Wednesday, January 31, 2018

THE SOLUTION TO THE 'LLYDAW' PROBLEM

There is another possibility for Llydaw which I've barely touched upon in the past.  Only just today did I realize why I had discounted it.  Quite simply, there was no Llydaw/Llydan name in this vicinity.  However, it would appear this place may well have been settled by an eponymous ancestor who belonged to the Ui Liathain.

P.C. Bartram in his A CLASSICAL WELSH DICTIONARY discusses this central Wales location for Llydaw:

Llydaw is the regular Welsh name for Armorica, Brittany. But the name also occurs in Wales,
e.g. Llyn Llydaw in Snowdonia, and there are several cases of the use of the name in the older literature which suggest that it was used for some region in Wales. Just as Devon [Dumnonia] and Cornwall gave their names to Domnonée and Cornouaille in Brittany, so Llydaw [Brittany] seems to have had its duplicate in Britain. John Rhys gave reasons for suggesting that a place named Llydaw was in the region of Llangorse Lake in Brycheiniog (Celtic Folklore, pp.531-6). In the story of the hunting of the boar, Trwyth, in the tale of ‘Culhwch and Olwen’, the men of Llydaw, gwyr Llydaw, are represented as assembling in Ystrad Yw, a cwmwd on the south-east border of Brycheiniog (RM 140). In the Life of St.Padarn (§22) it is said that Caradog Freichfras extended his boundaries of Britannia [Wales] so as to include Letavia. This can be interpreted as extending his kingdom from Radnorshire into Brycheiniog. See s.n. Caradog Freichfras. Again in the Life of St.Illtud (§1) it is said that his father was a man of Letavia, and implies that Illtud was born there. Later we are told that he returned to Letavia to die, but there is a tradition that he was buried in the parish of Defynnog in Brycheiniog. See s.n. Illtud, note to
§1 of the Life.

In fact, two places near Brecon - both ancient funeral momuments - were associated with Illtud's grave (see the attached map).

Illtud's "Graves"

According to Eoin MacNeil ("The Native Place of St. Patrick", in Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. 1926. pp. 118–40),


From John Koch's CELTIC CULTURE: A HISTORICAL ENCYCLOPEDIA on the name Brychan:

Brychan seems to have been of Irish descent, and a
possibly cognate Old Irish man’s name Broccán is known,
a diminutive of brocc ‘badger’. The name is attested as
both an ogam Irish and Late Romano-British genitive
BROCAGNI. The reality of Irish settlements in
Brycheiniog (now southern Powys) in the upper Usk
(Wysg) and Neath (Nedd) valleys is demonstrated by
the presence of six ogam inscribed stones in the area,
dating roughly from the 5th and 6th centuries. A longlived
Irish dynasty took hold in Dyfed in south-west
Wales at about this time or somewhat earlier. There
were also Irish settlements at the head of the Neath
valley in Ystradfellte.

I'm guessing that what happened was this: first, a man from the Ui Liathain established a kingdom in south-central Wales.  It was called after him, but it was also mistakenly called 'Llydaw' because the Irish group who founded it was the Ui Liathain. Brycheiniog was to the north and bordered upon the Glywysing where Dinas Powys of Illtud was situated.  Thus Illtud departing 'Llydaw' and ending up at Dinas Powys makes a great deal of sense.

Brycheiniog also bordered on Ercing/Ergyng.

I now feel fairly confident in being a able to state that Illtud's 'Llydaw' was Brycheiniog.  







Tuesday, January 30, 2018

ILLTUD, ARTHUR AND "LLYDAW": TAKING ANOTHER LOOK AT THE WELSH "BRITTANY"

River Leadon at Ketford Bridge

To begin, let's dispense with Bicanus, the supposed father of Illtud, styled a king of Llydaw or Brittany...

I tried to make a case for Bicanus being an Irish name cognate with the Welsh adjective bychan (or fechan), 'little.'  Since then, I've realized that what we have in Bicanus is merely a clever hagiographical pun.  Brittany was called 'Little Britain', Latin Britannia Minori or, in Welsh, Brydain Fechan.  Thus 'Bicanus' or Bychan is not the name of Illtud's father, but merely the 'little' descriptor borrowed from the territorial designation Brydain Fechan.  

What this means, of course, is that Illtud's father's name was not preserved in Welsh record.

So where was 'Llydaw'?

There are just three possibilities:

1) Llyn Llydaw near Dinas Emrys.  
2) An error for the Irish Ui Liathain
3) The Vale of Leadon

[For my etymological treatment of these places as possible "Llydaws", please see my previous blog posts.]

No. 1 I discount as it is plainly based on spurious tradition (something I've discussed in detail in the past). 

No. 2 is very appealing.  It allows us to not only explain why all subsequent Arthurs belonged to Irish-founded dynasties in Britain, but to also postulate an antagonism between Cunedda and his sons (the Gewissei) and the Ui Liathain (as actually stated in the HISTORIA BRITTONUM).  The Welsh sources place the Ui Liathain in southwestern and south-central Wales, while the Irish sources place them in Cornwall.  Welsh tradition often places Arthur in Cornwall.  If we do not allow for a major component of Irish in the original Arthur's ancestors, we cannot show why the name was later used only by Hiberno-British royal families.  

No. 3 makes the most sense from a purely geographical perspective. The Vale of Leadon bordered on the Kingdom of Ergyng, and Illtud's father supposedly married a princess of Ergyng.  Furthermore, Ergyng has several notable Arthurian associations.  Finally, the Leadon Vale had been part of the Dobunni kingdom, and later of the Hwicce.  The locations of Arthur's battles (all against the Gewissei) supports the view that the territory of the ancient Dobunni was the locus of his military activities.

And there may be a way to retain the Irish connection while remaining fast to the Vale of Leadon = Llydaw idea.  Illtud's father's wife was a daughter of Amlawdd Wledig (Anblaud W., 'the very terrible ruler'), whose own wife was Gwen, daughter of the Irish Ciannachta chieftain Cunedda.  This is, of course, a very tenuous link, especially given the fact that such pedigrees were likely created to enhance the reputation of ruling houses.











COMING SOON: Illtud, Arthur and "Llydaw" - Taking Another Look at the Welsh "Brittany"

River Leadon at Ketford Bridge

Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Ui Liathain Illtud, Father of Arthur

[What follows is some material selected for reposting...]

In the past, I've discussed the "Brittany" (Welsh Llydaw) of St. Illtud as a couple of different places in or adjacent to Wales.  The Vale of Leadon was one possibility, while Llydaw in Snowdonia was another.  However, given that all Arthurs subsequent to the one that may have been Illtud's son belonged to Irish-descended dynasties in Britain, I dare asked myself if Llydaw might, in fact, lie in Ireland!

In Cormac's Glossary, the fort of the Ui Liathain among the Cornish Britons is called 'dind map Lethain.'  Lethain is a very common early spelling given to Irish lethan, 'broad, wide, wide-spread', the cognate of Leadon and from the same root that yielded Llydaw, Letavia (Brittany).  Cf. Welsh llydan.  According to Professor Jurgen Uhlich of Trinity College, Dublin, "lethain is simply one of several regular case forms of lethan, i.e. gen. sg. m./n., dat/acc. sg. fem. or nom pl. m.".

I also find Liathain in Irish Latin as 'Lethani' (Vita Sancta Columba).

That the two words were mistaken for each other in Irish is shown in COIR ANMANN or THE FITNESS OF NAMES (H.3.18, p. 565a):

50. Fedlimith Uillethan, that is, Fedlimith Ua-Liathain, that is in Húi Liathain he was reared. Hence he was named Fedlimith Uillethan. Or Fedlimith Ollethan i.e. huge (oll) and broad (lethan) was he: thence he was named.

Place-names containing these words may also have been substituted for each other.  In Geoffrey Keating's THE HISTORY OF IRELAND FROM THE EARLIEST PERIOD TO THE ENGLISH INVASION, I find "Drom Liathain (Drum Lee-hawin), is probably Drom Lethan (Drum Lahan), now Drumlane, co. Cavan."  This is confirmed in Edmund Hogan's ONOMASTICON GOEDELICUM: "d. liatháin Fm. i. 44; ¶  prob. for D. Leathan, now Drumlahan or Drumlane, c. Cav.; ¶  Eochaid fought against the Ernu and the Mairthine at D. L., Hk. 324, Lec. 63, 578, Sb. 4 a 1, K. 131 b, Lg. 91; ¶  most prob. in Mun."  Drum/Druim Leathan is 'Broad Ridge' (https://www.logainm.ie/en/5248).

A truly extensive search might well uncover other examples.

