Saturday, July 22, 2017

APPENDIX VIII: ARTHUR 'DUX ERAT BELLORUM' AND CERDIC THE EALDORMAN

Much has been made of the 'dux erat bellorum' or 'leader of battles' title given to Arthur in the HISTORIA BRITTONUM.  For the most part, scholars have been led astray into thinking this was an indication that Arthur held a true Roman rank (or one patterned after an earlier Roman rank).  The majority hold to something like Dux Britanniarum, the military leader in the north of Britain.  Early Welsh sources refer to Arthur as 'miles', 'soldier', and this has seemed to lend support to the the Dux Britanniarum idea.

If I'm right and Arthur is Cerdic of Wessex, another possibility presents itself.  In the ANGLO-SAXON CHRONICLE, Cerdic first appears in the annal entry for the year 495 A.D.  He is referred to as an aldorman, according to the translator Garmonsway "perhaps a translation of principes."  The Latin version of the ASC uses duces duo when referring to Cerdic and Cynric.

Here is the definition of alderman or ealdorman as found in the Bosworth and Toller dictionary.  The reader will note the meaning does include that of duke and often denoted a military leader.  In my opinion, then, dux erat bellorum is merely a Latin rendering for ealdorman.

EALDORMAN

I. an elderman, ALDERMAN, senator, chief, duke, a nobleman of the highest rank, and holding an office inferior only to that of the king; mājor nātu, sĕnātor, prŏcer, princeps, prīmas, dux, præfectus, trĭbūnus, quīcunque est aliis grădu aut nātu mājor. The title of Ealdorman or Aldorman denoted civil as well as military pre-eminence. The word ealdor or aldor in Anglo-Saxon denotes princely dignity: in Beowulf it is used as a synonym for cyning, þeóden, and other words applied to royal personages. Like many other titles of rank in the various Teutonic languages, it, strictly speaking, implies age, though practically this idea does not survive in it any more than it does in the word Senior, the original of the feudal term Seigneur. Every shire had its ealdorman, who was the principal judicial officer of the shire, and also the leader of its armed force. The internal regulations of the shire, as well as its political relation to the whole kingdom, were under his immediate guidance and supervision,—the scír-geréfa, or sheriff, being little more than his deputy, and under his control. The dignity of the ealdorman was supported by lands within his district, which appear to have passed with the office,—hence the phrases, ðæs ealdormonnes lond, mearc, gemǽro, etc. which so often occur. The ealdorman had also a share of the fines and other monies levied to the king's use; though, as he was invariably appointed from among the higher nobles, he must always have possessed lands of his own to the extent of forty hides, v. Hist. Eliens. ii. 40. The ealdormen of the several shires seem to have been appointed by the king, with the assent of the higher nobles, if not of the whole witena gemót, and to have been taken from the most trustworthy, powerful, and wealthy of the nobles of the shire. The office and dignity of ealdorman was held for life,—though sometimes forfeited for treason and other grave offences; but it was not strictly hereditary

Friday, July 21, 2017

Commencing Work on A SCATTERING OF SONG

Cover Art by Aaron Sims
A SCATTERING OF SONG
The first book in the Dark Avalon series
At the Battle of Elf Hill, Myrddin witnesses the destruction of his fellow warriors and the falling of his chieftain, Gwenddolau. Fleeing in what he believes to be madness from the scene of chaos and carnage, he seeks refuge in the fastness of the Caledonian Woods. Only with the passage of the seasons, during which he lives like an animal of the forest, pursued relentlessly by the hounds of his enemy, does he become aware of the true nature of his own altered state of existence. And with that awareness comes a terrible knowledge, a power undreamed of, and a strange intimacy with a woman of the wilds whose affinity with the Otherworld offers him both freedom and eternal imprisonment.
Note on the Title of this Book:
‘A Scattering of Song’ is my free translation of the Middle Welsh word gwasgargerdd, found in the poem “Gwasgardgerd Verdin”. Gerdd is ‘song, poem’, and gwasgar as a noun means scattering, dispersion, separation, a spreading abroad, division, a giving, distribution, and as an adjective, dispersed, scattered, shared, given, distributing, dispersing. I chose to see this as a song that was scattered, as one might scatter seed.
Indeed, a famous poet and contemporary of the 6th century Taliesin was named Cian Gwenith Gwawd, that is Cian ‘Wheat of Song’. This epithet suggested to me that a poem or song could be metaphorically described as something that was scattered like wheat. I would add that Gwion Bach turns himself into a grain of wheat. When consumed by the goddess Ceridwen (who has assumed the form of a tufted black hen), he is later born from her as Taliesin. This famous divine poet was, therefore, himself an embodiment of the ‘wheat of song’.
Other attempts have been made to render gwasgargerdd, but I do not think they work in the context of the prophetic poem uttered by Myrddin. As one manuscript calls the poem “Gwasgardgerd Vyrdin y ny bed”, “in the grave”, and the prophet is portrayed as speaking with his sister, Gwenddydd, who is presumably outside of the said grave, “Separation-Song” has been proposed. This does not seem to fit the range of meanings for gwasgar, which plainly has to do with the giving or distributing of something and does not indicate the separation of one person from another.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Embarking Once Again on the DARK AVALON BOOKS


