Thursday, December 29, 2016

ARTHUR'S BREGUOIN (excerpted from previous blog post)

Liddington Castle (Badbury)

Breguoin is, certainly, for the Brewyn of the Urien poems, i.e. the Bremenium Roman fort.  All my attempts to make something else of it have failed.  As Dr. Simon Rodway of the University of Wales succinctly states,

"It's from Bremenium. The <gu> stands quite regularly for /w/, and the oi for the diphthong /ui/ < /e:/, a spelling  which is found elsewhere in Old Welsh. All this is explained quite clearly by Kenneth Jackson. There is nothing controversial about this derivation."

Obviously, if Arthur = Cerdic/Ceredig, and all his other battles were in the South, it makes no sense for him to have fought at Bremenium.  A Welsh glossator had a problem with the name as well, claiming it was for Bregion.  As Jackson and others have made clear, Bregion simply means hills in Old Welsh.  In Middle Welsh this would become Breon (see Peter Schrijver's STUDIES IN BRITISH CELTIC HISTORICAL PHONOLOGY, 1995).  As it happens, we have an excellent - nay, perfect - candidate for Bregion very close to the other battles Cerdic/Arthur was fighting in this region.

Brean in Somerset appears to have preserved the Breon spelling.  Early forms for Brean are Brien, Breen, Broen, Bren, Breon.  And Brean Down boasts a promontory fort, as well as other ancient structures, including a Romano-British temple ( http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=1065575&sort=4&search=all&criteria=brean%20down&rational=q&recordsperpage=10http://pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=191302&sort=2&type=HILLFORT&typeselect=c&rational=a&class1=None&period=None&county=100248&district=None&parish=None&place=&recordsperpage=10&source=text&rtype=&rnumber=).

Unfortunately, the glossator is plainly wrong.  Breguoin does not stand for Bregion.

I think there is a rather simple solution to this problem.  Only several miles north of Bath is the Bury Camp or Bury Wood Camp, a major hillfort:

http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=208476&sort=4&search=all&criteria=Bury%20Wood%20Camp&rational=q&recordsperpage=10


This hillfort is between the By Brook and its two tributaries the Doncombe Brook and the Lid Brook. It is also very near the Roman road known as the Fosse Way.  Now, as it happens, Lid is from OE hlyde, 'loud', and as Ekwall and others have made clear, the meaning was something like "the roaring brook".  Bremenium has the British root *brem- (cf. Welsh bref), and as found in Bremenium was named for a stream near the Roman fort that has the exact same meaning, i.e. it was "the roaring stream."  There is an Afon Brefi and a Roman fort Bremia in the Cardiganshire of Ceredig son of Cunedda.

I would make a case, then, for Breguoin (Brewyn, Bremenium) being a Welsh rendering of the Lid Brook name, and as a hill-name is would stand Bury Wood Camp to the north of the Lid Brook.

A NOTE ON LIDDINGTON CASTLE/BADBURY

Readers of my book THE ARTHUR OF HISTORY and of previous blog entries posted here will be familiar with my comprehensive discussion of the place-name Badon as it relates to OE bathum, 'baths', and to baddan(-byrig).  In brief, there is not a single Celtic linguist who will allow Badon to have come from Baddan-.  All insist the form comes quite regularly from bathum.  

Recently, I made an attempt to derive OE Baddan- (from a supposed personal name Badda, although other ideas have been proposed) from an original Brythonic source.  This effort also failed.  To summarize why Badda/Baddan- can't come from the British, here is what Professor Richard Coates sent me:

"Badda, if borrowed, and if we take the double <dd> seriously, is difficult to link to a Brittonic etymon.

British */t/ > Britt. */d/ would show up as OE /d/, not as a geminate (double).
British */tt/ > Britt. */θ/ would show up as OE */θ/, written with thorn, but never <dd>.
British */d/ > Britt. */ð/ would show up as OE /d/ or /ð/, depending on the period, for which the spelling <dd> is most unlikely.
British */dd/ seems to have yielded simple Britt. */d/ (Jackson LHEB 428, on credu), and would show up as OE /d/, not as a geminate (double).

So I conclude that Badda cannot be of Celtic  origin, particularly because Late British did not have geminate /dd/."

However, I should point out what would otherwise appear to be an odd coincidence.  The Liddington name, as applied to the Badbury/Baddanbyrig hill-fort near Swindon, also means "loud or roaring stream." This would, then, match the meaning of Breguoin just as a fort on the Lid Brook might have done.  In the past I have pointed out that the Barbury or "Bear's Fort" near Liddington/Badbury could be an early English reference to Arthur, as his name was connected by the Welsh with their word arth, 'bear.'  Furthermore, Wanborough near Liddington was in the Romano-British period called Durocornovium.  This place-name contains the same word we find in the tribal name Cornovii and in Cernyw, the Welsh name for Cornwall.  Welsh legend consistently associated Arthur with Cornwall.

