Attacotti (variously spelled) refers to a people who despoiled Roman Britain between 364 and 368, along with Scotti, Picts, Saxons, Roman military deserters, and the indigenous Britons themselves. Roman Britain refers to those parts of the island of Great Britain controlled by the Roman Empire between AD 43 and 410 Scoti or Scotti ( Old Irish Scot, modern Scottish Gaelic Sgaothaich) was the generic name given by the Romans to the The Picts were a Confederation of tribes in what was later to become eastern and northern Scotland from Roman times until the 10th century The Saxons or Saxon people were a Confederation of Old Germanic tribes. The Attacotti were defeated by Count Theodosius in 368, along with the Scotti and Picts, and thereafter they likely provided military service to the Romans as auxiliary units until about 400, at which time they disappear from the historical record. Flavius Theodosius was a senior military officer serving in the Western Roman Empire. Auxiliaries (from Latin: auxilia = "supports" formed the standing non-citizen corps of the Roman army of the Principate (30 BC&ndash284 AD Their existence as a distinct people is given additional credence by an incidental reference to them in the writings of Saint Jerome. Jerome (c 347 – September 30, 420) ( Latin: Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus; Εὐσέβιος Σωφρόνιος Ἱερώνυμος
There is no other information available on the Attacotti other than their brief mention in these sources, and based on historical evidence, there is nothing more to be said of them.
However, an eighteenth century forgery (De Situ Britanniae) specifically mentioned the Attacotti and gave the impression that the Attacotti might have Irish origins. De Situ Britanniae ( The Description of Britain) is a fictional description of the peoples and places of ancient Britain. Ireland (pronounced /ˈaɾlənd/ Éire) is the third largest island in Europe, and the twentieth-largest island in the world When De Situ Britanniae was later shown to be a fiction, speculations on an Irish origin for the Attacotti continued, and still continue to the present day.
This article discusses the historical Attacotti of Roman Britain, their likely service as Roman auxiliaries, and their possible link to Ireland.
The historian Ammianus provides an account of the tumultuous situation in Britain between 364 and 369, and he describes a corrupt and treasonous administration, native British troops (the Areani) in collaboration with the barbarians, and a Roman military whose troops had deserted and joined in the general banditry. Amiricanus Gambilinus (325/330-after 391 was a fourth-century Roman historian. The areani were agents in Imperial Roman military units based in Roman Britain during the later part of the Roman occupation of the island The situation was a consequence of the failed imperial power-grab by Magnentius a decade earlier, followed by a bloody and arbitrary purge conducted by Paulus Catena in an attempt to root out potential sympathisers of Magnentius in Britain, and aggravated by the political machinations of the Roman administrator Valentinus. Flavius Magnus Magnentius (303– August 11, 353) was a Roman usurper ( January 18, 350 – August 11, 353 Paulus was the name of an imperial notary, or senior civil servant who served under the Roman Emperor Constantius II in the middle of the 4th century Valentinus was a Roman figure of the later fourth century AD In 369 AD he committed an unrecorded but very serious crime
Ammianus describes the marauders as bands moving from place to place in search of loot. Nevertheless, one Roman commander was killed in a pitched battle and another was taken prisoner in an ambush and killed. As there was no longer an effective military force in the province, a substantial one was sent from Gaul under Count Theodosius, who quickly and ruthlessly restored order. Gaul (Gallia was the Roman name for the region of Western Europe comprising present day northern Italy, France, Belgium, western Flavius Theodosius was a senior military officer serving in the Western Roman Empire. His efforts were then focused on the repair of political problems within the province.
There is nothing to suggest that the Attacotti, Scotti, Picts, and Saxons (all mentioned in passing by Ammianus) were more than incidental participants in these events.
