Thursday, July 28, 2016



Cadburys and Badburys

"Right at the South end of South Cadbury Church stands Camelot. This was once a noted town or castle, set on a real peak of a hill, and with marvellously strong natural defences..... The only information local people can offer is that they have heard that Arthur frequently came to Camelot."  John Leland’s ITINERARY

"The fact that Baddanburg refers at least in three cases to prehistoric camps is remarkable and may suggest that Badda was a legendary hero, who was associated with ancient camps."  Eilert Ekwall, THE CONCISE OXFORD DICTIONARY OF ENGLISH PLACE-NAMES

Of the Devon and Somerset Cadbury hill-forts, we are generally told these are from a ‘Cada’s fort’.  Cada is a presumed English personal name.  However, the British prince Cadwy, Latinized Cato or Catovii or Catovi, son of the Dumnonian king Geraint, is known to have shared rule with Arthur of a fort called Dindraethou somewhere in Devon or Somerset.  This same fort is mentioned in the Irish Cormac’s Glossary as Dun/Dinn Tradui/Tredui or the ' Triple-fossed fort ' of Crimthann the Great, son of Fidach, king of Ireland.  Dindraethou, called Cair Draitou in the Nennius list of British cities, is transparently ‘Fort of the Strands/Beaches.  This place has somewhat haphazardly been identified with Dunster where, however, no fort or corresponding place-name exists.  The only significant fort with a triple ditch in this region is Cadbury or Cada’s burg, specifically Cadbury Castle in Somerset.  This fort has thus been identified as Dinn Tradui.

The other candidate for Dun Tradui or Dindraethou is the Maes Knoll fort at the end of Dundry Hill ridge in Avon.  Dundry is a place-name of uncertain derivation.  Mills says simply OE dun + draeg (following Ekwall), but adds “Alternatively perhaps a Celtic name for Dundry Hill from *din ‘fort’ with another element.”

The meaning “fort of the strands or beaches” does not work for Dunster, Cadbury Castle or Dundry.  How do we resolve this difficulty?

Nennius wrote his History in the latter part of the first half of the 9th century.  Cormac’s Glossary is put in the early 10th.  Also, we must give preference to a British source naming British places over an Irish source doing the same.  Thus there is little reason to trust the Dun Tradui as the correct form of this place-name.  Undoubtedly, Dun Tradui or the Triple-Fossed Fort is an Irish attempt to render Cair/Din-draitou/draethou.

Where, then, is this Fort of the Beaches/Strands?  Firstly, we must remember that the sea level has changed substantially from the Dark Ages to the present time.  For example, much of the Somerset Levels were underwater.  So it is distinctly possible that a fort which was once on the beach is now far from the water.

Cadbury Castle was not on the water – although in Roman times the sea encroached almost as far as Ilchester (see Map 1:16 in Rivet and Smith’s AN ATLAS OF ROMAN BRITAIN).  Cadbury Camp at Tickenham in North Somerset was just a bit too far north to have been considered 'coastal'. However, the Cadbury Hill fort just north of Congresbury would have been right on this earlier coastline.  As this fits a fort on the beaches or strands, and has the necessary Cadwy name, I without hesitation identify this fort as Dindraethou.

From Pastscape on Cadbury Hill Camp:

"A univallate Iron Age earthwork with steep natural slopes on all sides except the east. An entrance, with probableguard-chambers, on the south-east. The ramparts, mostly tumbled down the steep slopes, had been timber-framed. A quarry pit, abundant pottery, post holes and about 830 slingstones were found.

Two hearths and an associated rectangular building dated between about 430 AD and 450 AD were uncovered under the ramparts of the fourth phase.

Between about 450 AD and 480 AD stone-based defences faced with turf and timber were erected within the perimeter of the Iron Age ramparts and, probably later, a bastion added.

