Tuesday, July 11, 2017

APPENDIX I: THE IRISH IN BRITAIN

Sometime after the Roman withdrew from Britain, the Irish founded several kingdoms there. The Deissi established a ruling dynasty in Dyfed. Brycheiniog was of Irish foundation. Cunedda Chuinnedha/Mac Cuilinn and his sons took Gwynedd.  As federates of the high-king at Viroconoum, they chased the Irish Ui Liathain out of Anglesey, Dyfed, Gower and Kidwelly. The Laigin were at Dinllaen and in the Lleyn Peninsula, and there is the possibility that Dinevor in Ystrad Tywi was named for an Efwr Llwydon, i.e. of the Irish Laithain. The Irish mercenary son of Cunedda, Cunorix, was buried in the heart of Powys at Viroconium.  Further north, in Scotland, Dalriada was founded by invaders from northeastern Ireland.

In this book 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 England 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)'

EOCHU:

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."

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.

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