Francis J. Byne, in his magisterial IRISH KINGS AND HIGH-KINGS (p. 184) says "Lethain is the archaic form of Liathain."

Charles Thomas in AND SHALL THESE MUTE STONES SPEAK? mentions a Liteni on an ogam stone in Co. Waterford.  He says "Litenos may stand for the tribal eponym [of the Liathan]."

The Liathain tribal name is from an epithet whose root is the word for 'grey' in the Irish language and is not related to lethan/lethain.  However, it would have been very easy to have intentionally or accidentally used a spelling of Lethain for Liathain and thus created a "Brittany" within Wales.

Many writers, myself included, have discussed in detail the many Irish kingdoms in Britain.  The Welsh sources themselves (see HISTORIA BRITTONUM, Chapter 14) tell us that the sons of Liathan "prevailed in the country of the Demetians, where the city of Mynyw is, and in other countries, that is Gower and Kidwelly, until they were expelled by Cunedda, and by his sons..." [Recall that Cunedda and his sons were the Gewissei, with Cunedda's son Ceredig being Cerdic of Wessex.  The Gewissei were Arthur's chief adversary.]

Illtud's father's name - Bicanus - bears a striking resemblance to that of the early Irish Bec(c)an.  Some of these last were native to Munster.

https://medievalscotland.org/kmo/AnnalsIndex/Masculine/Beccan.shtml

O Corrain and Maguire's IRISH NAMES has:

BECCAN: BEAGAN m, 'little man.'

From the Electronic Dictionary of the Irish Language:

becán

Forms: becain

n o, m. (bec) IGT Decl. § 35.

(a) a little, small quantity: b.¤ gl. pauxillum, Sg. 14a12 . ÉC xi 110. gl. paululus, 48a3 . ar na hernigther mar i mbec, Laws v 476.28 glossed: moran i bail i ndlegar becan, 478.31 Comm. dobeir begán dobeir mórán / is dobeir in fichid marg, SG 287.1 . tucc Dīa sonus for beccān bíd, BColm. 60.16 . morán . . . beagán, 2 Cor. viii 15. so cenn begain aimsiri `in a short while', St. Ercuil 258. begcan dergci innti, Maund. 71. begān glōir do budh mōr neimh a small voice (lit. a little of a voice), ZCP viii 223.6 . le beagán do shásadh, DDána 20.26 . beccán becc íarna thionntúdh = a little after, RSClára 16a . began ┐ én mhile amhain `a little more than one mile only', Mart. Don. May 20. a few, a small number: in becan sa dib these few of them (at end of list), LU 2486 ( RC iv 256 § 25 ). in becan ro batar those few, Cog. 176.29 . cenmotha in beccan Cristaige, LB 154a 33 . tāinic Eōgan begān soc[h]raidi `with a few' (Gloss.), ML² 407. becān do maithib a muinntire, 921 . Eoin Bruinne is a bheagán ban, Dán Dé xx 37 . gluaissit begān buidhne `proceeded with a small company', Fl. Earls 20.10 . lé begán briathar `in a few words', FM v 1716.10 . As adv. a little, slightly: fri Dísiurt Lóchait antúaid bican (bicon, TBC² 772 ), LU 5249. codail begán begán beg, Duan. Finn i 84.1 . iníslighid begān, RSClára 105a . In phr. do b.¤ : in mac taisigh rob ferr do bí i nErinn do beagan that was no doubt the best, AU ii 550.9 . na biadha ┐ na deocha as measa do bheagan (= parum deterior potus aut cibus), 23 K 42 , 22.7 .

(b) little one, child; humble, lowly one: indat blaithe beccain (: Breccáin) `little ones', Fél.² Sept. 4 . becain .i. humiles , cxl . Note also: obsa becan (? of a horse) a little fellow (?), IT iii 68.1 .

The corresponding Welsh form is:

bychan

[†bych1+-an, H. Gym. bichan, H. Grn. boghan, Crn. C. byhan, Llyd. bihan, Gwydd. becán, beccán]

a. (b. bechan) a hefyd weithiau fel eg.b. ac adf. ll. bychain, gr. cmhr. bychaned, lleied, llai, lleiaf (a bychanaf weithiau).

a  Bach, o ychydig faint neu nifer:

little, small, minute, diminutive. 

I've not found this as a personal name in the Welsh sources. It is found later in Welsh as a nickname or epithet.

I'm now prepared to claim, rather boldly, that the Welsh 'Llydaw' from which Illtud's father Bicanus hailed, and from where Illtud got his wife, is none other than Irish Ui Liathain, a small kingdom in Munster.




This would explain, finally, why all the Dark Age Arthurs were of Hiberno-British extraction.

PENARTH BY DINAS POWYS AND THE ARTHUR NAME

Penath, Vale of Glamorgan, Wales

Penarth is in the hundred of Dinas Powys.  I had wondered about this containing an actual arth or "bear" name, rather than being composed of Pen + ardd for "End of the Height",  or some other suitable (and more prosaic) description for a headland. When I researched the place-name, I found this by local history expert Phil Carradice:


Pen means “head of” so the seaside town of Penarth means “Head of the Bear.” Ships captains beating up the Channel used to say that the headland and landmark on the coast before Cardiff was shaped like a bear. Consequently, when the town and its docks were formed in the mid nineteenth century Penarth was a logical name to call it.

When I contacted Mr. Carradice, he was kind enough to refer me to his source for this information:

"Roy Thorne (an uncle, I think, of Alan Thorne) published a book on the history of Penarth back in 1975 and I used that as the basis for the article."

If the bear etymology is correct, then Arthur as a decknamen may well have replaced an earlier Irish Artri or British Arthr(h)i, and the latter may well have been a reference to the 'Bear's Head' near the Dinas Powys hillfort of Illtud the Terrible Chief-dragon.



 

UTHER PENDRAGON = ILLTUD - A FINAL PROOF?


Readers of my past blogs will remember the excitement I felt when I appeared to have finally found Uther Pendragon - in the person of the famous soldier/saint Illtud.  I dispensed with this identification because I was unable to account for the name Arthur as a son of Illtud, and because a lot of literary evidence appeared to point instead to Ceredig son of Cunedda as Arthur.

Turns out, I'd neglected something that might be of a critical nature in this argument. 

Here is a selection from a previous post:

... Marged Haycock's translation of the MARWNAT VTHYR PEN, the 'Death-Song of Uther Pen[dragon].'  This is what she has in her notes to Line 7 of this elegy:

 7 eil kawyl yn ardu G emends kawyl > Sawyl, the personal name (from Samuelis
via *Safwyl). Sawyl Ben Uchel is named with Pasgen and Rhun as one of the
Three Arrogant Men, Triad 23, as a combative tyrant in Vita Cadoci (VSB 58);
and in CO 344-5. Samuil Pennissel in genealogies, EWGT 12 (later Benuchel),
Irish sources, and in Geoffrey of Monmouth. Other Sawyls include a son of
Llywarch, and the saint commemorated in Llansawel: see further TYP3 496,
WCD 581 and CO 104. Ardu ‘darkness, gloom; dark, dreadful (GPC), sometimes
collocated with afyrdwl ‘sad; sadness’ (see G, GPC).

Initially, I refused to get too excited about Uther calling himself a 'second Samuel' (the first, presumably, being the Biblical prophet of that name).  I mean, this was, after all, an emendation.  However, I asked Welsh language expert Dr. Simon Rodway of The University of Wales about the authority who made this emendation - one that was accepted by Haycock herself.  Our discussion on this matter ran as follows:

"Geirfa Barddoniaeth Gynnar Gymraeg, by John Lloyd-Jones

Cited several times by Marged Haycock in her edition of the Uther poem, and  she adopts many of his emendations.

A trustworthy, well-respected source, in your opinion?  Or is his work somewhat outdated or even obsolete?"

"It’s a very good piece of work, which I often use. It’s much more comprehensive than GPC [Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru, 'Dictionary of the Welsh Language']."

Such an unqualified, professional academic opinion of Lloyd-Jones changed everything!

As for how the error could have occurred, Dr. Rodway suggested the following scenario:

"It can’t be a case of miscopying a letter, but it could be eye-skip - when a copyist’s eye skips inadvertently to another nearby word resulting in an error.  In this case, he would have eye-skipped to the preceding line's 'kawell' to get the /k-/ fronting what should have been 'sawyl'.  Was not an uncommon error, so quite plausible.  Also, kawell and kawyl are unlikely to be the same word.  The poets avoided repeating words in consecutive lines. In cases where this does occur (v rare) it could be scribal error."

I had tried to use this information to connect Uther Pendragon with Sawyl Benisel (later Ben Uchel) of the North.  Such an attempt ultimately proved nonviable.