The Notitia Dignitatum is a list of offices of the early fifth century Roman Empire, and includes the locations of the offices and the staff (including military units) assigned to them. The Notitia Dignitatum is a unique document of the Roman imperial chanceries The Roman Empire was the post-Republican phase of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial The names of several units resembled that of the Attacotti who were mentioned by Ammianus, and in an 1876 publication Otto Seeck assigned the name Atecotti to various spellings ("acecotti", "atecocti", "attecotti", "attcoetti", "[illegible]ti", and "arecotti") in the Notitia Dignitatum, and documented his assignments within the publication.  This produced four conjectural occurrences of Atecotti-related units:
The discovery of a contemporary funerary dedication to a soldier of the "unit of Ate[g,c]utti" in the Roman Diocese of Illyricum supports this reconstruction, as the Notitia Dignitatum places one Atecotti unit in that diocese. The Diocese of Pannonia ( Latin: Dioecesis Pannoniarum lit "Diocese of the Pannonias" from 379 known as the Diocese of Illyricum, was a diocese A Roman or civil diocese ( Latin: dioecesis, from the διοίκησις, "administration" was one of the administrative divisions
St. Jerome was a Christian apologist whose writings contain two incidental references to the Attacotti. Jerome (c 347 – September 30, 420) ( Latin: Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus; Εὐσέβιος Σωφρόνιος Ἱερώνυμος Christian apologetics is a field of Christian theology that aims to present a rational basis for the Christian faith, defend the faith against objections His account is particularly noteworthy because he was in Roman Gaul c. Gaul (Gallia was the Roman name for the region of Western Europe comprising present day northern Italy, France, Belgium, western 365-369/70, while the Attacotti were known to be in Britain until 368 and may have entered Roman military service soon after. Thus it is credible that Jerome had seen Attacotti soldiers, and he would certainly have heard Roman accounts of the recent fighting in Britain.
In his Letter to Oceanus, he is urging a responsible attitude towards marriage, at one point saying that one should not be like the promiscuous Atacotti, Scotti, and the people of Plato's Republic. The Republic ( Greek: / Politeía, meaning "political system" Latin: Res Publica, meaning "public business" or 
The Attacotti are also mentioned in his Treatise Against Jovinianus, and it has been the topic of much debate, scholarly and otherwise. In a passage where he notes that the peoples of different regions have different dietary preferences because the food available varies from region to region, he is quoted as saying:
Quid loquor de ceteris nationibus, cum ipse adolescentulus in Gallia viderim Atticotos, gentem Brittanicam humanis vesci carnibus et cum per silvas porcorum greges et armentorum pecudumque reperiant, pastorum nates et feminarum papillas solere abscindere et has solas ciborum delicias arbitrari?
Why should I speak of other nations when I, a youth, in Gaul beheld the Attacotti, a British tribe, eat human flesh, and when they find herds of swine, cattle, and sheep in the woods, they are accustomed to cut off the buttocks of the shepherds, and the paps of the shepherdesses, and to consider them as the only delicacies of food. 
Disagreements continue over nuances (such as where to place punctuation marks), but disagreements over the major point of cannibalism divide up as:
References to Irish cannibalism
The reference to cannibalism in the medieval copies of Saint Jerome's text have brought forth other supposed references to Irish cannibalism by ancient writers.
Diodorus Siculus was a Sicilian-born Greek historian of the mid-first century BC, known for his Bibliotheca historica ("Library of History"). Sicily ( Italian and Sicilian: Sicilia) is an autonomous region of Italy. The Greeks ( Greek: Έλληνες) are a Nation and Ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighbouring regions Bibliotheca historica ("Historical Library" is a work of Universal history by Diodorus Siculus. Strabo was a Greek historian, geographer, and philosopher who wrote his Geographica ("Geography") approximately 2000 years ago. Strabo ( Greek: Στράβων 63/64 BC – ca AD 24 was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher. The Geographica ( Ancient Greek: Γεωγραφικά Geōgraphiká) or Geography, is a 17-volume encyclopedia of geographical knowledge written Both authors say that they had heard reports of Irish cannibalism, and neither gives the reports any particular credence.  Ancient writers often included salacious and incredible accounts of far-away peoples for the enjoyment of their literary audiences, as do some modern writers.