It seems inconceivable that Gildas's spelling for Badon - and every subsequent spelling - is incorrect.  Yet it is tempting to see in Agned (Agued), Breguoin and Badon a typical Celtic triad of names all designating the same very important hillfort.  But if this is so, someone much sharper than I am will have to be able to philologically and phonologically demonstrate to the satisfaction of the linguists how Badon could stand for Baddan-.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

FINAL IDENTIFICATION OF ARTHUR'S BREGUOIN BATTLE



For this discovery, please see the following revised blog post:

http://mistshadows.blogspot.com/2016/12/cerdic-of-wessex-and-arthur-comparison.html

Friday, December 16, 2016

CERDIC OF WESSEX AND ARTHUR: A COMPARISON OF THEIR BATTLES

Solsbury Hill-Fort Near Bath

Years ago I played around with trying to equate some or all of the battles of Arthur and those of Cerdic of Wessex.  Alas, my knowledge of place-name development and of the languages involved was insufficient to the task.  Having once again brought up the very real possibility that Arthur = Cerdic in my previous blog post here, it occurred to me that I should take a second look at the battles listed in the Historia Brittonum and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

First,those of Arthur:

Mouth of the river Glein
4 battles on the Dubglas River in the Linnuis region
River Bassas
Celyddon Wood
Castle Guinnion
City of the Legion
Tribruit river-bank
Mt. Agned/Mt. Breguoin (and other variants)
Mt. Badon c. 516
Camlann c. 537

And, secondly, those of Cerdic (interposed battles by other Saxon chieftains are in brackets):

495 - Certicesora (Cerdic and Cynric arrive in Britain)
[Bieda of Bedenham, Maegla, Port of Portsmouth]
Certicesford - Natanleod or Nazanleog killed
[Stuf, Wihtgar - Certicesora]
Cerdicesford - Cerdic and Cynric take the kingdom of the West Saxons
Cerdicesford or Cerdicesleag
Wihtgarasburh
537 - Cerdic dies, Cynric takes the kingship, Isle of Wight given to Stuf (of Stubbington near Port and opposite Wight) and Wihtgar

As Jackson pointed out long ago, 'Glein' means 'pure, clean.'  It is Welsh glân.  However, there is also a Welsh glan,  river-bank, brink, edge; shore; slope, bank.  This word would nicely match in meaning the -ora of Certicesora, which is from AS. óra, a border, edge, margin, bank.  If we allow for Glein/glân being an error or substitution for glan, then the mouth of the Glein and Certicesora may be one and the same place.

Natanleod or Nazanleog is Netley Marsh in Hampshire.  The parish is bounded by Bartley Water to the south and the River Blackwater to the north.  Dubglas is, of course, 'Black-stream/rivulet.' Linnuis contains the British root for lake or pool, preserved in modern Welsh llyn.  Netley is believed now to mean 'wet wood or clearing', and this meaning combined with the 'marsh' that was present probably accounts for the Linnuis region descriptor of the Historia Brittonum.

W. bas, believed to underlie the supposed river-name Bassas, meant a shallow, fordable place in a river.  We can associate this easily with Certicesford/Cerdicesford.

Cerdicesleag contains -leag, a word which originally designated a wood or a woodland, and only later came to mean a place that had been cleared of trees and converted into a clearing or meadow. I suspect the Celyddon Wood was plugged in for this site.

Castle Guinnion is composed of the Welsh word for 'white', plus a typical locative suffix (cf. Latin -ium).  Wihtgar as a personage is an eponym for the Isle of Wight.  Wihtgarasburh is, then, the Fort of Wihtgar.  But it is quite possible Wiht- was mistaken for OE hwit, 'white', and so Castellum Guinnion would merely be a clumsy attempt at substituting the Welsh for the English.  /-gar/-garas/ may well have been linked to Welsh caer, 'fort, fortified city', although the presence of -burh, 'fort, fortified town' in the name may have been enough to generate Castellum.  Wihtgara is properly Wihtwara, 'people of Wight', the name of the tribal hidage.  Wihtgarasburh is traditionally situated at Carisbrooke.

At this point the author of the Arthur battle-list ran out of Cerdic battles.  To complement his list, and bring it up to the necessary Herculean 12, he either had knowledge of Cerdic/Arthur battles not mentioned in the ASC or had to look elsewhere for battle-sites belonging to other combatants. If we accept this as true, then my previous identifications of some of these remaining battles are likely incorrect.

I had mentioned before that the Tribruit/Tryfrwyd appears to represent a Welsh rendering of Latin trajectus.  As it happens, while the Pa Gur battle poem almost certainly puts this crossing-point at North Queensferry opposite Edinburgh, there was a trajectus actually called such on the Severn.  To quote from THE PLACE-NAMES OF ROMAN BRITAIN by Rivet and Smith:

Rivet & Smith, p. 474 :

SOURCE

- AI 4862 (Iter XIV) : TRAIECTUS

DERIVATION. The name is a Latin common noun, 'crossing', perhaps more specifically 'crossing-point' or 'ferry'. There are several Continental examples, and the name survives in modem Maastricht and Utrecht (Holland), etc. The word seems to have been used solely for the Roman transport system, and has nothing to do with possible Celtic names (such as the word which is now Welsh traeth 'sands').

IDENTIFICATION. The reference is probably to the crossing of the Severn; see the discussion in Chapter IV, pp. 177-78.

I would add that in CULHWCH AND OLWEN, a tale found in the medieval Welsh collection known as the MABINOGION, the great boar hunt takes Arthur and his men into the Severn estuary.  And, indeed, the Pa Gur involves Manawydan with the Tribruit battle, while the same personage is said to have been one of the heroes who plunged the boar into the Severn.

If this is the original Trajectus/Tribruit, then the City of the Legion is likely Caerleon, which is directly across from the mouth of the Avon and Bitton, near where the Trajectus fell (see Rivet and Smith, p. 177-178).

Bath must once again be the preferred site for the famous Badon battle.  I made my case in THE ARTHUR OF HISTORY for the name Badon being possible for only two known sites in early Britain: the sacred baths of Aquae Arnemetia or of Aquae Sulis.  Given a 'Southern Arthur', the only candidate for Badon is Bath.  We must elect one of the neighboring hill-forts, e.g. Little Solsbury Hill or Bathampton Camp.  Bath also makes sense given that Tribruit/Trajectus is likely at Bitton or thereabouts on the Avon, only a dozen kilometers or so northwest of Bath.  The English name Bathum, 'Baths', was given precedence by the Christian Gildas because the native Roman period name featured a pagan goddess, Sulis.