But just recently I reread the ever-unreliable Geoffrey of Monmouth, whose work cast a long shadow - even upon what had been preexisting Welsh tradition concerning Arthur.  And I was astonished to encounter this episode:


This Eldad(us) of Gloucester is Illtud of Glywysing (Glywys being the eponym of Caer Gloyw or Gloucester).  He is here likening himself to the Biblical Samuel, Sawyl in Welsh.

Combined with everything else I've come up with that seems to show Uther = Illtud, this apparent correspondence of the Elegy's 'eil Sawyl' or "second Samuel" with Illtud appearing symbolically as a 'second Samuel' is truly remarkable. 

It may be that what we are dealing with, after all, is an Arthur son of Illtud who was the chief opponent of Cerdic/Ceredig of Wessex.  Or who was at least put forward as such in heroic legend.  I suspect some confusion over the two originally separate figures may have occurred.  They may even have been conflated to some extant - which is a considerable irony. 




Friday, January 26, 2018

Caer Dathal and the Sons of Iaen

I've discussed in detail my idea that Caer Dathal may be related to Dindaethwy with one of the world's top experts in early Irish, Professor Jurgen Uhlich of Trinity College, Dublin.  He is less than enthusiastic about the idea, as is made clear by his most recent comments:

"I am not aware of any proven case of cutting of -al in particular for the purpose of forming a hypocoristic. One problem aside, namely that hypocoristics are more usually formed with a dedicated suffix (such as frequently -án, if not the older -u), another difficulty is that after “shortening”, it is generally impossible to ascertain what the lost second part was, unless there happens to be only one name in existence with that first part. A typical case to illustrate my point is Cathán, which in view of the popularity of cath in names could formally represent any one of Cathal, Cathgal, Cathgus, etc. And on top of that there is also the unshortened Cathalán, which could suggest (a full and much more time-consuming analysis of the material pending) that hypocoristic loss of -al was actually avoided.

And for the present case, an added difficulty is that Welsh Daeth is actually a poor fit even for *Dath/*Daith by itself because of the diphthong -ae-."

 Math Son of Mathonwy Sites in Relation to Dinas Emrys

If a case cannot be made for Caer Dathal being another name for Din Daethwy, where is the former fort?

One clue remains.  Arthur is said to be related to the sons of Iaen, who occupy Caer Dathal.  But Iaen is not a true personal name.  It is, instead, the Welsh word for ice or, more specifically, an ice sheet and, by extension, a glacier.  While it is certainly possible Iaen is a corruption of a real personal name (perhaps an Irish one), the Mabinogion stories are replete with such made-up personal names.  If we go with Iaen as a designation for someplace in Arfon dominated by ice, then we must look to that part of Arfon that included Snowdonia/Eryri.  

In previous blog posts I showed that there never was an Ambrosius at Dinas Emrys.  Nor is it likely the hillfort was ever really called after Vortigern as the "Fiery Pharoah".  The story of the High King giving Dinas Emrys and Gwynedd to Ambrosius was clearly substituted for what really happened, i.e. the northwestern part of Wales was given to or taken by the Irish.  There is ample evidence to support this claim, from Laigin place-names to the advent of Cunedda (a chieftain of the Ciannachta).  

Dinas Emrys is not only in Arfon, but in Eryri.  It lies in a location that, during hard winters, becomes an ice-laden landscape.  A fort in such a place might well have been poetically termed the home of the "Sons of Ice".  Dinas Emrys is also well-situated in regards to the other places that figure in the Math Son of Mathonwy tale (see the map above).

Could it be, then, that the reason Caer Dathal - such a famous place in the ancient lore of Wales - became lost is solely because its Irish nature had been concealed beneath the name of the legendary Ambrosius, last of the Romans in Britain?  Was it an Irish chieftain by the name of Dathal who was responsible for the proven sub-Roman occupation of Dinas Emrys?

I've long been frustrated with the Emrys story.  I knew that something else was there - but I couldn't find anything beneath the folklore accretions.  But if we accept as fact that it was not Ambrosius who took or was granted Gwynedd, but instead the Irish, then it stands to reason that Dinas Emrys itself must once have had an Irish name.  

And the Dathal of Caer Dathal is just such a name.

If Iaen ("ice") is indeed an indicator that the fort was in the mountains of Arfon, then all the various lowland forts that have been proposed for it can no longer be considered. While other forts exist in Snowdonia, none - to my knowledge - display evidence of Dark Age occupation.

THE SONS OF IAEN

Here is the entry on Iaen from P.C. Bartram's A CLASSICAL WELSH DICTIONARY:

IAEN. (Legendary).

A list of the sons of Iaen, supposed to be present at Arthur's Court, is given in the tale of
‘Culhwch and Olwen’ (WM 461, RM 107). Their names are:

Teregud, Sulien, Bradwen, Morien, Siawn, and Caradog,

and they are said to be men of Caer Dathal, kindred to Arthur on his father's side, or perhaps ‘on their
father's side’ (CO(2) p.77).

In the ‘Hanesyn Hen’ tract there is a list of the children of Iaen as follows (ByA §2 in EWGT
p.85):

Dirmig Corneu, Gwyn Goluthon, Siawn, Caradog, Ievannwy, Llychlyn, and a daughter, Eleirch*,
mother of Cydfan ab Arthur.

Note that only two names, Siawn and Caradog, are common to the two lists.

Garthiaen** is a township in the parish of Llandrillo-yn-Edeirnion (WATU). Caer Dathal is
presumably Caer Dathyl in Arfon mentioned in the Mabinogi branch of ‘Math’ (WM 81, RM 59). On
the site see W.J.Gruffudd, Math vab Mathonwy, 1928, pp.343-4; PKM p.251.


* There is a town called Eleirch (now Elerch) on the Afon [E]Leri in Ceredigion.  The wife of Ceredig son of Cunedda, my candidate for Arthur, is one Meleri, or 'My Eleri', which I've suggested is the divinized form of the river.

**I would add that there is an Afon Iaen in Montgomeryshire.








COMING SOON: The Sons of Iaen and a Problem with the Dathal-Daethwy Identification

Dinas Emrys, Arfon

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

A FINAL IDENTIFICATION FOR CAER DATHAL/DATHYL: A TALE OF TWO RIVERS

Long ago, I tried to show that Dindaethwy on Anglesey, just across the Menai Strait from Arfon, was the real Caer Dathal/Dathyl of Welsh sources.  The arguments for this can be found in my various blog posts here.  I also reinforced an earlier idea that Gilfaethwy was actually Gylf-Daethwy.   I had proposed an Irish Dath/Dathi as a hypocoristic form of Irish Dathal.  Dath means 'swift, nimble, with Dathal (citing personal correspondence here from Professor Jurgen Uhlich) being from

"two variants are attested (CGH ed. O’Brien; CGSH ed. Ó Riain), even varying across manuscripts variants, namely Dathal and Daithel. This variation points to original daith ‘quick’ in first position, with dath- due to “restoration” of the more common -al < *-wal. Original meaning thus ‘nimbly valorous’."

Even Patrick Sims-Williams acknowledges that the Irish Dathal may stand behind the place-name Caer Dathal.  See

https://books.google.com/books?id=4QgWDAAAQBAJ&pg=PA45&lpg=PA45&dq=dathyl+patrick+sims-williams&source=bl&ots=UI6dWNVNBd&sig=9sccxDXv7j9RwgfWpeoN7OBzki8&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjWuu75yu7YAhVC-mMKHbJhBG0Q6AEIPTAD#v=onepage&q=dathyl%20&f=false

My theory was not well received - not because there was anything wrong with it linguistically, but simply because the Welsh tradition insists this fort was in Arfon.  NOT on Mon/Anglesey.

A careful study of the place-names of MATH SON OF MATHONWY, the Fourth Branch of the Mabinogion, plainly indicates that this famous fort is probably either Dinas Dinlle or Caer Seiont/Caernarfon.  No other reading is possible.  For example, Gwydion and Lleu go for a walk one morning along the shore between Caer Dathal and Abermenai.  The only two forts on or near the shore of Arfon opposite Abermenai on Anglesey are those just mentioned. 

I now believe I can prove fairly conclusively that I was right - sort of.

When I studied the maps again, I noticed something I had missed before: both Porth(d)aethwy near the northern end of the Menai Strait and Caernarfon near the southern end of the Menai Strait had rivers of the same name.  The Afon Cadnants are quite prominent features of both cities.  Pasted below are the relevant map sections:



What this tells me is that at some point Caernarfon became mistakenly identified with Caer Dathal/Dindaethwy. 

