Tuesday, October 4, 2016


 Key Battles Along and Near Hadrian's Wall 

In my book THE ARTHUR OF HISTORY, I proposed that the famous Arthur who died at Camboglanna/Camlann (the Castlesteads Roman fort on Hadrian's Wall) was Ceidio son of Arthwys, whose residence was most likely the Dark Age hall found at the Banna fort (Birdoswald) not far from Castlesteads.  I had further gone on to comment that Ceidio is a known hypocoristic name that would originally have had a second element that may well have given a meaning similar to the 'leader of battles' designation supplied for Arthur.  In addition, I showed that Arthwys itself might be a territorial designation for the Irthing Valley, as -wys is the Welsh suffix equivalent of Latin -enses and Irthing may well derive from a Celtic term "Little Bear."

What I really had not taken into serious enough consideration was the fact that three other major battles took place in the same general region as Camlann.  First, Gwrci and Peredur (cf. Peredur of the Long Spear, son of Efroc, i.e. 'son of York'), sons of Eliffer/Eleutherius (a known title for Constantine the Great, whose father died at York), fought at Arthuret (actually Liddel Strength) in 573.  They later fought at Carrawburgh in 580, and perished there. In 603, Aedan son of Gabran (father or grandfather of the Dalriadan Arthur) fought the English at Dawston Burn (in all likelihood Degsastan, despite dissenters).  

Arthur had perished with Medraut (= Moderatus) at Castlesteads in 537.

Clearly, the area from the mid to western part of Hadrian's Wall was a serious source of contention in the 6th-7th centuries.

Now, I've said before - and still have no reason to change my mind - that the name Arthur not only is a later British form of the Roman Artorius, but that the name was preserved in York area by Romano-Britons from the time of the 2nd or 3rd century Artorius, a well-attested camp prefect of York. While a corrupt Welsh MS. alters another name (Arddun) to create an Arthur son of Eliffer, we cannot accept this document as evidence of Arthur's actual line of descent.  However, it is undeniable that Arthur must be associated with the royal family who ruled from York.

Arthwys, whether originally a territorial designation of a real personage, was also the father of Eliffer of York.  The /Mar/ or /Gwrgwst Llellwm/ who appears in several of the genealogies of the Men of the North represents Fergus Mor, the founder of the Dalriadan kingdom. As such, he is either an intrusion into the ancient British pedigrees OR we are being shown that the invading Irish interbred with the Britons from early on.  And, indeed, there is ample evidence for the latter in the family of Aedan son of Gabran. The mother of the Dalriadan Arthur, for example, was certainly British.

The "leader of battles" role of the Arthur who appears in Nennius must remain an important clue. There would be no reason to translate a Roman/Latin title into Latin 'dux erat bellorum.' So those who want to see in this Arthur a Dux Britanniarum or a magister militum or the like are barking up the wrong tree. Why translate Latin into Latin?  Again, this approach is nonsensical.  We instead need to look for a Welsh name or title which could be rendered thusly into Latin. Think, for example, of Gildas's Cuneglasus, whose name is botched by the Latin "translation" lanio fulve, 'tawny butcher'.  This name, of course, is rightly converted into 'greyish-blue hound'.  

In the family of Eliffer there is only one chieftain with a name that could have represented a Welsh form of 'leader of battles': Ceidio, brother of Eliffer.  The linguists agree that this name was in its fuller form a two part name of the sort that carried meanings exactly like "Battle-leader."  I have provided several examples of these kinds of names in my book.  

If I'm right and Ceidio resided in the valley of the Little Bear (Irthing) at Birdoswald, and died fighting at nearby Castlesteads, then with his death we are seeing a shifting of power in this part of Britain.  Within the span of one generation it becomes necessary for princes of York - Peredur and Gwrci - to launch major campaigns along the Wall to both the east and the west of Birdoswald.  In another couple of decades, Dalriadans are fighting the English here. The English win a decisive victory.

This can really only be read one way.  The House of York (if the reader will forgive my use of the phrase) had retained its control of (or expanded its control to) the western half of Hadrian's Wall during the floruit of Arthur/Ceidio. Upon the death of Arthur, things began to fall apart.  What role Medraut/Moderatus played is impossible to know.  I have suggested in THE ARTHUR OF HISTORY that his traditional association with 'Loth of Lothian' is not a reflection of Llew son of Cynfarch, as the Welsh BRUT would have it, nor of Lleuddon/Leudonus, the eponym for Lothian (Lleuddiniawn, "Land of the Fort of Lleu or Lugos").  Instead, he is to be placed at Carlisle, the ancient Luguvalium, Welsh Caer-Liwelydd.  This Celtic name, which some would have from a personal name Luguvalos, means "Lugos-strong".  I have tentatively proposed it is a reference not to a person, but to the strength of the walls of the fort.  Medraut's mother Anna points to the river Anann, the mouth of which is not far to the WNW across the Solway Firth from Carlisle. There is a St. Ann's on a tributary of the Anann, doubtless a Christianized form of a British river goddess whose name in Ireland is Anu. 

I suspect this /Anna/ or, rather, Anann, is the Anna of some of the early genealogies. She is paired with Aballach.  Aballach here, while cognate with the Irish name for the Otherworld apple island, is probably meant as an eponym for the Aballava/Avalana/"Avalon" Roman fort at Burgh-By-Sands west of Carlisle. 

I mentioned in THE ARTHUR OF HISTORY that a Trajanic period prefect named C. Rufius Moderatus left inscriptions at Greatchesters on the Wall and at Brough-under-Stainmore in Cumbria.  The name, therefore, could well have been still in use in this part of Britain in the 6th century.  

If Moderatus was a British chieftain at Carlisle, and Ceidio a chieftain at Birdoswald, their dying at Castlesteads in between these two places may confirm the traditional fratricidal nature of the Battle of Camlann.

[NOTE:  Geoffrey of Monmouth makes Gwalchmai or Gawain the brother of Medraut.  This goes against Welsh tradition, which makes Gwalchmai the son of the goddess Gwyar. I have shown in THE ARTHUR OF HISTORY that the people of Gwyar lived at Bamburgh.  Gwalchmai's grave was at Ross Low, and low is dialectical for 'a shallow pool left in the sand by the receding tide.'  The word is used of several tidal streams in Northumberland.  According to Ekwall, the source is Irish and Gaelic loch, "lake, arm of the sea."  The Irish god Lugh appears as Llwch in Welsh tradition, the same spelling as their name for "lake."  While it is highly unlikely Medraut hailed from Bamburgh, the possibility cannot be completely discounted. There is no /Anna/ at Bamburgh.]

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