Agned is no longer a troublesome name.  While I could strain to make it derive from the Roman name Egnatius, who is attested at Bremenium (see below) in the North, I'm leaning more towards this being a simple error for the word agued, which I also discuss in some detail in my book THE ARTHUR OF HISTORY.  If Agned is from agued, then a description of what was happening at the hill-battle of Breguoin or Bregion was misunderstood as a real place-name.  What Agned actually implied is that the Britons or the Saxons were in 'distress' or found themselves in 'dire straits' at Breguoin or Bregion.

Breguoin is, certainly, for the Brewyn of the Urien poems, i.e. the Bremenium Roman fort.  All my attempts to make something else of it have failed.  As Dr. Simon Rodway of the University of Wales succinctly states,

"It's from Bremenium. The <gu> stands quite regularly for /w/, and the oi for the diphthong /ui/ < /e:/, a spelling  which is found elsewhere in Old Welsh. All this is explained quite clearly by Kenneth Jackson. There is nothing controversial about this derivation."

Obviously, if Arthur = Cerdic/Ceredig, and all his other battles were in the South, it makes no sense for him to have fought at Bremenium.  A Welsh glossator had a problem with the name as well, claiming it was for Bregion.  As Jackson and others have made clear, Bregion simply means hills in Old Welsh.  In Middle Welsh this would become Breon (see Peter Schrijver's STUDIES IN BRITISH CELTIC HISTORICAL PHONOLOGY, 1995).  As it happens, we have an excellent - nay, perfect - candidate for Bregion very close to the other battles Cerdic/Arthur was fighting in this region.

Brean in Somerset appears to have preserved the Breon spelling.  Early forms for Brean are Brien, Breen, Broen, Bren, Breon.  And Brean Down boasts a promontory fort, as well as other ancient structures, including a Romano-British temple ( http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=1065575&sort=4&search=all&criteria=brean%20down&rational=q&recordsperpage=10http://pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=191302&sort=2&type=HILLFORT&typeselect=c&rational=a&class1=None&period=None&county=100248&district=None&parish=None&place=&recordsperpage=10&source=text&rtype=&rnumber=).

Unfortunately, the glossator is plainly wrong.  Breguoin does not stand for Bregion.

I think there is a rather simple solution to this problem.  Only several miles north of Bath is the Bury Camp or Bury Wood Camp, a major hillfort:

http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=208476&sort=4&search=all&criteria=Bury%20Wood%20Camp&rational=q&recordsperpage=10


This hillfort is between the By Brook and its two tributaries the Doncombe Brook and the Lid Brook. It is also very near the Roman road known as the Fosse Way.  Now, as it happens, Lid is from OE hlyde, 'loud', and as Ekwall and others have made clear, the meaning was something like "the roaring brook".  Bremenium has the British root *brem- (cf. Welsh bref), and as found in Bremenium was named for a stream near the Roman fort that has the exact same meaning, i.e. it was "the roaring stream."  There is an Afon Brefi and a Roman fort Bremia in the Cardiganshire of Ceredig son of Cunedda.

I would make a case, then, for Breguoin (Brewyn, Bremenium) being a Welsh rendering of the Lid Brook name, and as a hill-name is would stand Bury Wood Camp to the north of the Lid Brook.

A NOTE ON LIDDINGTON CASTLE/BADBURY

Readers of my book THE ARTHUR OF HISTORY and of previous blog entries posted here will be familiar with my comprehensive discussion of the place-name Badon as it relates to OE bathum, 'baths', and to baddan(-byrig).  In brief, there is not a single Celtic linguist who will allow Badon to have come from Baddan-.  All insist the form comes quite regularly from bathum.  

Recently, I made an attempt to derive OE Baddan- (from a supposed personal name Badda, although other ideas have been proposed) from an original Brythonic source.  This effort also failed.  To summarize why Badda/Baddan- can't come from the British, here is what Professor Richard Coates sent me:

"Badda, if borrowed, and if we take the double <dd> seriously, is difficult to link to a Brittonic etymon.

British */t/ > Britt. */d/ would show up as OE /d/, not as a geminate (double).
British */tt/ > Britt. */θ/ would show up as OE */θ/, written with thorn, but never <dd>.
British */d/ > Britt. */ð/ would show up as OE /d/ or /ð/, depending on the period, for which the spelling <dd> is most unlikely.
British */dd/ seems to have yielded simple Britt. */d/ (Jackson LHEB 428, on credu), and would show up as OE /d/, not as a geminate (double).

So I conclude that Badda cannot be of Celtic  origin, particularly because Late British did not have geminate /dd/."

However, I should point out what would otherwise appear to be an odd coincidence.  The Liddington name, as applied to the Badbury/Baddanbyrig hill-fort near Swindon, also means "loud or roaring stream." This would, then, match the meaning of Breguoin just as a fort on the Lid Brook might have done.  In the past I have pointed out that the Barbury or "Bear's Fort" near Liddington/Badbury could be an early English reference to Arthur, as his name was connected by the Welsh with their word arth, 'bear.'  Furthermore, Wanborough near Liddington was in the Romano-British period called Durocornovium.  This place-name contains the same word we find in the tribal name Cornovii and in Cernyw, the Welsh name for Cornwall.  Welsh legend consistently associated Arthur with Cornwall.

It seems inconceivable that Gildas's spelling for Badon - and every subsequent spelling - is incorrect.  Yet it is tempting to see in Agned (Agued), Breguoin and Badon a typical Celtic triad of names all designating the same very important hillfort.  But if this is so, someone much sharper than I am will have to be able to philologically and phonologically demonstrate to the satisfaction of the linguists how Badon could stand for Baddan-.  

