Thursday, July 27, 2017


The Promontory of Drumanagh

I have previously demonstrated that the Manau Gododdin associated with Cunedda (or Uther Pendragon, the father of Ceredig/Arthur) is an error or intentional substitution for a place in Ireland that resembles Manau.  As Cunedda hailed from Lusk and its environs, the natural conclusion was to look towards the nearby promontory fort of Drumanagh.

Some of the possible etymologies for Drumanagh are discussed here, in Chapter 3 of Sean Daffy's thesis:

To this we may add:

While I once leaned towards a possible connection with the Menapii of Ptolemy's map of Ireland, I no longer think that is a feasible theory.  Instead, we should take a closer look at the legendary figure Forgall Monach, who has two forts (or one bearing two names?) in this region.

To begin with, Forgall's name is not really a name.  It instead designates a rank, as is made clear by the entry in the eDIL for this word:

forgell, forgal(l)

Aire forgill a landed proprietor next in rank to a `ri': aire forggaill cid ara n-eperr? Ar is hé fortgella for na gráda doruirmisem, Críth G. 417 ( Laws iv 326 ) `testifies to [the character of] the grades'; `makes affirmation above the grades' Mac Neill, Law of Status 29 (see Críth G. p. 72 , B. Crólige p. 70 § 46 ). aire forgill, Críth G. 11 ( Laws iv 298 ). a. forggaill LL 29b22 . Called also: fer forgaill ZCP v 499 § 5 .

His epithet Monach is what I now believe lies behind the name of the Drumanagh fort.  Again from the eDIL:


adj o, ā. (mon) able to perform feats or tricks; dexterous, skilled. cach clessach na chanad cheilg | manach sein [i]sin Gædilg, LL 144b27 . ? fer manach craftsman (?), Hib. Min. 55.12 = f. manath, IT i 104.10 (see manath). n p. monaig ` equestrians' (= trick-riders?), Laws v 108.20 , with gl.: .i. bid ar monaib a n-each isna haenaigib `who stand on the backs of their horses (? perform feats of riding) in the fairs', 27 . As sobriquet: Forgall m.¤ the trickster (?), LL 144b26 . Forgull M.¤ .i. cleasuch ro bhoí, Cóir An. 205. ingen Forgaill manaich, LU 10176.

Forgall Monach is thus the 'skillful, high-ranking landed proprietor' or some such.  As for his proper name, well, that is not difficult to determine.  His fort at or near Lusk was called Luglochta Loga or Luglochtaib Loga.  While the first part of this place-name has eluded specialists, Loga here is for the god Lugh.  [I would render the place-name not as the 'Garden' of Lugh, which is suggested by an early gloss, but as Loc (log, lag, luic, lucc, etc.) + lucht, giving us a meaning of 'The Place of Those Belonging to Lugh.']  As Lugh was the skillful god and master crafsman in both Irish and Welsh tradition, it is fairly obvious to me that the Skillful, High-Ranking Proprietor is none other than Lugh himself.

The god Lugh was known as Lleu in Wales, and he was traditionally referred to as the Lord of Gwynedd.  And it was Gwynedd which Cunedda and his sons (or teulu) came to control sometime after the Roman withdrawal.

Forgall Monach is credited with having another great fort, this one called the Bruidne Forgall Monach.  Now, we can't know if this bruidne or 'hostel' is merely another name for Luglochta(ib) Loga or if it designates another nearby site.  But I'm guessing the Ridge of Monach or the Drumanagh fort is this place.

As the HISTORIA BRITTONUM ascribed to the monk Nennius claims that Cunedda came with his sons from Manau, i.e. the Ridge of [Forgall] Monach, and as Arthur was later said to have been born on a promontory fort at Tintagel in England, I would propose that the most likely birthplace for Ceredig son of Cunedda was, in fact, Drumanagh.  

Of course, we must wait for an actual excavation of Drumanagh before we can substantiate this kind of claim.  If we can't definitively show sub-Roman occupation of Drumanagh, then the notion that Ceredig/Arthur was actually born there cannot be proven.  According to Dr. Ger Dowling, "No evidence [of early medieval re-use of the site] - features identified by geophysical survey cannot be directly dated. This requires excavation." For now, we must rely on the thesis quoted above by Sean Daffy, as well as on the following more recent survey:

Dowling, G. 2014. Geophysical investigations at Drumanagh and Loughshinny, north County Dublin. Late Iron Age and 'Roman' Ireland, Discovery Programme Reports 8, 59–90 (Dublin: Wordwell)


According to Sean Daffy's thesis, 

"...just over 6km to the southeast of Drumanagh lies Lambay Island, where at least two crouched inhumations dating to the late 1st century AD were uncovered in 1927. The burial rite of crouched inhumation, and the presence of Roman brooches and Iron Age objects that have very close parallels in Wales and Northern England, would indicate that these individuals had strong links with communities in post-conquest Britain and are very likely to have come originally from Britain themselves (Rynne 1976; O’Brien 1990)... It is therefore possible that the burials on Lambay Island may belong to the wealthy members of a similar trading community that was settled just off the east coast of Ireland during the Late Iron Age (Waddell, 1998, 375-7)... recent geophysical survey on Lambay Island has revealed the presence of a promontory fort (consisting of an earthen bank and ditch) with two ring-barrows located immediately outside the ramparts. Traces of numerous circular huts in the interior also suggest that this site may have been a significant settlement (Cooney 2009). Another much smaller promontory fort a short distance to the east consists of three sets of banks and ditches that are closely spaced like the defences at Drumanagh."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.