Math son of Mathonwy, "Bear son of the Tribe of the Divine Bear", would appear to have had his chief court at Caernarfon.  This makes perfect sense, as the Roman fort of Segontium had surely been the primary center of the region.  Thus when we read Caer Dathal in the context of Math's fortress, we must interpret this as a confused reference to Caernarfon/Caer Seiont.

Now, the Dindaethwy fort is generally believed to be Din Silwy or Bwrdd Arthur/"Arthur's Table."  So far as I know, Caernarfon has no Arthurian associations.  So if Arthur did have relatives at Caer Dathal (even if only in legend), we are probably talking about the real place on Mon. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

A DECENT CASE FOR UTHER PENDRAGON AS AMBROSIUS - BUT IS IT CORRECT?

Crossed Serpents of Segontium (from the Notitia Dignitatum)

In past blog articles I've explored the "true identity" of Uther Pendragon from many angles.  There are only a handful of viable candidates.  However, as I'm now fairly certain that Arthur was, indeed, Ceredig son of Cunedda (at least all of my extensive research to date strongly indicates that this is true!), I thought we might look once more at the possibility that Uther was Cunedda, rather than being Ambrosius.

As I see it, once we accept Uther [Pen]Dragon as a title (and not all scholars do so), we have only four possible candidates for this personage:

1) Ambrosius
2) Vortigern (who in the "Gwarchan Maeldderw" is possessor of the Red Dragon)
3) St. Illtud 
4) Cunedda

Readers by now are familiar with my arguments for and against Vortigern (chronologically impossible, if nothing else; P.C.  Bartram estimates his birth date as 365 A.D.) and St. Illtud.  The latter looked especially promising early on, as he bears Latin military ranks or descriptors that are very close to the Welsh Uther [Pen]dragon.  Alas, I could not account for the name Arthur in the context of a scenario in which Illtud was his father.  Arthur is Latin/Roman Artorius and is a decknamen for an Irish Artri or British Arthr(h)i, 'Bear-king.'  The name or title was given to Ceredig because his original center of power appears to have been a headland fort at Aberarth, the mouth of the Afon Arth or Bear River.  Proof that this river was of vital - and probably religious - importance to the ruling family of Ceredigion is found in the bear-names among its early princes.

Ambrosius, as I've taken great pains to show, is an anachronistic figure, based on the 4th century Praetorian Prefect of Gaul and his son, St. Ambrose.  These figures, in turn, were conflated with the god Lleu and then with the Northern Myrddin.  Needless to say, this was not Arthur's father, either.

Cunedda's date is right; his "migration" to Wales is now generally dated to the 5th century (see John T. Koch's CELTIC CULTURE: A HISTORICAL ENCYCLOPEDIA).  

When I think about Cunedda, the first question that comes to mind is this:  although mentioned, along with his sons, in the HISTORIA BRITTONUM, why is there no inclusion of him in the Dinas Emrys story, where all of western Wales is given by Vortigern to Ambrosius?  And why, once we reach the pages of Geoffrey of Monmouth's HISTORY OF THE KINGS OF BRITAIN, is Cunedda reduced to the wholly fictional king Cunedagius?

Well, I can hazard a guess:  as I've been able to conclusively prove, Cunedda was Irish, not British.  So instead of having Vortigern give all of western Britain to the Irish, which is what actually happened, it was thought preferable to give that region to the "last of the Romans", i.e. Ambrosius. 

This is aptly demonstrated by the tradition that records Cadwallon Lawhir, grandson of Cunedda, driving the Irish from Arfon - where Dinas Emrys is located.  We know the Laigin left their name in the Lleyn Peninsula and at Dinllaen.  Cunedda and his sons were Ciannachta, so it quite plausible this tribal group eventually took the rest of western Wales from other Irish.

Given the association of not only Ambrosius with Dinas Emrys, but Uther Pendragon as well (see my previous identification of Brittany/Llydaw with Llyn Llydaw near the fort), we might logically ask whether the Terrible Chief-Dragon given western Wales by Vortigern was, in fact, Cunedda.  After all, the Cunorix son of Maquicoline found buried at Viroconium in Powys was a son of Cunedda, and Vortigern ruled from Powys.  

The "Marwnad Cunedda" tells us Cunedda was the dread of his enemies, and the serpents/dragons of Dinas Emrys may owe their origin to the crossed serpent standard of Segontium.  Early warriors or kings of Gwynedd are referred to in heroic terms as snakes or dragons.  Could it be that the real Terrible Chief-Dragon of Dinas Emrys was not Emrys, but instead Cunedda?  Or, possibly, an Irish chieftain who held Arfon prior to its conquest by the immediate descendants of Cunedda?

I will soon have Koch's edition and translation of the 'Death-Song of Cunedda.'  Perhaps further study of that poem will allow me to make more conclusive statements regarding the equation of Uther with Cunedda.  For now I will only say that Ambrosius at Dinas Emrys must be dispensed with, and an Irish presence substituted for him there.  





  








Saturday, January 20, 2018

Ambrosius Placed at Dinas Emrys Because the Fort Originally Belonged to Medraut? [Revisiting an Old Idea]

Confluence of the Afon Gamlan and Mawddach

In past articles and books, I've explored the various reasons why Ambrosius, a strange fusion of a 4th century A.D. Praetorian Prefect of Gaul, his son St. Ambrose, the god Lleu and even the Northern Myrddin (Merlin), came to be associated with the Dinas Emrys fort in Eryri. 

Now that I've settled on Ceredig son of Cunedda as Arthur, with Camlan situated at the Afon Gamlan in NW Wales (see THE BEAR KING: ARTHUR AND THE IRISH IN WALES AND SOUTHERN ENGLAND), it is perhaps time to attempt to resurrect an old idea.  In the following blog post

http://mistshadows.blogspot.com/2017/05/a-new-but-very-tentative-identification.html

I had demonstrated that Ambrosius as the "viro modesto" (see Gildas Chapter 25) could well have been wrongly identified with Medraut/Moderatus.  The Afon Gamlan, site of Arthur and Medraut's fateful Battle of Camlan, was located between Ceredig's kingdom of Ceredigion and Dinas Emrys.  Was it possible, I had wondered, that Dinas Emrys with its proven early medieval/Dark Age occupation had been the home of a chieftain named Medraut?  And that it was precisely his presence there which caused Ambrosius to be imaginatively imported to the site?

Maybe this idea is not as silly as it first seemed?






Thursday, January 18, 2018

REVISION OF THE BEAR KING NOW AVAILABLE

Paperback and ebook formats

Red and White Otherworld Animals in Welsh Tradition and the 'Dragons' of Dinas Emrys

Welsh tradition holds that white and red animals come from the Otherworld.  This motif has generally been explained by the existence early on of the British White Cattle (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_White_cattle).  Such cattle formed the chief source of wealth - and hence prestige - in early Celtic society.  Once this particular breed of cow was provided with a mythological origin, there was the natural tendency to identify any animal displaying these colors as being from the underworld or, conversely, to assume that if an animal came from that place it must be white and red.

I'd often wondered about this motif in connection with the white and red dragons of Dinas Emrys.

As I discuss in some depth in my book THE MYSTERIES OF AVALON, the original 'dragons' of this fort in Eryri were the cremated remains of war-chieftains, wrapped in cloth and inserted into funeral urns.  But folklore processes went to work on these simple burials and transformed the dragons into the genii of the British and English peoples.  Yet more mythological accretion altered the dragon story again, converting these monsters into lunar eclipse phenomenon (white moon vs. red moon). The red dragon was probably applied to the British because their nation had been "eclipsed" by the white English serpent.  Snakes, because of their ability to shed their skin and become bright and shiny again, were anciently paired with the moon, which goes from old to new and can take on a crescent or serpentine shape.  There may be further tie-in with the Roman insignia of the garrison at Segontium, which resembles two crossed serpents.  These serpents, in turn, might be a symbolic representation of the twin snakes of the Herakles myth. 

Recently, I happened to think about the serpents again in the context of real animals found in northwest Wales. As these funeral urns were said to be found below the fort's pool, my first thought was that the pool itself had been confused with Llyn Dinas below the fort.  If so, one of the prototypical animals that might have become confused with the dragon-chieftains were eels.  However, after checking with good Websites and with Welsh ichthyologists and fishery biologists, it became evident that the required white and red colors were wanting in this fish species.

Fortunately, there was an excellent candidate for the vermes/dragons: the Common European Viper.  This animal, found in Gwynedd, exhibits a marked degree of sexual dimorphism.  The male can have a white color, while the females can be red.

http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Vipera_berus/

These snakes gather together during the winter in hibernacula - underground, frost-free locations.  Their emergence from such communal dens would certainly appear to the casual observer as if they were issuing forth from the underworld!  In addition, the males engage in combats known as the 'Dance of the Adders.'  This pre-mating behavior sounds much like the combat of the red and white serpents of Dinas Emrys (with the reproductive coupling of males and females being confused with the earlier competitive efforts of the males).

