) also Hatto, count; Hebi (m) also Hebus, knight in Rome; Hengist (m) also Hengest, Hengistus, Engisto, Engistus or Eugistus, brother of Horsa, son of Victgils, father of Oisc and Rowena, king, prince, mercenary and raider (see note 1); Heribald (m); Heriburg (f) sister of St. Ludger; abbess; Herwicde Fresia (m); Hiaro (m) soldier in the Frankish army in Italy; Hiddo (m) also Hiddonis and Hidda; Hidulf (m) farmer; Hildigrim (m) also Hildegrim, brother of St. Ludger, bishop; Hoffo (m); Horsa (m) also Horsus, brother of Hengist, son of Victgils, prince, mercenary and raider (see note 1); Hriathrud (f) sister of St. Ludger; Hunger (m) also Hungerus Frisus, Hungerus Frisius, Hunagrus, Hungarius, saint, bishop of Utrecht; Huno (m).

I – P

Ilderado (m) soldier in the Frankish army in Italy; Ingomarus (m) also Ingomar, the sacrificed saved by St. Wulfram; Husilef (m); Jisuhidu (f) also Gisehilde and Gisihild(e), name preserved in runic writing ᛡIᛋᚢᚻIᛞᚢ; Katla (f) also Catla, living in Sweden and daughter of the wealthy Frisian woman Frideburg; Leomot (m) soldier in the Frankish army in Italy; Liafburg (f) mother of St. Ludger; Ludger (m) also Liudger, saint. Marclef (m); Meinsuit (f) noble woman and acquaintance of Bernlef; Nothgrim (m); Nothrad (m); Oatbald (m); Odlef (m); Oisc (m); also Œric, Æsc or Ocha, brother of Rowena, son of Prince Hengist, king; Oka (m) name preserved in runic writing ᚩᚳᚪ; Osbruht (m); Oslef (m); Osnath (m); Ovo (m) the sacrificed saved by St. Wulfram; Poppo (m) also Bubo, king.

R – S

Radbaud (m) possible of Frisian decent and offspring of King Radbod, bishop of Utrecht; Radbod (m) also Redbad, Rathbold, Rathbodus, Rachordus, Radbodus, Redbodus, Redbald, Radboud, Radbaud, Radbaut, Rabbodus, Rebbolt, Rambault, Rembauz, Robuet, Rabel, Rabeu, Rapoto, Reinbaldr, Rabeu, Richoldus, Ritzert, Ritsaert, king; Radbodo (m) also Ruotboto, count; Radfrid (m) also Radfridi, Radifridus, Ratfridum and Radfried, son of Walfrid of Bedderwald, saint; Radnath (m); Radulf (m) also Rothulf, Hrothalf; Redbald (m): Redger (m); Rednath (m) master of coin; Redulf (m) farmer; Reginthrud (f) sister of St. Ludger; Reingerd (m); Revnulf (m) farmer; Ricbald (m), deacon; Ricfried (m) bishop of Utrecht; Rothulf (m) also Radulf and Radulfus; Rowena (f) also Rouuenne, Ronixa, Reonixa and Rothwen, daughter of Hengist, brother of Oisc, queen; Saxbraht (m) serf; Saxger (m) farmer; Saxmund (m) asega legal expert; Skanomodu (m) name preserved in runic writing ᛋᛣᚪᚾᛟᛗᛟᛞᚢ, possibly blacksmith; Slóði (m) also slodi, by-name meaning lazy-one, Frisian merchant living in Sweden; Sinath (m).

T – Z

Tatto (m); Tiebo (m); Theudesinda (f) also Theudesinde, Thiadsvind and Theolinda, princes and daughter of King Redbad; Theudoald (m) possible grandson of King Radbod; Thiaddag (m); Thiadgrim (m) father of St. Ludger; Thiadwold (m); Thietmer (m); Tuda (m) also Tudda, name preserved in runic writing ᛏᚢᛞᚪ. Ubba the Fisian (m) also Ubbi fríski, Ubba dux Fresciorum and Ubbo Fresicus, legendary son of Ragnar Loðbrók, raider and Viking leader of the Great Heathen Army; Umæ (m) name preserved in runic writing ᚢᛗᚨ; Unilrad (m); Uræ (m) name preserved in runic writing ᚢᚱᚫ; Victgils (m) also Victgilsus, Wictgils or Wihtgils, father of Hengist and Horsa; Walfrid of Bedderwald (m) also Walfridi, Walifridus, Walfried, Waldefrid, Wilfrid and Wolfryt, father of Radfrid, saint; Waldger (m) also Waltger, Waldgerus, Walcherus, Walkerus and Walker, count; Weladu (m) also Wayland, Wēland, Welund, Weyland, Völundr, Vølund, Vǫlundr, Velent, Wieland, Wiolant, name preserved in runic writing ᚹᛖᛚᚪᛞᚢ, blacksmith; Wibald (m) farmer; Wimœd (m) name preserved in runic writing ᚹIᛗᛟᛥ; Wlemar (m) also Wlemarus, asega legal expert; Wrssing (m) also UUrssing, Wursing, Atte and Ado, grandfather of St. Ludger, count; Wulfbold (m) farmer; Wulfheard (m) warrior fighting for King Ælfred the Great of the West Saxons; Wulfnoth (m).

