THE BATTLES OF ARTHUR
The First Battle: The Mouth of the River Glein
It has long been recognized that there are only two extant Glen rivers which conform philologically to ‘Glein’ and which could have been subject to Saxon attack from the Continent in the 5th-6th centuries CE, the Age of Arthur.
These are the Glen of Lincolnshire and the Glen tributary of the Till in Northumberland.
The Glen of Lincolnshire has no distinctive features or strategic fortifications which would make it of any value to an invading force. On the other hand, the Northumberland Glen is hard by the Yeavering Bell hill-fort, which prior to becoming a Saxon stronghold was the British Gefrin. Gefrin is from the Welsh word gafr ‘goat’ or a compound containing gafr plus Welsh bryn (mutated fryn), for ‘Goat-hill’. I would remind the reader, however, of a Gaulish god conflated with
Mercury called Gebrinius. It is possible that Gefrin represents a British counterpart of this divine name.
The Yeavering Bell hillfort is 12.8 acres in size and encloses the two summits and the saddle between of a hill that rises to a height of 1181 ft above sea level. There is a single stone rampart
13 ft wide, with entrances midway along the north and south sides, and a third on the northeast.
At the east and west ends are small, crescent-shaped annexes, the latter with an entrance at its mid-point. The centre of the fort was the site of about 130 circular huts. The eastern summit is ringed by a trench which held a wooden palisade nearly 164 ft in diameter. Archaeologists do not know whether there is any relationship between the hillfort and the Anglo- Saxon royal town of Ad Gefrin (‘at Gefrin’) that succeeded it at the foot of the hill.
Other hill-forts abound in the region: Wooler, Kyloe Hills, Dod Law forts at Doddington, the Old Bewick hill fort and the Ros Castle fort and settlement between Chillingham and Hepburn. And, of course, the Roman road known as the Devil’s Causeway, a branch off of Dere Street, passes only a couple of miles to the east of the mouth of the Glen.
Scholars who argue in favor of the Lincolnshire or ‘Lindsey’ Glen do so primarily because the following battle, that of the Dubglas, is put in a Linnuis region by the HB. Linnuis, as we will see, is wrongly thought to represent the later regional name Lindsey.
An actual battle at the mouth of the Lindsey or Lincolnshire Glen is scarcely possible, unless it were a battle of reconquest by Arthur and not a successful defensive engagement. This is because we have archaeological evidence for Saxon cemetaries well north, west and south of the Lindsey Glen as early as c. 475 CE.
The Next Four Battles: The River Dubglas in
the Linnuis Region
Philologists have long recognized that Old Welsh
Linnuis must derive from Br.-Lat. *Lindensis, *Lindenses, or *Lindensia, and the identification
with Lindsey works fine on purely linguistic grounds. Lindsey, of course, was the early English name for what we now think of as Lincolnshire.
The root of Lindensis is British *lindo-, ‘pool, lake’, now represented by Welsh llyn, ‘pond, lake’. The Roman name for the town of Lincoln –
Lindum – is from the same root. The ‘pool’ or ‘lake’ in question is believed to have been on the Witham River near the town.
The problem is that there is no Dubglas or ‘Black Stream’ (variants Douglas, Dawlish, Dowlish, Divelish, Devil’s Brook, Dalch, Dulais, Dulas, etc.) in Lindsey. This has caused other place-name experts to situate the Dubglas battle either near Ptolemy’s Lindum of Loch Lomond in
Scotland or near Ilchester in Somerset, the Roman period Lindinis, as there are Dubglas rivers in both places. We might even look to the Douglas River in Lancashire, not far west of the Roman Ribchester fort. Unfortunately, none of these candidates is satisfactory, because Arthur would not have been fighting Saxons at these locations in the time period we are considering.
A site which has been overlooked, and which is an excellent candidate for Arthur’s Dubglas, is the Devil’s Water hard by the Hadrian’s Wall fort of Corbridge, which has upon it a place called Linnels. Almost a century ago it was proposed that Linnels was from an unrecorded personal name. But modern place-name expert Richard Coates, upon looking at Linnels on the Ordnance Survey map, observed the remarkable double elbow in the Devil’s Water with a lake nearby and concluded that Linnels was from a British *lindo-ol:in, "lake-elbow".
It was once thought that the Devil’s Water stemmed from a Dilston Norman family, the D’Eivilles. But going by the earliest spelling of the Devil’s Water (Divelis c. 1230) leads recent authorities to state uncategorically that this etymology is incorrect and the Devil’s Water is certainly of the Dubglas river-name type.
The Devil’s Water at Linnels is thus the only extant Dubglas river-name associated with a demonstrably Welsh lake-name that is geographically plausible as a battle site against Britons and Saxons during the period of Arthur.
Worth noting is the fact that the Roman Dere Street road at Corbridge splits immediately north of the Wall, the eastern branch or ‘Devil’s
Causeway’ continuing North-NorthEast, straight to the Northumberland Glen.
As an aside, I would mention that the Battle of Hexham was fought at Linnels on May 14, 1464.
The Sixth Battle: The River Bassas
The Bassas river is the most problematic of the Arthurian battle sites, as no such stream name survives and we have no record other than this single instance in the HB of there ever having been a river so named. We can only say that the location of the Bassas may be somewhere in the same general region as the Glen and Devil's Water battles. We will see below that the locations of subsequent battle sites will support this notion.
Some Arthurian theorists have opted for very questionable identications of Bassas. They have pointed to Bass place names such as Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth, the Bass at Inverurie in Aberdeenshire and Bass Hill at Dryburgh.
Alas, the etymology for bass is fairly recent. In the Scottish National Dictionary there is an entry under 'bass' as follows: “A workman's tool basket; also a basket for carrying fish – known in Banff and Fife: on Lothian coast ‘bass’ is a square straw basket about 2' by 2' used for ca rying fish.”
Bass Rock and similar formations would have been named by fisher folk due to their resemblance to such a basket.
The Bass Burn or Bass ‘stream’, a tributary of the Scar or Scaur Water approximately 15 miles North-West of Dumfries and just south of Auchenhessnane, was originally called the Back
Burn. Both the 1st edition (1861) and 2nd edition (1899) Ordnance Survey maps name it as Back Burn. The 1955 edition names it as Bass Burn. It is possible that either the original surveyors simply misheard what the local people called it, or that later surveyors did. As there are other Back Burns in Lowland Scotland, the chances that this stream’s original name was Bass is slim.
An acceptable, and perhaps preferable, explanation for the name Bassas is that it records an OE personal name found in place-names, i.e.
Bassa. This is the view of Graham Issac.
The ending -as in Bassas would appear to have no explanation in either Latin or Welsh grammar. But it does have an explanation in Old English grammar. The name could thus be Old English. Just as Baschurch (Shropshire) is from Old English 'Basses cirice', i.e. 'Basse's church' (Eglwyseu Bassa in the Old Welsh poems), and Basford (Nottinghamshire) is Old English 'Basses ford', and Baslow Derbyshire) is Old English 'Basses hlaw', i.e. 'Basse's burial-mound'; so 'flumen quod uocatur Bassas' is easily unde stood as 'the river which is called Basse's', i.e. 'Basse's river'. There is a Basingbourne in Cambridgeshire, Old English Basingeburna, which is 'the stream of Basse's people', 'Basse's kin's stream'.
There are two genuine OE Bassa place-names further north in Northumberland. Bassington in
Cramlington parish was a farmstead a litte over a mile north-west of the village. It appears on a map of 1769 and is probably a much older site. In the present day town of Cramlington the site of Bassington Farm is on the Bassington Industrial Estate. However, other than this Bassington's proximity to the Devil's Water at Linnels (approximately 20 miles as the crow flies), there is little to recommend it as the site of Arthur's Bassas River battle. Most damaging, there is no stream here.
The other ‘tun of Bassa’s people’ is at the confluence of the Aln and the Shipley and Eglingham Burns not far east of a Roman road that connects Dere Street and the Devil’s Causeway. This Bassington is also roughly equidistant between the Northumberland Glen and the Devil’s Water/
Dubglas near Hadrian’s Wall, and near the Roman fort of Alauna on the Aln at Low Learchild.
Once again, however, there is no stream at Bassington bearing the Bassa name.
In the East Riding of Yorkshire, near Bridlington, there is a place I originally overlooked. This is Bessingby, the by or ‘farmstead, village, settlement’ of the people of Bassa. The important
thing about Bessingby is that there was a Romano- British settlement here
=1191551) and a Bessingby Beck or stream
A Roman road ran from Stamford Bridge to Bridlington
=1029959&sort=4&search=all&criteria=Orby&ra tional=q&recordsperpage=10) and some believe (see Rivet and Smith) this to be the territory of the Gabrantovices, probably “cavalry fighters” and not “goat fighters”. The Gabrantovicum Sinus of Ptolemy would then be Bridlington Bay.
It is quite conceivable that Bessingby Beck was once known simply as “Bassa’s Stream”.
There is a problem with this placename, however. The –by terminal is Norse, and it is likely, therefore, that the entire name is not from Bassa, but from Bessi. Or, that if Bassa is the name recorded, it would not have become a place-name until fairly late. Here is what Alan James had to say on ths subject:
“A. H. Smith's PNERY, 100, which says: 'The first element may be a patronymic formation, "the people of Basa or Besa", but there is little or no evidence for such -inga- formations with OScand by. It is therefore more likely to be a patronymic Basing or Besing with an uninflected
genitive. Each name is well recorded... the fo mer may be from OE Bassa or OScand Bassi, the latter from OScand Bessi (a variant of Bersi....).