This is an old Page I'm resurrecting. Why? Because I'm thinking it's finally time to pump out an Arthurian fiction series. As a result of my recent work on THE BEAR KING, the Dark Avalon Books may turn out to be quite a bit different than what I had originally planned. However, the first novella will still, undoubtedly, be A SCATTERING OF SONG - my take on the Merlin story. I trust my readers will be patient with me, as real life and its exigencies often cause a delay in creative production.

https://www.facebook.com/darkavalonbooks/

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Expanded version of APPENDIX VII

http://mistshadows.blogspot.com/2017/07/appendix-vii-real-family-of-arthur.html

APPENDIX VII: THE REAL FAMILY OF ARTHUR (CEREDIG SON OF CUNEDDA)

The family of Arthur as found in the early sources is a fairly late fabrication.  I have discussed Guinevere and Igraine in some depth in my book THE MYSTERIES OF AVALON.  The first is an Irish goddess, while the second is a deity associated with the Tintagel headland.  Some of his sons are actually personified streams. Other supposed blood connections are equally fraudulent, the products of folklore or literary invention. 

Lucky for us, once we accept Arthur as merely another name for Ceredig of Ceredigion, a very prosaic and mostly acceptable nuclear family can be can be fleshed out.   

Gwawl, mother of Ceredig son of Cunedda

According to the early Welsh genealogies, the mother of Ceredig son of Cunedda (in a later source called the mother of Cunedda) was named Gwawl.  She was supposedly a daughter of Coel Hen of the North, a common progenitor of early princely lines.  Although some have disagreed, Coel himself is likely a eponym created for the Kyle region of South Ayrshire in southern Scotland.

Gwawl is though to mean (GPC) 'light, brightness, radiance, splendour; bright'.  This would be a very pretty name for a woman, and an especially apt one for a queen.  Unfortunately, there is a another word in Welsh spelled exactly the same which leads us to a different conclusion regarding Ceredig's mother.

Gwawl is 'wall' in Welsh and Welsh tradition records a 'Gwawl son of Clud.'.  Gwawl son of Clud (Clud being an eponym for the Clyde) is a personification of the Antonine Wall.  As Cunedda was wrongly said to have come from Manau Gododdin, a region which stretched to both sides of the same Roman defensive barrier, it seems pretty obvious to me that Gwawl was chosen as the name of Ceredig's mother for exactly this reason, i.e he and his father were said to have originated or were "born" from the eastern end of the Antonine Wall.

An ancient Welsh poem called MARWNAD CUNEDDA, or the "Death-Song of Cunedda", places the Terrible Cheif-Dragon at Northern battle sites.  Cunedda is said to have fought at Carlisle and Durham.  These locations are interesting, as they designate sites not far to the south of Hadrian's Wall, at both the western and eastern ends, respectively.  But what are we to make of this claim in the panegyric?

Carlisle, the earlier Roman fort of Luguvalium, is directly between the Camboglanna and Aballava forts.  If Cunedda really were fighting here, and his sons (or teulu) were with him at the time, then it is certainly conceivable that Ceredig/Arthur fought and died at Camboglanna.  This would appear to be in contradistinction to Ceredig (or Cerdic) fighting in the extreme south of England and perishing at a Camlan in NW Wales. 

There are two possibilities, as I see it.  First, as a mercenary chieftain (or federate in the old Roman style), Ceredig/Arthur was literally fighting all over the place.  There is nothing wrong with this notion and it cannot, on the face of things, be objected to.  We do have to remember, though, that Cunedda himself was falsely associated with the Far North when he was converted from an Irishman into a Briton with bogus Roman ancestry.  The same death-song, for example, has him being militarily active in Bernicia, which at its maximum extent eventually bordered right on Manau Gododdin, the region substituted for that around Drumanagh in Ireland.  Thus it could well be that these northern locations with which Cunedda became associated represent fictional elements in his exploits.  In other words, as he came to be seen as a great British chieftain of the North, who at some point in his career came down and conquered or settled in NW Wales, it was deemed necessary to provide a "history" for him that preceded his actions in Gwynedd.

Meleri, Wife of Ceredig Son of Cunedda

According to Dr. Simon Rodway of the University of Wales, Meleri is a hypocoristic form of Eleri.  'My', which means the same as our word my, is affixed to the front of the name as a term of endearment, viz. 'My Eleri.'  Eleri itself is a Welsh form of the Latin name Hilarius, from hilaris, 'cheerful, merry.'

