Friday, May 26, 2017

The Irish Cunedda (A Selection From My Book, THE ARTHUR OF HISTORY)

Posting this because several people have requested to read my argument for Cunedda's origin in Ireland rather than in Manau Gododdin.  Several of my recent articles on Ceredig son of Cunedda as Arthur depend in large part on being able to successfully demonstrate that Ceredig = Cerdic of Wessex.  And to do that, I have to first provide evidence for the true nature of the Gewissae.  So here is the relevant selection from my earlier book, setting out my reasoning for identifying Cunedda as an Irish chieftain and not a Northern British one...


The great Cunedda, called Cunedag (supposedly from *Cunodagos, ‘Good Hound’) in the Historia Brittonum, is said to have come down (or been brought down) from Manau Gododdin, a region around the head of the Firth of Forth, to Gwynedd. This chieftain and his sons then, according to the account found in the HB, proceeded to repulse Irish invaders. Unfortunately, this tradition is largely mistaken. To prove that this is so, we need to begin by looking at the famous Wroxeter Stone, found at the Viroconium Roman fort in what had been the ancient kingdom of the Cornovii, but which was the kingdom of Powys in the Dark Ages.

The Wroxeter Stone is a memorial to a chieftain named Cunorix son of Maquicoline. This stone has been dated c. 460-75 CE. Maquicoline is a composite name meaning Son [Maqui-] of Coline. The resemblance here of Cunorix and Coline to the ASC's Cynric and his son Ceawlin is obvious. Some scholars would doubtless say this is coincidence, and that the discrepancy in dates for Cynric and Ceawlin and Cunorix and (Maqui)coline are too great to allow for an identification. I would say that an argument based on the very uncertain ASC dates is hazardous at best and that if there is indeed a relationship between the pairs Ceawlin-Cynric and Coline-Cunorix, then the date of the memorial stone must be favored over that of the document.

There is also the problem of Cynric being the father of Ceawlin in the Anglo-Saxon tradition, while on the Wroxeter Stone it is (Maqui)coline who is the father of Cunorix. But such a confusion could easily have occurred simply by reading part of a genealogy list backwards.

While Ceawlin's father Cynric, the son of Cerdic of Wessex in most pedigrees, is capable of being derived quite well from Anglo-Saxon, the name could also be construed as an Anglicized form of the attested Celtic name Cunorix, Hound-king, the latter Welsh Cynyr.

Cerdic (= Ceredig) is not the only Celtic name in the early Wessex pedigree. Scholars have suggested that Ceawlin could be Brittonic.

Cunorix son of Maquicoline, based on an analysis of his name and the lettering employed on the inscription itself, is believed to have been Irish. It should not surprise us, then, to find Cunedda of Manau Gododdin, the reputed founder of Gwynedd, was himself actually Irish. There was an early St. Cuindid (d. c. 497 CE) son of Cathbad, who founded a monastery at Lusk, ancient Lusca. In the year entry 498 CE of the Ulster Annals, his name is spelled in the genitive as Chuinnedha. In Tigernach 496 CE, the name is Cuindedha.

The Irish sources also have the following additional information concerning St. Cuindid:

Mac Cuilind - Cunnid proprium nomen - m. Cathmoga m. Cathbath m Cattain m Fergossa m. Findchada m Feic m. Findchain m Imchada Ulaig m. Condlai m Taide m. Cein m Ailella Olum.

U496.2 Quies M. Cuilinn episcopi Luscan. (Repose of Mac Cuilinn, bishop of Lusca).

D.viii. idus Septembris. 993] Luscai la Macc Cuilinn

994] caín decheng ad-rannai, 995] féil Scéthe sund linni, 996] Coluimb Roiss gil Glandai.

trans: 'With Macc cuilinn of Luscae thou apportionest (?) a fair couple: the feast of Sciath here we have, (and that) of Columb of bright Ross Glandae'

The (later-dated) notes to this entry read: 'Lusk, i.e. in Fingall, i.e. a house that was built of weeds (lusrad) was there formerly, and hence the place is named Lusca ........Macc cuilinn, i.e. Luachan mac cuilinn, ut alii putant. Cuinnid was his name at first, Cathmog his father's name'.

Significantly, Lusk or Lusca is a very short distance from the huge promontory fort at Drumanagh, the Bruidhne Forgall Manach of the ancient Irish tales. Drumanagh is the hill of the Manapii and, as such, represents the Manapia in Manapii territory found on the map of Ptolemy. Manapii or Manapia could easily have been mistaken or substituted for for the Manau in Gododdin.

