The Bootle Bear, a Jet Amulet From Lancashire, England
I'm soon to start work on a blog post entitled 'THE BEAR-CULT OF ARTHUR: A DIVINE RIVER AND THE "BEARS" OF CEREDIGION. What prompted me to embark on such an article?
My readers have learned that I now favor Ceredig son of Cunedda as THE Arthur. And that I have fixed on the notion that Arthur, from Roman/Latin Artorius, is a decknamen for an earlier Irish or British name or title meaning "bear-king." I based my argument on the presence of the Afon Arth or Bear River in the heartland of Ceredigion, the now suspected fort at Llandewi Aberarth and Ceredig's identification with Cerdic of Wessex. The fort in question is directly between the Arth or Bear River and the Aeron, itself a river named for a deity *Agrona, 'Slaughter Goddess.' Among Ceredig's immediate descendants we find three kings named for bears.
The question naturally arises: why the bear-names in the Ceredigion royal pedigree? If, as we have been assured by the early Christian sources, the Irish and the British were all thoroughly converted by Arthur's time, why do we find Irishmen or Hiberno-Britons who appear to have honored - or even worshiped - a decidedly female river deity who took the form of a bear? Or were the names of the early bear-princes of Ceredigion merely territorial designations stripped of any religious or supernatural characteristics? In other words, was Arthur nothing more than the King of the Arth [river]? Was there no implication of a totemistic relationship between Arthur and his descendants and the ursine goddess of the river?
I will attempt to answer these questions in my next post - or to at least arrive at some sort of conclusion regarding the significance of the Arthur name/title.