The final phase, between about 480 AD and the early 6th century, overlay the collapsed defences of the previous phase. The remains of eight huts, two circular, 15m in diameter, and a "longhouse" 8m by 3m were found. Finds included imported Mediterranean ware, local and Gaulish pottery, Roman and later beads, glass, bricks, bronze and iron objects, and 3, possibly 4, type G penannular brooches."

The Cungar of Congresbury was remembered as a saint, although his origin is obscure.  Some have sought to identify him with Cyngar son of Geraint, but the feast days are not the same (Bartrum).  Given Arthur’s presence at Cadbury/Congresbury, I would suggest the name was associated with the Congair (Irish genealogy) or Cincar/Cyngar (Welsh version) that was the son of the Dyfed Voteporix.  This particular Cyngar was born c. 510, and his grandson was Arthur of Dyfed.  This would suggest the placement of the much later Arthur (b. 560) with Cadwy son of Geraint at this hill-fort.

If the Cadbury forts in Devon and Somerset were named for Cadwy son of Geraint, and this name was altered to English Cada, might we apply the same principle to the various Badbury forts, which are supposedly named for an otherwise completely unknown English hero Badda?

There are five Badburys (according to Ekwall), four of which have ancient fortifications next to them.  It has been suggested (see, for example, Richard Coates, “Middle English Badde and Related Puzzles”, NOWELLE, Vol II, February 1988) that Badda could be a hypocoristic form (or diminutive, ‘pet’ form) of Beada, a name which is derived from the following:

BEADO, beadu; g. d. beadowe, beadwe, beaduwe; f. Battle, war, slaughter, cruelty; pugna, strages :-- Gúþ-Geáta leód, beadwe heard the War-Goths' prince, brave in battle, Beo. Th. 3082; B. 1539. Wit ðære beadwo begen ne onþungan we both prospered not in the war, Exon. 129b; Th. 497, 2; Rä. 85, 23. Beorn beaduwe heard a man brave in battle, Andr. Kmbl. 1963; An. 984. Ðú þeóde bealdest to beadowe thou encouragest the people to slaughter, Andr. Kmbl. 2373; An. 1188. [O. H. Ger. badu-, pato-: O. Nrs. böð, f. a battle: Sansk. badh to kill.] - Bosworth and Toller dictionary

If so, we would have the remarkable coincidence of the Badbury hill-forts being derived from a name meaning battle, just as is the case with the Cadbury forts.  However, although with the Cadbury forts we can safely associate them with a known early ruler of Dumnonia, the Badbury forts cover such a vast area that to do the same with them hardly seems tenable.  I think a derivation depending on Badda being from Beada is very doubtful.  For one, there is the problem of the –dd- versus the –d-, something treated of by Coates and others.  Coates opts (see bellow) for an early word with the same basic meaning as our modern English ‘bad’, although the presence of this word in Old English is not attested, and no etymology for it is known.

I have this on Badda from noted English place-name scholar Professor Richard Coates:

"Badda, if borrowed, and if we take the double <dd> seriously, is difficult to link to a Brittonic etymon.

British */t/ > Britt. */d/ would show up as OE /d/, not as a geminate (double).
British */tt/ > Britt. */θ/ would show up as OE */θ/, written with thorn, but never <dd>.
British */d/ > Britt. */ð/ would show up as OE /d/ or /ð/, depending on the period, for which the spelling <dd> is most unlikely.
British */dd/ seems to have yielded simple Britt. */d/ (Jackson LHEB 428, on credu), and would show up as OE /d/, not as a geminate (double).

So I conclude that Badda cannot be of Celtic  origin, particularly because Late British did not have geminate /dd/."