Aeternus, Cunedda's father, is none other than Aithirne of Dun and Ben Etair just south of Lusca. Paternus Pesrudd (‘Red-Cloak’), Cunedda's grandfather, is probably not derived from Mac Badairn of Es Ruad (‘Red Waterfall’), since Es Ruad is in northwest Ireland (Ballyshannon in Co. Donegal). I think Paternus, from the L. word for ‘father’, is Da Derga, the Red God; Da, god, being interpreted as W. tad (cf. L. tata, ‘father’). The Da Derga's hostel was just a little south of the Liffey. Cunedda's great-great-grandfather is said to be one Tegid (Tacitus), while his great-great-great grandfather is called Cein. These two chieftains are clearly Taig/Tadhg and his father Cian. Cian was the founder of the Irish tribe the Ciannachta, who ruled Mag Breg, a region situated between the Liffey and either Duleek or Drumiskin (depending on the authority consulted). The Lusca and Manapia of Chuinnedha are located in Mag Breg.

According to the genealogy edited in Corpus Genealogiarum Sanctorum Hiberniae, the name of Mac Cuilind's father was Cathmug. He belonged to the descendants of Tadc mac Cian, otherwise called the Cianachta. There was a concentration of the saints of this family in the Dublin/Louth/ Meath area, corresponding roughly to the teritory of the Cianachta Breg.

It is surely not a coincidence that according to the Irish Annals Chuinnedha's other name was Mac Cuilinn. Obviously, Mac Cuilinn and the Maqui-Coline of the Wroxeter Stone are the same name and hence the same person. Gwynedd was thus founded by Chuinnedha alias Mac Cuilinn of the Manapii in Ireland, not by a chieftain of Manau Gododdin in Britain.

The Irish origin of Cunedda should not be a surprise to us, as there is the well-documented case of the Welsh genealogy of the royal house of Dyfed, which was altered to hide the fact that Dyfed was founded by the Irish Deisi. We know this because we have the corresponding Irish genealogy from a saga which tells of the expulsion of the Deisi from Ireland and their settlement in Dyfed. As is true of Cunedda's pedigree, in the Welsh Dyfed pedigree we find Roman names substituted for Irish names. There were other Irish-founded kingdoms in Wales as well, e.g. Brycheiniog.

Monday, May 22, 2017

A new - but very tentative - identification of Medraut/Modred

Arthur Rackham's Illustration of Mordred and Arthur at Camlann

I long ago successfully etymologized the name Medraut as deriving from Latin/Roman Moderatus. Years ago Professor Oliver Padel agreed with me on this and others have since fallen into line.  But I did not pursue the matter further - until now.

Here is the definition of moderatus from the online Perseus dictionary:

moderātus adj. with comp. and sup.

P. of moderor, within bounds, observing moderation, moderate : senes: Catone moderatior: consul moderatissimus: cupidine victoriae haud moderatus animus, S.—Plur m . as subst: cupidos moderatis anteferre.— Within bounds, moderate, modest, restrained : oratio: convivium: doctrina: ventus, O.: amor, O.: parum moderatum guttur, O.

The reader will note 'modest' is one meaning assigned to this word.

I will now turn to the pages of Gildas, where we are told Ambrosius Aurelianus was a 'viro modesto', a MODEST man.

For the sake of comparison, here is the same dictionary's definition for modestus:

modestus adj. with comp. and sup.

modus, keeping due measure, moderate, modest, gentle, forbearing, temperate, sober, discreet : sermo, S.: adulescentis modestissimi pudor: plebs modestissima: epistula modestior: voltus, T.: verba, O.: mulier, modest , T.: modestissimi mores: voltus modesto sanguine fervens, Iu.—As subst: modestus Occupat obscuri speciem, the reserved man passes for gloomy , H.

Both Latin modestus and moderatus are found the Indo-European root med-,'to measure, to allot, to mete out':

3. Suffixed form *med-es-.
a. modest; immodest from Latin modestus, "keeping to the appropriate measure" moderate;
b. moderate; immoderate from Latin moderārī, "to keep within measure" to moderate, control. Both a and b from Latin *modes-, replacing *medes- by influence of modus

Thus the words modestus and moderatus are consonant in meaning.

Ambrosius (the 'divine/immortal one'), before he was wrongly identified with Lleu/Mabon of Gwynedd (and later still with Myrddin of the North), was said to have fought a battle at Wallop in Hampshire.  This is not too far north of the battle sites ascribed to Arthur/Cerdic/Ceredig son of Cunedda.  In addition, the Camlann sites in NW Wales are in Gwynedd.

While it may seem a stretch to identify Medraut/Moderatus with the viro modesto who was Ambrosius, it is possible that by the time Arthur had come to the forefront as the chief hero of the Welsh in the work of the 9th century Nennius, someone had found it necessary to "disguise" the fact that the latter had died fighting the former champion of the Britons, the 'last of the Romans.' Alternatively, the 'viro modesto' of Gildas may have been a simple substitution for Moderatus, this last having been mistaken for an adjective rather than a proper name.