As there is no clear evidence for a change of a to e in ME, Besing- seems more probable, and in that case the less frequent but earlier Basing- forms would be Anglo-Norman spelling variants... Besing's farmstead'.
Subsequent work, especially by Barrie Cox, has demonstrated that the patronymic '-inga-' formations in S and E England (as far north as Yorks) date from the pre-Christian period, so such formations would have been long since obsolete by the time OScand by was introduced.
Smith's etymology would imply an Anglo- Scandinavian formation from the late 9th - early
Thus this would seem an unlikely candidate for Arthur’s Bassas battle.
The conventional thinking on the Bassas name is to derive the first component from W. bas. Kenneth H. Jackson first discussed this possibility.
According to the Gieriadur Prifysgol Cymru, bas means ‘shallow, not deep, fordable; shallows, shallow water’. This would make a great deal of sense for a river-name – or even merely a DESCRIPTION of a river or stretch of a river.
Alan James of BLITON was kind enough to send me the following on bas in place-names:
Bas Late Latin *bassus adopted as Late Brittonic
*basso-/ā- > Middle - Modern Welsh bas, Cornish *bas (in compound and place-names, see CPNE p. 18), Breton bas The Latin origin is reasonably certain, though the Late Latin ancestral form seems elusive. 'shallow', adjective. (a2) Bazard Lane Wig (stream-name, New Luce) PNGall p. 34 bas- + -ar, which see [+ SW Scots lane < Gaelic leana, 'a slow, boggy stream']. (c2) Bazil Point Lanc (Overton) PNLanc p. 175 ?bas- + linn, proposed by R. Coates, CVEP p. 318. Oliver Padel Cornish Place-name Elements Nottingham 1985: *bas 'a shallow', as a noun, 'shallows': only in basdhowr glossing vadum 'a ford' ... the verb occurs, ppp basseys 'abated'... Welsh and Breton bas... [occurs in Cornwall in:] C2) [= specific in name-phrase] Carn Base, coast[al name]; ?Park an Bays f[ie]ld[-name]
Alan James again came to the rescue when I asked how Bassas may have developed out of Late Latin or Late Brittonic:
“By the time the Latin word was adopted by Britt speakers, its inflectional forms were probably quite reduced at least in "vulgar" speech, and the Britt inflextions likewise. So your hypothetical form would be, for practical purposes *bassas. The -as suffix is nominal, noun-forming, it would be 'a shallow, shallows'. I suppose that might be a stream-name, more likely a name for a stretch of a river or a point on a river or estuary, a strategic location where a battle might well be fought, though of course there must be scores of possible candidates.”
Long ago the antiquarian Skene suggest Dunipace ner Falkirk in Stirlingshire for Arthur’s Bassas. The idea has not been thought well of by scholars over the years. However, recently place-name expert John Reid has tentatively proposed that Dunipace might be rendered Dun y Bas, the ‘Hill of the Ford.’
Commenting on this possibility, Alan James shared this with me:
“It ought to be *din-y-bas, not **dun-y-bais (that's what misled me); it would mean more correctly 'fort of the shallow', which is apparently okay topographically; the changes din > dun, /b/ > /p/, and /a/ > long /a:/ could all be explained in terms of adoption by Gaelic speakers. 'Hills of death' [a local, traditional etymology] would be G *duin-am-bais, which I wouldn't rule
out, though I'm uneasy with /mb/ > /p/.”
If we may allow for bas here to be for a shallow ford, something rather remarkable occurs: we find ourselves directly between the Dumyat and Myot Hill hillforts which delineate the territory of the ancient Pictish Maeatae. According to the Life of St. Columba by Adomnan, Arthur son of Aedan of Dalriada died fighting the Miathi.
I would then identify the Bassas River with the bas on the Carron. This battle would then be an intrusion into the list of a battle belonging to a later Arthur.
The Irish Annals place the Dalriadan Arthur’s death in Circenn. [For Arthur’s contest
with an opponent at Abernethy on the border of Circenn, see Chapter 4 below.] This has created a major problem, for Circenn is the Pictish province lying to the north of the Firth of Tay and this is quite a distance from the territory of the Miathi. Scholars have tried to account for this confusion over the battle site location in various ways. Bannerman attemtps to offer an explanation (pp. 84-85 Studies in the History of Dalriada) for the two death sites. It would appear several battles had become confused in the Irish annals, with Arthur dying properly in the territory of the Miathi and NOT in Circenn.
with an opponent at Abernethy on the border of Circenn, see Chapter 4 below.] This has created a major problem, for Circenn is the Pictish province lying to the north of the Firth of Tay and this is quite a distance from the territory of the Miathi. Scholars have tried to account for this confusion over the battle site location in various ways. Bannerman attemtps to offer an explanation (pp. 84-85 Studies in the History of Dalriada) for the two death sites. It would appear several battles had become confused in the Irish annals, with Arthur dying properly in the territory of the Miathi and NOT in Circenn.
However, suppose what we have here is a confused record of battles fought in the North by TWO ARTHURS - one who fought the Miathi at Dunipace/Bassas and another - the Dalriadan one - who was slain while fighting in Circenn?
The Seventh Battle: The Celidon Wood
Caledonia was originally the region of the Great
Glen in Highland Scotland inhabited by the Caledonii.
As such, in Classical usage Caledonia came to mean Scotland north of the Forth-Clyde isthmus. But in Welsh tradition - as is evidenced by the presence of Merlin at 1) Arthuret just north of Carlisle, 2) Drumelzier on the Tweed 3) the region near Glasgow, and 4) a mountain in the central Lowlands [see my The Mysteries of Avalon for a discussion of this last) - the Coed Celidon would appear to be at the heart of the Scottish Lowlands. It is generally accepted by scholars that this is indeed the location of the great wood in the Welsh sources.
We may be able to pinpoint the location of the Coed Celidon battle more precisely.
It is possible that a river-name in the area, believed to be a truly ancient hydronym, may have contributed to the idea in early Welsh tradition that Celidon lay in this part of the Scottish Lowlands.
Caddon Water, a tributary of the Tweed, has a Roman road. The etymology of Caddon (Keledenlee, 1175, Kaledene, 1296) is interesting.
From Alan James of BLITON:
Nicolaisen included Caddon Water among the *cal-eto- river-names. The final syllable is pro ably OE -denu added by Northumbrian English, though a secondary suffix isn't impossible. It is a very common hydronymic formation; *cal-eddoes indeed occur in ethnic names too ("hard men"), including that of the Calidonii.”
When I asked Mr. James whether this name could have contributed to the region thereabouts becoming known as the Celidon Wood, he r sponded:
“Well, yes, a name like *caleden could readily have attracted folk- or learned etymologising and dinnseannachas. I think it would have contracted to something like the modern form Caddon by the 15th ct, so I doubt whether such a thought would have arisen in the early modern period, when renewed interest in Tacitus etc., and even 'Nennius', gave rise to a good deal of fanciful etymologising.
But it's in an area with a good many P-Celtic pns, many of which I consider to be 'late' Cumbric, i.e. 10th-11th ct, when I think there was something of a revival/ reintroduction of the language in the upper Tweed/ Moorfoots/ Lauderdale area, and my hunch is that was the period when Arthurian and other (semi-) legendary associations were being attached to locations in that area, as in the Solway basin.
But I don't think the water-name would have been been given at that time, it's an 'ancient' hydronym that might have come to be associated with Caledonia because of the (accidental) similarity.”
There are remnants of a fort at Caddonlee by
/details/caddonlee/). The famous Eildon Hills fort at the Roman period Trimontium on Dere Street is only a dozen or so kilometers to the east of the mouth of the Caddon. Several other hillforts are in the area and a Roman road went from Trimontium west along the Tweed to the Easter Happrew fort beyond Peebles.
The Eighth Battle: Castle Guinnion
The Castle (‘Castellum’) Guinnion has been identified with the Roman fort of Vinovium at Binchester, although the great Professor Kenneth Jackson thought this unlikely. It has since been noted, however, that Ptolemy’s alternative Vinnovium (B. *Uinnouion) brings us very close to the later name set down by Nennius. Vinnovium should have given in Old Welsh at this stage a form in –wy, but it could be that – ion has been maintained as a so-called ‘learned form’. Thus the identification should not be rejected.
Binchester is not far south of Hadrian’s Wall on the Roman Dere Street. The fort stands on a spur of high ground some one and a quarter miles north of Bishop Auckland. It overlooks a loop in the river Wear and is in an excellent defensive position.
The fort was built in 79 CE during the Roman advance into northern England. From the early second century Binchester and the other Dere Street forts became important supply depots for Hadrian’s Wall and developed as military centres controlling the region south of the Wall.
The fort was in continuous military use until the early years of the 5th century. After the final withdrawal of the garrison the fort and the surrounding vicus (civilian settlement) continued to be occupied by the local, native population and it would seem that Binchester remained an important small town. By the beginning of the 6th century the fort buildings were being torn down and stripped of stone. Part of the site was ut lized by Anglo-Saxons as a cemetery.
I had at one time proposed Carwinning in Dalry parish, Ayrshire, which is from a Caer + Winnian. This looks very good, but if a battle were fought here during Arthur’s time it was certainly not against the English.
There are, of course, several “Gwynion” place-names in Wales, but again, none of them work for Arthur.
In passing, I would put forward an additional, though tentative argument in support of Binchester as Guinnion. In the Introduction I alluded to Arthur’s carrying of the image of Mary on his shield during the Guinnion battle. It may not be a coincidence that Binchester is known for having a cult of the Mother Goddesses at its Roman fort. It is possible Mary in the Arthurian battle context is a Christian substitution for the Binchester ‘Mother.’