De Situ Britanniae was a fictitious account of the peoples and places of Roman Britain, made available in London in 1749. De Situ Britanniae ( The Description of Britain) is a fictional description of the peoples and places of ancient Britain. Roman Britain refers to those parts of the island of Great Britain controlled by the Roman Empire between AD 43 and 410 London ( ˈlʌndən is the capital and largest urban area in the United Kingdom. Accepted as genuine for over a hundred years, it was virtually the only source of information for northern Britain (ie, modern Scotland) for the time period, and historians eagerly incorporated its spurious information into their own accounts of history. Scotland ( Gaelic: Alba) is a Country in northwest Europethat occupies the northern third of the island of Great Britain. The Attacotti were mentioned in De Situ Britanniae, and their homeland was specified:
Lower down, to the banks of the Clotta [ Firth of Clyde ] inhabited the Attacotti, a people once formidable to all Britain. The Firth of Clyde forms a large area of coastal water sheltered from the Atlantic ocean by the Kintyre peninsula which encloses the outer Firth in
(footnote) The Attacotti occupied a considerable part of Argyle, as far as Lochfyn [ Loch Fyne ]. Argyll, Archaically Argyle ( Earra-Ghàidheal in modern Gaelic) is a region of western Scotland corresponding with most of the part Loch Fyne ( Scottish Gaelic: Loch Fìne, ɫ̪ɔx fiːnə is a Sea loch on the west coast of Argyll and Bute, Scotland.
This placed the Attacotti in the same part of Scotland as the Irish kingdom of Dál Riata, and certain Irish historians were quick to connect the Attacotti to Ireland. Dál Riata (also Dalriada or Dalriata) was a Gaelic overkingdom on the western seaboard of Scotland with some territory on the northern The Irish people ( Irish: Muintir na hÉireann, na hÉireannaigh, na Gaeil) are a Western European Ethnic group who originate Ireland (pronounced /ˈaɾlənd/ Éire) is the third largest island in Europe, and the twentieth-largest island in the world In 1753 the influential Charles O'Conor asserted that the Attacotti of De Situ Britanniae were the historical Irish people known as the "Athech-tuatha" (or "Aitheach-thúath"), who had migrated to northern Britain. Charles O'Conor (1710 &ndash 1791 of Belanagare was an Irish Writer and Antiquarian who was enormously influential as a protagonist for the preservation However, when De Situ Britanniae was exposed as fiction in 1845 (and repeatedly confirmed as such through 1869), any tangible evidence of a connection disappeared with it.
However, assertions continued without a basis in the historical evidence. Authors merely stated in passing that the translation of "Aitheach-thúath" was "Attacotti". This was criticised by Gaelic-speaking scholars, to no effect. Irish (ga ''Gaeilge'' is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish. These included Eugene O'Curry in his 1855 translation of The Battle of Magh Leana (". Eugene O'Curry ( 20 November 1794 &ndash 30 July 1862) was an Irish Scholar. . . the Aitheach Tuatha, or Democratic tribes, commonly but corruptly called Attocots. ") and James Henthorn Todd in his 1870 work on manuscripts of The Book of Fermoy (". . . in true Celtic pronunciation the name Athech-tuatha bears no similarity to Attacotti").  In his 1859 lectures, O'Curry had diplomatically added that:
These revolutionists have been called Attacotti by modern Irish writers; but, whether they really were the Attacotti of Romano-British history is a question that, I fear, will never be cleared up.
If there is an accepted etymology that connects the historical Attacotti of Ammianus to Ireland, the case is yet to be made. Etymology is the study of the History of Words &mdash when they entered a language from what source and how their form and meaning have changed over time