We must also remember that the earliest reference to the deaths of Arthur and Medraut - that of the Welsh Annals - does not tell us whether these two chieftains were fighting together against a common foe or against each other.  Chronological problems also occur, especially if we accept my earlier identification of Ambrosius Aurelianus with the 4th century Gaulish governor of that name.  Most Arthurian scholars prefer to see in A.A. someone of the 5th century who had been named after the governor or who was somehow related to him.  I've shown in the past that St. Ambrose, son of the governor, also became confused in some respects with the military leader A.A.

We can only say this much if A.A. really was 'Medraut': the Camboglanna Roman fort at the west end of Hadrian's Wall is out of the running as Arthur's Camlann.  As Arthur was Ceredig of Ceredigion, and Ceredigion bordered on the Camlanns in Gwynedd, and as A.A. became in legend the Lord of Gywnedd (= Lleu/Mabon), the only good candidates for Camlann are those in NW Wales.

A last possibility has only recently occurred to me: that the ruler at Dinas Emrys was originally called Moderatus, and that this name became confused with that of the modest man A.A.  In Welsh tradition (whether due to Geoffrey of Monmouth or not!), Medraut was the son of Lleu - the very god who was anciently claimed as Lord of Gwynedd. So we may have a chieftain named Medraut whose main citadel was Dinas Emrys, and who claimed descent from the god Lleu.  This chieftain fought at the Camlann which lay between his kingdom and that of Ceredigion and at that battle he and Arthur/Ceredig both fell.

I realize that I've now made the identity of A.A. even murkier.  But I may have at least shed a little more light on who Medraut really was.

In conclusion, I acknowledge the fact that this idea is not very convincing.  Suffice it to say it is an interesting coincidence.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Long Graves at Gwanas (site of Arthur's grave in Welsh tradition?)

In a previous blog entry, I discussed the possibility that - at least as far as the Welsh were concerned - Arthur may have been buried at Gwanas in Gwynedd (

I've subsequently investigated the area in more detail, and have discovered an interesting candidate for the so-called 'beddau hir' or long graves of Gwanas.

Aerial Photo of Enclosure Near Lletty Canol

Lletty Canol Enclosure, Shown in Proximity to Both the Brithdir Roman Fort and Gwanas Moor

The best account of this candidate is found on the COFLEIN site  (, which I will here quote in full:

"A small square earthwork set upon a ridge summit has been identified as a possible Roman military tower. It is set on the crest of a south-facing ridge, commanding extensive views across the upland basin below Pen-y-Brynnfforchog and the course of the Roman road between Caer Gai and Brithdir.

A range of alternative interpretations can be advanced, notably that this is a Roman or early Medieval square ditched barrow, such as are found at Druid beyond Bala (NPRN 404711), and Croes Faen near Tywyn (NPRN 310263). As such it would, with Tomen-y-Mur (NPRN 89420), be a rare surviving earthwork example, most sites being known only from cropmarks. This monument might be compared to the small practice work at Llyn Hiraethllyn (NPRN 89703), otherwise the smallest example of its type known in Wales.

It is a square platform about 5.0m across with a shallow ditch up to 2.8m across on the south-east, 1.1m wide on the north-east and south-west and not discernable on the north-west. The platform has low banks on the north-east and south-west sides. As a Roman work the earthwork has been associated with a road or track passing below the ridge to the south-east (NPRN 91903), suggested as part of the Roman road between Caer Gai and Brithdir (Rigg & Toller 1983, 165; Britannia XXVIII (1997), 399), although this has been disputed as it is a modern feature (Browne 1986) and is depicted on the 1st edition OS 1" map of 1837 (sheet 59 north-east). A tower on this site would command extensive views of the tributary valley to the south-east, but not of the main Wnion valley on the north-west and the Brithdir military settlement (NPRN 95480) may be out of sight. The earthwork is intervisible with the 'Rhyd Sarn' works 11.5km to the north-east towards Bala Lake (NPRN 303162-3)."

The 'low banks' of this monument (if that is what it really is!) nicely answer for the 'long graves' of Gwanas.  Caer Oeth and Anoeth would be the Brithdir fort itself. Whether Arthur was thought to have been buried at the fort or at the adjacent funeral monument is not a question we can answer.