From http://theses.univ-lyon2.fr/documents/lyon2/2009/beck_n#p=0&a=top (Goddesses in Roman Religion, thesis by Noemie Beck, 2009):
“In Britain, the dedications to the Matres amount to approximately fifty inscriptions, all but a few from military sites, notably along Antonine’s and Hadrian’s Wall, and dedicated by soldiers. One of the few exceptions is the inscription to the Matres Ollototae, which is from the non-military site of Heronbridge, Cheshire. This suggests that the cult of the Matres and Matronae was brought to Britain by auxiliary troops from the Continent, such as by the Germanic legionaries of the Roman army. However, it does not mean that the Celtic peoples from Britain did not have any cultural notions of the Mother Goddesses, only that some particularities in the worship must have come with the army. The cult of the Mothers in Britain is clearly Romanized, for they all bear Roman epithets, such as Transmarinae, Campestres, Domesticae or Fatae, apart from the Matres Ollototae and the Matres Suleviae. The Matres Ollototae are undeniably Celtic, for their name is composed of Celtic ollo-, ‘all’ and teuta, touta, ‘tribe’. They are thus ‘The Mothers of All the Peoples’. They are mentioned in an inscription from Heronbridge (Claverton, Cheshire): Deabus Matribus Ollototis Iul(ius) Secundus et Aelia Augustina, ‘To the Mother Goddesses Ollototae, Julius Secundus and Aelia Augustina (set this up)’, and in three inscriptions from Binchester (Durham): Deab(us) Matrib(us) O[l]lot(otis) T[i]b(erius) Cl(audius) Quintianus b(ene)f(iciarius) co(n)s(ularis) v.s.l.m., ‘To the Mother Goddesses Ollototae Tiberius Claudius Quintianus beneficiaries of the governor, willingly and deservedly fulfilled his vow’ ; [M]atrib(us) O[lloto(tis)] CARTO VAL MARTI Vetto(num) GENIO LOCI LIT . IXT, ‘To the Mother Goddesses Ollototae … Cavalry Regiment of Vettonians….’ ; I(ovi) O(ptimo) M(axiom) et Matribus Ollototis sive Transmarinis, ‘To Jupiter, Best and Greatest, and to the Ollototae or Overseas Mother Goddesses’.”
The Ninth Battle: City of the Legion
The City of the Legion (Urbs Legionis) is, in this context, the Roman legionary fortress at York, the Romano-British Eburacum.
Dere Street began at the fort and ran north to Hadrian’s Wall and beyond. The argument against York is that, according to Welsh sources, the only Roman forts called Cities of the Legion were Chester or Deva and Caerleon or Isca. But to claim the Welsh were ignoarant of the fact that York was a legionary fortress seems very doubtful.
To begin, we have chieftains such as Peredur son of Efrauc (Efrauc = Eburacum/‘York’) and Peredur son of Eliffer (Eleutherius) Gosgordfawr. Peredur is a Welsh rendering of the Roman rank of Praetor. The governor or legate of Britannia Inferior, that is Northern Britain, was in the later period of praetorian rank.
The Roman emperor Caracalla reviewed the administration of Britain and split the province into two: Britannia Superior in the south, which had a consular governor based at London with two legions, the Twentieth at Chester and the Second at Caerleon. Britannia Inferior in the north had a praetorian governor with only one legion, the Sixth at York, where the governor also resided.
The Romans constructed their first fort at Eboracum in 71 CE. The fort’s rectangular construction consisted of a V-shaped ditch and earthen ramparts with a timber palisade, interval towers and four gateways. It covered about 50 acres of a grid-plan of streets between timber barrack blocks, storehouses and workshops. More important buildings included the huge Principia (Headquarters Building), the Commandant's House, a hospital and baths. The fort was designed to house the entire legion and remained a military headquarters almost to the end of Roman rule in Britain.
The fortifications at York were strengthened around 80 CE by a caretaker garrison while the Ninth Legion campaigned with the governor, Julius Agricola, in Wales and Scotland. The original fort was replaced in 108 CE by a massive stone structure with walls that survived long enough to be incorporated into the defenses of Viking and even later medieval York.
The one thing that makes York somewhat suspect as an Arthurian battle site is the presence there during the Roman period of the camp prefect Artorius, from whose name Arthur derives. It is certainly possible the memory of this Artorius influenced the placement of the Dark Age Arthur at the fort.
The Tenth Battle: Shore of the River Tribruit
The location of the shore (W. traeth) of the river Tribruit has remained unresolved. The clue to its actual whereabouts may lie in the two possible meanings assigned to this place-name.
According to Kenneth Jackson (_Once Again A thur's Battles_, MODERN PHILOLOGY, August,
1945), Tribruit, W. tryfrwyd, was used as an a jective, meaning "pierced through", and sometimes as a noun meaning "battle". His rendering of traeth tryfrwyd was "the Strand of the Pierced or Broken (Place)". Basing his statement on the Welsh Traeth Tryfrwyd, Jackson said that "we should not look for a river called Tryfwyd but for a beach." However, Jackson later admitted (in The Arthur of History, ARTHURIAN LITERATURE IN THE MIDDLE AGES: A COLLABORATIVE HISTORY, ed. by Roger Sherman Loomis) that "the name (Traith) Tribruit may mean rather 'The Many-Coloured Strand' (cf. I. Williams in BBCS, xi , 95).
Most recently Patrick Sims-Williams (in The Arthur of the Welsh, THE EARLY WELSH ARTHURIAN POEMS, 1991) has defined traeth tryfrwyd as the "very speckled shore" (try- here being the intensive prefix *tri-, cognate with L. trans). Professor Sims-Williams mentions that 'trywruid' could also mean "bespattered [with blood]." I would only add that Latin litus does usually mean "seashore, beach, coast", but that it can also mean "river bank". Latin ripa, more often used of a river bank, can also have the meaning of "shore".
The complete listing of tryfrwyd from The Dictionary of Wales (information courtesy Andrew Hawke) is as follows:
2 [?_try-^2^+brwyd^2^_; dichon fod yma fwy
nag un gair [= "poss. more than one word here"]]
3 _a_. a hefyd fel _e?b_.
6 skilful, fine, adorned; ?bloodstained; battle,
7 12g. GCBM i. 328, G\\6aew yg coryf, yn toryf,
yn _tryfrwyd_ - wryaf.
7 id. ii. 121, _Tryfrwyd_ wa\\6d y'm pria\\6d
prydir, / Trefred ua\\6r, treul ga\\6r y gelwir.
7 id. 122, Keinuyged am drefred _dryfrwyd_.
7 13g. A 19. 8, ymplymnwyt yn _tryvrwyt_
7 Digwydd hefyd fel e. afon [="also occurs as
river name"] (cf.
8 Hist Brit c. 56, in litore fluminis, quod vocatur
_Tribruit_; 14 x CBT
8 C 95. 9-10, Ar traethev _trywruid_).
Tryfrwyd itself, minus the intensive prefix,
[H. Grn. _bruit_, gl. _varius_, gl. Gwydd. _bre@'t_
6 variegated, pied, chequered, decorated, fine;
bloodstained; broken, shattered, frail, fragile.
7 c. 1240 RWM i. 360, lladaud duyw arnam ny
am dwyn lleydwyt - _urwyt_ / llauurwyt escwyt
7 c. 1400 R 1387. 15-16, Gnawt vot ystwyt
_vrwyt_ vriwdoll arnaw.
7 id. 1394. 5-6, rwyt _vrwyt_ vrwydyrglwyf rwyf
7 15g. H 54a. 12.
The editors of GCBM (Gwaith Cynddelw
Brydydd) take _tryfrwyd_ to be a fem. noun =
'brwydr'. They refer to Ifor Williams, Canu Aneirin
294, and A.O.H. Jarman, Aneinin: Y
Gododdin (in English) p. 194 who translates
'clash', also Jarman, Ymddiddan Myrddin a Thaliesin,
pp. 36-7. Ifor Williams, Bulletin of the
Board of Celtic Studies xi (1941-4) pp. 94-6 suggests
_try+brwyd_ `variegated, decorated'.
On brwydr, the National Dictionary of Wales has
2 [dichon ei fod o'r un tarddiad a@^
_brwyd^1^_, ond cf. H. Wydd. _bri@'athar_ `gair']
3 _eb_. ll. -_au_.
6 pitched battle, conflict, attack, campaign,
struggle; bother, dispute, controversy; host, army.
7 13g. HGC 116, y lle a elwir . . . y tir gwaetlyt,
o achaus y _vrwyder_ a vu ena.
7 14g. T 39. 24.
7 14g. WML 126, yn dyd kat a _brwydyr_.
7 14g. WM 166. 32, _brwydreu_ ac ymladeu.
7 14g. YCM 33, llunyaethu _brwydyr_ a oruc
Chyarlymaen, yn eu herbyn.
7 15g. IGE 272, Yr ail gofal, dial dwys, /
_Brwydr_ Addaf o Baradwys.
7 id. 295.
7 1567 LlGG (Sall) 14a, a' chyd codei _brwydyr_
im erbyn, yn hyn yr ymddiriedaf.
7 1621 E. Prys: Ps 32a, Yno drylliodd y bwa a'r
saeth, / a'r _frwydr_ a wnaeth yn ddarnau.
7 1716 T. Evans: DPO 35, Cans _brwydr_ y
Rhufeiniaid a aethai i Si@^r Fo@^n.
7 1740 id. 336, _Brwydrau_ lawer o Filwyr arfog.
