Saturday, December 2, 2017


If we do go with something like Welsh traethau for the Dindraethou fort name, there are a couple other options - although it takes Cadwy and Cadbury Castle out of the picture. [I myself tend to give precedence here to the Welsh source, rather than to the Irish for Dinn Tradui.]


Not far south of Carhampton and Williton (places mentioned in the Life of St. Carannog) there is a hillfort called Mounsey Castle.  It is hard by a place called Draydon.  According to Ekwall and subsequent place-name specialists, Draydon is to be derived from

OE draeg  a place where something can or has to be dragged (boats, timber); derived from draga to draw

+ dun

When I looked up traeth in the Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru, I noticed that the word may be related to Latin tractus:

[H. Grn. trait, gl. harena, Crn. Diw. treath, H. Lyd. cundraid, gl. lidona, Llyd. C. traez, Llyd. Diw. traezh, H. Wydd. tracht: ?bnth. Llad. tractus ‘tiriogaeth, bro’]
eg. ll. -au, -oedd, treythydd, ?traith.
Ardal eang o dywod neu gerrig mân ar lan môr, glan y môr, tywyn, arfordir; moryd, aber; ?bro, ardal; hefyd yn ffig.:
beach, (sea)shore, strand, coast; estuary

The Lewis and Short Latin Dictionary at Perseus gives the following meanings to tractus:

a drawing, dragging, hauling, pulling, drawing out, trailing

Thus, is is quite possible that Dindraethou is a Welsh attempt at Draydon and Arthur and Cadwy's fort in this instance is Mounsey Castle.  Here are the Pastscape listings for this fort and the adjacent Brewer's Castle:

Could it be that Cadwy and Arthur are said to rule from here precisely because these are, essentially, "twin forts", divided from each other only by the River Barle?  In other words, Cadwy held one and Arthur the other?


Of the same etymology as Draydon, but with the place-name elements arranged to match that of Dindraithou, is Dundry in Somerset.  The great Maes Knoll hillfort is located at the eastern end of Dundry Down ridge.  

Maes Knoll is a very large fort - much more impressive than Mounsey Castle.  My own personal feeling is that if Dindraithou were an impressive site - and one associated rightly or wrongly with the famous Arthur - then Dundry must be the place.  

Maes Knoll is typically considered to be one of the chief forts of the Dobunni tribe.  Interestingly, the Leadon Valley region, which is where I put the 'Letavia/Llydaw' of St. Illtud's father, Bicanus, was in territory once controlled by the Dobunni.  I will have more on Arthur and the Dobunni in a future blog piece.


'Dewi's farm' near Tintagel, called Tredwy in Hollinshead's CHRONICLE, could also be linked to 'draithou.' There are a number of other such places in Cornwall, including Trethevey near the Killibury Castle fort (Arthur's Kelliwic).  This last, however, is apparently from an earlier Tiwardewi and is thus not a very good candidate.  

Needless to say, these sites do not work for an Arthur close to Carhampton and Williton.  

There is absolutely no possibility, as is often cited, that Dunster = Dindraethou.  The early forms (spellings) of Dunster and its proposed etymology do not allow for this identification.  Bat's Castle hillfort near Dunster cannot, therefore, be Dindraethou.  

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