Wednesday, June 13, 2018


Stonehenge by Photographer David Goddard (Copyright)

New title here for the next book - my fourth on Arthuriana.  

The cover image is an aerial of Stonehenge courtesy

NOTE:  While the research is done, I've only just started writing this work. I will announce its completion and publication here on my blog site (
and at  Some free selections may be posted from time to time. 

Thank you for your interest!

Proof that I am the first person to suggest that Modred/Medrawd = Moderatus

Arthur Rackham's How Mordred was slain by Arthur, and how by him Arthur was hurt to the death

For years now, I've been hearing from people who dispute my claim to being the first to demonstrate that the name Modred/Medrawd is from Roman/Latin name Moderatus.

In addition, I keep reading this same thing on Websites - even on the infamous Wikipedia:

The note on Modred = Moderatus from this page reads as follows:

Cane, Meredith. Personal Names of Men in Wales, Cornwall and Brittany 400-1400 AD, University of Wales Ph.D. thesis, 2003, pp. 273-4.

I once tried to contact Dr. Cane, pointing out - very politely - that I had preceded her in the identification by several years.  She did not respond.

So, instead, I'm having my letter on Cambridge letterhead, signed personally by Dr. Oliver Padel and dated to 1996, scanned so that I may post it here in its entirety.

The letter shows indisputably that I originated the idea that Modred was Moderatus.

Usually, I don't bother making this kind of public "correction." But as Modred is, in a sense, the primary subject of my next book, I thought I had better stick up for myself for once. 


The Drury and Andrews Map of the Vespasian’s Camp and Stonehenge area (1773). The north, north-easterly and southern sections of the Camp show no evidence of landscaping. Blick Mead can be located under the ‘U’ of ‘Countess Farm’. [Courtesy]

Nikolai Tolstoy, in his The Mysteries of Stonehenge: Myth and Ritual at the Sacred Centre (Amberley Publishing Limited, Sep 15, 2016), has proposed that the original name preserved in the place-name Amesbury (Ambresbyrig, 'Ambr's burg') was either Ambiorix or Amborix. I only now found out about this because the idea had occurred to me just the other day.  Belatedly, as it turns out! I must give precedence to Tolstoy for this notion.

Interested readers can see what he has to say here:

In the past, I had treated of the Amesbury name in some detail.  I recently posted that information in the following blog article:

Although I did not publish it, I also made an attempt to connect the Amesbury name with the Celtic *ambri-, a word used for rivers (e.g. the Amber in Derbyshire).  I did so given the spring complex discovered at Vespasian's Camp at Amesbury and Geoffrey of Monmouth's story about the water poured over the stones of nearby Stonehenge having miraculous healing properties. Alas, it made no sense to suggest such a derivation, as Amesbury is on the Avon, a very ancient Celtic river-name from *abona-.  Hence there was no reason to foist another river-name on the location.

The best recent treatment of the personal name Ambiorix is to be found in In this source Ambiorix is given an etymology that differs from the standard view.

The name Ambiorix is generally interpreted as
‘king of the enclosure’ (Gaulish ambio-rix), or
sometimes – with the same formal analysis –
as ‘king of the surrounding (area)’.37 The
Norwegian Indo-Europeanist Frederik Otto
30 Schrijver 1991, 29-31: ‘One might assume that aper resulted from *h1pr-o-, with vocalization of *h1-.’ Another possibility
for this vocalization is offered by analogy with caper ‘buck’ (ibidem, 30).
31 Proto-Indo-European (PIE) had three consonants called laryngeals of which the exact (phonetic) nature is still debated.
In reconstructions these are often written as *h1, *h2 en *h3, or *H when it is not clear which of the three should
be reconstructed. A probable interpretation of these reconstructed phonemes is that they were a glottal stop and an
unrounded and a rounded laryngeal (or pharyngeal) consonant respectively, similar to the ‘throat sounds’ which
occur is Arabic. *i and *u in this reconstruction represent the consonants y (as in English you) and w (as in water)
respectively. For more details, see for example Beekes 1995, 142-148 (and passim).
32 Delamarre 2003, 193-194. For the PIE reconstruction and further cognates, see Philippa, Debrabandere & Quak 2003-
2009, II, 498 (s.v. ‘ijf ’). As an aside, it is interesting to note that in Lithuanian this word (ievà) is used to denote the
alder buckthorn (Frangula alnus).
33 Sterckx 1994. For the personal names, see Delamarre 2003, 193.
34 See for example Schönfeld 1965, 62, who refutes a suggested Germanic influence in the name Catuvolcus.
35 Delamarre 2003, 111, 327. The literal meaning of Welsh cadwalch is also ‘war-falcon’. It is a compound of Welsh cad
‘war’ and gwalch ‘falcon’.
36 Schrijver 1995, 116-130.
37 Delamarre 2003, 41-42, 260-261. Toorians 2000, 72. Lambert 1995, 114-117.
– 114 –
Fig. 8: Side of a Neolithic
menhir of Macquenoise
(Hainaut). Inscription of
supposed Late La Tène age,
with mention of IVIIRICCI,
which is understood to be
the name of Iverix, ‘king of
the yew tree’. (Copyright
and information Herman
Clerinx – see Cerinx 2009,
Atuatuca 4 binnenwerk_J_Roman Glass A4-2 5/10/12 10:55 Pagina 114
Lindeman suggested a different etymology for
Ambiorix which has the attraction of good
Indo-European parallels and which is more
convincing from a semantic point of view. In
Lindeman’s interpretation, *ambio- in the
name Ambiorix is not itself a representative of
the Gaulish preposition ambi- ‘autour, alentour,
des deux côtés’ but rather the reflex of an
ancient compound containing this preposition.
In Lindeman’s analysis, it is the reflex of
‘an old Indo-European compound of the root
*peH3- ‘to protect’ with the preposition
*H2mbhí-’. In what we might loosely call
‘Western Indo-European’ this would develop
into something like *ambhipo-, which in Celtic
(with loss of Proto-Indo-European *p) results
in *ambio-. Like its cognate forms in Vedic
Sanskrit (abhi-pá), the meaning of this compound
in Celtic may be assumed to be ‘protector,
ruler, master, king’.38 Since this word
became virtually homophonous in Celtic with
the preposition ambi- and may no longer have
been recognised as a compound noun itself,
‘the word *-ríg ‘king’ was added to create a new
compound *ambio-ríg-’.39 This process is quite
normal in the development of languages where
words tend to lose their semantic transparency
through homophony or other developments
within the language. To my mind this new
interpretation by Lindeman gives us a better
and more likely etymology for Ambiorix than
the previous one presented in most handbooks
and by Delamarre in his Gaulish dictionary.40
At first sight, the translation yielded by this
new analysis of Ambiorix would be a rather too
literal and fairly tautological ‘ruler-king’. A
translation like ‘protector, ruler’ would be
more correct.
Thus, of the four ‘Eburonian’ names known
from the time of Julius Caesar, the fourth – the
enigmatic Aduatuca – can now also be accepted
as Celtic. Its meaning is ‘place of the prophet’
or, to avoid Biblical associations, ‘place of the
soothsayer’. For the interpretation of eburos as
‘yew’ in the name Eburones, we should include
in our analysis the extralinguistic argument of
suicide by means of the yew. Following
Lindeman, the personal name Ambiorix can
now be analysed slightly differently to give a
more precise interpretation. For the name
Catuvolcus, Peter Schrijver has removed the
last remaining formal objection to equating it
with later Welsh cadwalch. With this result, it
is of course tempting to suggest that the
Eburonians were a people speaking a Celtic
language in around 55 BC, and there is no suggestion
whatsoever of a Germanic language
being involved (fig. 9).