CAMLAN(N)  

Camlann still looks to be one of the sites of this name in NW Wales.  We might presume that Ceredig son of Cunedda was fighting on his home front, rather than in southern England.  The ASC merely says that Cerdic died and does not provide any information about where this happened.  However, there is a Cam River in Gloucestershire we need to take a look at.

The headwaters of the Gloucestershire Cam rise at the great Uley hill-fort (http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=205226).  Uley, of course, is an English name for the place.  According to both Ekwall and Mills, this is from Euuelege, Iwele, Iwelega, 'Yew-wood or Yew-clearing', OE iw-leah.


Uley Bury Hill-Fort

The problem the name Camlann or Camlan poses for many scholars is that, technically, it canmean either Crooked Bank or Crooked Enclosure.  To my knowledge, no one has found a good Brythonic 'Crooked Enclosure' where they could place Arthur's death.  I would propose that if one of the Camlan(n)'s in NW Wales is not the actual site, then we should look to the "enclosure" at the Cam source that is the Uley hill-fort.

Alternately, given that Arthur's Badon = Bath, we should not ignore the Cam Brook (early Camelar, Cameler) very close to that city.  Camlan(n) could have been fought and lost here as well.

No good etymology for Cameler/Camelar has been offered.  I think it is possible we are dealing here with *Cambo-, 'crooked', plus an element now found in Welsh as

llwrw, llwry1 
[H. Wydd. a Gwydd. Diw. lorg ‘llwybr, ôl, trywydd; ffordd, modd, dull’: < Clt. *lorgo- o’r gwr. IE. *lerg- ‘gwastad, llithrig’, cf. Crn. C. lergh, lyrgh, H. Lyd. lerg, Llyd. C. a Diw. lerc’h ‘llwybr, ôl’, Gwydd. C. lerg, Gwydd. Diw. learg ‘llechwedd; maes; llwybr’; am y pâr llwrw, llwry, cf. bwriaf: bwrw, eiry, eira
eg. ll. llyry, a hefyd fel ardd. ac fel cys.
a  Trywydd, ôl, llwybr, ffordd, cyfeiriad, rhawd, gyrfa; yn ffig. dull, modd, ffurf, rhith, tebygrwydd:
track, trail, path, way, direction, course, career; fig. manner, mode, form, semblance.

The Irish cognate of this word is the following, which could have the meaning of RIVER-BANK:

lerg

Cite this: eDIL s.v. lerg or dil.ie/29984

Forms: lerga

(c) Various applications. Shore of sea or lake, river-bank: cota lir lerggae īath nĒremōin, Ält. Ir. Dicht. ii 10 § 3 (.i. co himel mara, 11.13 ). ás (= ós) leirg Locha Lind Formait, TBC 4115 . learga Loich Éirne, Buile S. 92.14 . air leargaidh (?-aibh) Locha Séarchaidh,AU iii 598.8 . ar léirg chúain, Rel. Celt. ii 286.26 . croinn ḟinnleargan an Ḟorghais, TD 3.3 .

The Camelar/Cameler would then be the stream of the 'crooked course' or perhaps even the stream of the 'crooked bank.'  This latter meaning would match that of Camboglanna.  


My heavily (indeed, completely altered) revision of Arthur's (i.e. Cerdic's battles) would look like this on a map:


If I have this right, what does it say about the campaigns of Cerdic/Arthur?

My reading on this shows a pretty clear division between the British kingdom of Dumnonia and the expanding English kingdom of Wessex. What seems odd, in this context, is that the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle tradition insists Cerdic/Ceridig/Arthur was fighting FOR Wessex, or at least for the nascent kingdom of Wessex. Arthur was, in Welsh tradition at least, constantly associated with Cornwall and Devon and part of Somerset. So what are we to make of this?

Clearly, Arthur/Cerdic/Ceredig, the Irish or Irish/Briton mercenary or "federate", was fighting for both the Welsh and the Saxons AGAINST the Dumnonians.  The irony here is incredible, as tradition ended up placing Arthur in the Dumnonian genealogy. But, historically, it does make sense.  There would have been a natural and expected antagonism between the 'high king' of Wales and the ruler of SW England.  With the withdrawal of the Romans, the old antipathies - and territorial ambitions - quickly came to the fore. Irish mercenary sons of Cunedda, including Ceredig or Cerdic, took lands in NW Wales and agreed to serve Welsh overlords in a war waged against Dumnonia. To do so, the Irish mercenaries made a foedus pact with the Saxons who were attacking Dumnonia from the south-central area of England. They also had to address areas which were beyond Saxon control at the time - namely the places to either side of the Severn at which Arthur/Cerdic fought. If we draw a line from the location of the battles mentioned in the ASC to the battles mentioned in the HB, we can quickly grasp the significance of the goal of Arthur/Cerdic/Ceredig.

I admit that this may be far beyond what Arthurian enthusiasts tend to think of when they search for a true, historical Arthur.  Nonetheless, it is the best that I can do, while remaining true to the precepts of analytical honesty.

SEE ALSO http://mistshadows.blogspot.com/2016/12/cerdic-of-wessex-and-arthur-one-more.html

























Thursday, December 15, 2016

CERDIC OF WESSEX AND ARTHUR - ONE MORE TIME!