Meleri is one of the many daughters of Brychan, the eponymous IRISH founder of the kingdom of Brycheiniog. which lay to the southeast of Ceredigion.

Children of Meleri and Ceredig

Regarding the progeny of Ceredig, I would refer the reader to the relevant entry in P.C. Bartram's A CLASSICAL WELSH DICTIONARY. He lists the following sons and daughters according to various sources:
Iusay (whom I've discussed in an Appendix above)
Sant father of Dewi
Cedig
Corun
Carannog
Annun
Cynon, father of Cynidr Gell
Samson, father of Gwgon
Ithel, father of St. Dogfael
Garthog, father of Cyngar
Hydwn, ancestor of Teilo

Ina
Gwawr, wife of Glywys and mother of Gwynllyw
Gwen, mother of St. Padarn

To me the most interesting person among Ceredig's children is the daughter Gwawr, mother of Gwynllyw.  On my blog site I discussed the Coedkernyw in Gwynllwg, a petty kingdom named for Gwynllyw, as well as the Celliwig located in the same vicinity.  Arthur in Welsh tradition is always strongly associated with a Kernyw and also with a Celliwig.  

Arthur features largely in the Life of St. Carannog.  There we meet with both a dragon (a reflection of Uther Pendragon, as I showed in my book THE MYSTERIES OF AVALON) and a magical alter/table.  Here is the story as provided in the translation from the Latin by A.W. Wade Evans (1944):

Vita Sancti Carantoci (Version 1)

4. In those times Cadwy and Arthur were reigning in that country, dwelling in Dindraithov. And Arthur came wandering about that he might find a most formidable serpent, huge and terrible, which had been ravaging twelve portions of the land of Carrum (i.e., locus, monastery). And Carannog came and greeted Arthur, who joyfully received a blessing from him. And Carannog asked Arthur, whether he had heard where his altar had landed. And Arthur replied, ‘If I shall have a reward, I will tell thee.’ And he said,’ What reward dost thou ask?’ He answered, ‘That if thou art a servant of God, thou shouldst bring forth the serpent, which is near to thee, that we may see it.’ Then the blessed Carannog went and prayed to the Lord, and immediately the serpent came with a great noise like a calf running to its mother, and it bent its head before the servant of God like a slave obeying his lord with humble heart and with sidelong glance. And he placed his stole about its neck and led it like a lamb, nor did it raise its wings or claws. And its neck was like the neck of a bull of seven years, which the stole could scarcely go round. Then they went together to the citadel and greeted Cadwy, and they were welcomed by him. And he led that serpent down the middle of the hail and fed it in the presence of the people, and they tried to kill it. He did not allow it to be killed because he said that it had come at the word of God to destroy the sinners who were in Carrum, and to show the power of God through him. And after this he went outside the gate of the citadel and Carannog loosed it and bade it to depart and not to hurt anyone nor to return any more. And it went forth and remained as he had foretold, according to God’s ordinance. And he received the altar which Arthur had thought to convert into a table, but whatever was placed upon it was thrown to a distance. And the king asked of him that he should accept Carrum for ever by a written deed. And after this he built a church there.

5. Afterwards a voice came to him from heaven to cast the altar into the sea. Then he sent Cadwy [and] Arthur to enquire concerning the altar, and it was told them that it had landed at the mouth of the Guellit. And the king said, ‘Again give him twelve parts of the land where the altar was found.’ Afterwards Carannog came and built a church there, and the monastery was called Carrov.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Published book THE BEAR KING...

Over the next couple of weeks I will slightly tweak what I've posted here and publish it as Kindle and CreateSpace titles through Amazon.

Links for the available electronic and paper formats will be made available here.

Thank you for your continued interest!

AFTERWORD: THE UNENVIABLE FATE OF A REVISIONIST or THE INEVITABLE CONSEQUENCES OF DIMINISHING A HERO

The legendary King Arthur is a magnificently glamorous figure.  Like pretty much every scholar out there, I was first attracted to this archetypical hero through my exposure to Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur or, at least, its adaptations.  At the time, Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table were creatures of fantasy and represented desirable if unattainable ideals.  It was only much later that I became aware of the fact that at least Arthur himself may have been a real, living person.  This revelation had a profound impact on the way I perceived the entire Arthurian mythos. 

Eventually, after I became imbued with the knowledge of various disciplines a college education bestowed upon me, I dared to wonder if I might find the historical Arthur. Upon investigating the possibility, I was both delighted and disappointed to find that many had preceded me in such an endeavor.  And although a few of these intrepid (or foolish?) sleuths were far more qualified than I would ever be to properly deal with the question of Arthur’s historicity, very little progress had been made in solving the mystery.  What I did discover was a plethora of nonsense theories based on ignorance or wishful thinking or both.