The resemblance of the red and white dragons to the red and white vipers seems to me to be a rather amazing correlation.  At the very least it may prove to us once again that our keen observation of Nature has a profound effect on the development of folklore tales.

Male and Female Common European Vipers

Male Viper

Female Viper



Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Repost of an Old Note Regarding the Red Dragon of Wales


A NOTE ON VORTIGERN'S RED DRAGON

In the early Welsh poem "Gwarchan Maeldderw" (see G.R. Isaac's translation and commentary in CAMBRIAN MEDIEVAL CELTIC STUDIES 44, Winter 2002), we are told of the 'Pharaoh's red dragon.' The context of the poem makes it difficult if not impossible to tell exactly what the red dragon in this instance represents.  Is it a draco standard?  Or is it merely a poetic reference to Britons in their capacity as members of a field army?

The important thing about the passage is that the dragon is said to be the Pharaoh's.  The Pharaoh is what Vortigern was called in Gildas.  The name appears in later Welsh tradition as Ffaraon Dandde, the 'Fiery Pharaoh', owner of the Dinas Emrys fort prior to the advent there of Emrys/Ambrosius. The epithet for Ffaraon/Pharaoh was concocted through a misunderstanding of Gildas's Latin "Taneos dantes Pharaoni consilium insipens", 'giving foolish advice to Pharaoh.'

Thus in this poem we have the dragon standard or British warriors being referred to as belonging to Vortigern - not to Ambrosius. 

St. Ambrose and the Exhumation of Saints: The Prototype for Ambrosius and the Two Dragons of Dinas Emrys?


Double urn cremation burial

In the past, and again just recently, I've made my case for the "British" Ambrosius being but a legendary reflection of the 4th century Praetorian Prefect of Gaul of that name, perhaps fused with his much more famous son, St. Ambrose. I now have another reason for believing this last to be true, as St. Ambrose appears to play into the story of Dinas Emrys with its exhumation of the two "dragons"(originally the cremated remains of two chieftains placed in funeral urns).

For as it turns out, St. Ambrose did his own little bit of excavating of bodies.  He wrote about two such in one of his letters:

https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/source/ambrose-letter22.asp

1. As I do not wish anything which takes place here in your absence to escape the knowledge of your holiness, you must know that we have found some bodies of holy martyrs. For after I had dedicated the basilica,1 many, as it were, with one mouth began to address me, and said: Consecrate this as you did the Roman basilica. And I answered: "Certainly I will if I find any relics of martyrs." And at once a kind of prophetic ardour seemed to enter my heart.

2. Why should I use many words? God favoured us, for even the clergy were afraid who were bidden to clear away the earth from the spot before the chancel screen of SS. Felix and Nabor. I found the fitting signs, and on bringing in some on whom hands were to be laid,2 the power of the holy martyrs became so manifest, that even whilst I was still silent, one3 was seized and thrown prostrate at the holy burial-place. We found two men of marvellous stature, such as those of ancient days. All the bones were perfect, and there was much blood. During the whole of those two days there was an enormous concourse of people. Briefly we arranged the whole in order, and as evening was now coming on transferred them to the basilica of Fausta,4 where watch was kept during the night, and some received the laying on of hands. On the following day we translated the relics to the basilica called Ambrosian.

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/120122.htm

The miracle which was wrought at Milan when I was there, and by which a blind man was restored to sight, could come to the knowledge of many; for not only is the city a large one, but also the emperor was there at the time, and the occurrence was witnessed by an immense concourse of people that had gathered to the bodies of the martyrs Protasius and Gervasius, which had long lain concealed and unknown, but were now made known to the bishop Ambrose in a dream, and discovered by him. By virtue of these remains the darkness of that blind man was scattered, and he saw the light of day.

Paulinus in his VITA SANCTI AMBROSII mentions the same episode.

Coincidentally, the father of these two exhumed saints was named Vitalis  This is also the name of Vortigern's father.  Long ago (http://mistshadows.blogspot.com/2017/07/appendix-ii-vortigern.html) I demonstrated that Vitalis in the context of Votigern's ancestry was a Roman/Latin substitute for the Irish name Fedelmid.

ST. AMBROSE, ST. CELSUS AND UTHER PENDRAGON

Ambrose also dug up two other saints from a garden.  See

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazarius_and_Celsus

Celsus has an interesting definition.  From William Whitaker's Words (http://archives.nd.edu/words.html):

cels.us              ADJ    1 1 NOM S M POS         
celsus, celsa, celsum  ADJ   [XXXAO]
high, lofty, tall; haughty; arrogant/proud; prominent, elevated; erect; noble;

As it happens Celsus exactly matches in meaning the original definition offered for Welsh uther by Professor John Koch.  For Uther is believed to be cognate with Welsh uachtar and meant 'high, lofty' (see CELTIC CULTURE: A HISTORICAL ENCYCLOPEDIA).

The mode of execution of Celsus was decapitation. Of course, one of the meanings of Welsh pen, as in Pendragon, was 'head' - as in the human head.

According to Geoffrey of Monmouth's fictional history, Uther was buried at Amesbury's Stonehenge. Amesbury was confused with Dinas Emrys in the tradition.  The former place-name was thought to mean the same thing as Dinas Emrys, i.e. the 'Fort of Ambrosius.'


Saturday, January 13, 2018

DINAS EMRYS IN 'LLYDAW': A NEW ORIGIN POINT FOR UTHER PENDRAGON

In past blog posts, I discussed various possible 'Llydaws' in or adjacent to Wales that could have been used as substitutes for Llydaw or Brittany proper.  Among these are the Vale of Leadon, which borders on the ancient Welsh kingdom of Ercing, as well as a possible identification with the Ui Liathain territory in Co. Cork (Munster).

Here I wish to confine myself to an actual known Llydaw in Wales - Llyn Llydaw, a large lake in Arfon, Gwynedd.

I had not paid much attention to this location in the past - and possibly to my detriment.  For Llyn Llydaw is not only a mere half dozen kilometers from Dinas Emrys, it is the feeder lake for the river that empties into Llyn Dinas at the foot of this hillfort.  I'm attaching here some maps that nicely show the geographical proximity and relationship of these sites.


We will recall that Geoffrey of Monmouth has Constantine and his sons, Aurelius Ambrosius and Uther Pendragon, come to Britain from Brittany (or Llydaw).  Discount Geoffrey's clumsy (or ingenious) conflation of Ambrosius and the Northern Merlin (Myrddin) at Dinas Emrys.  Never mind that hillfort's further confusion with Amesbury near Stonehenge in Wiltshire.  If we stick with pre-Galfridian tradition (Nennius), Ambrosius Aurelianus is given Dinas Emrys by Vortigern, along with all the kingdoms of the western part of Britain, i.e. Gwynedd.

Suppose, hypothetically speaking, we allow for Uther Pendragon coming to southern Wales from Dinas Emrys in "Llydaw"?

At one time or another I've tried to make a case for Uther being either a title for Ambrosius himself (an unhelpful identification, as Ambrosius belongs to the 4th century and was never even in Britain!) or for the great Cunedda.  If we place Ambrosius at Dinas Emrys, does this help us any in our quest for the Terrible Chief Dragon?

Yes - perhaps.  But not in the way we may wish it to!

Dinas Emrys was in Eryri, and I've explained in the past how this mountain-name could easily have been confused for the Welsh word for eagle.  The same was true of Aquileia on the Continent (easily associated with Latin aquila), and so a whole bunch of famous Roman emperors and peripheral figures get relocated to Dinas Emrys in legend.  St. Ambrose (namesake of his father, a Governor of Gaul) is found there, as is Magnus Maximus (called Maximo tyranno in the HISTORIA BRITTONUM, a name/title that could easily have been associated with Vor-tigern).  Maximus is executed at Aquileia. The usurper Eugenius was killed near Aquileia (probably this is the Owain Finddu son of Maximus at Dinas Emrys). Constantine II was killed at Aquileia, and we know Gratian was there, too.  The HISTORIA BRITTONUM tells us that St. Martin spoke with Maximus (see http://www.livius.org/sources/content/martinus-of-tours-and-maximus/).  If Myrddin was linked by Geoffrey of Monmouth with Martin, this may be one reason why he chose to identify Myrddin/Merlin with Ambrosius at Dinas Emrys.  Constantius II captured Aquileia, and forces loyal to the future pagan emperor Julian (who was intimately associated with the draco and the dragon) laid siege to the city.