A friend has recently asked me about the possible significance of Gildas’s stragis, ‘slaughter’, used by this author in the context of the Badon battle.  This is, of course, the famous battle of Badon Hill, usually ascribed to Arthur of legendary fame.  We see above that beado does include in its meanings ‘slaughter’/Latin strages.  This does not get us past the problem noticed early on by linguists (and reiterated recently via personal communication by Dr. Graham Isaac of The National University of Ireland, Galway) that Badon must come from English bathum/batham/bathan, ‘baths’, and cannot come from Baddan-.  Baddan would have yielded ‘Baton’ in the British. [Pure contextual comparison yields the same verdict, as Badon is spelled ‘Badonis’ in the Arthurian section of Nennius, and exactly the same way in the ‘Marvels of Britain’ section, where it is indisputably given as the name for Bath in Somerset.  I’ve shown that Arthur’s Bath is more likely the batham/’baths’ city of Buxton in the Peak.]

One important fact has been overlooked in all this: if we compare the line of Badbury forts from south-central England to east-central England (see p. 62 of Leslie Alcock’s ‘Arthur’s Britain’) with A) the line that runs through the Roman period tribal kingdoms of the Durotriges, Dobunni and Corieltauvi to the west and Belgae, Atrebates, Catuvellauni and Iceni to the east (see. p. 154 of Jones and Mattingly’s “An Atlas of Roman Britain”) and with B) the line the runs along the border of late fifth century England, showing the Anglo-Saxon cemeteries to the east and the British-held territory to the west (see p. 52 of N.J. Higham’s ‘King Arthur: Myth-Making and History”), a startling correspondence emerges.  All these boundaries or frontier zones match up almost perfectly.

Is this a coincidence and thus merely illusory?  Perhaps.  But it would be to our advantage to investigate this correspondence more closely, just in case it helps us untangle the mystery of the etymology of Badda/Baddan-.

First, to the problem discussed by Coates, viz. the ultimate origin of the word ‘bad’, which would seem to be related to Badda/Baddan-.  If we connect an unattested Old English precursor of ME badde with the Indo-European root bhoi-/bhai-/bhi-, ‘to fear’, we can establish a further link to Latin foedus, “foul, filthy, loathsome, repulsive, ugly, unseemly, detestable, abominable, horrible’ (Lewis and Short Dictionary, via Perseus).  I do not think this is an unreasonable supposition.

The full Pokorny listing for this root is as follows (>

“Root / lemma: bhōi- : bhǝi- : bhī- (bhii̯ǝ-)

English meaning: to fear

German meaning: `sich fürchten'

Material: Old Indian bháyatē `be afraid' (from *bhǝi̯etai = slav. bojetъ), av. bayente, byente `they are in fear', mpers. bēsānd `they are in fear' (uriran. *bai-sk̂-); Old Indian bibhti `be afraid', sek. to initial Perf. m. Prösensbed. bibhā́ya `I am in fear' (bibhīyāt, bibhītana, abibhēt, participle bibhīvān = av. biwivā̊`were afraid'); Old Indian bhiyāná-`were afraid'; bhī́-f., bhīti-f. (: lett. Inf. bîtiês) `fear', bhīmá-`dreadful', bhītá-`were afraid, horrified', bhīrú-`timorous, shy, coward' (if r = idg. l, changing through ablaut with lit. báilė, bailùs); npers. bāk `fear' (from *bháyaka-); with idg. simplification of āi to ā before consonant here Old Indian bhā́ma- perhaps `fierceness, fury', bhāmitá- `fierce, grim'.

Gr. πίθηκος, πίθων m. `ape' (from *πιθος `ugly', zero grade *bhidh-).

Lat. foedus (*bhoidhos) `foul, filthy, horrible, disgusting'.

Ahd. bibēn, as. bibōn, ags. beofian, aisl. bifa, -aða and bifra (these in ending directed after *titrōn `tremble') to urg. *ƀiƀai-mi; *ƀiƀōn is probably only after to the other coexistence from -ōn- and -ēn- secondary verb besides one from the Perfect form developed grade *ƀiƀēn .