But could I do any better? How much would I have to learn first?  How many blind leads would I follow, and how many dead ends would I arrive at?  Was this quest going to be relatively quick or would I be at it for years?  Maybe a lifetime? Would it become something obsessive that ended up dominating any nonessential, impractical aspects of my life?  And was it really, in any sense, important?  What possible value would the discovery of a historical Arthur have for us?

In this modern age of youth Snapchat addiction, I’m afraid I can’t provide any positive answer to the last couple of questions.  In fact, I was chagrined to read an analysis of the recent major box office flop KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD.  One of the reasons listed by the author of that piece for the film’s failure was that people no longer cared about King Arthur. And beyond this, their education was now so universally deficient that most had no idea who even the legendary Arthur was!  The professional academics had long ago forsaken Arthur as a historical entity.  This left only a handful of isolated and distinctly fringe independent Arthurian enthusiasts (present company included) to carry the torch and to give a damn. 

So I have no excuse to offer for my dogged determinism in this regard.  I have pursued a historical Arthur out of selfish interest alone.  Sure, there may be an Arthurian Cult lurking out there who might find my work to be of some interest, even if they (as is all too often) vociferously disagree with my findings. But its membership is rather insignificant and declining.  Given enough time – say, the passing of the current generation – and it will be extinct.

Montaigne said “Nothing is so firmly believed as that which we least know.”  This is especially true of Arthur.  For years I’ve wrestled with those who started out with a preconceived belief and then went forward to prove that belief.  One also thinks of St. Augustine, who said “I believe, so that I may know.”  My credo has always been instead, “I know, so that I may believe.”  And this shift in emphasis, this different mode of thinking, has run me afoul of a great many close-minded or, frankly, crazy individuals.  The New Age and Neopagan communities, while well-meaning, have done their fair share of obfuscating the truth.  I’ve flirted with their intoxicating world view more than once, but have always found their tenets and practices to be unwarranted and unjustifiable. 

As if all that were not bad enough, I have already been accused of diminishing, nay, dismantling the great King Arthur. In seeking to make him a real historical person, I’ve inadvertently stripped him of his magical, otherworldly nature or, perhaps worse yet, have so denigrated him as to remove him entirely from the Hall of Pagan or Christian Worthies.  I’ve shown him to be a man, and not necessarily a respectable one at that.  From the Savior of Britain to a mercenary-federate fighting against Britons, I’ve brought him full circle. To add insult to injury, I’ve made him into an Irishman or, only somewhat less detestable, a personage of mixed Irish and British ancestry. 

Should I apologize for doing so?  Well, the part of me that so badly wanted to believe in the Savior of Britain says YES.  I mean, go read my first book, THE ARTHUR OF HISTORY.  I so badly wanted to subscribe to the notion that Arthur had, for a while, stemmed the tide of barbaric Germanic invasion that I was willing to overlook the nagging questions I could not answer – questions which I alluded to in the Introduction to this book. This is the level to which our own personal biases or subconscious drives or nationalistic or religious/spiritual tendencies or whatever will take us.

Yet when I admitted to myself that I was wrong in my first book, when I managed to overcome the constraints of ego, I simply had to go on.  I could not accept the shortcomings of my own prior arguments, and I could not abide a defeatist posture. There was only one thing to do:  go once more on an Adventure into the Perilous Forest.  Surely I had missed something, either out of ineptitude or willful resistance. The Grail was to be found, and not just in a dream.  I would not be quiet this time as it passed before me in the grand progression.

This book is a result of that Adventure.  A letting go, a trusting in Fate or Providence as a guiding force, a traversing of the trackless waste in no particular direction whatsoever.  At the end of the movie INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE, we learn that the Grail is not some spectacular jeweled golden cup. Instead, it is the simple, rather crude wooden cup of a carpenter’s son.  The Arthur I have revealed herein is like that. 

Was he any less stalwart than his romance counterpart?  Surely not.  The latter is the stuff of myth and fantasy.  The former is a real man, driven by all the usual needs of a leader trying to preserve his people.  We tend to glorify the desperate.  Heroic actions, at root, are generally brought about by those seeking a better life elsewhere.  Who are we to say that a British Arthur credited with staving off the Saxon invasion for a generation is somehow superior to an Irish-descended Arthur who carved out a kingdom for himself in Wales and managed to keep it by fighting battles in southern England in alliance with the Saxons for the British high-king?  This is all a matter of perspective.  What the British lose, the Irish and the Welsh gain.  And, in what is perhaps the most profound irony, the English gain by it also.  For was it not Ceredig the Bear-king who spear-headed the foundation of Wessex?

I feel I can now rest content with having done everything in my power to reveal a truly viable candidate for a historical King Arthur.  Indeed, I have no remaining compulsion to again set forth on an Adventure in that Perilous Wood.  What fellow Arthurians make of my work I cannot predict.  It is entirely up to them what to make of “my Arthur”, as opposed to their own Arthurs.  For as we all know, and too well, there are a legion of Arthurs out there, and doubtless many more to come.      