However, it is definitely 'King of the Enclosure' that should interest us most in the context of Amesbury with Stonehenge hard by. The enclosure in question would be a round one, as *ambi- has the following meaning:

preposition (around) *ambi-, SEMANTIC CLASS: grammar, Galatian ; CIb. Ambi-; ambi-, SEMANTIC CLASS: 6 ‘around’, Gaulish Ambi- ‘around’, Early Irish imb-, imm- ‘around’, Scottish Gaelic im-, SEMANTIC CLASS: 12 ‘about’, Welsh am-, em-, ym- ‘around’, Cornish am-, em-, ym-, om-, SEMANTIC CLASS: 16 ‘around’, Breton am-, em- ‘around’ 

Now, whether Ambr could have come from an Ambiorix or Amborix is debatable.  Mostly, it comes down to chronology.  According to Dr. Simon Rodway of The University of Wales,

"If Ambiorix > Emyr, then it must have undergone the following changes: Ambiorix > *Embiorix > *Embr > *Emr > Emyr. If we follow Jackson’s dating, then Ambiorix would have become *Embr in the second half of the fifth century. Of course it’s possible that the name could have been borrowed into English earlier than that. As for the Amborix of Elis Evans, he’s working backwards from Emyr. He’s right that the /io/ makes things difficult, but he doesn’t say what he thinks *ambo is."

Rodway added, almost as an after-thought:

"As for a form *Ambr < Ambiorix, this shouldn't be entirely ruled out, I suppose, due to (a) uncertainty about whether or not io would block double affection, and (b) the fact that there are scattered instances of words which have resisted affection for unclear reasons (listed by Jackson in Language and History)."

The most interesting thing to me about this possibility is that Stonehenge and Amesbury were squarely in Belgic territory.  The Gaulish Ambiorix was of a Belgic tribe.  While I'm not trying to say that there is any kind of relationship between the British and Gaulish personages, it is certainly conceivable that the name may have had significant currency among the Belgae.  Still, the Gaulish Ambiorix was never caught by the Romans (see and One might imaginatively construct a scenario in which this great chieftain escaped from the Continent to join his Belgic brothers in Britain.


Conceivably, Ambiorix in the context of Stonehenge may have been an eponymous founder of Amesbury.  It is not impossible that the name came to be used as a title for whoever was the reigning monarch at the site.  Finally, we know of Celtic divine names ending in rix or rigos, 'king', so we could tentatively postulate that the deity of Stonehenge was referred to honorifically as 'King of the [Round] Enclosure.'  These ideas are not mutually exclusive.  A sacred king might well have been seen as a personification of the deity. True, we might expect for a sub-Roman British population in southern England to be thoroughly Christian.  Yet local traditions die hard and are often melded almost seamlessly with new doctrine.

I have no problem accepting Tolstoy's idea that this Ambiorix of Amesbury came to be confused by the Welsh with the name Ambrosius (Embreis, Emrys).  As I've pointed out before, the Gaulish governor Ambrosius Aurelianus was never in Britain.  Nor was his son, St. Ambrose.  But we can expect the occurrence a King of the [Round] Enclosure at Stonehenge.

Thus when we are told an ancestor of Vortigern fought an Ambrosius at Wallop Brook/Danebury Ring in Hampshire, we need merely substitute the ruling title of the king at Amesbury for Ambrosius.

And if I'm right about the 'vir modestus' Amesbury king being a reference to Moderatus/Medraut/Medrawd (= the romance Mordred), who died fighting Arthur/Cerdic of Wessex/Ceredig son of Cunedda either at Cymenesora (Keynor?) or Portsmouth Harbour (British
Cammas), then it was the rulers of Stonehenge who had protected their kingdom from the English and the Gewissei for almost 40 years.

Monday, June 11, 2018


I may have solved the mystery of Medrawd...

If I'm right about my recent identification of Camlan 
(see, then I think I can now flesh out exactly whose Arthur's/Cerdic's chief opponent was in southern England.

Many - myself included - have discussed the interesting substitution in Welsh tradition of Dinas Emrys in Gwynedd for Amesbury on Wiltshire Plain.  Although many have held stubbornly to the notion at the personal name component in Amesbury represents the Roman/Latin name Ambrosius, the evidence is rather in support of this being a later English name for the place.  And, indeed, I've supplied a great many reasons why Ambrosius Aurelianus was never even in Britain  (see, for example,  Instead, he seems to be a transplant from Gaul who through the usual folkloristic processes achieved a fair degree of fame.

Still, there may be something to Ambrosius.  I've elsewhere pointed out the interesting coincidence that in Gildas's DE EXCIDIO, Ambrosius is referred to as 'vir modestus', a modest man
(see  This description of Ambrosius happens to match the meaning of the name Moderatus - the Roman name that underlies the Welsh Medrawt and the Cornish Modred.  

Vespasian's Camp at Amesbury doubles nicely for the Welsh Dinas Emrys.  It even has a notable (and probably sacred) spring associated with it.  It's proximity to Stonehenge was exploited by Geoffrey of Monmouth in his HISTORY OF THE KINGS OF BRITAIN.  The Camp is only 20 kilometers from Danebury Ring near the Wallop Brook, the likely site of the battle between Ambrosius* and one Vitalinus (who may be a Latinized form of the Irish name Fedelmid, father or grandather of Fortchern/Vortigern, the half Irish-half British high king in Wales).  

What I believed happened is this:

The ruler who held the Wiltshire area for 36-7 years
(see was one Moderatus.  Or perhaps he was simply one of the princes of this region.  In any case, his center of power was Amesbury.  Because this English place-name was fairly early on wrongly identified with the Gaulish Ambrosius, Moderatus was taken as merely a descriptor - the 'vir modestus' of Gildas - and he was referred to, incorrectly, as A.A.

Years ago I wrote the following about the etymology of Amesbury on Robert Vermaat's Vortigern Studies site:

Ambresbyrig c AD 880 charter then various spellings to Amblesberie in Domesday. Almost certainly a personal name Ambre or Aembre cognate with the Old German Ambri, hence Ambre's burgh. [Chris Chandler of the RCAHME.]

The Place-Names of Wiltshire (EPNS, 1939) says this of Amesbury (on p. 359):

"It is impossible to go beyond the suggestion . . . that we have to do with a personal name Ambre, Æmbre [the Æ is OE aesc] cognate with the recorded OGer [Old German] Ambri. Hence possibly 'Ambre's burh' . . . "

This etymology is accepted by A.D. Mills in his Dictionary of English Place-Names (Oxford, 1991).