Dr. G. R. Isaac of The University of Wales, Abe ystywyth, in discussing brwyd, adds that:
"The correct Latin comparison is frio 'break up', both < Indo-European *bhreiH- 'cut, graze'. These words have many cognates, e.g. Latin fr uolus 'friable, worthless', Sanskrit bhrinanti 'they damage', Old Church Slavonic britva 'razor', and others. The Old British form of brwyd would have been *breitos. It is sometimes claimed that there is a possible Gaulish root cognate in brisare 'press out', but there are difficulties with that identification.
It may be worth stressing that the 'tryfrwyd' which means 'very speckled' and the 'tryfrwyd' which means 'piercing, pierced' are the same word, and that the latter is the historically pri mary meaning. The meaning 'very speckled' comes through 'bloodstained' from 'pierced' ('bloodstained' because 'pierced' in battle). But I do not think this has any bearing on the arguments.
Actually, Tryfrwyd MAY mean 'very speckled', but that is conjecture, not certain knowledge. Plausible conjecture, yes, but no more certain for that."
That "pierced" or "broken" is to be preferred as the meaning of Tribruit is plainly demonstrated by lines 21-22 of the _Pa Gur_ poem:
Neus tuc manauid - "Manawyd(an) brought
Eis tull o trywruid - pierced ribs (or, metaphorically, "timbers", and hence arms of any kind,
probably spears or shields; ) from Tryfrwyd"
Tull, "pierced", here obviously refers to Tribruit as "through-pierced".
Professor Hywel Wyn Owen, Director of the Place-Name Research Centre, University of Wales Bangor, has the following to say on traeth + river names (personal correspondence):
"There are only two examples of traeth + river name that I know of, both in Anglesey (Traeth Dulas, Traeth Llugwy) but there may well be others. The issue is still the same however. Where a river flows into the sea would normally be aber. The traeth would only be combined with the river name if the river name was also used of a wider geographical context, and became, say, the name of the bay. Hence traeth + bay name rather than traeth + river name directly."
In the poem, the shore of Tryfrwyd battle is listed one just prior to Din Eidyn and once just after the same fort (I will have more on the Pa Gur battle sites below). The Gwrgi Garwllwyd or ‘Man-dog Rough-grey’ who is also placed at Tryfrwyd has been associated with the Cynbyn or ‘Dog-heads’ Arthur fought at Din Eidyn.
Manawyd's role at Tryfrwyd may suggest that this river or its shore is to be found in or on the borders of Manau Gododdin, which was the district round the head of the Firth of Forth, whose name remains in Slamannan and Clackmannan.
The Fords of Frew west of Stirling have been proposed as the site of the battle, but Jackson claims W. frut or ffrwd, ‘stream’, cannot have yielded frwyd. Jackson also countered Skene's theory that this was the Forth, on the grounds that the Welsh name for the Forth, Gweryd, which would be *Guerit in OW.
The poem may be even more specific, in that Traeth Tryfrwyd is said to be 'ar eidin cyminauc'
(line 28), ‘at Eidyn on the border’. Now, the ‘bo der’ here could be the Firth of Forth, but it is much more likely to be the line of division between Gododdin proper and Manau Gododdin.
The Cynbyn or ‘Dog-heads’ may partly owe their existence to the Coincenn daughter of Aedan, father of the Dalriadan Arthur, and to the Coinchend in the Irish story The Adventure of Art son of Conn. In this Irish tale, Art battles a monstrous woman named Coincenn or ‘Doghead’ who is a member of a tribe bearing the same name.”
The name of Art son of Conn's mother may be significant in this context. She was called Eithne, which was also the name of the mother of the god Lugh. The place-name Eidyn is of u known etymology. Because Din Eidyn was the capital of Lothian, and Lothian is derived from Middle Welsh Lleudinyawn, Brittonic *Lugudunia:non, land of ‘Lugh's (W. Lleu's) Fo tress’, it would be reasonable to suggest that Eidyn as Lugh's fortress represents a British form of Irish Eithne. Din Eidyn would then be the Fort of (the goddess) Eithne.
The Coincenn of the Irish are thought to be a reflection of the Classical Cynacephali.
Ole Munch-Pedersen cites the following note from Cecile Ó Rahilly text of the Irish heroic epic Cath Finntrágha or the “Battle of the White Strand” (Irish traigh is cognate with Welsh traeth):
"The Coinchinn or Coinchennaig are frequently mentioned in Irish literature. From the 8th cen-tury on the name was applied to pirates who ravaged Ireland. Cp. Thurneysen, Zu Ir. Hss., p. 24. In the Adventures of Art mac Cuinn they are represented as living in Tir na nIngnad whose King is called Conchruth (Éiriu III. 168). They are mentioned in a poem in the Book of the Dean of Lismore (Rel. Celt. I. 80) and in a poem is Duanaire Finn (xxxviii) where they are said to have invaded Ireland and been defeated by Finn. In the YBL tale Echtra Clérech Choluim Cille (RC XXVI 160 § 45, 161 § 48) men with dogs' heads are 'of the race of Ham or of Cain'. Similarly in the late romance Síogra Dubh the Caitchean-naigh and Coincheannaigh and Gabharchean-naigh are said to be do chinéal Caim mic Naoi (GJ XIX 99 5-6, cp. LU 122)." (Cath Finntrágha, (1962), lch. 65).
From the English translation of the Battle of Ventry/Cath Finntragha (http://www.maryjones.us/ctexts/f20.html):
“'O soul, O Glas son of Dreman,' said the king of the world, 'not a harbour like this didst thou promise my fleet would find, but shores of white sand where my army might assemble for fairs and gatherings whenever they were not fighting.' 'I know a harbour like that in the west of Erinn,' said Glas, 'namely, Ventry Harbour… They went onward thence to Ventry, and filled the borders of the whole harbour so that the sea was not vis-ible between them, and the great barque of the king of the world was the first to take harbour, so that thenceforward its name was Rinn na Bairci (The Point of the Barque). And they let down their many-coloured linen-white sails, and raised their purple-mouthed speckled tents, and consumed their excellent savoury viands, and their fine intoxicating drinks, and their harps were brought to them for long playing, and their poets to sing their songs and their dark conceits to them...
Now, these hosts and armies came into Ciarraige Luachra and to red-maned Slieve Mis, and thence to Ventry Harbour. 'O Tuatha De Danand,' said Abartach, 'let a high spirit and courage arise within you in the face of the battle of Ventry. For it will last for a day and a year, and the deed of every single man of you will be related to the end of the world, and fulfil now the big words ye have uttered in the drinking- hous-es.' 'Arise,O Glas, son of Dreman,' said Bodb Derg the son of the Dagda ,'to announce combat for me to the king of the world.' Glas went where the king of the world was. 'O soul, O Glas,' said the king of the world, 'are those yonder the fi-anns of Erinn?' 'Not they,' said Glas, 'but anoth-er lot of the men of Erinn, that dare not to be on the surface of the earth, but live in sid-brugs (fairy mansions) under the ground, called the Tuatha De Danand, and to announce battle from them have I come.' 'Who will answer the Tuatha De Danand for me?' said the king of the world. 'We will go against them,' said two of the kings of the world, namely, Comur Cromgenn, the king of the men of the Dogheads, and Caitch-enn, the king of the men of the Catheads, and they had five red-armed battalions in order, and they went on shore forthwith in their great red waves.
'Who is there to match the king of the men of the Dogheads for me?' said Bodb Derg. 'I will go against him,'said Lir of Sid Finnachaid,'though I have heard that there is not in the great world a man of stronger arm than he.’”
It is the Dogheads who would appear to hold the key to unravelling the Traeth Tryfrwyd mystery. Thanks to Lothian native and place-name expert John Wilkinson, who consulted a friend on the matter, I have learned the following:
“Ardchinnechena<n> is a place which the St. Andrews Foundation Account B says was where Hungus son of Forso placed the head of the de-feated Saxon king Athelstan on a pole “within the harbour which is now called Queen’s Ferry” (i.e. North Queensferry?); and which the shorter Account calls Ardchinnechun. Simon Taylor’s Fife Vol 3 offers ‘height/promontory of the head’ for the first and hints at a dindshenchas con-taining con ‘dog’ (in genitive) for the second.”
Ardchinnechena[n] is generally supposed to be the headland used by the Railway Bridge (see “Place-names of Fife”, vol. 1, 381-2, vol.3, 582-3).
This ‘Height of the Dog’s Head’ in North Queensferry Harbor reinforces my view that the Welsh tryfrwyd, ‘through-piered’, is an attempt to translate Latin trajectus, which has the exact literal meaning. However, trajectus also was the word used for a river-crossing, like the one at Queensferry.
The Eleventh Battle: Mount Agned and/or
Mount Breguoin, found only in late rescensions of the Historia Brittonum has been associated with the ‘cellawr Brewyn’ or cells of Brewyn where Urien of Rheged later fought, a site generally agreed to be the Roman fort of Bremenium at High Rochester on Dere Street. Kenneth Jackson, who thought the name might also be an interpolation, came to this conclusion (“Arthur’s Battle of Breguoin”, ANTIQUITY 23, Jan 1 1949, p. 48). Most scholars now think that the Breguoin battle was taken from the Urien poem and incorporated into the Arthurian battle-list in the HB. As Arthur was linked to the Welsh word arth, ‘bear’, it may not be a coincidence that a bear god named Matunus was worshipped at Bremenium during the Roman period.
Mount Agned has hitherto escaped philological analysis. From Kenneth Jackson's time on, one original form proposed has been Angned. But this is an unknown word and has failed to produce a viable site. Most authorities feel that Agned is a corruption.