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

APPENDIX VI: THE GEWISSEI

Quite a few years ago now Dr. Richard Coates clarified the etymological origin of the tribal name Gewissei or Gewissae.  He linked the name, correctly, to Old English ge-wis.  Here are the listings for the proper name Gewis (itself concocted from the word) and ge-wis from the Bosworth and Toller dictionary:

Gewis, Giwis, es; m. Gewis, the great grandfather of Cerdic :-- Se Cerdic wæs Elesing, Elesa Esling, Esla Gewising, Gewis Wiging Cerdic was the son of Elesa, Elesa the son of Esla, Elsa the son of Gewis, Gewis the son of Wig, Chr. 495; Erl. 2, 5: 597; Erl. 20, 7. Giwis, 552; Erl. 16, 19. According to Asset it was from this name that the term Gevissæ, applied by Bede to the West Saxons, was derived. 'Gewis, a quo Britone totam illam gentem Gegwis nominant,' see Grmm. Gesch. D. S. 458. For the use by Bede, see Bd. 3, 7-'Gens Occidentalium Saxonum qui antiquitus Gevissæ vocabantur ... primum Gevissorum gentem ingrediens,' where the translation has 'West Seaxna þeód ... Ðá com he æ-acute;rest upp on West Seaxum.' See also 4, 15, 16. Smith's note on the word is 'Gevissæ. Saxonicum est pro Occidentalium. Sic Visigothi præposita tantum Saxonica expletiva Ge.' See Thorpe's Lappenberg i. 109, note.

ge-wis, -wiss; adj. Certain, sure, knowing, foreknowing; certus :-- Gewis be heora gerihtnesse certus de illorum correctione, Bd. 5, 22; S. 644, 45. Ðæt is gesægd ðæt he wæ-acute;re gewis his sylfes forþfóre qui præscius sui obitus exstitisse videtur, 4, 24; S. 599, 14. Wite ðæt érest gewiss ðæt ðæt mód byþ ðære sáwle æ-acute;ge know first that as certain, that the mind is the soul's eye, Shrn. 178, 2. Gewis is constat, Hpt. Gl. 419. Ða úþwitan ðe sæ-acute;don ðæt næ-acute;fre nán wiht gewisses næ-acute;re búton twæónunga the philosophers that said that there was no certainty without doubt, Shrn. 174, 25. Swá litel gewis funden found so little certain, Bt. 41, 4; Fox 250, 20. Gewis andgit intelligence, 5; Fox 252, 20, 30. We syndon gewisse ðínes lífes we are acquainted with thy life, Guthl. 5; Gdwin. 30, 18. He hí gewisse gedyde and gelæ-acute;rde be ingonge ðæs écan ríces de ingressu regni æterni certos reddidit, Bd. 4, 16; S. 584, 35. On gewissum tídum at certain times, R. Ben. interl. 48. Of gewissum intingan of certain causes, R. Ben. interl. 63. Myd gewyssum gesceáde with certain reason, wherefore; propter certam rationem, quapropter, Nicod. 3; Thw. 2, 6. [O. H. Ger. giwis: Ger. gewiss certus.]

It has been thought (including by the present author) that the term was meant to be a way of distinguishing "good" Britons from "bad", the bad ones being, of course, the wealas or Welsh.  Your enemy is a foreigner and strange to you.  Your friend or ally is known and you can be sure and certain of him.

But I've just had cause to wonder whether there might be more behind the Gewissei name - as well as the Cuth- names who are first brought into connection with Ceawlin/Cunedda in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.  I long ago made a case for the Cuth- names being for the goddess Cuda of the Cotswolds.

568
Her Ceaulin 7 Cuþa gefuhton wiþ Ęþelbryht. 7 hine in Cent gefliemdon, 7 tuegen aldormen on Wibban dune ofslogon, Oslaf 7 Cnebban.

571
Her Cuþwulf feaht wiþ Bretwalas æt Bedcan forda. 7 .iiii. tunas genom, Lygeanburg. 7 Ægelesburg. Benningtun. 7 Egonesham. 7 þy ilcan geare he gefor.

577
Her Cuþwine 7 Ceawlin fuhton wiþ Brettas, 7 hie .iii. kyningas ofslogon, Coinmail, 7 Condidan, 7 Farinmail, in þære stowe þe is gecueden Deorham. 7 genamon .iii. ceastro Gleawanceaster, 7 Cirenceaster, 7 Baþanceaster.

583
hand8: Her Mauricius feng to Romana rice.

584
Her Ceawlin 7 Cuþa fuhton wiþ Brettas, in þam stede þe mon nemneþ Feþanleag. 7 Cuþan mon ofslog. 7 Ceaulin monige tunas genom, 7 unarimedlice herereaf, 7 ierre he hwearf þonan to his agnum.