Andrew Deathe, Salisbury Museum, adds the following:

“From what I can find it would appear that the earliest manuscript mention is a document from around 1000 AD that is actually a copy of a manuscript from around 880 AD. This gives the name Ambresbyrig. This would point to a person known as Æmbre or similar as you know. Ekblom suggests Eammer or Eanbeorht as other possibilities to Ambri. All are Saxon names. The idea that Amesbury derives from Ambrosius first occurs in the late Medieval period and, to my mind, is bound up with the Geoffrey of Monmouth story that Stonehenge is a memorial to the Britons who fought the Saxons nearby. Personally I think that it is very unlikely to have any foundation in truth. Medieval writers tended to look for a story to fit the facts when writing history, rather than facts to fit the story!”

Paul Cavill, The English Place-Name Society, concludes:

“All the early forms for Amesbury have the medial -b-, but no form has any extension that would justify derivation from Ambrosius. The person., if it is one, would seem to be Ambre, cf. Ombersley."

I also pointed out that there is an Old English amber, the genitive singular of which is ambres. This word means ‘a vessel with one handle, a tankard, pitcher, pail, cask’, and is thought to be a descendent of a borrowing into Germanic as *ambr-ia or *aimbr-ia of a Latinization of the Greek word amphoreus, ‘an amphora, jar, urn’. According to place-name expert Professor Richard Coates of The University of West England, “a solution [for the etymology of Ambresbyrig] involving ambres/’vessel’ is not formally impossible.” Needless to say, this would be significant, as the vessels of Dinas Emrys play an important part in that place's story.

Because the chronology of the Welsh Annals and the ASC clash in terms of the ordering of the princely generations of the Gewissei 
(see, it is difficult if not impossible to determine with any degree of certainty what battle dates are right and who fought at the various battles.  Yet if we do not get too caught up in this problem, we can propose that Moderatus and possibly other princes of his line managed to keep the Saxons and their Gewissei allies at bay for almost 40 years.

The irony here is not lost on the writer.  As Nennius was writing with a Gwynedd bias, and Gwynedd wasa founded by the Irishman Cunedda and his sons, when he searched for a British hero he naturally settled on Ceredig son of Cunedda/Arthur.  And this is true despite the fact that this Arthur was a mercenary fighting for the High King of Wales in alliance with English against other Britons.  

The real hero, as is so often the case in history, is the villain - 'Mordred' himself.  He died fighting the continuing southern incursions of Cerdic/Ceredig/Arthur.  Yet the villain became hidden, in an even more ironic way, within the purely fictional character of A.A.  Ambrosius himself, thanks to Geoffrey of Monmouth's misidentification of him with Myrddin/Merlin, became even more famous.  The connection with Amesbury and nearby Stonehenge was not forgotten.  As Myrddin is intimately bound up with the gods Lleu and Mabon, the sun god - perhaps once a presiding deity over Stonehenge - was returned, albeit by a very strange route, to his rightful place of worship.**

* The Ambrosius who fought at the Wallop Brook or at Danebury Ring was a sort of imaginary title for whoever was ruling from Amesbury at the time.  Ambrosius means the 'Divine or Immortal One.'  He may have been an ancestor of Moderatus. 

** I wrote the following in my book THE MYSTERIES OF AVALON about a god associated with the Stonehenge area:

"In the 12th century, Johannes Cornubiensis identified Caer Beli or the Fort of Beli with Ashbury Camp near Week St. Mary in Cornwall. This fort he also termed the ‘Fatale Castrum’ or Deadly Castle. However, this is an error, as Ashbury Camp is an unremarkable hill-fort. Instead, Ashbury, Oxfordshire is the actual site of the original Cair Beli. This is where we find the famous Neolithic chambered tomb now known as Wayland’s Smithy. Wayland was the smith-god of the invading Saxons. The Smithy is near the Uffington White Horse and one of the primary symbols of Belenos in Gaul is the horse.

Beli as Apollo is associated with Stonehenge, as Geoffrey of Monmouth has the Britons slain by the Saxons at this great ritual centre on May 1st or Beltane, the day of ‘Beli’s Fire’. Stonehenge, of course, is just a little south of the Wayland’s Smithy chambered tomb and the Uffington White Horse."

Some of these statements are made with a bit too much authority.  It is not certain, for example, that Beltine (Beltaine, etc.) contains a divine name element.  It may mean simply "bright fire."

bright *belo-, beleno- (?), SEMANTIC CLASS: sensation, British -belino-, SEMANTIC CLASS: 6 ‘bright’, Gaulish Belenos ‘bright’, Early Irish Bel(-tene) ‘bright (fire)’, Scottish Gaelic bealtuinn ‘May-day’, Welsh Ri-uel-gar, Beli [not in GPC] ‘bright’

Recently, John Koch proposed a different etymology for Beli.  From CELTIC CULTURE: A HISTORICAL ENCYCLOPEDIA:

"The Celtic personal name Bolgios, also Belgios, is
recorded as that of a commander who invaded
Macedonia in 280 bc (see Brennos of the Prausi).
It is likely that the hero bearing this name had been
thought of as the legendary founder of the Belgae.
This name is probably also the source of the early
Welsh male personal name Beli, which occurs in the
Old Welsh genealogies as that of an important
legendary ancestor of great antiquity, Beli Mawr
(Koch, CMCS 20.1–20)."

This is interesting, as Amesbury and Stonehenge were within the tribal territory of the British Belgae.

Sunday, June 10, 2018


Possible Locations of Camlan

My readers will know that over the years I selected three primary locations for Arthur's battle of Camlan, a word supposedly derived from either *Cambolanda, 'crooked enclosure', or *Camboglanna, 'crooked bank/shore.'  There is the Camboglanna Roman fort on Hadrian's Wall, the Afon Gamlan in NW Wales (the favored spot in Welsh tradition) and, more recently, the Uley Bury hillfort on the River Cam in Gloucestershire.

Unfortunately, I've only now realized I missed something.  And, once again, this something has been hiding in plain view in the ANGLO-SAXON CHRONICLE.

In my book THE BEAR KING, I made my case for Cerdic of Wessex/Ceredig son of Cunedda being Arthur.  While I managed to identify the Arthurian battles with those of Cerdic and other Gewissae, I did not have the insight necessary to find Camlan in the ASC.

I believe now I do.

The death-date for Arthur at Camlan in the Welsh Annals is 537.  This dovetails very nicely with Cerdic's passing in 534.  Just prior to Cerdic's death, he and Cynric had taken the Isle of Wight.  In the entry on his death, we are told that he and Cynric gave all of Wight to Stuf and Wihtgar.

Why is this last reference important?  Because Stuf (eponym for Stubbington) and Wihtgar (a slight corruption of a word meaning the "men of Wight") were first mentioned in 514 as arriving at Cerdicesora/Certisesora, 'Cerdic's bank or shore.'

