Arthurian legend is full of some weird and wonderful names, so if you’re ever looking to name an original character, animal or someone who goes nameless in the legend, it can be pretty hard. In order to help solve this problem, I’ve compiled some short lists of nice names, composed both of common ones in the original legends and related myths, horses’ names, and unusual (but somewhat common then) mediaeval names.
I include a few of the names that Geoffrey of Monmouth gives for the fifty children of Ebraucus, though I suggest looking it up for the full list. Similarly, many names may be found in Culhwch and Olwen, but there is no way that I’m supplying all of them.
These lists are, of course, very incomplete, and probably not the most useful for full fiction writing, but they are merely intended as a basic resource to browse quickly if needed. If anyone wants to add to it though, that would be extremely helpful :)
I have more people’s names, though they aren’t all quite as good as the first batch.
Calatir: Actually a medieval variant of a place name, but it could stand alone in an Arthurian text as a personal name.
Evrain: A character in Erec and Enide, but his name could definitely be used again.
Florence: Now more a girls’ name, but perfectly applicable to men in the High Middle Ages.
Ingram: Now pretty much exclusively a surname, it was used as a first name a few times in the Middle Ages.
Jordan: Yes it seems stupid, but Jordanus was not exactly unknown in the Middle Ages. I’ve only ever come across monks and clerics with the name, but one’s first name does not generally dictate which career one undertakes so there must have been men in other walks of life with that name.
Kincar: A son of Ebraucas. Though this is a rather harsh-sounding name, it could be softened in a variant form if you’re imaginative.
Machar: The name of an obscure saint, allegedly a disciple of Saint Ninian (the “ch” is as in loch and not in cheese).
Marin: A character in “Guillaume d’Angleterre”.
Malise: A Gaelic name.
Murdac- Often spelt nowadays as Murdoch, but in Shakespeare it was anglicised to Mordake.
Torphin: Which I’m assuming is a variant of Thorfinn? But I could be wrong. Either way, it’s likely a Norse name, but it would hardly be the first to be used in Arthurian legend. On the subject of Norse and Anglo-Saxon names, laugh all you like, but Thor seems to have been reasonably common in Lothian at least until the twelfth century, and I’m reasonably certain that this would be mirrored in other areas of Anglo-Saxon and Norse influence across the British Isles.
Odinel: At least one holder of this name existed in the twelfth century, and it is spelt another way in some of the charters he witnessed- Odonell.
Orm: I’ll admit that I’m not really sure what the origin of this name is, but it was used a couple of times in the twelfth century.
Walchelin- Another twelfth century name (and believe me, the 1100s are full of these gems). Also spelt Walkelin.
Avice: Something I read online once claimed that this meant “Refuge in Battle”, but all I can tell you for certain was that it was the name of a twelfth-century English noblewoman.
Aufrica: I have only come across this name occasionally, but there are at least two variant spellings- Afreka and Affreca. It was used at least twice in the twelfth century, and it may be Anglo-Norman or perhaps Gaelic in origin (this is conjecture).
Bega: Another saint’s name, the original holder allegedly being an Irish princess who, fleeing marriage, landed at Cumbria in the ninth century. Whether or not she existed is debatable, but St Bees’ priory certainly has a lot to thank her for.
Berengaria: The name of Richard I’s queen, but it’s too good to just throw away.
Betriss: A variant of Beatrice/Beatrix. In fact, despite the fact that Beatrice (and its variants) was a reasonably normal medieval name, I cannot think of an example of it being used in Arthurian legend, so any version of the name would work. I vaguely remember a version of Robin Hood in which it was the variant “Betriss” was the name of George A-Green’s wife, but this changes.
Edra: Another daughter of Ebraucas.
Emme: A variant of Emma? An illegitimate half-sister of Henry II bore this name.
Galiena- The name of an obscure noblewoman in late twelfth century Scotland, its variant, Galiene, was used as a name for the heroine of the romance “Fergus of Galloway”. It does seem to be quite an unusual name however, so there is room for a few more ladies of that name.
Gracienne: A legendary queen of England.
Grisel: May be spelt in a variety of ways such as Grizel, this nickname for Margaret was common in parts of Britain from the Late Middle Ages onwards. Perhaps useful if a using a Thomas-Malory-inspired fifteenth century society for your story.
Gwenalarch: Mentioned in Culhwch and Olwen, as the daughter of Cynwal Canhwch.
Jennet: The same may be said for this name as was said for Grisel. a version of Janet, which is in itself a diminutive of Joan, another variant is Jonet.
Rathtien: Mentioned in Culhwch and Olwen as the only daughter of Clememyl.
Tangwen: As above, the daughter of Gwair Dathar Weinidog.