Creating your own unique name

The early-medieval Germanic names are nearly always inspired by weapons used in battle like swords and speers, and by mythical animals like ravens and wild boar. A combination often expressing bravery and strength.

In our blogpost How to recognize the Frisians by name, we have already advised always consulting a native of Friesland if you want to experiment with creating new Frisian name combinations. Nevertheless, if you feel confident enough, you can use this 'name-generator' developed by H.F.J. Veenstra (Fan van Friesland website). The rule is to take two words of the list and combine them to a name. For example: liaf (kind, loving) + burg (protection) = Liafburg. Try it yourself, but do not say we did not warn you!

A – E

ad, high ancestry; adal, noble; agi(l), sword, able; elf, elf; ald, adult; alf, elf; amel effort in battle; and, combative; ans, god, good; arne, eagle; ask, spear, ash wood; badu, battle; bald(e), brave; ban, jurisdiction; barn, bear; baug, bow; be(h)rt, shining, radiate; bern, boar; blika, lightening; blom, flower, beautiful; boai, boy, hero; bod(e), commandment, decree; bold (bald), brave; brant, flaming sword; brecht, shining, radiating; brich, protection; brothar, spearhead of an army; brun, brown, bear; brunjo, breastplate; bur, neighbour, land man; burg, borough, protection; daad, deed, work; dag, day; dank, spirit, thought; degin, hero; diet, people, folk; diure, precious; drude, sorceress; ed, noble descent; ee, law; eer, honour, fame; ein, alone; erl, freeman, noble man; es(k), spear of ash wood; ethel, noble; ever (evor), wild boar.

F – G

falka, shining with many colours; ferdh, mind, spirit; folk, people, folk; forma, first, prominent; frama, prominent, brave; fred, peace; frithu, peace; frid(u), peace; frod(e), wise; frou, distinguished woman; funs, chancing; gade, counterpart; gadû, spear head; gal, lively, spirited; gand, sorcery staff; gard, tree branch; gard, enclosed area/space; gaut, belonging to the Goths; geb, generous; gebhan, giving, welcoming; geld, value, settling; ge(a)r, spear; gerd, enclosed area/space; gisal, child of distinguished parents; gisil, small spear; go(e)d, good; gond, battle; grad, greedy, hungry; grau(w), grey; grep, grip; grim, mask, angry; gund, battle.

H – M

habuk, hawk; hade, battle; hadu, battle; haga, hedge, enclosed space; hail, hail; hal, hero, warrior; hand, hand; har, army; hard, strong, brave; hart, strong, brave; heil, hail, happy; heim, homestead; held, battle; helm, helmet, protection; her(e), army; hild, battle; hoio, high, elevated; hold, rule; hraban, raven; hrava, raven; hred, fame; hrefn, raven; hremn, raven; hrod, fame; hroth, fame; hug, mind; huld, faithful, loyal; hun, young bear, brown; id, potency; irmin, great, powerful; ijser(n), iron weapon; iv, bow of yew wood; iwa, bow of yew wood; koen, skilled; kun(i), genus; laki, magician; land, land; lef, offspring, son; lewa, merciful; lewi, merciful; liaf, kind, loving; lind, shield of bass wood, snake; liud, people, folk; liuf, heir; lod, famous; loga, flame; madal, assembly site; magan, making; man, man; mar, renown; mark, border land; mathla, site of justice; megin, force, power; mei, making; mer, famous; mo(e)d, spirit, state of mind; moar, dark, swamp; mom, thought; mund, custodian.