In THE BEAR KING, I showed that the Glein battle of Arthur was for Cerdicesora, the first battle of Cerdic and Cynric.  The word Glein has been improperly derived from 

W. glân 

[Crn. C. glan, Llyd. C. glan, H. Wydd. glan ‘pur, clir, disglair’: < Clt. *glano-, fel yn enwau’r afonydd Gal. Glana, Glanis ar y Cyfandir, o’r gwr. *ĝhel-, ĝhlə- ‘disgleirio’] 

clean, cleansed, neat; clear of sin, pure, good, virtuous, uncorrupted, undefiled, fair, honest, sincere.

when it should instead be related to 

W. glan 

[H. Grn. glan, gl. ripa, Crn. C. glan ‘glan (afon); ochr, llechwedd’, Llyd. glann: < Clt. *glanno-] 

river-bank, brink, edge; shore

It will be noted that the glan of Camboglanna as 'crooked bank/shore' is the same word.

Now, Cerdicesora was either the Ower near Southhampton or the one near Calshot.  But there were other owers in the region.  In 477, Cymen is a combatant in the battle of Cymenesora. It is not known for certain where this particular ora was located, but the generally accepted opinion is that it is The Owers south of Selsey Bill.  These are offshore rocks, but may once have been part of the mainland.  The questionable authority for this identification is a forged charter which lists "Cumeneshora" (see

I do not think this identification is correct.  Aelle of Sussex's sons are all being used as eponyms in the ASC to map out the early boundaries of Sussex.  Cissa is for Chichester (although see also Cissbury Ring not far north of Lancing), Wlencing for Lancing.  The unknown Mearcredesburna or 'Mearcred's Burn' I make out to be the Adur's tributary, the Rother, once called the Limen, a British river-name.  Limen was probably connected to Latin limen, 'a limit', from limes, and so the name Mearcred (containing mearc, 'boundary') was substituted.  It marks the eastern boundary of early Sussex.  Aderitum or Pevensey, another Aelle conquest,  is a bit further east.

Cymen is no different.  I would see his name in Keynor, which has a rife (see rythe, AS, a fountain; well; rivulet - a small stream usually one occasioned by heavy showers of rain) that empties into Pagham Harbour.  To quote on this site from WIKIPEDIA (with cited sources):

The Manor of Keynor is situated at the western end of Pagham Harbour. Selsey based historians Edward Heron-Allen and Francis Mee favour the Keynor area of Sidlesham for Cymenshore, they suggest that the name Keynor is derived from Cymensora.[43][44] However Margaret Gelling asserts that Keyn-or actually means Cow — Shore in Old English.[45]

43. "Selsey Bill. Historic and Prehistoric", Heron-Allen, p. 88
44. "A History of Selsey",Mee,p. 10, Phillimore (1988)
45. Gelling. The Landscape of Place Names. pp. 208 - 209

'Cow-shore' would be incorrect.  I do not have access to Gelling at the moment, but cúna
'of cows', gen. pl. of cú, 'cow', may be what was intended.

There is also an AS personal name *Caegin, a derivative of Caega, which can become Keyn- in place-names (see Ekwall under Cainham, Cainhoe and Keynsham).

However, Cymen (Cymenesora also appears in the ASC as Kymenesora) could have lost the medial /m/ and been compressed easily enough to something approximating Keyn-.  In other words, any more recent etymology is secondary, having replaced the earlier Cymen.  Alternately, Cymen may have been conjured as a personal name in order to explain the origin of the place-name Keynor.  This kind of aetiological development is very common in place-names.  

It is not at all impossible that Cymen's ora - or Cymen's glan - became corrupted over time by the Welsh (possibly by association with real Camlan place-names) to Camlan.

However, there is another, perhaps better possibility than Keynor for Arthur's Camlan.  

There is a place on Portsmouth Harbour called Cams Hall.  Ekwall's listing for this place reads as follows:

[Kamays 1242 Fees, Cammeys 1282 Ep, Cams 1412 FA] The place is on Portsmouth Harbour. The name is no doubt the British name of the bay and identical with CAMBOIS.

Under CAMBOIS he has:

Identical with Welsh CEMMAES, KEMEYS and Ir camus, 'a bay.' The name is a derivative of OCelt
*kambo- 'crooked', Welsh cam.  It is British in origin...

Mills confirms the etymology of Cambois in his place-name study:

A Celtic name, a derivative of Celtic *camm 'crooked'...

From the GPC:

camas, cemais 

[cf. Gwydd. cambas, cambus ‘tro mewn afon, fforch, plygiad’, yn aml mewn e. lleoedd, e.e. Athan-chamais ‘rhyd y tro’] 

eb. ?ll. cemais.

Tro neu gongl mewn afon, cilfach o fôr, bae:

bend or loop in a river, inlet of sea, bay. 

As this 'crooked' bay has a shore, this is a very likely spot for Camlan.  

As can be noticed on the map above, Cams Hall is quite close to Stuf's Stubbington.  Such a proximity suggests that a Camlan situated here fits the context of the ASC, where Cerdic's death is entered in the same year as his granting of Wight to Stuf and Wihtgar.  

Of course, it goes without saying that if Arthur's Camlan is on Portsmouth Harbour, this strengthens the argument that Arthur = Cerdic of Wessex. In addition, the date of Camlan in the Welsh Annals would be more or less correct.  And that, in turn, would force us to acknowledge that Arthur's Badon battle was, in fact, the Bieda battle of c. 501 A.D. (with Bieda being transmitted to the Welsh in its variant form of Baeda, itself being later confused with Badon, a Welsh rendering of English bathum, i.e. Bath in Somerset).  The importance of the Bieda battle became unduly magnified over time for no other reason than it was said to have been fought on the day the famous St. Gildas was born.

It has occurred to me that the Welsh Annals 'Badon' is for the Bieda battle, while the Badon attached to the end of the battles in the Historia Brittonum is pretty clearly for Bath.  I say this because the Badon of the latter source comes after or is grouped with other Gewissei battles in which Cerdic is not said to have fought.  I would again refer the reader to my THE BEAR KING for more details.    

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Tuesday, June 5, 2018


The Uley complex as it might have appeared in the second and third centuries AD. The reconstruction image includes the temple, other excavated buildings and possible additional buildings on the edge of the settlement. (Woodward and Leach 1993 fig. 212. Illustration by Joanna Richards. Copyright JFR 1993) 

For the details regarding the Uley stone church of the 6th century, I would refer my readers to:

Here I merely wish to make my case for this stone church at the site of an ancient nemeton being the burial place of Arthur.

I base my argument on the church's proximity to the great Uley hillfort.  I believe this site to be Arthur's Camlan, from *Cambolanda, 'Crooked Enclosure' or, perhaps, 'Enclosure of the Cam/Crooked Stream.'

Unfortunately, we do not know the name of the Uley temple.  Nor do we know the name of the British god worshipped there in the pre-Christian period.  Professor Roger Tomlin may possess material that would at least allow us to guess at the name of this god, but he is not releasing that information until he finishes publishing texts and translations of the lead curse tablets found in the temple grounds.

The presence of a possible 'Avalon' (the Lydney temple, if properly rendered as *Nemetabala, 'Sacred Apple Grove') across the Severn from the River Cam is intriguing, but any association of this place with Arthur would be mythological only.  There is no evidence for continuation of worship, pagan or Christian, at Lydney after the Roman period.  And, besides, as I've shown in my piece on Geoffrey of Monmouth's Avalon (see, Arthur's being ferried to such an Otherworld location seems to be due solely to a misidentification of Camlan with the River Camel in Cornwall, which as it happens has an 'apple' place-name nearby. 