The simplest explanation for Agned as a corrupt form has been supplied by Dr. Andrew Breeze of the University of Navarre. Dr. Breeze proposed that the /n/ of Agned should be read as a /u/. This is a brilliant solution to the problem, although his attempt to then identify Agned with Pennango or Penangushope near Hawick is seriously flawed. I would see in this last a Pen, “headland”, plus the Gaelic personal name Angus. As Alan James makes clear,
“We know in that area in the heart of the Southern Uplands, P-, Q-Celtic, Anglian and Scandinavian pers names were being used promiscuously, irrespective of the language or ethnicity of the bearers, and P-Celtic was probably still current late enough for a pen- to be named after an Angus.”
Penangushope would be ‘the narrow/enclosed valley of Angus’s Headland.’
Dr. Graham Isaac has the following to say on the idea that Agned could represent an original Agued:
“The n > u copying error is a common one. The word agued is a rare one, and is used only three times in the early materials. It means something like ‘dire straits, difficulty, anxiety’.”
The most important use of this word, for the present purpose, is found in Canu Aneirin line 1259, where it occurs in the phrase 'twryf en agwed', ‘a host in dire straits’. We will return to this phrase in a moment.
We have discussed the possibility that the Arthur section in HB represents a Latin retelling of an OW heroic poem. Such a poem could have had a line in it like 'galon in agued', 'the enemy in dire straits, great difficulty', much like the Canu Aneirin’s 'twryf en agwed'. It is conceivable that an author responsible for the Harleian recension of the HB (who may not have been entirely versed in the diction of OW heroic poetry) may have mistaken this 'agued' for a actual place-name, and wrongly placed the battle there: instead of 'the enemy in dire straits', he understood 'the enemy at Agued', easily miscopied.
Under this interpretation, the only location for the battle that was ever correct was Breguoin/Bremenium. This analysis at least solves the problem of 'Where was Agned?' with the answer, ‘There never was such a place, and so no need to look for it.’
What we may have in ‘Mount Agued’, then, is a confused reference to a battle at Mount Breguoin/Bremenium where the enemy found itself ‘in dire straits’. If so, we would have four, and possibly five battles said to have been fought by Arthur on Dere Street: York, Binchester, Devil’s Water, Celidon Wood and High Rochester.
The argument against Bremenium/High Rochester as an Arthurian battle, which relies upon the presence of gellawr brewyn, the ‘cells of Brem nium’, in the Urien battle poem list, ignores the very real possibility that more than one battle could have been fought at Bremenium at differ ent times. Bremenium is situated in a very strategic position, essentially guarding the pass over which Dere Street crosses the Cheviots. It is also true that Urien’s Brewyn could just as easily have been borrowed from the Arthurian battle-list as the other way around.
While it may well be that Agued/Agned is merely an error for Bregouin or a poetic name for the latter, there is a second possible identification for this Arthurian battle site. The ‘Twryf yn aguedd’ phrase mentioned above comes from the ‘Gwarchan Tudfwlch’, a poem appended to The Gododdin.
What is surprising about the ‘Gwarchan Tu fwlch’ example is that the phrase is preceded by two lines that copy part of a line found in Strophe 25 of The Gododdin proper:
“Arf anghynnull, Anghyman ddull, Twryf en agwed…”
“Arf anghynnull, anghyman ddull…”
Now, in the case of The Gododdin line, the poet Aneirin is referring to Graid son of Hoywgi’s prowess at the disastrous battle of Catraeth, Roman Cataractonium, modern-day Catterick on
Dere Street in Yorkshire. The Battle of Catraeth is, of course, the subject of The Gododdin poem.
The hero Tudfwlch hailed from the region of Eifionydd in Gwynedd, but he fought and died at
Catraeth. While he engaged in military actions in his homeland (the ‘Gwarchan’s’ ‘Dal Henban’ is almost certainly modern Talhenbont at Llanystumdwy in Eifionydd), it is probable that the lines borrowed from The Gododdin are meant to indicate that the following ‘Twryf yn aguedd’, ‘a host in distress’, is a reference to the British army at Catraeth.
Dr. Graham agrees with me on this assessment, saying that
“Phrases like twryf yn aguedd are characteristically used in early Welsh poetry to set up a general atmosphere of warrior violence, but, to judge from the final lines of the poem, it would seem to be primarily concerned with the 'Battle of Catraeth'.”
Part of the Roman fort at Catterick was built on the rising ground above the River Swale known as Thornbrough Hill. And Arthur is mentioned in
Line 972 of The Gododdin. Whether this is an interpolation or not, it is generally thought to be one of the earliest occurrences of his name in the written records:
“He fed black ravens on the rampart of a fortress
Though he was no Arthur.
Among the powerful ones in battle,
In the front rank, Gwawrddur was a palisade.”
Are we to see as a coincidence Arthur’s being mentioned in the context of the Battle of Catraeth when it is in this same battle, alone among all battles of the period, that a host finds itself in ‘agued’?
There are two possible ways to read this passage on Arthur in The Gododdin. First, the hero Gwawrddur, while a great warrior, was not nearly as great as Arthur. This is the standard interpretation. But let us suppose that what is really meant is that Arthur had fought at Catterick as well, a generation earlier, only he proved more powerful than Gwawrddur and won a victory over the Saxons on Thornbrough Hill, i.e. Mount Agned.
In this context, the Arthurian Mount Agned of the HB could be an anachronistic reference to the hill at Cataractonium, where the British army of Gwawrddur’s time found itself in ‘distress’ or ‘dire straits’ just prior to its annihilation by the Saxon foe.
So if we assume Agned = Agued = Catterick, where did Arthur fight – at High Rochester or Catraeth?
Well, the simple answer is ‘Either, both or neither.’ If Breguoin is indeed borrowed from the Urien poem, then Arthur did not fight at High Rochester. If Agned is Thornborough Hill at Catterick, then the site may have been chosen merely because his name was mentioned in The
Almost the entire defensive circuit of the High Rochester/Bremenium fort is preserved, with the remains of the western gateway being particularly fine. There is also evidence of several periods of rebuilding in the western intervaltower of the south side. The ditches are well preserved to the north and east, outside which the line of Dere Street marches north-west. Between the thick stone ramparts the fort measures around 440 ft north-south by about 420 ft east-west, giving an occupation area of about 4.25 acres. There are inner stone buildings.
On the north, the remains of as many as thirteen ditches can be distinguished. On the east and south, four, and six ditches curve around the north-west angle. It is unknown how many ditches were on the west side of the fort.
The Roman fort at Catterick was likely founded during the early 70 CE's to guard the crossing of
Dere Street over the River Swale. At the very latest, the fort must have been in place by 79 CE, in order to guard the northern supply route of Agricola's Scottish campaigns. After an undetermined period of neglect, it would appear that the fort was recommissioned during the administration of Gnaeus Julius Verus in the aftermath of the Brigantian revolt of 155 CE, at which time the Antonine Wall was abandoned and the troops pulled back to Hadrian’s Wall in order to control the Brigantes. No trace of the fort remains, as it was overlain by the town of Catterick. A crop-mark east of Catterick Rac course has been identified as a Roman temporary camp not far from the fort.
Geoffrey of Monmouth and Agned/Breguoin
Geoffrey of Monmouth’s treatment of the Agned name has led to further confusion – although at least in one sense he made have been on the righ track.
To begin, he calls Agned both Maiden Castle and the Dolorous Mountain. While there are many Maiden Castles in Britain, because Edinburgh came to be called this in the medieval period it has been customary to identify the latter with Agned. Geoffrey’s thinking here may be identical with that of later antiquarian writers who saw in Agned the Latin Agnetis for St. Agnes, the virgin martyr-saint.
Dr. Simon Rodway of the University of Wales agrees that Agned as found in the HB could have quite regularly and perfectly developed from Agnetis.
The Dolorous Mountain of Geoffrey may well represent his attempt to render Breguoin. Welsh has the following words (GPC listing) which have meanings similar to Latin dolorosus (dolor, doleo):
[?o’r gwr. *u̯en-, u̯enə- ‘ymegnïo am; chwennych, caru, ymfodloni; ymdrechu, llafurio’ fel yn y Llad. venus, -eris]
eg.b. ll. gwyniau, gwniau.
Poen, gofid, dolur, brath, artaith; nwyd, angerdd, anian, mympwy; sêl, serch; chwant, drygchwant, anlladrwydd; eiddigedd, dicter, digofaint, llid, cynddaredd:
pain, trouble, ache, smart, pang; passion, emotion, humour, whim; zeal, affection; desire, lust, wantonness; jealousy, displeasure, wrath, rage, fury.
[Gwydd. cóine ‘wylofain’]
eb.g. ll. cwynion, cwynau.
a Achwyniad, datganiad o anghyfiawnder neu o gam, o ofid neu o alar, achos anghydfod neu ofid; galar, gofid:
complaint, plaint, grievance, lament, cause of contention or grief; grief.”
An imagined Bre, ‘hill’, plus this gwyn or cwyn would give a Hill of Pain or Lamentation Mountain. If I’m right about this, then Geoffrey had before him one of the MSS. of the HB which listed both Breguoin and Agned. As the MSS. can identify the two places, Geoffrey followed suit. Thus Agned became Maiden Castle and Breguoin became the Dolorous Mountain.