However, this may be wrong.  Cunedda/Cunedag /Kynadaf (Cunedaf) of Welsh tradition owes his name to the Irish Chuinnedha, also spelled Cuindedha, Cunnid, Cuinnid.  Let us bear this in mind as we look at the various forms of Old English cunnan, ‘know’:

cunnan
tō cunnenne
cunnende
cann
canst
cann
cunnon
cunne
cunnaþ
cunne
cunnen
cūþe
cūþest
cūþe
cūþon
cūþe
cūþen
cunnen / (ġe)cūþ

Suppose this happened: the name Cunedda/Chuinnedha, regardless of its meaning in Irish or Welsh, was intrepreted by the early English as being related to their own word cunnan, which has forms such as cunnaþ. And that the Cuth- names themselves should be derived not from the goddess Cuda, but from a spelling like cūþe. 


If so - and I realize this is highly speculative, and quite possibly wrong - we might suppose that the term Gewissei came about as a way of identifying the descendants of Cunedda.  In other words, the Sure or Certain or Knowing Ones were those belonging to the teulu of a man whose name the English believed meant something akin to the Known One.  

APPENDIX V: CUNEDDA

The great Cunedda, called Cunedag (supposedly from *Cunodagos, ‘Good Hound’) in the Historia Brittonum and Cunedaf in the MARWNAD CUNEDDA, is said to have come down (or been brought down) from Manau Gododdin, a region around the head of the Firth of Forth, to Gwynedd. This chieftain and his sons then, according to the account found in the HB, proceeded to repulse Irish invaders. Unfortunately, this tradition is largely mistaken.

Cunedda of Manau Gododdin, the reputed founder of Gwynedd, was himself actually Irish. There was an early St. Cuindid (d. c. 497 CE) son of Cathbad, who founded a monastery at Lusk, ancient Lusca. In the year entry 498 CE of the Ulster Annals, his name is spelled in the genitive as Chuinnedha. In Tigernach 496 CE, the name is Cuindedha.

The Irish sources also have the following additional information concerning St. Cuindid:

Mac Cuilind - Cunnid proprium nomen - m. Cathmoga m. Cathbath m Cattain m Fergossa m. Findchada m Feic m. Findchain m Imchada Ulaig m. Condlai m Taide m. Cein m Ailella Olum.

U496.2 Quies M. Cuilinn episcopi Luscan. (Repose of Mac Cuilinn, bishop of Lusca).

D.viii. idus Septembris. 993] Luscai la Macc Cuilinn

994] caín decheng ad-rannai, 995] féil Scéthe sund linni, 996] Coluimb Roiss gil Glandai.

trans: 'With Macc cuilinn of Luscae thou apportionest (?) a fair couple: the feast of Sciath here we have, (and that) of Columb of bright Ross Glandae'

The (later-dated) notes to this entry read: 'Lusk, i.e. in Fingall, i.e. a house that was built of weeds (lusrad) was there formerly, and hence the place is named Lusca ........Macc cuilinn, i.e. Luachan mac cuilinn, ut alii putant. Cuinnid was his name at first, Cathmog his father's name'.

Significantly, Lusk or Lusca is a very short distance from the huge promontory fort at Drumanagh, the Bruidhne Forgall Manach of the ancient Irish tales. Drumanagh is the hill of the Manapii and, as such, represents the Manapia in Manapii territory found on the map of Ptolemy. Manapii or Manapia could easily have been rendered Manavia and thus mistaken or substituted for the Manau in Gododdin.

Aeternus, Cunedda's father, is none other than Aithirne of Dun and Ben Etair just south of Lusca. Paternus Pesrudd (‘Red-Cloak’), Cunedda's grandfather, is probably not derived from Mac Badairn of Es Ruad (‘Red Waterfall’), since Es Ruad is in northwest Ireland (Ballyshannon in Co. Donegal). I think Paternus, from the L. word for ‘father’, is Da Derga, the Red God; Da, god, being interpreted as W. tad (cf. L. tata, ‘father’). The Da Derga's hostel was just a little south of the Liffey. Cunedda's great-great-grandfather is said to be one Tegid (Tacitus), while his great-great-great grandfather is called Cein. These two chieftains are clearly Taig/Tadhg and his father Cian. Cian was the founder of the Irish tribe the Ciannachta, who ruled Mag Breg, a region situated between the Liffey and either Duleek or Drumiskin (depending on the authority consulted). The Lusca and Manapia of Chuinnedha are located in Mag Breg.

According to the genealogy edited in Corpus Genealogiarum Sanctorum Hiberniae, the name of Chuinnedha’s father was Cathmug. He belonged to the descendants of Tadc mac Cian, otherwise called the Cianachta. There was a concentration of the saints of this family in the Dublin/Louth/ Meath area, corresponding roughly to the teritory of the Cianachta Breg.