Monday, June 4, 2018


Or (longer, but more dramatic!) -


Working title only.

This will be my fourth book on Arthuriana.  Completion and publishing dates will be announced here at  Sample chapters may occasionally also be made available.

Ink Plan of Barbury Castle

NOTE: My search for cover art is currently under way.  I've decided on either a photograph of Barbury Castle or an artistic rendering of the same (perhaps a reconstruction/re-creation based on the archaeological record).

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Drone Flyover at Liddington Castle (Arthur's 'Badon')


Bury Hill, Approximate Site of Ariconium (Photo Courtesy Wikipedia)

Before I offer my solution to the etymological problem posed by the tribal name Hwicce, I would urge my readers to seriously peruse the following excellent study on the subject by Dr. Richard Coates:

I feel everyone is working way too hard on trying to come up with an acceptable etymology.  English Hwicce, 'chest, coffin, ark', is just fine.  I would guess that it is an English rendering for Ercing or Ergyng, whose name is to be directly derived from the Roman settlement-name Ariconium.  While I've elsewhere supplied the proper etymology for Ariconium itself (see, the early English could easily have applied their own meaning to the Welsh kingdom-name.

Ariconium and the Dobunni
(Map Courtesy Barry Cunliffe)

Ariconium and the Hwicce
(Map Courtesy Della Hooke)

The GPC lists the Welsh name for ark, chest, coffin as follows:


[bnth. Llad. arca, Crn. C. argh, Llyd. C. arch, H. Wydd. arc]

eb. ac yn eithriadol eg. ll. eirch, archoedd, archau.

a  Cist, coffr; blwch i gladdu neu amlosgi corff ynddo, coffin, ysgrîn; hefyd yn ffig.; ?creirfa:

chest, coffer; coffin; also fig.; ?shrine

Rivet and Smith, in their THE PLACE-NAMES OF ROMAN BRITAIN, have the following entry on Ariconium:


Antonine Itinersary : 4853 (Iter XIII) : ARICONIO.

DERIVATION : The name is formed from British *are- (*ari-) 'in front of ' and *conio-, of unknown meaning but perhaps the same as in Viroconium. Among names formed in this way (Holder I. 188) are possibly British Argistillum (and divine name Arnemetia), and abroad Armorici (Aremorici, the people 'in front of the sea'), Arelaunum silva, Areduno vico > Ardin (Deux-Sèvres, France); these do not help to guess a meaning for the present name, though Jackson observes that thc prefix is 'usually used in place-names of regions beside some feature such as a forest, a marsh, the sea, etc.' (Britannia, I (1970), 68).

IDENTIFICATION. The Roman settlement at Weston under Penyard, Herefordshire (SO 6423).

Note. The name has interesting survivals. In EPNS, XL, 192, its first part, with Anglo-Saxon -ingas attached, is recorded as Ircingafeld in the ASC (918) and Arcenfelde in DB, modern Archenfield, a deanery of the diocese of Hereford. There is also Ergyn(g), the Welsh name for a district in Herefordshire. Possibly the first element survives in a different form in the name Yartleton; the Roman site is some three miles to the north-west of this place.

Eilert Ekwall in his CONCISE OXFORD DICTIONARY OF ENGLISH PLACE-NAMES adds early forms Erchenefeld, Erchin, Ercincg. More forms/spellings can be found at

circ. 380 Ariconium, Iter Anton. ?
915 Ircingafeldes, Yrcingafeld, Iercingafeld, A.S. Chron.
1086 Arcenfelde, Arcenefelde, Dom.
circ. 1120 Jerchynfeld, Glos. Cart.
circ. 1130 Ergyng, Ercincg, Ergin, Erchyng, Erchynfeld, Urcenevelde, etc., Lib. Land.
1138 Erchenefelde, Glos. Cart.
circ. 1147 Erging, Geof. Mon.
circ. 1150 Herchenefeld, Brec. Cart.
1243 Urchenefeld in Wallia, T. de Nev.
1291 Irchenefeld, Yrcheneshome, Tax. Eccl.
circ. 1550 Herchinfield, Leland.
no date Ierchenfeld, Herchenefeld, Glos. Cart.

According to,

"The name Ergyng derives from the Roman town Ariconium (Weston-under-Penyard, Herefords.). As this is to the east of the Wye and the later region of Archenfield, some historians have suggested that the centre of British Ergyng had retreated westward under Anglo-Saxon pressure (e.g. Sims-Williams, Religion and Literature in Western England, p. 45)."

From "Religion and Literature in Western England", 600-800 by Patrick Sims-Williams:

Barry Cunliffe (via personal communication) had this to say about Ariconium and its relationship to the Dobunni:

"It could just have been on the margins of Dobunnic territory."

Della Hooke, however, insists that

"The Welsh district of Ergyng, a district around the Roman centre of Ariconium, lay outside the kingdom of the Hwicce. This is discussed by Bruce Coplestone-Crow in his BAR book (British Archaeological Reports, British series 214, 1989) Herefordshire Place-Names."

In her thesis, Dr. Sheila Waddington makes the case for Ergyng having once extended all the way to the Severn (see  Included in that study is a map displaying the original extent of this kingdom, drawn from Coplestone-Crow's HEREFORDSHIRE PLACE-NAMES:

Figure 7.11 Coplestone-Crow’s depiction of the extent of Ergyng in the sixth and
seventh centuries, extending from the eastern banks of the Wye, Monnow and Dore
across to the western bank of the Severn. The territory of Dunsaete may have been
within the district ‘Cantref Coch’, shown hatched red. Coplestone-Crow,
Herefordshire Place-Names, 3, with additions.

If this is correct, then there are some adjoining boundaries and even "overlap" territory for Hwicce and Ergyng along the Leadon and to the west of the Severn.  Ariconium itself, however, would still be somewhat to the west of the Hwicce's western boundary.  

Now, the Kingdom of Ercing in Wales not only has major Arthurian associations*, it bordered on Uther Pendragon's/Illtud's "Llydaw", i.e. the Vale of Leadon.  And the Vale of Leadon was anciently within the Dobunni tribal territory (a fact confirmed by Barry Cunliffe).  The Leadon later formed the western boundary of the Hwicce (a surmise based on the boundary of the Diocese of Worcester). As the Hwicce appear to have been the sub-Roman inheritors of the Dobunni kingdom, and their name accords with a folk etymology applicable to Archenfield, I would suggest that at some point in the history of Ercing this kingdom had extended its sway over the region once controlled by the Dobunni. Or, conversely, Ercing was merely a sub-kingdom of the larger Dobunni tribal area and, eventually, that area took on the name Hwicce from Archenfield.  This may have happened merely because Ercing supplied a ruler or rulers to the larger region, or because Ercing happened to be the most powerful sub-kingdom at the time.

My solution to the Hwicce name problem has the advantage of relying upon a known place-name (Ariconium) and kingdom-name.  On the other hand, past theories have no foundation in any known place-name or tribal group.  Even Coates must admit that his hypothetical hygwych does not exist in Welsh. I would add that I've been unable to find any other tribal or place-name constructed like hygwych; there simply is no precedent for such a formation.