None of this helps us with the location of Agned, however – if we accept the name as a W. form of L. Agnetis. The few St. Agnes place-names in Britain are all of recent origin. One such exampl is a farm in Scottish Borders, at the confluence of the Whiteadder and Bothwell rivers, near Cranshaws, called St. Agnes. Only a quarter mile of so from this St. Agnes there is a hillfort. What follows is from the CANMORE database:
“NT 682 632 Fort, St Agnes (Stenton). A curvilinear fort with double ramparts and ditches on the end of the spur that lies between the Whiteadder Water and the Bothwell Water, a quarter of a mile WNW of St Agnes. At some former time the Whiteadder has washed into the base of the spur at this point, and the ensuing landslips have destroyed the whole of the south side of the fort. It seems probable, however, that the work was oval on plan and measured internally 300ft from E to W by some 250ft from N to S. The ramparts which are still visible (just) on the ground at the W end of the fort, are 50ft apart measured from crest to crest, but their original widths can only be determined by excavation.”
David N. Haire, an expert in East Lothian history, kindly forward the following information to me concerning St. Agnes in Scottish Borders:
“The first appearance that I have found is St Agnus (not Agnes) on William Forrest’s ‘Map of Haddingtonshire’ 1799/1802. This map associates the place with Sir James Sootie Bart. It is St Agnes on John Ainslie’s ‘Map of the Southern Part of Scotland’ 1821 and on the first Ordnance Survey 6 inches to one mile map. This baronet (usually spelled Suttie) was apparently an undistinguished and reactionary parliamentarian, described as 4th baronet of Balgone and Agnes (without the St).
Earlier baronets apparently had only the title ‘of Balgone’
Given that St Agnes is in a very sharp point between the Bothwell and Whiteadder Waters, my extremely tentative guess was that the name was originally a minor topographical name, possibly Scots aik-ness, meaning ‘oak promontory’; and that the ambitious but apparently rather dim baronet tried to add to his status by glorifying his patch of hill land with the prefix St which happened to fit the name. However, the probability of a wholly whimsical name is raised by this family tree which shows that the fourth baronet’s mother was Agnes née Grant.
Agned from Agnetis would, in this context, reside only in Geoffrey’s imagination.
Does it make sense, though, to conclude that Mount Agned is a mistake for the agued/agwed of the Gododdin poem? Alas, attractive though this solution is, it does not seem very likely. If one had access to the Gododdin, why not simply say Arthur fought at Catraeth?
Well, as it happens there another very exciting candidate for Agned available to us. A Roman inscription was found at Bremenium/High Rochester with the word EGNAT clearly carved upon it. The full reading of this stone is as follows (from http://romaninscriptionsofbritain.org/inscriptions/1262):
“To the Genius of our Lord and of the standards of the First Cohort of Vardulli and of the Unit of Scouts of Bremenium, styled Gordianus, Egnatius Lucilianus, emperor's propraetorian legate, (set this up) under the charge of Cassius Sabinianus, tribune.”
This Egnatius was the governor of Britannia Inferior, i.e. Northern Britain, and as such would have been based at York. He is known from another stone as well, found at Lanchester (http://romaninscriptionsofbritain.org/inscriptions/1091):
“The Emperor Caesar Marcus Antonius Gordianus Pius Felix Augustus erected from ground-level this bath-building with basilica through the agency of Egnatius Lucilianus, emperor's propraetorian legate, under the charge of Marcus Aurelius Quirinus, prefect of the First Cohort of Lingonians, styled Gordiana.”
There has been some speculation concerning this man, who may have been of very famous stock (see Inge Mennen’s “Power and Status in the Roman Empire, AD 193-284, note 79, p. 101). In any case, as a governor and a rebuilder of forts, his name may have been become attached to that of Bremenium in a sort of nickname fashion – ‘the hill of Egnatius’ or, as it came down to us in the HB, Mount Agned. Such a nickname may have been purely a local or even legendary development. A good comparison to Bremenium as Egnatius’s hill would the Uxellodunum fort at Stanwix, called Petriana after its military garrison.
According to Dr. Simon Roday of the University of Wales,
“Agned cannot derive regularly from Egnatius, but I don't think it's impossible - as you say, there are examples of a- ~ e- in Welsh (agwyddor ~ egwyddor etc). Perhaps a sort of metathesis?”
The examples I had cited were merely a handful I had culled from some of the early Welsh poems:
engai, angai, engis, angwy, etc.
edewi, adaw, adawai, edewid
Doubtless more such instances of /a/ for /e/ could be found in other texts.
In answer to the criticism that the Egn- of Egnatius would have undergone a sound change to Ein- by the 9th century, Dr. Rodway added: "Old Welsh spelling was conservative in this respect, so it would be quite regular for the g to still be written."
If I’m right about this, then the Breguoin and Agned place-names both designate the same site – the Bremenium Roman fort at High Rochester.
The Twelfth Battle: Mount Badon
Badon is a difficult place-name for an unexpected reason. As Kenneth Jackson proclaimed:
"No such British name is known, nor any such stem." [To be briefly mentioned in the context of Badon is the Middle Welsh word bad, 'plague, pestilence, death' (GPC; first attested in the 14th century), from Proto-Celtic *bato-, cf. Old Irish bath. Some have asked me whether this word could be the root of Badon - to which Dr. Graham I. Isaac, of the National University of Ireland, Galway, responds emphatically, "No, absolutely no. A (modern) W form _bad_ etc. would have been spelt in the W of the ancient period as _bat_ and there can be no connection since _Bad(on)_ is what we find." Other noteworthy Celtic linguists, such as Dr. Simon Rodway of Aberystwyth University, Dr. Richard Coates of the University of the West of England and Professor Ranko Matasovic of the University of Zagreb, agree with Isaac on this point. Matasovic adds: “Professor Isaac is right; since we have references to Badon in Early Welsh sources, the name would have been spelled with –t- (for voiced /d/). The spelling where the letter <d> stands for /d/ and <dd> for the voiced dental fricative was introduced in the late Middle Ages.”]
Graham Isaac has the following to say on the nature of the word Badon, which I take to be authoritative.
His explanation of why Gildas's Badon cannot be derived from one of the Badburys (like Liddington Castle, often cited as a prime candidates for Badon) is critical in an eventual identification of this battle site. Although long and rather complicated, his argument is convincing and I have, therefore, opted to present it unedited:
"Remember in all that follows that both the -d - in Badon and the -th- in OE Bathum are pronounced like th in 'bathe' and Modern Welsh - dd-. Remember also that in Old English spelling, the letters thorn and the crossed d are interchangeable in many positions: that is variation in spelling, not in sound, and has no significance for linguistic arguments.
It is curious that a number of commentators have been happy to posit a 'British' or 'Celtic' form Badon. The reason seems to be summed up succinctly by Tolstoy in the 1961 article (p. 145):
'It is obviously impossible that Gildas should have given a Saxon name for a British locality'.
Why? I see no reason at all in the world why he should not do so (begging the question as to what, exactly, is the meaning of 'British locality' here; Gildas is just talking about a hill). This then becomes the chief crutch of the argument, as shown on p. 147 of Tolstoy's article: 'But that there was a Celtic name ‘Badon’ we know from the very passage in Gildas under discussion'.
But that is just circular: ' "Badon" must be "Cel ic" because Gildas only uses "Celtic" names'. This is no argument. What would have to be shown is that 'Badon' is a regular reflex of a securely attested 'Celtic' word. This is a matter of empirical detail and is easily tested; we have vast resources to tell us what was and was not a 'Celtic' word. And there is nothing like 'Badon'.
So what do we do? Do we just say that 'Badon' must be Celtic because Gildas uses it? That gets us nowhere.
So what of the relationships between aet Bathum - Badon - Baddanbyrig? The crucial point is just that OE Bathum and the Late British / very early Welsh Badon we are talking about both have the soft -th- sound of 'bathe' and Mod.Welsh 'Baddon'. Baddanbyrig, however, has a long d-sound like -d d- in 'bad day'. Both languages, early OE and Late British, had both the d-sound and the soft th-sound. So:
1) If the English had taken over British (hypothetical and actually non-existent) *Badon (*Din Badon or something), they would have made it *Bathanbyrig or the like, and the modern names of these places would be something like *Bathbury.
2) If the British had taken over OE Baddanbyrig, they would have kept the d-sound, and Gildas would have written 'Batonicus mons', and Annales Cambriae would have 'bellum Batonis', etc. (where the -t- is the regular early SPELLING of the sound -d-; always keep your conceptions of spellings and your conceptions of sounds separate; one of the classic errors of the untrained is to fail to distinguish these).
I imagine if that were the case we would have no hesitation is identifying 'Baton' with a Badbury place. But the d-sound and the soft th -sound are not interchangeable. It is either the one or the other, and in fact it is the soft th -sound that is in 'Badon', and that makes it equivalent to Bathum, not Baddanbyrig.
(That applies to the sounds. On the other hand there is nothing strange about the British making Bad-ON out of OE Bath -UM. There was nothing in the Late British/early Welsh language which corresponded to the dative plural ending - UM of OE, so it was natural for the Britons to substitute the common British suffix - ON for the very un-British OE suffix -UM: this is not a substitution of SOUNDS, but of ENDINGS, which is quite a different matter. That Gildas then makes an unproblematic Latin adjective with -icus out of this does not require comment.)
1) There is no reason in the world why a 6thcentury British author should not refer to a place in Britain by its OE name.
2) There was no 'British' or 'Celtic' *Badon.
3) 'Badon' does not correspond linguistically with OE Baddanbyrig.
4) 'Badon' is the predictably regular Late British / early Welsh borrowing of OE Bathum.
Final note: the fact that later OE sources occasionally call Bath 'Badon' is just a symptom of the book-learning of the authors using the form.