River Avon Near South Charford, Hampshire

A decade or more ago, myself and others flirted with the notion that the famous founder of Wessex, Cerdic, was King Arthur.  One of the main champions of the Cerdic = Arthur theory is Joseph C. Rudmin, whose paper on the subject may still be found online here:


As Rudmin himself points out, there are a number of problems with the Arthur = Cerdic theory.  I resolved some of them when I showed (see my book THE ARTHUR OF HISTORY, Chapter 1, http://mistshadows.blogspot.com/2016/08/before-king-arthur-ambrosius-cunedda.html) that Cerdic of Wessex was almost certainly Ceredig son of Cunedda.  But I was unable to reconcile the names.  Just how can we prove that Cerdic/Ceredig also bore the name Arthur?

The departure point for our continuing exploration of this subject is once again a comparison of the relevant chronologies. 

Cerdic of Wessex appears on the scene (according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle) in 495 A.D.  His death is marked in 534.

Arthur's floruit is nicely bracketed from some time shortly after the accession of Aesc (ASC) to the kingdom of Kent in 488 (or Octha, according to the Historia Brittonum account) to the time of Ida, who according to the ASC succeeded  to the kingship of Northumbria in 547.  The Welsh Annals give Arthur's death at Camlan at c. 537.

The questions I've always asked myself are these: the Arthur of the Historia Brittonum clearly occupies the same time range as that of Cerdic of Wessex.  Both are national heroes, one of the Britons and one of the English.  Was Arthur merely "created" to provide the Britons with a propagandist substitute for the English Cerdic?  But, if so, why would the English have chosen for their kingdom-founding champion a man who was plainly Celtic, in Cerdic's case at least in origin Irish and possibly of mixed Irish-Briton ancestry?

As I've discussed in some detail before, Ceredig/Cerdic was the son of Cunedda, who appears as Ceawlin in the ASC.  This would seem to automatically disqualify Arthur as Cerdic, for as we all know the only father known for the early Arthur was Uther Pendragon.  I've literally chased Pendragon's tail for years, striving always to come up with a satisfactory identification of this most elusive character.  Only the other day did I finally realize that I'd missed something potentially important.

In my book THE ARTHUR OF HISTORY, I opted for what seemed a reasonable approach.  Uther, the Terrible or Horrible, with his epithet Pendragon, was most likely, so I surmised, a poetic designation for Ambrosius.  This war-leader (an anchronistic figure, as it turns out) was the 'dread' of Vortigern and had been brought into close connection with the red dragon of Dinas Emrys.  While this identification appeared to make sense, because of the chronological gap between him and Arthur, I reasoned that Uther Pendragon could not possibly have been Arthur's actual father.

However, as dragons/serpents/snakes are constantly linked to the kingdom of Gwynedd (see my piece THAT PESKY DRAGON http://mistshadows.blogspot.com/2016/10/that-pesky-dragon.html), I thought it would behoove me to look there and see if any other figures were described in the early poems as being "fearful" or the like.  My search yielded two such references.  In the MARWNAD CYNDDYLAN, an unnamed ruler of Gwynedd is said to be the 'terror' (ffraw) of the Cadellings, the dynasty of North Powys.  The second example is far more interesting.  In the MARWNAD CUNEDDA, that great chieftain is said to be the cause of dread/fear/horror (ergrynawr).  We thus have Cunedda, the founder of the kingdom of the dragons, being the fear of those he opposes or attacks.  Cunedda took on the Welsh title of Wledig, 'prince, ruler', and as Ceawlin in the ASC was a 'Bretwalda', or 'ruler of the Britons.'  Such would be sufficient, then, to propose that Uther Pendragon was actually a poetic title for Cunedda himself.

Which brings us back, of course, to a consideration of the name Arthur and how this could possibly relate to that of Cerdic.  Obviously, we can simply state that Ceredig son of Cunedda had been given the usual three-part Roman style name and that on of these name elements was none other than Artorius.  My problem with this idea is two-fold.  First, Artorius was a very rare name even among the Romans.  We know of only one in Britain, the 2nd or 3rd century camp prefect at York.  We have no reason for seeing Lucius Artorius Castus of York as being any more famous that any other soldier serving in Roman Britain.  Second, why would an Irish-descended dynasty in the extreme north and west of Wales take the name Artorius from York?

An interesting fact I've called attention to before in Ceredig son of Cunedda's kingdom of Ceredigion is the presence there of the Afon Arth or Bear River, as well as its tributary the Nant Erthig or Little Bear Stream, and the Castell Dinerth or Castle of the Fort of the Bear (possibly the site of an earlier sub-Roman fortification).  In addition, these geographical bear-names seem to have spawned bear-names in the early genealogy of the Ceredigion princes as these are found listed in the Harleian MS.:

[G]uocaun map Mouric map Dumnguallaun map Arthgen map Seissil map Clitauc Artgloys map Artbodgu map Bodgu map Serguil map Iusay map Ceretic map Cuneda.

Artbodgu or Arthfoddw is 'Bear-Crow', Artgloys or Arthlwys is 'Beautiful or Holy Bear' and Arthgen (perhaps the most interesting of them all) is 'Bear-Born' or 'Born of the Bear.'  There is the very real possibility that the bear in question from which Arthgen was born is the Afon Arth itself, conceived of as a water deity.  

Given these bear names of the Ceredigion dynasty, is there any way in which Ceredig, the founder of the kingdom, may have been designated by 'Arthur?'  That is, by a name or title whose first element was taken from the name of the divine Bear River, the apparent ruling center of the dynasty?

The problem is coming up with a name that will satisfy linguists.  As things stand right now, they will allow nothing other than a derivation from Roman/Latin Artorius. This despite the fact that such a derivation makes little or no geographical or historical sense.  Granted, some names such as *Artori:x, 'Bear-king', or *Arto-wiros, 'Bear-man', may have been replaced early on with the purely Latin Artorius.  But this begs the question of WHY?  And it requires knowledge of the name Artorius, which as I've already mentioned was a very rare name even among the Romans.
  