In conclusion, we can surmise that the Welsh also did not know the real etymology of Ariconium/Ercing/Ergyng.  There is no reason whatsoever to suppose that they did!  They may have linked the name to their own word arch, 'ark, chest, coffin', with the plural eirch, and so prepared the way for the translation into English Hwicce. As modern scholars have not been able to parse Ariconium (until I related it to a Gaulish word meaning "lord"), why should we think the Dark Age Welsh were able to do so?

* Eigyr, Arthur's mother, is the daughter of a king of Ercing in Welsh tradition.  Illtud's mother was also from Ercing.  A son of Arthur is placed there, albeit in the form of a personified stream/wellhead.


Liddington Castle, Wiltshire

In this blog piece - -

I discussed the dating of the Battle of Badon as found in the pages of Gildas's DE EXCIDIO.  In this briefer article, I wish to summarize those findings and try to arrive at a reasonably acceptable revised chronology. 

As I see it, there are principally four different ways to look at Badon.  First, as a sort of qualifying statement, let me say that I am here settling on Liddington Castle as the Badon, based upon reasons I have provided in earlier essays (e.g.  And this is so despite that fact that linguistically, Badon can only stand for Bath.  So that there may be no confusion on this point, I will again quote from Dr. Richard Coates' "Middle English badde and Related Puzzles" (NOWELLE, Vol. 11, February 1988):

"We must conclude that whilst one of the Badburys may be the historical site of Badon, this may not be safely inferred from the linguistic evidence within English (pace Jackson 1953b). The inference requires the rather casual association of a form [baðón] with the recurrent name-type Baddanburh; there can be no direct etymological connection."


1) The battle should be properly dated c. 500 A.D. +/- 20 years. This is the traditional dating for Badon, and is pretty much impossible to dislodge from the combined consciousness of amateur and professional Arthurian scholars.  The problem with this view is this: at the time in question, we have no evidence whatsoever that the English and/or their Gewissei allies had penetrated far enough into England to have accessed either Bath in Somerset or Badbury/Liddington in Wiltshire.

This fact has made pinning down the location and significance of a Badon battle impossible, and all kinds of wild theories have been proposed to account for it happening c. 500 A.D.

2) There is a slight chance the torturous Latin in the Gildas passage on Badon has been mistranslated.  While the majority of scholars render it in the traditional fashion, some have offered other interpretations.  At least one top Latinist I consulted (Professor Michael Herren) claims the Latin states Badon was fought in Gildas's 44th year - not on the day of his birth.  However, even he resorts to the c. 500 date for the battle itself, thus putting Gildas's day of birth around 470.  He does this because the Welsh Annals insist the battle was fought in 516 or thereabouts.  Thus even if we alter the meaning of the Latin, we are still stuck with a Badon fought c. 500 - when it would seem no such decisive battle at the locations in question was possible.

3) Badon was actually not an important battle at all.  It was merely "glorified" because it happened to fall on the day of the birth of St. Gildas.  Over time its rather insignificant nature was exaggerated until it became the most famous battle of sub-Roman Britain.  I have suggested that the battle is, in fact, to be found in the ANGLO-SAXON CHRONICLE under the year entry for 501 A.D.  This battle, fought at Portsmouth in Hampshire, had a combatant named Bieda, whose name in different Saxon dialects could be spelled Beda or Baeda.  His name is the eponym for Bedenham on Portsmouth Harbour.  It is entirely conceivable that it was this battle that became, through the usual process of legend-building, the famous Battle of Badon.  The spelling Badon would be due to confusion with that of Bathum/Bath, a battle-site between the Britons and Gewissei in 577 A.D.

4) However, there is another, better possibility - and one that takes into account the identification of the Second Battle of Badon with Liddington Castle.  We begin by assuming that Badon is Liddington, and that it was actually a battle that was fought shortly after 556 (the indecisive action at Barbury/the Bear's Fort).  An interpolator inserted into the Gildas text the famous battle, but in an effort to apply a nice hagiographical touch to the DE EXCIDIO, chose to place the saint's birth on the day of Badon.  Unfortunately, he wrongly identified a battle at Liddington Castle after 556 with the Bieda battle of 501.  Once the incorrect date for the Badon battle was established in this early text, it soon became sacrosanct and thus later appeared in the Welsh Annals centuries later for c. 516. The date for Camlann (c. 537) had to be adjusted to fit with that of Badon.  The result?  An Arthur "out of time" whose military campaigns could not be understood within the historical or archaeological contexts.

To quote from my article

Let us start with the early battles in Wiltshire.  I've already mentioned the defeat of the British by Cynric at Old Sarum.  Four years later a battle is fought at Barbury Castle further north.  However, this battle is, significantly, not said to be a victory.  We are merely told there was a battle there.  In 560, Ceawlin succeeds Cynric (see my earlier work for the reversal of the genealogical links for the Gewissei in the ASC).  After Barbury Castle there are no more battles against the Britons until 571 - 15 years later. And the theater of action has changed: the Gewissei are now coming up the Thames Valley.  In 577, the war theater changes again - this time to the west and north of Wiltshire (including the capturing of Bath).  In 584, there is a battle in Oxfordshire, well to the NE of Wiltshire. We do not return to Wiltshire until 592, when a great slaughter occurs at Adam's Grave near Alton Priors resulting in the expulsion of Ceawlin.  In the next year, Ceawlin perishes. 

From the Battle of Beranburh to that of Adam's Grave, 36 years had passed.  Adam's Grave is roughly 15 kilometers south of Barbury Castle.

The question I would put forth is simply this:  who was in Wiltshire for all this time keeping the Gewissei and the English out?  And is it a coincidence that only several kilometers NE of Barbury Castle along the ancient Ridge Way is the Liddington Badbury fort?

I suppose there is really only one question that must be asked at this point: do we stubbornly adhere to the dating of Arthur based upon the questionable testimony of Gildas, and therefore cast Arthur perpetually adrift in a time during which Badon could not have been fought, or do we instead allow for him to be the war-leader of the Bear's Fort who successfully resisted enemy penetration into his territory for just under 40 years?  

Granted, even if we accept this very attractive possibility, problems remain.  The worst of these is the reversal of the Gewissei generations as found in the Welsh and English sources.  I treated of this problem here:  Needless to say, I'm not particularly happy with the resolution I proposed there.  Truth is, we cannot know which ethnic group - the Welsh or the English - has the order of generations correct.  I would like to believe the Welsh tradition is the most sound, but many scholars believe the early Welsh genealogies (like those preserved in the Harleian MS. of Nennius) are, in the main, fabrications.  I cannot stress how disconcerting this reversal of generations is for the historian.  Are the battles in the ASC in the right order?  Or should they somehow be reversed to fit the Welsh ordering of the Gewissei generations?  Or do we leave the order of the battles of the ASC intact and instead seek to reverse only the order the the Gewissei who fight in them (something that could only be done in the most arbitrary fashion)?

This problem may well be unsolvable.  About the only thing we can really say is that according to the ASC, a British king or war-leader centered in Wiltshire staved off Saxon conquest for almost 40 years. The best time for the Badon battle - not mentioned in the ASC precisely because it was the worst defeat meted out to the Gewissei - is right after the Battle of Barbury Castle in 556.