It is surely not a coincidence that according to the Irish Annals Chuinnedha's other name was Mac Cuilinn. We’ve seen above that Mac Cuilinn and the Maqui-Coline of the Wroxeter Stone in Wales are not only the same name, but the same person. Gwynedd was thus founded by Chuinnedha alias Mac Cuilinn of the Manapii in Ireland, not by a chieftain of Manau Gododdin in Britain.


The Irish origin of Cunedda should not be a surprise to us, as there is the well-documented case of the Welsh genealogy of the royal house of Dyfed, which was altered to hide the fact that Dyfed was founded by the Irish Deisi. We know this because we have the corresponding Irish genealogy from a saga which tells of the expulsion of the Deisi from Ireland and their settlement in Dyfed. As is true of Cunedda's pedigree, in the Welsh Dyfed pedigree we find Roman names substituted for Irish names.

APPENDIX IV: IUSAY SON OF CEREDIG

Many years ago I floated the idea that Iusay, son of Ceredig son of Cunedda, may be a form of the family/tribal designation Gewissae or Gewissei. While a proposed relationship between these names was not well-received (or, rather, for the most part ignored!), I would like to briefly revisit the possibility here.

The forms Gewissei and Gewissae are attested (see Richard Coates "On some controversy surrounding Gewissae / Gewissei, Cerdic and Ceawlin").

The later Welsh forms Iwys or Iwis for the Gewissae would appear to derive from the Anglo-Saxon form of this word.  Simon Rodway has confirmed for me that "Iwys is the Welsh form of Gewissae (Armes Prydein, ed. Ifor Williams, English version by Rachel Bromwich (Cardiff, 1972), pp. 49-50)."

Alfred is king of the "giuoys", i.e. Gewissae, in Welsh Annal entry AD 900.  Asser says in his LIFE OF ALFRED: "Cerdic, who was the son of Elesa, who was the son of Geuuis, from whom the Britons name all that nation Geguuis [Gewissae]."

Iusay (variant Usai) has not been successfully etymologized by the Celtic linguists.  Recently, I sent queries to several, all of whom were forced to admit that they could not come up with an acceptable derivation.  I myself have tried everything I could think of, including Classical and Biblical names. This attempt ended in failure.  Although there are some forms of Biblical names as recorded in Irish texts (like Usai), the initial /I-/ of Iusay prohibits us from identifying such with the Welsh name.  A Ius- might suggest a Roman name like Justus, but then we cannot account for the ending of Iusay/Usai.

Of course, it is possible Iusay and Usai are corrupt or that they represent some Welsh mangling of an Irish name. Neither I nor the language experts have been able to find such an Irish analog.  This is not to say it does not exist, merely that we have been unable to find it.

All of which brings me back to this:

I have shown in previous research that the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle's Cerdic is Ceredig son of Cunedda, that the same source's Cynric is Cunorix son of Cunedda (as Maquicoline) and that Ceawlin, supposed son or successor of Cynric is, in fact, Cunedda (Maquicoline).  Sisam and Dumville have aptly proven that Elesa (= the metathesis Esla) is a borrowing from the Bernician pedigree.  Omitting Elesa, then, permits us to see Gewis, eponym of the Gewissei/Gewissae, as the immediate ancestor of Cerdic/Ceredig.  As the genealogy in the ASC in the main runs backwards, it may be that Gewis/Gewissae/Gewissei is properly the son of Ceredig.

If so, we might be able to account for Iusay after all.  It is well known that the /G-/ of Gewis or Gewissei/Gewissae came to be pronounced as a /Y-/.  This is what accounts for the Welsh forms beginning in /I-/.  /W/ and /U/ regularly substitute for each other, especially when going from Welsh to Latin (cf. gwyn and guin).  If the terminal diphthong in Iusay/Usai represents the /-ei/-ae/ of Gewissae/Gewissei, then we need only allow for a lost medial small vowel /-i-/.  Iusay would then be a Welsh form of not Gewis, but of the group designation Gewissae/Gewissei.

I feel this is a rather elegant solution to the problem posed by the name Iusay.  Additional support of this idea has come from the following top Celticists:

From Professor Oliver Padel Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, University of Cambridge - 

"In fact I think your suggestion is not only ingenious but also quite convincing. The only difficult bit, I suppose, is how a tribal name came to be thought of as an individual personal name.

The I- for OE Ge- is fine, of course; as for its loss (Iu- becoming U-),  one might think of the wider Welsh loss of I- in words beginning Iu-, such that original iudd (`lord') became udd (I'm using Modern Welsh spellings for clarity), and personal names containing that word as an element did likewise. (You will find details in Jackson's Language & History in Early Britain -- sorry I haven't got it to hand)."

From Dr Ben Guy, Research Associate, Latin Lives of the Welsh Saints Project, Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, University of Cambridge -

"Your email was forwarded to me by Professor Russell, because I specialise in early Welsh genealogies (I completed a PhD on the subject last year). I'm happy to help if I'm able.