Gildas was a widely read and highly respected author, and Badon(-is) (from Gildas's adjective Badon -icus) will quickly and unproblematically have become the standard book-form (i.e. primarily Latin form) for the name of Bath. Again, all attempts to gain some sort of linguistic mileage from the apparent, but illusory, OE variation between Bathum and Badon are vacuous."
It is thus safe to say that 'Badon' must derive from a Bath name. However, we must not restrict ourselves to the Southern Bath, which makes no sense in the context of a Northern Arthur.
For as it happens, there is a major Northern ‘Bath’ site that has gone completely unnoticed!
In the the High Peak District of Derbyshire we find Buxton. This town had once been roughly on the southernmost boundary of Brigantian tribal territory (thought to lie along a line roughly from the Mersey in the west to the Humber in the east). It was also just within Britannia Inferior (that part of northern Britain ruled from York), whose boundary was again from the Mersey, but probably more towards The Wash.
In the Roman period, Buxton was the site of Aquae Arnemetiae, ‘the waters in front of (the goddess) Nemetia’. To the best of our knowledge, Bath in Somerset and Buxton in Derbyshire were the only two ‘Aquae’ towns in Britain.
But even better, there is a Bathum name extant at Buxton. The Roman road which leads to Buxton from the northeast, through the Peak hills, is called Bathamgate. Batham is ‘baths’, the exact dative plural we need to match the name Bathum/Badon. -gate is ‘road, street’, which comes from ME gate, itself a derivative of OScand gata. Bathamgate is thus ‘Baths Road’.
The recorded forms for Bathamgate are as follows:
Bathinegate (for Bathmegate), 1400, from W.
Dugdale's Monasticon Anghcanum, 6 vols, London
Bathom gate, 1538, from Ancient Deeds in the
Public Record Office
Batham Gate, 1599, from records of the Duchy of Lancaster Special Commissions in the Public
Buxton sits in a bowl about one thousand feet above sea level surrounded by mountains and is itself a mountain spa. The natural mineral water of Buxton emerges from a group of springs at a constant temperature of 82 degrees Fahrenheit and is, thus, a thermal water. There are also cold springs and a supply of chalybeate (iron bearing) water. The evidence of Mesolithic man suggests a settlement dating to about 5000 BCE and archaeological finds in the Peak District around the settlement show habitation through the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages to the time of the Romans.
From the historical evidence we can say that Buxton was a civilian settlement of some importance, situated on the intersection of several roads, and providing bathing facilities in warm mineral waters. In short, it was a Roman spa. Place-names in and around Buxton, and Anglo-Saxon finds in burial mound excavations, suggest a continuing inhabitation of the area and probable use of the mineral waters.
It has long been speculated that we should expect to find a military installation at Buxton. However, subsequent archaeological fieldwork, including excavations, in and around suggested locations at the spa town have singularly failed to establish a military presence. A 'ditch feature' identified initially through resistivity survey and then from aerial photography above Mill Cliff,
Buxton, gave rise to the almost confident interpretation of this site as being that of the fort: subsequent evaluation in advance of development, however, has shown that these features were geological rather than man-made, and the absence of Roman finds of any description from a series of evaluation trenches suggests that if
Buxton had a fort it was located elsewhere.
Today, the site of the probable Roman baths is covered by the Georgian Crescent building. In this area during the seventeenth and eighteenth century discoveries of lead lined baths, red plaster and building remains were made at some considerable depth in the sediments which surround the area of St Anne's well. In the eighteenth century, Pilkington investigated a mound overlooking the site of the previous discoveries. Here he found a structure which has been interpreted as a probable classical temple - one of only three known from Britain. In the mid-seventies, following the removal of a 20th century swimming pool, a brick structure was exposed and a deposit containing 232 Roman coins, 3 bronze bracelets and a wire clasp ranging in date from the 1st to the end of the 4th century CE was excavated.
This intriguing series of early discoveries lends tangible support to the interpretation of Buxton as the 'Bath of the North', but the character and extent of civilian settlement - and whether this was in association with a military installation or not, remains obscure. A considerable range of small finds, together with occasional glimpses of apparently Roman contexts, from the backgardens of houses has failed to provide a clear sense of the extent of Roman Buxton, let alone a soundly based understanding of its chronology and development. The dating of coinage in the 'votive' deposit from near the Crescent might be seen to indicate heightened frequencies of offerings during the third and fourth centuries. To what extent this might correlate with the development of settlement at Buxton is a matter of some conjecture.
At Poole's cavern, Buxton, excavations between
1981 and 1983 by Peakland Archaeological Society and Buxton Archaeological Society produced a large Romano-British assemblage containing a considerable body of metalwork including coins and brooches, rolls of thin sheet bronze, along with ceramics, a faunal assemblage and burials. The dating of the coins and fibulae point to use between the late 1st and 3rd centuries, with the majority being of 2nd century date. Indeed, reanalysis of the material has suggested that the cave saw its principal period of use between 120 and 220 CE. The excavators appeared to reveal some spatial separation of the coin and fibulae finds from the pottery and faunal remains, although this has been questioned.
Discussing the possible character of the use of the site Bramwell and Dalton draw attention to the comparative absence of spindle whorls, loom weights and bone hairpins which might be expected from a domestic site. Instead, they see the evidence as supporting the interpretation of the site as that of a rural shrine or sanctuary.
This too has subsequently been questioned and rejected. Instead, Branigan and Dawley interpret the site as essentially domestic, but with the additional refuse from a metalworker’s activities. They see a link between Poole's Cavern and the growth of Buxton as a spa centre providing a ready local market for small decorative trinkets.
The general trend of the evidence suggests that the Roman site may have consisted of a temple overlooking a set of Roman baths. At Bath we have a clear idea of the layout of a significant bath/water shrine complex which consisted of two major ranges: a temple and a religious precinct, within which lay the sacred spring; alongside this range were a line of three baths within a major building, at one end of which lay a typical Roman bathhouse or sauna. The Bath buildings were lavishly built in a classical style and the whole complex attracted visitors from outside the province.
In essence the Buxton layout mirrors that a
Bath: parallel to the spring line is a temple and alongside the springs is a range of possibly Roman baths. As the Buxton temple is two-thirds the size of that at Bath we could assume the
Buxton complex was somewhat smaller.
If the grove of the goddess Nemetia continued as an important shrine well into Arthur’s time (and the presence of St. Anne’s Well at the site of the town’s ancient baths shows that the efficacy of the sacred waters was appropriated by Christians), there is the possibility the Saxons targeted Buxton for exactly this reason. Taking the Britons’ shrine would have struck them a demoralizing blow. If the goddess or saint or goddess-become-saint is herself not safe from the depredations of the barbarians, who is?
A threat to such a shrine may well have galvanized British resistence. Arthur himself may have been called upon to lead the British in the defense of Nemetia's waters and her templegrove.
There may be a very good reason why Gildas (or his source, or a later interpolator) may have opted for English Bathum (rendered Badon in the
British language of the day). The two famous 'baths' towns were anciently known as Aquae
Sulis and Aquae Arnemetiae for the two goddesses presiding over the hot springs. As Arthur is made out to be the preeminent Christian hero, who in the Welsh Annals has a shield bearing the Cross of Christ that he carries during the Battle of Badon, it would not do for the ancient
Romano-British name to be used in this context.
To have done so would inevitably have referred directly to a pagan deity. Hence the generic and less “connotation-loaded” Germanic name for the place was substituted. This explanation might do much to placate those who insist on seeing Badon as a Celtic name.
And where is the most likely location for the monte/montis of the Baths/Batham/Badon, where the actual battle was fought?
I make this out to be what is now referred to as The Slopes, at the foot of which is the modern St. Ann’s Well, and the Crescent, under which the original Roman bath was built. The Slopes were once called St. Ann’s Cliff because it was a prominent limestone outcrop. The Tithe map of 1848 shows that the upper half of the Cliff was still largely covered in trees. I suspect the spring was anciently thought to arise from inside the Cliff, and that the trees covering it marked the precincts of the nemeton or sacred grove of Arnemetia.
The three days and three nights Arthur bore the cross (or, rather, a shield bearing an image of a cross) at Badon in the Welsh Annals are markedly similar to the three days and three nights Urien is said to have blockaded the Saxons in the island of Lindsfarne (British Metcaud) in Chapter 63 of the HB. In Gildas, immediately before mention of Badon, we have the following phrase: "From then on victory went now to our countrymen, now to their enemies…" Similarly, just prior mention of Urien at Lindisfarne, we have this: "During that time, sometimes the enemy, sometimes the Cymry were victorious…" It would seem, therefore, that either the motif of the three days and three nights was taken from the Urien story and inserted into that of Arthur or vice-versa.
What is fascinating about this parallel is that Lindisfarne or ‘Holy Island’, as it came to be known, was an important spiritual centre of Northern Britain. The inclusion of the three days and three nights (an echo of the period Christ spent in the tomb) in the Badon story suggests that we can no longer accept the view that Arthur's portage of Christian symbols at Badon was borrowed solely from the Castle Guinnion battle account in the HB. Aquae Arnemetiae, like
Lindisfarne, was a holy place. Arthur's fighting there may have been construed as a holy act.
Supposedly, 960 Saxons were slain by Arthur at
Badon. In the past, most authorities have seen in the number 960 no more than a fanciful embellishment on the Annals' entry, i.e. more evidence of Arthur as a ‘legend in the making’. But 960 could be a very significant number, militarily speaking. The first cohort of a Roman legion was composed of six doubled centuries or 960 men. As the most important unit, the first cohort guarded the Roman Imperial eagle standard.