If Arthur was not the man defending this region, if he was not the commander at the Bear's Fort, then, sadly, I simply do not know where or when to put him.

Sunday, May 27, 2018


The Badburys

In a recent blog post, I suggested that the date for Arthur's Badon is not only wrong, but very much so.  My idea, simply put, is that what we find in the work of Gildas is a later interpolation.  Whoever inserted the statement regarding the date of Badon, which coincidentally (or providentially?) happened to fall on the very day the saint was born, wrongly identified it with the ANGLO-SAXON CHRONICLE BATTLE of 501 at Portsmouth, one of the combatants of whom was Bieda.

From Wikipedia of the name Bieda:

"As a masculine given name, it originates as an Anglo-Saxon short name, West Saxon Bīeda, Northumbrian Bǣda, Anglian Bēda (the purported name of one of the Saxon founders of Portsmouth in AD 501 according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle)[1] cognate with German Bodo."

[Source citation is J. Insley, "Portesmutha" in: Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde vol. 23, Walter de Gruyter (2003), 291.]

According to Dr. Richard Coates,

"There are many mysteries about AS GNs. Many are of totally obscure origin, and this might be one of them. Its stem appears homonymous with the stem of the ‘prayer’ word bedu, but that has a short vowel whilst that in Beda is long. I can see no phonological argument to derive it from beadu (< Proto-Gmc *badu-) unless by some mysterious hypocoristic process. The same applies to Be:da and be:odan, 'to command.'. It’s not out of the question that there is a hypocorism of some sort involved, but it would be non-standard. Redin gives a complicated etymology which amounts to 'I don’t really know.'"

By establishing this very early date for Badon, the interpolator has seriously thrown off all subsequent writers - right up to the modern era.  My choice for the Battle of Badon - in this case, a decisive action fought at Liddington Castle in Wiltshire - is fought sometime soon after the Barbury/Bear's Fort battle in 556 A.D.  From that time up to the next failed penetration of Wiltshire (the slaughter at Adam's Grave) just under 40 years will pass. Someone based in that specific region had successfully kept the Saxons and their Gewissei allies at bay for that entire period.  For a more complete accounting of this remarkable defense of tribal territory, see

Now, the question I wish to address here in some detail is whether it might really be possible for such an interpolation to have occurred in the DE EXCIDIO.  I've many times discussed the very real possibility that Badon could represent a Badbury.  To quote from Dr. Richard Coates' "Middle English badde and Related Puzzles" (NOWELLE, Vol. 11, February 1988):

"We must conclude that whilst one of the Badburys may be the historical site of Badon, this may not be safely inferred from the linguistic evidence within English (pace Jackson 1953b). The inference requires the rather casual association of a form [baðón] with the recurrent name-type Baddanburh; there can be no direct etymological connection."

That the latter may well have happened is at least suggested by the apparent identification of the Second Battle of Badon in the WELSH ANNALS with an ANGLO-SAXON CHRONICLE military action that took place near Liddington Castle/Badbury.  I have described this seeming correspondence at

The best we can do with Badon linguistically is to say that it would be the normal British rendering of Anglo-Saxon Bathum.  No Celtic derivation - attempted by anyone - has passed muster.  Curiously, there is a similar problem inherent in etymologizing Baddan-, which must come from a Badda, an attested personal name (e.g. a moneyer during the reign of Edward the Elder).  For the source of this name, Coates eventually defaults to an unattested OE *badde, the presumed ancestor of ME badde, our modern "bad". According to Coates,

"Its sense in names cannot be determined with precision, but it is not likely to have been very far removed from the present-day senses of the word bad. One might guess at 'worthless', 'of ill omen or repute', 'disgusting', since all these meanings appear in the first century of the word's history."

While Coates makes a good argument, when one actually looks at the more impressive Badbury hillforts, it is difficult to see anything "bad" about them.

Badbury Rings, Dorset

Liddington Castle, Badbury, Wiltshire

They are incredibly impressive, monumental structures.  If anything, they are places of awe - and I imagine they would have been exactly that to the Dark Age invaders of England.  How exactly would badde have been used pejoratively for either such a structure or those great enough to have constructed it - or even those who much later still resided within it or used it for tactical advantage? While maligning or dehumanizing one's enemy is an expected application of a psychological tool during warfare, it seems decidedly odd that we would call this kind of superior fort "badde" and not refer to him in the same way!  I'm not aware of the Welsh being disparaged this way in the ANGLO-SAXON CHRONICLE.  Instead, I'm reminded of the Briton, 'a very noble man', who is slain in 501 A.D.  He is not called a 'badde' man, or said to be hunkered down in a 'badde' place.

Rather, I feel fairly strongly that Coates was right when he says "...Badda... could have been a hypocoristic form of the more flattering Beadu- names."  Beadu is listed thusly in Bosworth and Toller's dictionary:

BEADO, beadu; g. d. beadowe, beadwe, beaduwe; f. Battle, war, slaughter, cruelty; pugna, strages :-- Gúþ-Geáta leód, beadwe heard the War-Goths' prince, brave in battle, Beo. Th. 3082; B. 1539. Wit ðære beadwo begen ne onþungan we both prospered not in the war, Exon. 129b; Th. 497, 2; Rä. 85, 23. Beorn beaduwe heard a man brave in battle, Andr. Kmbl. 1963; An. 984. Ðú þeóde bealdest to beadowe thou encouragest the people to slaughter, Andr. Kmbl. 2373; An. 1188. [O. H. Ger. badu-, pato-: O. Nrs. böð, f. a battle: Sansk. badh to kill.]

For the earlier Germanic root, here is the listing from

*badwo- f. 'battle' - ON poet bpa, gen. -var f. 'id.', OE beado f. 'id.', OS badu­
'id.', 'OHG batu- 'id.' => *bhodh-uehz- (WEUR) - Identical to Mir. bodb, badb
m./f. 'war-god(dess); scald-crow', OBret bodou 'heron' < *bhodh-uo/eh2-.
A Celtic-Germanic isogloss.

If Badda does represent a beadu- name, then the various Badbury forts are the "Battler's forts" or the like.  I would compare such to the several British Cadbury place-names.  Quite some time ago I wrote this blog article:

Please give that piece a thorough perusal, and note especially Dr. Coates' comments in response to some of my more salient queries.  In brief, I proposed that the Badbury forts are the English equivalent of the British Cadburys, in that both series of fort names are fronted by pet-forms of a battle name in their respective languages.  And, furthermore, that Gildas's 'stragis' for Badon is, more or less, a Latin attempt to render the meaning of this pet name.

Let us assume, then, that Badda is, indeed, a hypocorism for a Beadu- name.  Does this help make any more acceptable the notion that the 501 A.D. Portsmouth battle featuring Bieda (Beda, Baeda)  may have been misidentified with a later Baddan- battle?  Well, again, not strictly from a linguistic point of view.  But if we allow for a "rather casual association" of the names Bieda (or a variant) and Badda, then I really don't see why such a misidentification could not have happened.

