Friday, December 1, 2017


Church of St Illtyd, Llantwit Major, Vale of Glamorgan

In the notes to this posted map -

- I indicated that Illtud the soldier, b. c. 470 A.D. (eventually to become the famous St. Illtud), visited the court of Pawl Penychen and ended up becoming that chieftains' military commander.  I hinted at the strong possibility that Pawl's fort was Dinas Powis in Penychen, as this stronghold has proven early Dark Age occupation.

Earlier, I had made a case for Uther Pendragon belonging to this same fort, as it is very close to the Ely River and Uther's servant Mabon is placed on or near the Ely:

What I did not know, until I looked into St. Illtud in more detail, was that he was referred to as 'farchog', "knight", and filwr, 'soldier/warrior', as well as  'princeps militie' (militum princeps) and magister militum (  But, even better, at the end of his VITA we are told of a 'terrible soldier/warrior', which though of a heavenly nature and left unnamed, is plainly the returning spirit of the old soldier Illtud, out to retrieve his stolen bell:

From the Life of St. Illtud:

In meridiana autem hora, dum rex quiesceret in tentorio campestri in planicie affixo, diuidereturque
maxima predatio, uisum est regi quod quidam terribilis miles suum pectus lancea perforasset, atque
post perforationem nemini uisum. [...] Timoratus imperauit sacrilego exercitui reddere Deo et
sanctissimo Iltuto totam predationem, promittens deinceps emendationem, atque in honore eiusdem
sancti edificauit templum, et seruentibus in templo concessit in quo stetit territorium. Hec emendatio
tamen profuit suo spiritui, recessit enim ab hoc seculo die propter nequitie uindictam.

At the hour of noon, while the king rested in a field-tent put up on a plain, and the immense booty was being divided, it seemed to the king that some terrible soldier had pierced his breast with a spear, and after the piercing he was seen of none. […] Full of dread he bade his sacrilegious army to restore to God and to the most holy Illtud all the plunder, promising thereafter amendment, and in honour of the same saint he built a church, and to those serving in the church he granted territory in which it stood. This amendment, however, profited his spirit, for he departed from this life on the ninth day as punishment for his wickedness (VI, §25).

We may thus place Illtud as the terrible warrior at Dinas Powis - the same place Uther [Pen]dragon, the Terrible [Chief-]warrior, is placed in the 'Pa Gur.'

[NOTE: Uther Pendragon appears to originally have been called simply Uther Dragon. We know this is so by looking more closely at the guide-title of the ‘Uther Pen’ poem.  After receiving false or conflicting or just plain confusing information on this from several sources, I finally asked Dr. Maredudd ap Huw, Manuscripts Librarian, Department of Collection Services at the National Library of Wales.

Dr. Huw’s response, in full:

“Firstly, I confirm that there is no ellipsis indicated in the manuscript, and that the gloss (or more correctly guide-title) reads 'mar. vthyr dragon.'

Secondly, on looking at the manuscript, it appears that the guide-title is written by the main scribe to inform the rubricator, who subsequently added the abbreviated title. The red ink of ‘n’ in ‘pen’ appears to cover the letter ‘d’ of ‘dragon’.

I regret that I am not in a position to speculate as to why the rubricator did not follow the exact wording offered by the scribe in the guide-title.”

This last is an important observation. The rubricator (called such because he used red ink) wrote ‘marvnat vthyr pen.’ for the main scribe’s ‘mar. vthyr dragon.’]

But how can Illtud be Arthur's father?  The Welsh sources insist he was Arthur's cousin.  Their mother's were said to be sisters, both daughters of Anblaud Wledig of Ercing.  Illtud's father was Bicanus of Letavia/Llydaw, not here Brittany, but instead a designation for the Leadon Valley, between the Wye and the Severn, bordering on Ercing (see  According to the ever-unreliable Geoffrey of Monmouth, Uther came to Ercing from Brittany.   Illtud's wife Trynihid is also said to have been from Brittany.

I think the problem can be dumped squarely in the lap of Geoffrey of Monmouth.  In my book THE MYSTERIES OF AVALON, I demonstrated that Ygerna, Welsh Eigr, is simply a word used for the Tintagel promontory, or perhaps a goddess title associate with that promontory.  She most certainly was not Arthur's mother, and Geoffrey's motivations for selecting Tintagel as Arthur's birthplace were largely political.  But once she had been introduced into Arthur's story, a problem was created: Illtud the terribilis miles became Uther Dragon.  And, at some point, it was forgotten that Uther was Illtud.  With no known parentage for Eigr, she was made yet another of the many children of Anblaud of Ercing.  And this meant, in turn, that Illtud was of the wrong generation to have been Arthur's father.  He became Arthur's cousin instead.

Illtud is probably the Eldadus, Bishop of Gloucester in Geoffrey of Monmouth.  I say this because Illtud at Dinas Powys was in Glywysing, and Glywys is an eponym invented for Caer Gloyw/Glevum/Gloucester.

Chapter 2 of the VITA SANCTI ILTUTI calls the living Illtud "miles magnificus."  We may compare this again with Uther [Pen]dragon:

W. uthr

fearful, dreadful, awful, terrible, tremendous, mighty, overbearing, cruel; wonderful, wondrous, astonishing, excellent. 


splendid/excellent/sumptuous/magnificent/stately; noble/eminent; proud/boastful


Pawl Penychen's brother Gwynllyw, who features largely in the Life of St. Cadog in connection with Arthur, was also described as terrible in a military sense.  From the Life of St. Gwynllyw:

Deinde regressi sunt onerati ad naues [...] Dum hinc inciperent uela erigere [...] uidebant unum
terribilem equitante die et nocte, et persequentem illos ex omni parte. Eques iste terribilis sanctus
erat Gunlyu, qui celitus missus fuerat, ut obsisteret sacrilegis.

Then they returned to their ships burdened […] When from this place they began to hoist sails […]
they saw a single being, one terrible, riding day and night, and pursuing them on every side. That
terrible rider was holy Gwynllyw, who had been sent from heaven to withstand the sacrilegious ones
(VGu §12).

However, Gwynllyw's territory lay east of the Taff, while that of Pawl extended west of that river.  Gwynllyw, therefore, did not rule from Dinas Powis.

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