Now, while the Roman army in the late period no longer possessed a first cohort composed of this number of soldiers, it is possible Nennius's 960 betrays an antiquarian knowledge of earlier Roman military structure. However, why the Saxons are said to have lost such a number cannot be explained in terms of such an anachronistic description of a Roman unit.
The simplest explanation for Nennius's 960 is that it represents 8 Saxon long hundreds, each long hundred being composed of 120 warriors.
To quote from Tacitus on the Germanic long hundred:
"On general survey, their [the German's] strength is seen to lie rather in their infantry, and that is why they combine the two arms in battle. The men who they select from the whole force and station in the van are fleet of foot and fit admirably into cavalry action. The number of these chosen men is exactly fixed. A hundred are drawn from each district, and 'the hundred' is the name they bear at home. What began as a mere number ends as a title of distinction"
Curiously, in the Norse poem Grimnismal, 8 hundreds of warriors (probably 960) pass through each of the doors of Valhall, the Hall of the Slain, at the time of Ragnarok or the Doom of the Powers.
Osla or Ossa Big-Knife and Caer Faddon
It has often been said that the Welsh Caer Faddon is always a designation for Bath in Avon.
However, at least one medieval Welsh tale points strongly towards the ‘Baths’ at Buxton as the proper site.
I am speaking, of course, of the early Arthurian romance ‘The Dream of Rhonabwy’, sometimes considered to be a part of the Mabinogion collection of tales. Rhonabwy is transported back in time via the vehicle of a dream to the eve of the battle of Caer Faddon. Arthur has apparently come from Cornwall (as he is said to return thither after a truce is made) to mid-Wales and thence to Caer Faddon to meet with Osla or Ossa, a true historical contemporary of Arthur who lies at the head of the royal Bernician pedigree.
As Arthur is said to progress from Rhyd-y-Groes to Long Mountain, he is traveling to the northeast via the Roman road. In other words, he is headed in the direction of Buxton in the High Peak.
While the romance is entirely fanciful, the chronological accuracy in the context of choosing Osla/Ossa is rather uncanny. Furthermore, it is quite clear that in the tradition the author of the romance was drawing from, Caer Faddon is most certainly not Bath. Ossa is known in En lish sources for being the first of the Bernicians\ to come to England from the Continent. Under his descendants, Bernicia became a great kingdom, stretching eventually from the Forth to the
Tees. In the 7th century, Deira – which controlled roughly the area between the Tees and the Humber - was joined with Bernicia to form the Kingdom of Northumbria.
In its heyday, Northumbria shared a border with its neighbor to the south – Mercia – at the River Mersey of ‘Boundary River’. The Mersey flows east to Stockport, where it essentially starts at the confluence of the River Tame and Goyt. The
Goyt has its headwaters on Axe Edge, only a half a dozen kilometers from Buxton in the High
If we allow for the story’s author to have properly chosen Ossa as Arthur’s true contemporary, but to have views Northumbria in an anachronistic fashion – i.e. as extending to the River Mersey – then Ossa coming from Bernicia in the extreme north of England, and Arthur coming from Cornwall in the extreme southwest, coming together for a battle at Buxton makes a great deal of sense. In fact, Buxton is pretty much exactly equidistant between the two locations.
Ossa would have been viewed as engaging in a battle just across the established boundary.
If I am right about this, the Welsh knew of the ‘Bathum’ or Badon that was Buxton.
The Thirteenth Battle: Camlann
After these many victories, Arthur is said to have perished with Medraut at a place called Camlann.
Camlann has long been linked with Camboglanna, the ‘Crooked Bank’, a Roman fort towards the western end of Hadrian’s Wall. The only other candidates for Camlann are in NW Wales (the Afon Gamlan and two other Camlanns near Dolgellau), and these do not have anything to do with the Northern Arthur. For what looks to be a relocation of Arthur to a Camlan in NW Wales, see Appendix III.
Crawford pointed out that the best etymology for
Camlann would actually be B. *Cambolanda, ‘Crooked Enclosure’, an utterly unknown name, but Jackson had no problem with the derivation from Camboglanna.
Those who point to Camelon on the Antonine
Wall are ignorant of the fact that this place was originally called Carmuirs. It was renamed Camelodunum in 1526 by the antiquarian Hector Boece. He did this because the Camelon fort has been identified with the Colania of Ptolemy and the Ravenna Cosmography. Colania was confused with Colonia or Colchester, itself called
The Castlesteads fort sits on a high bluff overlooking the Cambeck valley and the break on the mosses to the north-west which carries the modern road from Brampton to Longtown. The site was drastically leveled in 1791, when the gardens of Castlesteads House were laid out and today nothing is visible of the fort aprt from the southern edge of the fort platform, while the view described above is obscured by trees. The Cam Beck has so far eroded the north-west front of the fort that the side gates now lie only 50 ft from the edge of the gorge. From east to west the fort measures 394 ft and it is thought to have been originally about 400 ft square, covering some 3.75 acres, though it is not impossible that the fort faced south rather than north and was therefore somewhat larger.
Excavations in 1934 revealed the east, west and south walls of the fort, the east and west doubleportal gates and south-west angle tower. The gate towers were built one course deeper than the fort wall, whose foundations were the normal
6 ft wide. All walls had been heavily robbed, but roof-tiles occurred in a number of the towers at ground-floor level, suggesting the possibility of oven-bases, as at Birdoswald, rather than collapsed roofs. Space allowed only for the identification of one ditch, 16 ft wide. No contact
has been made with any internal building, but an external bath-house was located and partly dug in 1741.
Castlesteads is unique along the whole Wall for sitting between the Wall and Vallum but not being attached to the former; presumably either its pre-existence or the lie of the land dictated its location.
A carved stone dated roughly 466-599 CE was found at Castlesteads. Because in the past the inscription has been read wrongly, i.e. upside down as ‘BEDALTOEDBOS’, this has been considered a corrupt attempt at the divine name BELATUCADROS, altars to whom were found here in a Roman context.
However, I have parsed the inscription as actually reading ‘SUB DEO LAUDIB[US]’, which according to Professor David Howlett of Oxford can be translated as ‘with the accompaniment of praises of God’. Thus this stone clearly denotes a Christian presence at Castlesteads during the time of Arthur.
In fact, this area may have been a Christian center during the generation preceding that of Arthur (see the note on the home of St. Patrick in Chapter 5 below).
The Name Medraut/Modred (= Mordred)
On February 26, 1996, I received a letter from Professor Oliver Padel of Cambridge. This was in response to a query I had sent him some time earlier in which I proposed that the name Medrawt – born by the personage who died with Arthur at Camlann – may represent the Roman name Moderatus. What Padel had to say on this possibility is important enough for Arthurian studies to be reprinted in full below:
“Not much has been done on the name of Medrawt or Mordred… In an article on various words in Welsh with the root med, Medr-, Ifor Williams suggested that the name might be connected with the Welsh verb medru ‘to be able, to hit’; but he did not develop the idea, only mentioned it in passing.
Middle Welsh Medrawt cannot formally be identical with Old Cornish Modred, Old Breton Modrot (both of which are recorded, indicating an original Old Co.Br. *Modrod), since the Welsh e in the first syllable should not be equivalent to a Co.Br. o there.
What people do not seem to have asked is what this discrepancy means: we can hardly say that Welsh Medrawt is a different name, since it clearly belongs to the same character as
Geoffrey’s [Geoffrey of Monmouth] Modredus < Co.Br. Modrod.
Which is ‘right’? I would suggest that the Co.Br. form is the ancient one, and that the Welsh form has been altered, perhaps indeed by association with the verb medru.
That was already my conclusion, but I did not have a derivation for Modrod. However, Modrod would be the exact derivative of Latin Moderatus, as you suggest. Your suggestion is most attractive, and neither I nor (so far as I know) anyone else has previously thought of it.
Like you, I should be relucatant to say that Modrod couldn’t have a Celtic derivation; but it fits so well with Moderatus that I personally don’t feel the need to look further.”
If Medrawt or, rather, Modrod, is Moderatus, this may be significant for a Medraut at Cambloglanna on Hadrian’s Wall, for we know of a Trajanic period prefect named C. Rufius Moderatus, who left inscriptions at Greatchesters on the
Wall and Brough-under-Stainmore in Cumbria (CIL iii. 5202, RIB 1737, 166-9, 2411, 147-51). The name of this prefect could have become popular in the region and might even have still been in use among Northern British noble families in the 6th century CE.
Conclusion: Arthur’s Military Role in the North
While some of the Arthurian battle sites as I have identified them must be considered problematic or even doubtful, there is no denying that when they are plotted out on a map (see p. 12 above) they stretch from south to north in a fairly well-defined line. Many center on the Roman Dere Street, which must be considered a sort of boundary or frontier zone between the Britons and their enemy, the Germanic invaders.
A battle at Camboglanna does indeed look like an internal conflict, and the tradition which records Medrawt/Moderatus as Arthur’s opponent may, in fact, be correct.
To summarize, I include here Alan James’ opinion of my Arthurian battle map, found at the beginning of this book:
“If you're assuming late 5th century, the archaelogical and (earliest OE) p-n evidence suggests the main concentration of Germanic-speakers would have been around the Humber, with control of York and extending west to the Magnesian Limestone/ Dere Street - i.e. the beginnngs of Deira and Lindsey; smaller but significant settlements along the Tees, and in the Yorkshire Gap, with control of Catterick; likewise along the Tyne and eastern part of Hadrian's Wall. Further north probably still P-Celtic, but there were of course strategic sites on both sides of the Forth; likewise to the west, strategic sites along the Wall and either side of the Solway Firth.
Whether or not Arthur was involved, I can well believe there were battles at all the places you've marked!”