What complicates the issue for us is the presence of the Irish language early on in western Wales.  It is possible that a British name became Arthur by being taken over into Irish and then, at a later date, being re-borrowed by the British in its new, Gaelic form.  The problem is coming up with a satisfactory explanation of how this may have happened.  Alternately, Ceredig may have been called Artur for 'Bear-king', for example, in Irish.  And this form of the name was retained in Welsh.  I would cite the example of the name Beccur(us), found on a 6th century memorial stone near Penmorfa in Gwynedd.  Patrick Sims-Williams has this as deriving from *Bikkori:x, 'small king'. Peter Schrijver says that *Bikko-wiro, 'little man', is also possible.  The Irish Annals has a Bicoir father of a 7th century Arthur, and some have thought this Bicoir may be Beccur.  

Unfortunately, the Celtic linguists will not allow for anything like this to have taken place.

Simon Rodway states that 

"If we were to allow regular *Bikkori:x > Beccur-, it would still not follow that *Artori:x would give Arthur - it would give **Arthwr, just as Beccur- would now be spelled *Bychwr or *Bechwr. In fact, of course, as has been well established, *Artori:x would give *Erthyr."

Schrijver adds

"By no stretch of the imagination could *artorix become MW Arthur. Beccur- is not comparable because it is early and inscriptional and could therefore conceivably reflect*bikkorix (Beccur- = late Proto-British /bExür/, with E = shwa and ü as the intermediate stage between *o and MW y). The difference between Welsh w and Irish u is purely graphic.
If a Brittonic written form was the input for Irish, *arthgur would be it. But if the input was a spoken form, it would be /arthur/ (with/u/ = Welsh written <w>). Both would have Irish –th- rather than –t-. It therefore seems that the Irish form with –t- reflects the Latinate form Artorius or the early Romance (French) Artür."
And so it goes.  We are forced to accept that if Cerdic were called a bear-name because of a sacred bear river at the heart of his kingdom, the name that was used was the Roman Artorius, which was ASSUMED TO BE A BEAR-NAME OF THE KIND FOUND IN IRISH AND WELSH WITH *ARTO-/ART-/ARTH- FORMS. Ironically, Professor Stefan Zimmer has proposed that the Roman name Artorius derives from a Celtic original meaning 'Bear-king' (see THE NAME OF ARTHUR - A NEW ETYMOLOGY, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 13(1):131-136 ·March 2009). 
On his WORDPRESS blogsite "In the Name of Arthur", Malcolm Wilson (The Arthurs of Ireland – kith and kin of the ‘Kernyw Kid’? – PART V) nicely summarizes such a use of Artorius as a Latin substitute for an earlier Celtic name:

"The name Arthur is generally argued to be from Brythonic or Latin. I would suggest that the only way in which it could possibly come from Gaelic is the same way in which it could have possibly come from Brythonic, and that is through the Latin decknamen[18] (pseudonym) of Artōrius for the Celtic name Artorix (From *Arto-rig(i)os = ‘Bear King’). The recipient of the name would then have to have become known by this Latin decknamen, which would morph to Insular Latin Artūrius – which is what Adomnán called Artúr mac Áedán in the Vita Sancti Columbae (The Life of St. Columba/Colm Cille) – and then contract to Artúr/Arthur.[19] It’s a complicated morphology, but not impossible. There could be an argument given that a Gael or Gaelo-Briton warrior might use a Latin decknamen instead of his own Celtic one, especially if fighting for more Latinised Britons."

When I discussed this possibility with Dr. Simon Rodway of the University of Wales (https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/cymraeg/staff-profiles/listing/profile/syr), his response was simply "This sounds perfectly plausible."
There is ample evidence for the substitution of Roman/Latin names for earlier Irish names in the various genealogies belonging to the Dessi-descended princes of Dyfed, as well as to the Ciannachta-descended princes of Gwynedd.  I personally have no trouble accepting an Irish or Hiberno-British *Artori:x being replaced by Latin Artorius.  And if this did happen, the only Arthur we have who is early enough for the established dates, and whose father could be Uther Pendragon, is Ceredig son of Cunedda.  
SEE ALSO http://mistshadows.blogspot.com/2016/12/cerdic-of-wessex-and-arthur-comparison.html

For a good precedent that would allow us to view Ceredig as "king of the Arth [river]", we might look at Ceredig Wledig of Strathclyde, who in the early Irish sources is called Coroticus 'regis Aloo/regem Aloo', or 'King of the Rock.' Aloo is here an abbreviated form of Alclud, the Rock of the Clyde, the capital of the early Strathclyde kingdom.  

  














Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Cunedda Haunting My Thoughts Again: Ergrynawr Cunedaf Creisseryd and Cadelling Ffraw

Essay to be posted soon.

 For now, let me say that I have a sure and certain way to make Cunedda into Uther Pendragon. And that my earlier observation that the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle's floruit for Cerdic ( = Ceredig son of Cunedda) exactly matches that of Arthur may be VERY significant. Ceredig of Ceredigion founded the kingdom that includes the Afon Arth at its heartland, as well as the Little Bear tributary and the fort at Dinerth. There are several Arth- names in the early Ceredigion pedigree (see the Harleian MS. version of the Historia Brittonum), showing that the Afon Arth was associated with some kind of bear deity, whose name crept into the princes of the dynasty.

As I know Cunedda father of Ceredig WAS IRISH, there may well be a way to PROVE that the name Arthur was actually a designation of Ceredig/Cerdic.


Stay tuned...

Stay tuned...

