According to Geoffrey of Monmouth and other medieval British "historians," London had been called "Trinovantum" because it was "New Troy." They believed that Britain was settled by Brutus, grandson of Aeneas, and so that the Britains were Trojan.
At any rate, Geoffrey likely derived this name from Bede. Bede refers to a Trinovantum, ruled by Androgeus, who surrendurs the city to Caesar. He derives Trinovantum from the Trinobantes tribe, which ruled in that area. Camulodunum was the main city of the Trinobantes according to Ptolemym, and it was also an early Roman settlement. It is likely that this is the city intended. However, Geoffrey took it to refer to London. TAfter a thousand years, it was misunderstood to mean "New Troy"; however, Geoffery didn't invent the idea that the Britons were descended of Brutus; that goes back at least to "Nennius" in the ninth century, and likely earlier.
So, the name is likely a medieval misunderstanding of a local tribal name, combined with this weird desire to be a part of Classical culture.
In legend, Trinovantum becomes Caer Lludd/Carlud, then changed to Lundein, and then to London. This is false, however, as it was the Romans who named the city Londinium. What "Londinium" means, however, is subject to much debate.
There was a city of the Trinobantes, but Ptolemy notes it was Camulodunum, now Colchester, Essex.
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Mary Jones © 2003