N – Z

nand, brave, ruling; nard, very strong or courageous; nid, anger, fury; od(el), inheritance; ol, inheritance; old, mature; olf, wolf; ort, head of a weapon; ra(a)d, council, advice; ragin, council, decision; rand, shield edge; raven (ravan), raven; red, council; regi(n), council; revn, raven; ridan, ride; rik, rich, powerful; rod, fame; rom, fame; sake, legal dispute; sal, homestead, dark; sand, the one; sas, belonging to the Saxons; sig(i), victory; sigitet, joy of victory; sind, journey, way; skalk, servant of God; smede, blacksmith; smido, blacksmith; staf, stick, support; sten, stone, weapon; swan, swan; swind, strong; swith, largely; thiad, people, folk; trudh, strength; traut, loved; trud, strength; ulf, wolf; volk, people of war; wal, battlefield; wald, ruling; walha, foreign; war, goods; ward(in), protector; wel, will; wer(in), defend; wert(h), worthy; wich, battle; wid(ha), wide; widu, wood; wif, woman; wig, battle; wih (wi), holy; wil(ja), wish, will; win, friend; wis, wise; wisu, good; wold, ruling; wulf, wolf.


Note 1 - The nationality of the (legendary) brothers Hengist and Horsa is not evident in the historic accounts Beowulf, the Finnburg Fragment, Nennius' Historia brittonum, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Bede's Ecclesiastical History. They could have carried about any nationality of the Germanic tribes living at the south-eastern shores of the North Sea in the fifth century AD. Anglo-Saxon scholars assume often either the Jutish or Anglian nationality. But (half)Danish and Lower Rhine-Frankish are being considered as well. However, Frisian sagas, both in Germany (especially the region of Nordfriesland) and in the Netherlands, consider them of Frisian descent.

Note 2 - These are the names of fictional Frisian rulers, covering the time span between 313 BC to AD 774:

Prince Friso; Prince Adel; Prince Ubbo I; Prince Asinga Ascon; Prince Diocarus Segon; Prince Dibbaldus Segon; Prince Tabbo; Duke Ascon; Duke Adelboldus; Duke Titus Bojocalus; Duke Ubbo II; Duke Harron Ubbo; Duke Odilbaldus I; Duke Odulphus Haron; King Richoldus I Uffo; King Odilbaldus II; King Richoldus II; King Beroald; King Aldigisl I; King Radboud I; King Aldigisl II; King Gundebold, and; Kind Radboud II.

Suggested hiking

Stroll along the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Blvd. and Vine St. in Los Angeles, USA.

Suggested music

Sesame Street, The Names Song (2014)

R.E.M., I Took Your Name (1991)

Zangeres Zonder Naam, Ach vaderlief (1959)

Further reading

Behind the Name, Anglo-Saxon names (website)

Bliss, A. (ed.), J.R.R. Tolkien. Finn and Hengest (1982)

Bloothooft, G., Regionale voornamen: Fryslân (2020)

Bonth, de R., De populairste voornamen uit de Middeleeuwen (2021)

Buma, W.J., In runefynst út Rasquert (1966)

Burdess, N., What’s in a name? A brief history of baby name trends from the Anglo-Saxons to today (2019)

Halbertsma, H., Frieslands oudheid. Het rijk van de Friese koningen, opkomst en ondergang (2000)

Looijenga, T., Texts and Contexts of the Oldest Runic Inscriptions (2003)

Medievalist, Old English Girls Names (2023)

Medievalist, Ten Great Anglo-Saxon Girls’ Names (2014)

Meer, van der M., Welke van deze 40 vergeten middeleeuwse voornamen verdienen een comeback? (2014)

Nicolay, J.A.W. & Eerden, van R.A., Wodan’s mythical birds. Symbolic language on a small-long brooch of the Domburg type from Heiloo (prov. North-Holland/NL) (2021)

Nieuwenhuijsen, K., Namen in de Lage Landen voor 1150. Vroeg-middeleeuwse persoonsnamen in Nederland en Vlaanderen (website)

Renswoude, van O., Germaanse namen (2017)

Schaar, van der J., Woordenboek van voornamen (1964)

Tuuk, van der L. & Mijderwijk, L., De Middeleeuwers. Mannen en vrouwen uit de Lage Landen, 450-900 (2020)

Veenstra, H.F.J., Fan van Friesland. Voornaam-generator (website)

Winkler, J., Friesche Naamlijst. Onomasticum Frisicum (1898)


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