Friday, December 9, 2016

Old Notes on Arthur son of Bicoir as THE ARTHUR

[I wrote this many years ago... and only chanced upon it the other day, preserved as a query to members of the Old Irish listserv:

https://listserv.heanet.ie/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0004&L=CELTIC-L&P=64735

I now believe I was onto something, and that work I've done in recent months supports this idea.  Some additional posts relating to this will be coming soon.  For now, I will content myself with bringing this theory back to life for examination by others.]

The Isle of Islay, where Arthur slew the Irish king Mongan


The famous Arthurian battle list of the HISTORIA BRITTONUM is found immediately after mention of Octha's (Octha = Aesc) ascension to the throne of Kent in 488.  Arthur is said to have fought against “them”, and the contextual implication – often ignored – is that the “them” is question are the Kentish Saxons. 

We know of the following 6th-7th century Arthurs, discounting for a moment Nennius's Arthur dux bellorum:

Arthur son of Aedan (or Conaing) of Dalriada
Arthur grandfather of Feradach (mentioned in connection with St. Adomnan,
and thus probably also of Scotland)
Arthur son of Petr (the Irish Petuir or Retheoir)
Arthur son of Bicoir the Briton

What I asked myself, in looking at these various Arthurs, is why one of them would have been placed by the HISTORIA BRITTONUM narrative right after mention of Aesc of Kent and in the southern England of the early Wessex dynasty. No answer revealed itself, until I looked at year entry 625 of the Irish Tigernach Annals:

... Baptismum Etuin maic Elle, qui primus credidit in reghionibus
Saxonum...  Mongan mac Fiachna Lurgan, ab Artuir filio Bicoir Britone
lapide percussus interit.  Unde Bed Boirche dixit

IS uarin gaeth dar Ile,
 do fuil oca i Cind Tire,
do-genat gnim amnus de,
mairbfit Mongan mac Fiachnae.

The translation of the regular entry tells how Arthur son of Bicoir, a Briton, killed Mongan, King of Ulster, with a stone. Immediately prior to the entry on Artuir son of Bicoir we are told of the baptism of Edwin son of Aelle of Northumbria, an event mentioned under the year 627 in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

The poem stanza is translated as follows:

Cold is the wind over Islay;
there are warriors in Kintyre,
 they will commit a cruel deed therefor,
they will kill Mongan, son of Fiachna.

Now, the implication is, of course, that Arthur is from or at least "in" Kintyre, which was part of Dalriada, the later Argyle.  However, compare the Old Irish Cind Tire/Kintyre with the following entry from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which tells of the 457 Crecganford battle featuring Hengist and his son, Aesc.  And bear in mind that it is this Aesc – or Octha, as Nennius calls him - who is mentioned as succeeding to the kingship of Kent just prior to the listing of the Arthurian battles.

Her Hengest 7 Aesc fuhton with Brettas in thaere stowe the is gecueden
Creganford 7 thaer ofslogon .iiiim. wera, 7 tha Brettas the forleton
 Centlond...

What I am proposing is that the Cind Tire of the Artuir passage in Tigernach was interpreted as Cent/"Kent" + Welsh tir (cf. L. terre, "land, earth, country") and equated with the Centlond of the ASC entry for the year 457.  It is also possible that the Elle/Aelle mentioned in Tigernach 625 may have been identified with the much earlier Aelle of Sussex, who is mentioned in the Chronicle just prior to Cerdic.  With Arthur now in Kent, the author of the HISTORIA BRITTONUM appropriated Cerdic of Wessex's battles to further glorify this imaginatively created Dark Age British hero.

The famous Arthur of legend would appear to have originally been Arthur son of Bicoir - if we could get by the grave problem of incorrect chronology.  And if we could get past the fact that Arthur derived from Artorius can only be associated with the York area, and all the battles of Arthur in the Historia Brittonum show a chieftain in northern England and Southern Scotland.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Anoeth bin u bedd Arthur and Caer Oeth ac Anoeth: the Welsh Localization of Arthur's Grave

Slide of RCAHMW colour oblique aerial photograph of Brithdir Roman Fort, taken by T.G. Driver, 17/3/1999.

In my book THE ARTHUR OF HISTORY, I outlined an Arthur who may have been situated along the western end of Hadrian's Wall.  Because there is an "Avalon" Roman fort very near that of Camboglanna on the Wall, I dared to propose that the story of Arthur's being taken to Avalon may have been based on the existence of a very real place.

However, an analysis of the Welsh sources forces us to a Camlann in NW Wales, and provides us with an important clue as the location of Arthur's grave near the fatal battle site.  I emphasize once again that Arthur MAY WELL HAVE BEEN RELOCATED TO WALES FROM THE WALL in Welsh tradition.  The problem with this possibility is the title Uther Pendragon, which seems to belong to the sub-kingdom of Eifionydd in Gwynedd.  Many Arthurian amateur scholars - myself included - have sought to either dispense with Uther entirely or to identify him with various Dark Age British rulers.  The truth is that until he can be firmly identified, there is no real hope of discovering the real Arthur.  The famous Arthur has only one father - Uther.  Without Uther, in a sense, there can be no Arthur.

In the past couple of blogs I've floated the idea that Bicoir, father of a British Arthur in the Irish Annals, is to be equated with Beccurus, found on a stone in Eifionydd, 'the snakes' lair.'  I went further in suggesting the Terrible Chief-Dragon as a title may belong to Beccurus. This title may also be reflected in the 'terrible warrior' who plays a role in the Irish story of the begetting of Mongan.

A localization of Camlann in NW Wales brings up an important point - namely, that Arthur's grave may have been thought to be in this region as well. Although we might first suppose his body to have been interred next to that of his father Beccurus, Welsh tradition points to another place.  