Ambrosius Aurelianus himself, as the 'Divine/Immortal Golden One', came to be identified with the god Lleu, made Lord of Gwynedd in Welsh story.  Lleu is found in eagle form in Nantlle in Eryri.  A.A. as a fatherless boy in the ballgame at Campus Elleti is a motif borrowed from the story of the Irish god Mac Og, 'Young Son.'  In Welsh tradition, Mabon and Lleu are identified, as both are placed in Nantlle in death.  This identification of A.A. with Lleu/Mabon may have eased the former's identification with the Northern Myrddin (Merlin), who has strong Lleu affinities. 

In short, the legends surrounding Dinas Emrys are a tangled mess.  According to Bartram, Arfon (in which Dinas Emrys was situated) was not a part of the original occupied territory of Cunedda and his sons. Pasted here is the relevant section from A CLASSICAL WELSH DICTIONARY:

"The ‘Harleian’ genealogies supplement this (HG 32, 33 in EWGT p.13) as follows:
These are the names of the sons of Cunedda, whose number was nine: [1] Tybion, the first-born,
who died in the region called Manaw Gododdin and did not come hither with his father and his
aforesaid brothers. Meirion, his son, divided the possessions among his [Tybion's] brothers. 2.
Ysfael, 3. Rhufon, 4. Dunod, 5. Ceredig, 6. Afloeg, 7. Einion Yrth, 8. Dogfael, 9. Edern.
This is their boundary: From the river which is called Dyfrdwy [Dee], to another river, the Teifi;
and they held very many districts in the western part of Britain.

A similar account is given in the second Life of St.Carannog (§§2, 3 in VSB 148) except that the
southern boundary is made the Gwaun instead of the Teifi. The secular boundary of Ceredigion was
always the Teifi. The variant version is due to the fact that the Archdiaconical region was later extended to the Gwaun, so that it included part of Dyfed (VSB pp.xi-xii).

All the sons of Cunedda listed above, except Tybion and Einion Yrth, gave their names to the
kingdoms which were allotted to them, namely, Ysfeilion, Rhufoniog, Dunoding, Ceredigion, Afloegion, Dogfeiling and Edeirnion; Meirion, son of Tybion, gave his name to Meirionydd, and Einion's kingdom appears to have been Rhos.

The sons of Cunedda thus held the north and west coastal districts of Wales, from the mouth of
the Clwyd to the mouth of the Teifi, with the exception of Llyn, Arfon, Arllechwedd, and most of
Anglesey. These seem to have been conquered later by Cadwallon Lawhir ab Einion Yrth. The position of these conquests suggests that entry was made by the sea. (A.W.Wade-Evans in Arch.Camb., 85 (1930) p.333); WCO 39, 88)...

To Cadwallon [born c. 440 A.D.], who was probably not the eldest son, it fell to extend the dominions of the family in Arfon and to conquer the greater part of Môn from the Irish inhabitants [Gwyddyl]. This can be gathered from relatively late traditions. A great battle was fought at a place called Cerrig-y-Gwyddyl in Môn, and Cadwallon's war-band tied the fetter-locks of their horses to their own feet [lest they should waver] in the fight against Serigi Wyddel, so that they are called one of the ‘Three Fettered War-Bands’ of Ynys Prydain (TYP no.62). Cadwallon was aided in the battle by his three cousins, Cynyr, Meilir and Yneigr, sons of Gwron ap Cunedda. Cadwallon slew Serigi at a place called Llam-y-Gwyddyl, ‘the Irishmen's Leap’, in Môn (ByA §29(15) in EWGT p.92). Some later versions mistakenly write Caswallon and Llan-y-Gwyddyl."

The irony here, of course, is that Cunedda came from Ireland (see my previous books and many articles), and his sons were either Irish themselves or Hiberno-British.  They may have chased out the Laigin (a tribal name preserved in that of Dinllaen and Lleyn).  But any conquest inland, including the region of Dinas Emrys in Arfon, would have been at the expense of native Britons.

What all of this tells me is that I might well have been right, all those years ago, when I proposed, only half-seriously, that Uther Pendragon was merely a title for Ambrosius Aurelianus.  This latter "fictional" chieftain of Dinas Emrys was said to be (HB Chapter 48) rex magnus or the 'great king' among the Britains.  His fort was that of the Red Dragon, symbolic of the British, so he was the de facto pen or "chief" of that particular beast.  Also, Vortigern was said to have 'timore Ambrosii', dread of Ambrosius.  One of the meanings of Uther (see GPC) is 'dreadful'.  It was not difficult to see in this combination of facts the title Uther Pendragon.

To quote from Bruce's THE ARTHURIAN NAME DICTIONARY:

"After Geoffrey's chronicle, Ambrosius disappears from legend and romance for some time. The authors of the Prose Merlin and the Vulgate Cycle renamed him Pendragon [emphasis mine]. He resurfaces in the seventeenth century..."

Now, partly this can be explained by the Galfridian fusion of Ambrosius and Merlin at Dinas Emrys.  As Merlin now played a prominent role, that of Ambrosius would naturally have been downplayed or even to have disappeared.  However, it does not account for why the Pendragon epithet continued to be used as a separate character, and one plainly based on Ambrosius.  Instead, this would seem to be confirmation of my idea that Ambrosius IS Uther Pendragon.

My reluctance to adhere to this notion had to do with my desire (not unique among Arthurian scholars) to identify Uther with a chieftain who could actually be Arthur's father.  And that desire, I now feel, has led me seriously astray.

The only way for me to explain the Arthur name and his undeniable connection with the Irish, as well as the locations of his battles, is to remain faithful to the theory propounded in my book THE BEAR KING, i.e. that Arthur is a decknamen for either Irish Artri or British Arthr(h)i, 'Bear-king', and that this title was applied to Ceredig son of Cunedda (= Cerdic of Wessex).  

That Uther is said to have come from the Llydaw in Arfon would be correct in one sense only: the descendants of Cunedda, father of Ceredig/Arthur, had conquered and settled that region early on.  As the progenitor of the princes of Gwynedd, Cunedda was the true Terrible Chief Dragon.



Thursday, January 11, 2018

An Ardri, a Three-Fossed Fort and Arthur and Cadwy




I've recently been thinking of the Dindraethou I've recently identified pretty positively with Dawes Castle near Watchet.  Arthur is placed here with Cato/Cadwy, a known ruler of Dumnonia.  The presence of this last ruler had me thinking that Dindraethou had to be one of the Cadbury forts.  But I have no doubt that Dawes Castle is the right place - at least according to the Life of St. Carannog.

Suppose, however, that Dawes Castle (which is a Saxon fort and had nothing to do with Arthur) is a substitute for a Cadbury - a Cadbury that was called Dun Tradui/Tredui or the 'Triple-fossed fort" in the Irish CORMAC'S GLOSSARY?  And supposed this triple-fossed fort was Cadbury Castle at South Cadbury, with its evidence of major early medieval reuse?

Many years ago I naively suggested that the name Arthur could be from the Irish title ardri, 'high king.'  In CORMAC'S GLOSSARY, the high king Crimthann mac Fidaig is said to have founded Dun Tradui in Britain 'in the land of the Cornish Britains.'

Now, scholars will allow the Roman Artorius as being a decknamen used to replace an Artri or Arthr(h)i name, i.e. an Irish or British 'Bear-king.'  Could the same have happened with an Irish Ardri - perhaps originally applied as a title, not a proper name?

The Irish ard, 'high', became in Welsh ardd.  The /dd/ here is voiced like /th/. Thus is we allow a phonological development, Arddri, pronounced Arthri, could have been replaced by Artorius/Arthur.
At least this seems so to me.  I am, of course, checking with some Welsh linguists to see if such a development was at all possible.  It may not have been. I do find place-name components constantly alternating between ardd and arth.

For now - and purely for fun - let's run with the idea.  What would it mean to say that Arthur 'the Ardri' or High King was at Cadbury Castle?

Well, if I'm right and Arthur was the son of Illtud of the Ui Liathain, then he was acting in a similar capacity as his father, who served Pawl Penychen as master of soldiers.  In other words, Arthur was the general of the troops headquartered at Cadbury Castle. Perhaps he was given his "name" in memory of Crimthann mac Fidaig - as both men were Irish, and of Munster, and both occupied the same fort.  We are reminded that in the Geraint elegy, Arthur's men are said to be fighting at Llongborth. In the past I've tried to explain this away as being figurative/metaphorical.  He is called "ameraudur" or emperor (L. imperator).

Subsequent Arthurs would then all, in a sense, be "High-kings" - a glorified name if ever there was one!