If it did happen - and I grant that this is a big "if" - Arthur would have been catapulted back in time a full generation.  And we would once more have to take a serious look at Uther Pendragon/Illtud as his father.  Illtud's "Llydaw" must be a descriptor of the broad valley of the Usk at Brecon, which seems to have been the traditional home of the warrior-turned-saint.  The kingdom of Brycheiniog was founded by the Irish, and because the other Arthurs of the same time period all belonged to Irish-descended dynasties in Britain, Illtud of Brycheiniog as Arthur's father would allow us to account for this fact.  Eoin MacNeil (see postulates that Ui Liathain were in on the settlement of Brycheiniog, and the Ui Liathain were the enemies of the Ciannachta, i.e. Cunedda and his sons or teulu.

To opt instead for Illtud as hailing from the Vale of Leadon (a river-name deriving from the same root as that found in Llydaw), which had once been part of the Dobunni kingdom, we would lose the needed Irish connection.  As Barbury and Liddington were themselves in Dobunni lands, it is tempting to seek another way of tying Arthur to the Irish.  Unfortunately, I have not found a means of doing so.  Yet it cannot be denied that an Illtud and an Arthur from the old Dobunni lands seems an especially nice fit.  Please see for a comparison of the Dobunni and Hwicce kingdoms. 

Cerdic of the Gewissei (= Ceredig son of Cunedda) would not be Arthur at all, an idea I promoted in my recent book THE BEAR KING.  Instead, he would merely be one of the enemy allies of the English who were repeatedly sent against Arthur.  The Gewissei were Irish or Hiberno-British mercenaries or "federates" who fought for the High King of Wales against fellow Britons to the south.  I've shown that there is a serious problem with the chronological order of the battles or of the participants in those battles as recorded in the ANGLO-SAXON CHRONICLE, for the generations of the Gewissei are found REVERSED in the English source.  In other words, the Cunedda pedigree as found in the Welsh sources runs BACKWARDS in the ASC.  So who exactly Arthur may have faced, as well as when and where, is not easy to determine.

The only thing I can say about an Arthur at Barbury Castle is that he "fits the mold" of the heroic British king defending his people against the pagan invaders.  If there were such a man at this place and in this time, he probably died at the Camlan I've tentatively identified with the Uley Bury hillfort in Gloucestershire.  Where he was buried we will probably never know.  A real 'Avalon' may have been just across the Mouth of the Severn from Uley Bury at Lydney Park (*Nemetabala or 'Sacred Apple Grove'?), about which I've written some articles:

However, the best candidate for the site of his grave would be the famous nemeton at West Hill next to Uley itself:

So, the question is: CAN WE ALLOW FOR ARTHUR BEING WRONGLY PLACED EARLY IN THE SIXTH CENTURY WHEN HE PROPERLY BELONGS TO THE MID AND LATER PORTION OF THAT CENTURY?  If we staunchly adhere to the traditional chronology, obviously not.  But when we do that, we find ourselves without an identifiable Arthur, and without a verifiable theater of action for him to operate in.  We find ourselves cast adrift in an endless landscape of uncertainties, where everything - and nothing - is possible. I've chased Arthur (and my own tail) for many years now, all the while confining myself to the conventionally accepted 516-537 A.D. floruit.  What I discovered is that there is no independent supportive material whatsoever for Chapter 56 of the HISTORIA BRITTONUM or for the two, terse entries of the ANNALES CAMBRIAE. I had looked over and over again for some previously unperceived revelation in the English sources, and even the Continental ones.  But until I "disenthralled myself" and dared to think outside the box of the established time constraints, I could make no headway.

The case for Cerdic/Ceredig of the Gewissei as Arthur is, in many ways, a compelling one.  Yet it is also in many ways woefully deficient and unsatisfying.  And not only because Ceredig son of Cunedda is not, really, the Arthur we want.  It is because if we don't make a serious effort to explain the inability of the English and the Gewissei to take Wiltshire for something like 40 years we are doing a profound injustice to whoever it was who had managed to protect the inheritors of the Dobunni kingdom from its enemies.

For if the man of the Bear's Fort was not Arthur, WHO WAS?  Or, perhaps we should say, WHO MORE DESERVED TO BE?

Note that I do not expect any professional Arthurian scholar to acknowledge this latest theory of mine as something viable. Quite the contrary.  Still, I feel compelled to "put it out there", if for no other reason than to satisfy myself that I have left no stone unturned in my pursuit of whatever truth is actually available to us.

The Uley Temple

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


The Welsh tradition, as I've thoroughly demonstrated before in posts and in my book THE BEAR KING, places Arthur's last and fatal battle on the Afon Gamlan in Gwynedd.

However, I have also looked at another, perhaps more exciting potential site: the Uley Bury hillfort in Gloucestershire.

After extensive searching, I've not found additional suitable places in southern England.

In this blog post, I will try to decide if Uley Bury is the more viable candidate of the two widely separated locations.

To begin, it is fairly obvious that if Arthur fought at Badon, and Badon is (as linguistics demand) Bath in Somerset, then we must invoke a new chronology, one that it very difficult to establish, as it would be based solely on the misordering of the Gewissei genealogy - something evinced in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.  See

Furthermore, as Camlann was Arthur's last battle, it plainly followed Badon.  When we look at the taking of Bath in the ASC, an action which Cerdic's/Ceredig's father Ceawlin/Maquicoline/Cunedda supposedly spear-headed, and then place on the map the other battles and sites mentioned in the year 577, as well as battles subsequent to Dyrham in 584 at Fethanleag and in 592 at Adam''s Grave - with Ceawlin dying at an undisclosed location* in 593 - the resulting map is rather telling.  For Uley Bury and the River Cam are right in the middle of the grouping. 

Uley Bury and Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Battles

Does this mean Arthur died at Uley Bury?  Well, we have a choice, as I see it.  Either Ceredig/Cerdig/Arthur went home from his southern battles and died fighting a neighboring dynast in Merionethshire at the Afon Gamlan - something certainly possible, as Ceredigion and Merionethshire bordered upon each other - or Camlann as *Cambolanda, the Crooked Enclosure or Enclosure of the Cam [River], was part of a continuing Gewissei campaign in Gloucestershire. 

My problem with the Afon Gamlan in NW Wales is that it is a rather unremarkable site for a battle.  The Roman road does not even cross it.  On the other hand, there is no denying the impressive nature of the Uley Bury hillfort, and hillforts were targeted by the Gewissei.  Uley Bury is also smack-dab in the middle of the Gewissei military theater. For these reasons alone I would prefer Uley Bury as Arthur's Camlann.

*Crida perishes along with Ceawlin.  If we may allow for this to be a form of Creoda/Creda, Ekwall mentions a 'Creodan hyll' in Wiltshire.  So far as I know, the hill has not been identified.  But it could be that Ceawlin/Cunedda died at this place. 


Monday, May 21, 2018


Uley Bury Hillfort, Gloucestershire

The Welsh tradition, as I've discussed before in posts and in my book THE BEAR KING, places Arthur's last and fatal battle on the Afon Gamlan in Gwynedd.

However, I have also looked at another, perhaps more exciting potential site: the Uley Bury hillfort in Gloucestershire.

After extensive searching, I've not found additional suitable places in southern England.

In the next blog post, I will try to decide between my two favorite candidates - the Afon Gamlan and Uley Bury.