Bsl. originally present *bhǝi̯̯ō-, preterit-stem *bhii̯ā-, Inf. *bhītēi; Old Prussian biātwei `fear, dread', kausat. pobaiint `punish, curse'; lit. bijaũs, bijótis (also not reflexive) `be afraid', lett. bîstuôs, bijuôs, bîtiês and bijājuôs, bijâtiês `be afraid'; lit. baijùs `dreadful, terrible, hideous'; baidaũ, -ýti `frighten', lett. baĩdu, baĩdŷt and biêdêt `daunt, scare';

Maybe alb. geg. mbajt `be afraid', nuk ma mban `I am afraid'

in addition lit. baisà `fright' (*baid-s-ā), baisùs `terrible, horrid', baisióti `smudge, besmear' (and Old Church Slavic běsъ `devil', *běd-sъ); lit. báimė `fear'; báilė ds. (bailus `timorous').

Old ChurchSlavic bojǫ, bojati sę `be afraid'.

Further formation *bhii̯-es-, *bhīs- in Old Indian bhyásatē `be afraid', udbhyása-`be afraidd', av. Perf. biwivā̊ŋha (i.e. biwyā̊ŋha) `stimulated fright, was dreadful'; Old Indian bhīayatē `frightens', bhī́aa- `causing fright';

ahd. bīsa `north-east wind', bisōn `run around madly', bēr `boar' etc lead to a germ.*bī̆s-, *bī̆z- `storm ahead jumpily'; compare Wißmann Nom. postverb. 78.

References: WP. II 124 f., 186, WH. I 522 f., Trautmann 24, Kluge11 under Biese.

Page(s): 161-162”

But this brings in another important point.  The idea that all these forts – a couple of them being quite beautiful, and very impressive – were all somehow “bad” does not make much sense.  We could say that they were “bad” in the sense that they belonged to the enemy, but again, this is hardly convincing.  For this reason I would mention another word from Latin that is spelled EXACTLY the same as the foedus just mentioned: foedus, “a league, treaty, compact, alliance.”

This second foedus comes from the following Indo-European root:

“Root / lemma: bheidh-1

English meaning: to advise, force

German meaning: `jemandem zureden, zwingen', med. `sich einreden lassen, vertrauen'

Material: Gr. πείθομαι `lets me persuade, follow' (Aor.πιθόμην, hom. πεπιθεν, πιθέσθαι; Perf. πέποιθα `trust'), Akt. (sek.) πείθω, Aor.πεισα `persuade, convince', πειθώ, -ος `persuasion', πιστός (for *φιστος) `reliable, loyal, faithful, relying', πίστις, -ιος, -εως `loyalty, reliance', hom.ν πείσ `in reassurance' (*πειθ-σ-);

alb. bē f. `oath, vow, pledge' (*bhoidhā = Old Church Slavic běda `need'), ostgeg. per-bej `curse, hex' (in addition neologism bese f. `faith, belief, pact, covenant, loyalty');

Note: alb. bē f. `oath' derived from a truncated alb. betim `oath'

maybe TN illyr. Besoi : alb. besoj `believe, have faith'

lat. fīdō, -ere, fīsus sum `to trust, believe, confide in' (fīsus is to- participle), fīdus `reliable'; foedus (*bhoidhos), by Ennius fīdus (*bheidhos) n. `trusty, true, faithful, sure', fidēs `trust, confidence, reliance, belief, faith', Dius Fidius `the god of faith, a surname of Jupiter'; umbr. combifiatu (*bhidhiā-) `you shall trust, confide, rely upon, believe, be assured'; about osk. Fiisiais, umbr. Fise, Fiso, Fisovio- s. WH. I 494;


Alb. alb. fē, fēja `religion', fejonj `perform engagement ceremony (marriage vowsö)' : AN fed, OFr. feid, feit : lat. fides;

got. baidjan `constrain, oblige', aisl. beiđa, ags. bædan, ahd. beitten `urge, press, push, arrogate' = abg. causative běždǫ, běditi `constrain, oblige', poběditi `defeat, conquer', běda f. `need';

here probably also got. beidan `wait, hold on', aisl. bīđa, ags. bīdan, ahd. bītan ds., schweiz. beite = ahd. beitten, but in the meaning `wait, hold on'. basic meaning `await' from `trust' or `oneself constrain, oblige'.