Once again, though, I emphasize that this might be a very silly notion.  As soon as I know one way or the other, I will add an addendum to this post.

NOTE: As I suspected, this idea does not work.  Not a single Celtic or Welsh scholar I contacted thought it worth considering.  Their unanimous view is best summed up by the words of Dr. Simon Rodway from The University of Wales:

"In a word, 'no'. There is no evidence whatsoever for Middle Welsh *arddri, ardd only exists vestigially in place-names, have been usurped at an early stage by uchel, and if Irish ardri had been borrowed into Welsh, it would have sounded completely different to Welsh ears than Arthur. The sounds written in Modern Welsh as dd and th are totally different. Your arth for ardd can only be due to experimental early orthography."

















COMING SOON: Looking Again at the Name Arthur


A very old problem for Arthurian scholars, this one: what is the origin of the name Arthur?

Many ideas out there, most invalid from a philological and/or phonological standpoint.  Conventional wisdom has it deriving from Roman Artorius, perhaps a decknamen for an Irish or British name. 

But I want to approach this from another direction.  We do not find the name in Ireland.  Purely British chieftains of the time did not choose it for their sons.  Instead, it is found only among Hiberno-British royal families.  WHY?

I will do my best to supply a reasonable answer to that question in the next few days. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A HUGE DISCOVERY: WHY ALL SUBSEQUENT ARTHURS BELONGED TO IRISH-DESCENDED DYNASTIES IN BRITAIN

Dinas Powys, Glamorgan, Wales

My readers will know that next to the problem of identifying Uther [Pen]Dragon - which I've now accomplished - I've been constantly vexed by what one could call "The Irish Problem."  No bad pun intended.  In a nutshell, no one has been able to satisfactorily account for the fact that all of the Arthurs immediately subsequent to the original, more famous one belong to Irish-founded dynasties in Britain.  

I've now solved that problem as well.

My past identification of the 'Llydaw' that is said to lie in or adjacent to Wales is wrong.  I had made a linguistically sound selection of the Vale of Leadon, and drawn attention to the fact that this region bordered on Ercing, which itself has many Arthurian associations. This seemed to make sense of a lot, but left The Irish Problem unresolved.

The clue to finding the answer to this riddle lies in the most recent archaeological assessment of the Dinas Powys promontory fort in Glamorgan, where Arthur's father Illtud, the terribilis miles, was the leader of the household soldiers.  According to this analysis, there may well have been Irish involved in the establishment and habitation of Dinas Powys during the Arthurian period.

I had called attention to the fact that the name Powys is the same as that of the kingdom of Powys in central Wales, which in Romano-British times had been the tribal territory of the Cornovii.  The Cornovii, as I also pointed out, bore a name practically identical to the regional designation Cernyw, the Welsh name for Cornwall.  Arthur is consistently placed in Cornwall in Welsh tradition.  There is a Durocornovium, Fort of the Cornovii, hard by Liddington Castle or Badbury.  Both these last sites are also quite close to Barbury, the 'Bear's Fort.'

Why is any of this significant?  Because in Cormac's Glossary, the fort of the Ui Liathain is called 'dind map Lethain.'  Lethain is a very common early spelling given to Irish lethan, 'broad, wide, wide-spread', the cognate of Leadon and from the same root that yielded Llydaw, Letavia (Brittany).  Cf. Welsh llydan.  According to Professor Jurgen Uhlich of Trinity College, Dublin, "lethain is simply one of several regular case forms of lethan, i.e. gen. sg. m./n., dat/acc. sg. fem. or nom pl. m.".

I also find Liathain in Irish Latin as 'Lethani' (Vita Sancta Columba).

That the two words were mistaken for each other in Irish is shown in COIR ANMANN or THE FITNESS OF NAMES (H.3.18, p. 565a):

50. Fedlimith Uillethan, that is, Fedlimith Ua-Liathain, that is in Húi Liathain he was reared. Hence he was named Fedlimith Uillethan. Or Fedlimith Ollethan i.e. huge (oll) and broad (lethan) was he: thence he was named.

Place-names containing these words may also have been substituted for each other.  In Geoffrey Keating's THE HISTORY OF IRELAND FROM THE EARLIEST PERIOD TO THE ENGLISH INVASION, I find "Drom Liathain (Drum Lee-hawin), is probably Drom Lethan (Drum Lahan), now Drumlane, co. Cavan."  This is confirmed in Edmund Hogan's ONOMASTICON GOEDELICUM: "d. liatháin Fm. i. 44; ¶  prob. for D. Leathan, now Drumlahan or Drumlane, c. Cav.; ¶  Eochaid fought against the Ernu and the Mairthine at D. L., Hk. 324, Lec. 63, 578, Sb. 4 a 1, K. 131 b, Lg. 91; ¶  most prob. in Mun."  Drum/Druim Leathan is 'Broad Ridge' (https://www.logainm.ie/en/5248).

A truly extensive search might well uncover other examples.

Francis J. Byne, in his magisterial IRISH KINGS AND HIGH-KINGS (p. 184) says "Lethain is the archaic form of Liathain." 

The Liathain tribal name is from an epithet whose root is the word for 'grey' in the Irish language and is not related to lethan/lethain.  However, it would have been very easy to have intentionally or accidentally used a spelling of Lethain for Liathain and thus created a "Brittany" within Wales.  

Many writers, myself included, have discussed in detail the many Irish kingdoms in Britain.  The Welsh sources themselves (see HISTORIA BRITTONUM, Chapter 14) tell us that the sons of Liathan "prevailed in the country of the Demetians, where the city of Mynyw is, and in other countries, that is Gower and Kidwelly, until they were expelled by Cunedda, and by his sons..." [Recall that Cunedda and his sons were the Gewissei, with Cunedda's son Ceredig being Cerdic of Wessex.  The Gewissei were Arthur's chief adversary.]

Illtud's father's name - Bicanus - bears a striking resemblance to that of the early Irish Bec(c)an.  Some of these last were native to Munster.

https://medievalscotland.org/kmo/AnnalsIndex/Masculine/Beccan.shtml

O Corrain and Maguire's IRISH NAMES has:

BECCAN: BEAGAN m, 'little man.'

From the Electronic Dictionary of the Irish Language:

becán

Forms: becain

n o, m. (bec) IGT Decl. § 35.

(a) a little, small quantity: b.¤ gl. pauxillum, Sg. 14a12 . ÉC xi 110. gl. paululus, 48a3 . ar na hernigther mar i mbec, Laws v 476.28 glossed: moran i bail i ndlegar becan, 478.31 Comm. dobeir begán dobeir mórán / is dobeir in fichid marg, SG 287.1 . tucc Dīa sonus for beccān bíd, BColm. 60.16 . morán . . . beagán, 2 Cor. viii 15. so cenn begain aimsiri `in a short while', St. Ercuil 258. begcan dergci innti, Maund. 71. begān glōir do budh mōr neimh a small voice (lit. a little of a voice), ZCP viii 223.6 . le beagán do shásadh, DDána 20.26 . beccán becc íarna thionntúdh = a little after, RSClára 16a . began ┐ én mhile amhain `a little more than one mile only', Mart. Don. May 20. a few, a small number: in becan sa dib these few of them (at end of list), LU 2486 ( RC iv 256 § 25 ). in becan ro batar those few, Cog. 176.29 . cenmotha in beccan Cristaige, LB 154a 33 . tāinic Eōgan begān soc[h]raidi `with a few' (Gloss.), ML² 407. becān do maithib a muinntire, 921 . Eoin Bruinne is a bheagán ban, Dán Dé xx 37 . gluaissit begān buidhne `proceeded with a small company', Fl. Earls 20.10 . lé begán briathar `in a few words', FM v 1716.10 . As adv. a little, slightly: fri Dísiurt Lóchait antúaid bican (bicon, TBC² 772 ), LU 5249. codail begán begán beg, Duan. Finn i 84.1 . iníslighid begān, RSClára 105a . In phr. do b.¤ : in mac taisigh rob ferr do bí i nErinn do beagan that was no doubt the best, AU ii 550.9 . na biadha ┐ na deocha as measa do bheagan (= parum deterior potus aut cibus), 23 K 42 , 22.7 .

(b) little one, child; humble, lowly one: indat blaithe beccain (: Breccáin) `little ones', Fél.² Sept. 4 . becain .i. humiles , cxl . Note also: obsa becan (? of a horse) a little fellow (?), IT iii 68.1 .