In the Welsh 'Stanzas of the Graves', we are told 'anoeth bin u bedd arthur'.  This has been translated in various ways.  But some (myself included) have noticed that anoeth in this line may be an oblique reference to both the teulu  (household warriors) of oeth and anoeth and Cair ('fort') Oeth and Anoeth. In Triad 52 we are told Arthur was a prisoner in Caer Oeth and Anoeth and the context suggests this was a sort of death-prison or Otherworld location.

We know where this fort was located: Gwanas, a mountainous region situated exactly between the Welsh Camlanns (see map below).


As it happens, there are two Roman camps in this area, a fortlet at Brithdir and a marching camp at Gwanas-fawr. If, as seems likely, Arthur's 'anoeth' is a poetic (or confused) reference to this fort, then his grave is to be sought either at Brithdir (the most most promising candidate, as the fortlet here is on the Roman road) or at Gwanas-fawr.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

THE SLAYING OF MONGAN SON OF FIACHNA BY ARTUIR SON OF BICOIR: A REVENGE KILLING?


Gesail Gyfarch Stone, Penmorfa, Gwynedd

In my rather meandering and inconclusive blog post THAT PESKY DRAGON (http://mistshadows.blogspot.com/2016/10/that-pesky-dragon.html), I discussed the land of Eifionydd in NW Wales as the home of dragons/serpents.  I tentatively associated these serpents with the ones at both Dinas Emrys and at the Segontium Roman fort.

What had not occurred to me when I wrote this piece was that the Beccurus Stone (http://datingoldwelshhouses.co.uk/library/HHistory-old/HH%20GESAIL%20GYFARCH.pdf, http://www.ucl.ac.uk/archaeology/cisp/database/) is situated in Eifionydd. Why might this be significant?

Long ago, myself and others pointed out the very real possibility that the birth story of Arthur as recorded in Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain was borrowed from that of the birth of the Irish king Mongan.  When I discussed this story I noted the interesting occurrence of a character referred to variously as the 'terrible warrior' or the 'terrible man.' I floated the idea that the Terrible Warrior could be the origin of the Uther Pendragon epithet.  There was, of course, a major problem with this idea: the Terrible Warrior is brought forward as the champion of the Saxons in the battle against Aedan of Dalriada (the father or grandfather of an Arthur) and his ally, Fiachna son of Baetan.

Most authorities hold to the view (and, I think, correctly) that the battle in the Irish story is a reflection of that of the historical conflict of Degsastan.  Now, there is something very odd about the Degsastan battle: no Britons are present.  What happens, though, if for the sake of argument we allow for the Terrible Warrior to be a designation for Beccurus of Eifionydd?

What I'm suggesting is that Beccurus, called the Terrible Dragon (of Eifionydd), i.e. the Terrible Warrior (as 'dragon' in this context is a metaphor for a warrior; see http://geiriadur.ac.uk/gpc/gpc.html), was fighting with the English against the Scots.  Fiachna kills Beccurus - or the Irish king is credited with that killing.  Later, in vengeance for his father's slaying, Arthur son of Beccurus kills Mongan, the son of Fiachna.


Needless to say, this throws completely out of whack the established chronology for the first or "original" Arthur.  It also causes a number of other needed changes in my own theory about him.  For one, Camlann is almost certainly the place I discussed in my book (http://mistshadows.blogspot.com/2016/07/the-arthur-of-history-appendix-iii.html) in NW Wales not far from where the Beccurus Stone is located.

The notion that the Arthur name is to be derived from the Roman name Artorius might now seem to be in doubt.  I've always been haunted by the fact that ALL the historical Arthurs of the 7th century belong to Irish-descended dynasties.  The arth/'bear' connection is doubtless important and if Arthur son of Bicoir/Beccurus belongs to Eifionydd, that he is said in Welsh tradition to have relatives at Caer Dathal (Garn Boduan?) of the bear-god Math son of Mathonwy should also not be overlooked.  I have noted before that the Breguoin/Bremenium battle of Arthur in the Historia Brittonum may have been chosen for the great hero because of the presence there of a Roman period bear-god named Matunus. However, every major Celtic linguist I've checked with insists on Artorius was the origin of Arthur.  None of my proposed alternative etymologies work and the same must be said for etymologies proposed by others. 

I now am distancing myself from my own theory that 'Bicoir', rather than representing Beccurus, may be a corruption of Petuir, a spelling for Pedr/Petrus of Dyfed, who also had a son named Arthur (http://mistshadows.blogspot.com/2016/09/bicoir-father-of-artuir-and-beccurus.html).  If we go in the direction of Bicoir = Pedr, we lose our connection with Eifionydd and the dragons and we could not propose that Bicoir was the Terrible Warrior/Uther Pendragon.  In my essay 'That Pesky Dragon' I mention that Arthur son of Bicoir slays the Irish king Mongan with a dragon stone.  If Bicoir = Beccurus of the snakes' lair that was Eifionydd, we might expect his son to use just such a stone.

 NOTE: The authorship of the Historia Brittonom has been challenged by scholars such as David Dumville.  However, while Nennius cannot be proven to be the author of the text, neither can the traditional attribution be disproven.   One thing, however, does seem fairly certain: the original composition was created in Gwynedd - the very kingdom which contains Eifionydd of Beccurus (http://www.walesher1974.org/her/groups/GAT/media/GAT_Reports/GATreport_681_compressed.pdf).

If Nennius (or whoever the actual author of the HB was) did live in Gwynedd, did he select his own local Arthur, a purely regional hero, to become the propagandist champion of the British against the English?

NOTE 2:  The reading of the Beccurus Stone is uncertain.  Rather than the CIVI for CIVE offered by Rhys, I would tentatively propose CVM (cum).  This would allow for the inscription to be read "Cunalipus's son Cunacus lies here with Beccurus."