There are no other candidates for the beddau hir.  Of course, time and the combined ravages of Man and Nature may long since have destroyed any other such monuments in the region. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Cerdic/Ceredig/Arthur and the 'Ictian Sea'

Celtic Tribes of Britain

In previous blog entries I have outlined my fairly detailed case for the famous Arthur being Cerdic of Wessex, himself a mercenary chieftain who can be identified with Ceredig son of Cunedda of western Wales.  This Cerdic/Ceredig was Irish or perhaps Hiberno-British. 

Here I wish to briefly discuss the Irish literary "evidence" for the presence of Irish raiders and even Irish kings in that part of Britain where Cerdic of Wessex was most active.

In the SANAS CORMAIC (c. 900 A.D.), we are told that the Irish  during the time of the half-legendary 4th century king Crimthann Mar mac Fidaig, held "Ireland and Alba [Britain]... down to the Ictian Sea [English Channel, named for the Isle of Wight, ancient Vectis]..." Cerdic of Wessex, of course, is billed as the conqueror of the Isle of Wight, while his other recorded victorious battles were in southern Hampshire opposite Wight.  If, according to Cormac's Glossary, the Irish held this area during the 4th century, might it not also be true that they came to control it in alliance with the Saxons in the 5th-6th centuries under Cerdic/Ceredig?

The famous Njal of the Nine Hostages (probably 5th century) is also brought into connection with the English Channel - and in a most peculiar, even perhaps, suspicious way.  The 10th century poet Cinaed ua hArtacain tells us that Njal engaged in seven raids of Britain (Alba being in other accounts confused with the European Alps!).  In the last he was slain by Eochu or Eochaid the Leinsterman "above the surf of the Ictian Sea."  My question when I read this account focused on the name of Najl's killer.  For both Eochu and Eochaid contain the ancient Irish word for 'horse'.  The following is from the thesis on the names prepared by Professor Jurgen Uhlich, Professor of Irish and Celtic Languages, Trinity College, Dublin:

EOCHAID [and many variants]:

z.B. 'dem Pferd(egott) dienend/genehm' = e.g. ‘serving the horse(-god)’ or ‘acceptable to the horse(-god)'


z.B. [Bv.] ‚pferdeäugig‘ oder „‘Qui a la voix du Cheval (prophétique)’ = qui parle selon les indications fournies par le Cheval prophétique“ = e.g. ‘horse-eyed’ or ‘having a Horse’s (prophetic) voice’ = ‘he who speaks according to the insights provided by the Horse-prophet'

As we all know, Kent, named for the ancient British tribe of the Cantiaci, was a kingdom on the English Channel.  The supposed founders of Kent for Hengest ('Stallion') and Horse ('Horse').  Could it possibly be that Eochu/Eochaid in the story of the slaying of Njal on the English Channel is an Irish substitute for one of these English horse names? That Njal was, in reality, slain by Hengest and/or Horsa?  The idea is not as absurd as it may seem, for Eochu/Eochaid is said to have killed Njal "in concert with the violent grasping Saxons."

Coin of Eppilus

Hengest and Horsa, in turn, have before been associated with an ancient British king named Eppilus. There were one or two kings of this name, one of the Atrebates and the other of the Cantiaci. The name contains the word for 'horse', i.e. epo- (epos), as is made clear by the authoritative CELTIC PERSONAL NAMES OF ROMAN BRITAIN website (

Eppilus minted coins with horses on them.  His brother was one Tincomarus, 'Great Peace' or the like. However, one cannot help but wonder if the -marus element in this last name did not remind the Saxons of their own early word mearh; g. meares; m. A horse, steed? We now have this word as mare, a female horse, but that was not its original meaning.  Words from the same Indo-European root are found in the Celtic languages, e.g. Welsh march.  However, Old English also had eoh for 'horse, steed', and this word is cognate with the Irish ech, itself the basis for names such as Eochu and Eochaid.

If Eppilus and Tincomarus were interpreted as divinely ruling horse-brothers, could it be that the Saxon brothers Hengist and Horsa are merely later reflections of these earlier Celtic kings, adopted by the Germanic federates or invaders? Or that two Saxons who were credited with conquering Kent were actually named for their famous British predecessors?

Scholars have tried to form a connection between Hengist and Horsa and the Alcis, twin gods of the Naharnavali tribe in Silesia.  This is a stretch, however.  Of the several etymologies proposed for the word Alcis, one does relate it to "elks".  But elks, needless to say, are not horses.  Rudolf Simek (in his DICTIONARY OF NORTHERN MYTHOLOGY), points out the presence of a horse-shaped variant of the Germanic twin god motif in Migration Era illustrations.  

Saturday, May 13, 2017

COMING SOON: Cerdic/Ceredig/Arthur and the 'Ictian Sea'

Isle of Wight and The Solent

And a side-note on Njal's death at the hands of Eochaid in the surf of the Ictian Sea...