The corresponding Welsh form is:

bychan

[†bych1+-an, H. Gym. bichan, H. Grn. boghan, Crn. C. byhan, Llyd. bihan, Gwydd. becán, beccán]

a. (b. bechan) a hefyd weithiau fel eg.b. ac adf. ll. bychain, gr. cmhr. bychaned, lleied, llai, lleiaf (a bychanaf weithiau).

a  Bach, o ychydig faint neu nifer:

little, small, minute, diminutive. 

I've not found this as a personal name in the Welsh sources. It is found later in Welsh as a nickname or epithet.

I'm now prepared to claim, rather boldly, that the Welsh 'Llydaw' from which Illtud's father Bicanus hailed, and from where Illtud got his wife, is none other than Irish Ui Liathain, a small kingdom in Munster.



This would explain, finally, why all the Dark Age Arthurs were of Hiberno-British extraction.  

As for the name Arthur itself, all authorities now insist this can only be from the Roman Artorius.  So either Illtud the terribilis miles/Uther Dragon took this name for his son to add a Latin dignity to his family, or as has been suggested before Artorius was a decknamen used to replace an Irish or British 'Bear-king" name.  


Beginning Work on the Revision of The Bear King Today (1/9/2018)


Not exactly sure when it will be available, but it shouldn't take too awfully long to complete.  When it's ready, I will post the Amazon.com links here. 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

WHO WAS ARTHUR?: A SUMMARIZED ACCOUNT OF MY FINDINGS TO DATE

Arthurian Sites 

I'd spent many a year trying to "pin down" the very elusive Arthur.  While I made progress on several fronts, I was constantly stymied by my inability to get past the false genealogy thrust upon him by Geoffrey of Monmouth or his source. I had determined that the birth story of Tintagel was manifestly fraudulent.  Eigr (Geoffrey's Ygerna) was a Welsh form of the Greek name for the headland itself or for its goddess, and as Arthur's birth story copied that of Herakles (as well as that of the Irish Mongan, in whose story a mil uathmar or terrible warrior appeared), I identified Tintagel with the Promontory (akron) of Herakles found in Ptolemy.  No matter what I did, I could not properly place Arthur (who has, literally, been placed pretty much everywhere!) on the map.

It was, in fact, my failure to link Arthur to a verifiable pedigree that, eventually, forced me to abandon a Northern candidate.  I continued to try and find convincing ways to put him in the North, but no matter how hard I tried, no matter how compelling or clever my arguments, he simply wasn't present in any of the lines of descent for the Men of the North.  As I did not believe (and still don't) that the only viable historical personage who could have been the 5th-6th century Arthur was the Roman period Lucius Artorius Castus, and as the vast majority of the Welsh traditions insist Arthur was actually in the South, for the sake of intellectual honesty and personal - and very obsessive curiosity - I had to forsake my preconceptions and start afresh in my quest for the enigmatic hero.

In my book THE BEAR KING (still available on Amazon.com under my author's name August Hunt), I came to realize that the Arthurian battles found in the HISTORIA BRITTONUM were Welsh versions of the battles assigned to the Gewessei in the ANGLO-SAXON CHRONICLE.  Approximately half belonged to Cerdic of Wessex (= Ceredig son of Cunedda), while the remainder belonged to other members of his family.  There were some arth ("bear") names in Ceredig's pedigree, and an Arth River in his Welsh kingdom of Ceredigion.  I proposed that the Roman name Arthur was a decknamen substituted for an earlier Irish or British title or name meaning "Bear-king."  This seemed satisfactory, although I was still unable to account for his father's name or title, Uther Pendragon.  Sure, Cunedda could have been the Terrible Chief-warrior, but nowhere in the extant tradition was he called such. I was merely assigning him the title, as I had done for other prospective fathers of Arthur.  And there was no justification for doing so!

Then one day, while discussing Arthurian matters with fellow enthusiast Simon Keegan, it was suggested to me that Arthur may have been the opponent of the Gewessei.  This made a great deal of sense, for if the English claimed Ceredig/Cerdic as their ally in the formation of early Wessex, why would the Welsh also try to claim him as a great hero who fought against the English?  Clearly, the Welsh - despite Ceredig's origin in western Wales - would not have chosen as their champion a man who had fought as a mercenary with the English against Britons!

I decided to run with Simon Keegan's idea, just to see where it might carry me.  To begin, I had to once again tackle the nagging problem of Uther Pendragon.

My first task was to critically examine the Book of Taliesin poem on Uther.  This process entailed actually re-translating the poem, which is of a very cryptic nature.  Most importantly, I learned from a MS. expert at the Welsh library holding the earliest extant version of the poem that the title had originally read "The Death-Song of Uther Dragon." Pen- was only added later by the rubricator.  The Welsh expert was unable to account for this change.  While interesting, this did not really mean anything to me - yet.

Next I took another look at the 'Pa gur' poem.  There we are told that the god Mabon son of Modron was the servant (guas) of Uther Pendragon.  More importantly, in this context Mabon is one of the predatory birds of Elei, this being the River Ely in southern Wales.  I asked myself the following question: if Mabon is of the River Ely, and he is the servant of Uther, might Uther himself be from or of Elei? I filed this bit of information away and went forward with more research.

I knew that Dark Age occupation of the Dinas Powys fort near the Ely had been proven archaeologically.  Could it be, I wondered, that Uther belonged to this fort?  Just a crazy notion, yet one I decided to pursue, as I really had nothing to lose at that point.

I discovered that a ruler of the right time and place was mentioned in the Welsh sources - a certain Pawl Penychen son of Glywys.  This chieftain may well have ruled from Dinas Powys.  Could he have been Uther Pendragon?

Alas, no.  No evidence of that, whatsoever.  Still, a glimmer of hope appeared at this juncture.  For another very famous early Welshman served Pawl as a leader of the household troops before (supposedly) going on to become a saint.  This was none other than Illtud, reputedly a cousin of Arthur.  Illtud was the son of a king of Llydaw named Bicanus.  I had earlier shown that this Llydaw was not Brittany, but a designation for the Vale of Leadon northeast of Gloucester that bordered on Ercing (where we find many Arthurian connections).  Not coincidentally, Uther is said to come from Brittany.  The Vale of Leadon had once been a part of the territory of the Dobunni tribe, and later of the Hwicce.

When I read the Life of St. Illtud in both Latin and English translation, I made a remarkable discovery.  This man was referred to as "terribilis miles", a descriptor which perfectly matched that of Uther [Pen]Dragon!  

I knew immediately that after only a couple decades of searching (!!!) I had, at last, found Arthur's true father.

Once I had figured this out, the rest all fell into place rather easily.  My treatment of the Arthurian battles in THE BEAR KING could be retained - with the exception of Camlan, which clearly could no longer be situated in NW Wales.  An examination of all the extant Cam- place-names in southern England revealed only one that could have a bearing on Camlan, in this case as being derived from *Cambolanda, not *Camboglanna: the great Uley Bury hillfort in Gloucestershire (see the blue pushpin in the map posted at the top of the page). 

Two exciting details emerged from my tentative identification of the Uley fort with Camlan.  First, the Uley shrine on West Hill hard by the fort was an ancient religious place that continued as a Christian center from the Arthurian period onward.  Second, the Lydney shrine just across the Severn from Uley would appear to be *Nemetaballa, the "Sacred Grove of the Apple-trees", i.e. Avalon.  While Arthur's burial at West Hill seemed most likely, his conveyance to Lydney after death was not an impossibility.  [I have marked both shrines with red pushpins on the map.]

If Arthur, like his father, were a war-leader, and was fighting from the old region of the Dobunni, then the arrangement of the Arthurian battles made a great deal of sense.  In the map posted at the top of this page, the yellow push pins represent these sites.  Both Bath and the Liddington Castle Badbury are marked for Badon, although I now strongly favor the latter as the correct location for Arthur's most famous victory.  I've also long held that Barbury Castle (green pushpin on the map) near Liddington, the 'Bear's fort', may well be an English reference to Arthur having been at that hillfort, as arth in Welsh means "bear."  Lastly, as the Dinas Powys fort of Uther bears a name identical with that of the Powys kingdom, the earlier tribal territory of the Cornovii (cf. Kernyw/Cornwall, with which Arthur is constantly associated in Welsh tradition), so do we find a Durocornovium or  'Fort of the Cornovii' near Wanborough, which itself is hard by Liddington Castle.  

That's pretty much it in a nutshell.  As I've not been able to find anything wrong with this theoretical reconstruction of the life and death of Arthur, I don't feel obliged to expand my investigatory methods in another direction.  Of course, should someone be able to dismantle any particular detail of the case I've built, the whole thing may come tumbling down like the proverbial house of cards.  And though I would be disappointed by such a painful disproof, I doubtless would once again venture forth on a new quest for a new Arthur.