References: WP. II 139 f., 185 f., WH. I 493 f.

Page(s): 117”

From this root comes Old English baedde, a thing required, tribute, baedde, solicited, baedan, to constrain, compel, require, solicit, bad, a pledge, stake, a thing distrained, badian, to pledge.

What I would like to propose for the Badda/Baddan- fort names is that they do NOT actually come from an AS form of ME badde, our ‘bad’, but instead from the attested Old English root that may be compared with that which yielded Latin foedus, fides, etc.

Richard Coates long ago (“On some Controversy surrounding Gewissae/Gewissei, Cerdic and Ceawlin”, Nomina 13, 1989-90) showed that the Gewessei of Dark Age Britain “… look very much like the 'known ones', in the sense of those who are known of or known about, i.e. the people of whom you have certain knowledge."  I showed subsequently that the Gewessei were, in fact, Irish mercenaries or “federates” utilized by Vortigern against his various enemies, including other Britons.  As such, these Gewessei were opposed to the other Celts, who were ‘wealhas’ or Welsh, a Saxon term meaning stranger, foreigner and hence enemy.

In the Roman period, the term used for such “barbarian” federates was “foederati”, from L. foedus.  So what exactly am I suggesting here? Simply this: that Badda as a personal name is a reflection of a foederatus or ‘federated’ mercenary who was stationed along a line of forts which for some time marked the frontier zone between the Anglo-Saxons and the Britons.  I am NOT saying we are dealing here with the SAME single federated mercenary raised to hero status, but rather a general personification of the foederati.

Badda, then, is representative of the foederati, probably Saxon federates who guarded the border region in sub-Roman England. 

As a comparison to Badda, a name derived (?) from the AS bad, ‘pledge’, I would point to the Scandinavian Varangian mercenaries of the Byzantine empire.  The root of the name Varangian is Norse var, ‘pledge’, as in the pledge a foreign Rus/Swedish Viking gives when taking service with a new lord by a treaty of fealty to him (see H.S. Falk & A. Torp, Norwegisch-dänisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, 1911, pp. 1403–4; J. de Vries, Altnordisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, 1962, pp. 671–2; S. Blöndal & B. Benedikz, The Varangians of Byzantium, 1978, p. 4).  Badda would be something like ‘the pledged one’ or the ‘one who pledged himself’.

Some might ask why, if the line of Badbury forts was what the Romans referred to as a limes, there were foederati stationed here.  Shouldn't we expect instead limitanei?

Actually, no.  To quote from Nora Chadwick's "Celtic Britain (New York, 1963):

"During this closing phase of the Occupation some new officials appear in the records of affairs in Britain, probably connected with the defensive measures taken on her behalf by the usurper Constantine on the eve of his departure. Here our chief guide is the Notitia Dignitatum. This document enables us to watch a process of devolution at work in Britain analogous in many respects to that which had already taken place on the Continent since the reform measures of the Roman Army by Diocletian (286‑305) and Constantine (305‑307). Briefly stated, this process entails the withdrawal and supplanting of the Roman sedentary troops massed on the frontier, known as limitanei (L. limes, a 'frontier'), by a local militia, consisting of foederati or federate native troops..."


Since writing this Appendix, I have been sent an article from Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Vol 134 1990, pp. 81-93, "The frontier Zone and the Siege of Mount Badon: A Review of the Evidene for Their Location", by Tim and Annette Burkitt.  This article very nicely details in texts and maps the frontier zone that existed at the time of the Battle of Badon.  My thanks to Gail Griffith of SANHS for providing me with the piece.

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