I think you're right that no etymology has been proposed for 'Iusay/Usai' before. What you propose is certainly an intriguing suggestion, but I think that you may encounter a couple of difficulties with it. Firstly, as you point out below, there appears to be one too few minims in Iusay for it to equate to Gewisse/Iwys. Welsh forms of Gewisse, of which the best known is in Armes Prydein Vawr, always appear as Iwis or Iwys (compare the examples listed in GPC online). There are also earlier forms that point to the same thing: 'Giuoys' in Annales Cambriae A, s.a. 899, and Asser's 'Geguuis'. But as you suggest, this is not an insurmountable problem - though the loss would be more readily explained on a palaeographical rather than phonological level. The greater problem is the '-ay/-ai' ending. Comparable endings appear in the English forms because they survive in Latinate contexts - chiefly Bede's nominative plural form 'Geuissae' and a genitive plural 'Gewisorum' (implying a Latin nom. pl. 'Gewisi') in some Anglo-Saxon charters (as mentioned in the Keynes-Lapidge Asser book, p. 229). I don't think that that kind of ending would be expected in an OE context, and it certainly wouldn't in Welsh - GPC takes Iwys as a plural or collective noun whose ending has been influenced by the plural noun ending -wys (< Lat. -enses) found in words like 'Gwennwys'. So in other words, for your proposed derivation to work, Iusay would have to be a version of a Latinate form such as Bede's 'Geuissae'. The question of how that got into the Ceredigion genealogy in the form 'Iusay' would then be all the more complex, and wouldn't be solely a matter of linguistics! That's not to say that you're necessarily incorrect, of course, but it would require a more elaborate, and therefore more speculative, theory of derivation.

There is one further thing you might consider though, if you wanted to pursue this further: the genealogy of St Cadog. This survives in two versions, one appended to the Life of St Cadog, the other in the Jesus College 20 genealogies. The former calls Cadog's great-grandfather 'Solor', the latter 'Filur'. Both of these names were probably copied ultimately from 'Silur' or the like. Given where St Cadog's cult centre is (Llancarfan), this can't be anything other than a representation of the pre-Roman tribe 'Silures', who were resident in that area. But the form 'Silur' is not the result of regular linguistic development from the 1st century AD; it is a form taken at a later stage from a Latin text, with the '-res' ending lopped off. This might help you envisage the kind of process that might have led to a Latinate form such as Bede's 'Geuissae' being included in the Ceredigion pedigree, but one has to make rather more leaps to get there!"

From Professor Doctor P.C.H. Schrijver, Department of Languages, Literature and Communication - Celtic, Institute for Cultural Inquiry, University of Utrecht -

"Linguistically, the first thing that comes to mind regarding the initial alternation Usai /Iusay is the pair OW iud, MW udd 'lord' < *iüdd. So OW word-initial j- disappears in front of ü (= MW u). As to your assumption that Iusay may be connected to Gewissae if there is a rule that states that medial -i- is lost, I can tell you that there is indeed such a rule: *wi > ü in non-final syllables (as in *wikanti: > MW ugeint, see my Studies in British Celtic Historical Phonology 159-60). This generates the ü that we need in order to later get rid of the initial j. The only remaining problem is connecting OE Ge- /je/ with OW j-. Barring that, I would say, yes, what you suggest is possible. That still leaves the origin and etymology of the name in the dark (the reconstruction leads to something like *iwissai- or *g/jewissai-), but first things first."

From Professor Doctor Stefan Zimmer, Department of Celtic, University of Bonn -

"Spontaneaously, your idea of interpreting "Iusay" as a W form of OE Gewisse seems quite attractive. One must, of course, check meticulously the palaeographic details. As I am, alas, not a palaeograher myself, I cannot say more. I see no "LINGUISTIC" problems."

From Professor Patrick Sims-Williams, Department of Welsh and Celtic Studies, The University of Wales, Aberystwyth -

"I suppose Ius- is the older form and became Us- like Iustic in Culhwch which becomes Usic. Forms of Gewissae are noted by Williams/Bromwich Armes Prydein pp. xv-xvi. One Welsh form is Iwys, which rhymes as I-wys, and as the diphthong wy can become w, you could get I-ws- which could be written Ius- in Old Welsh and then add  -ae from Latin which almost gets you to Iusay."

From Professor Doctor P.C.H. Schrijver, Department of Languages, Literature and Communication, Celtic, Institute for Cultural Inquiry, University of Utrecht -

"Linguistically, the first thing that comes to mind regarding the initial alternation Usai /Iusay is the pair OW iud, MW udd 'lord' < *iüdd. So OW word-initial j- disappears in front of ü (= MW u). As to your assumption that Iusay may be connected to Gewissae if there is a rule that states that medial -i- is lost, I can tell you that there is indeed such a rule: *wi > ü in non-final syllables (as in *wikanti: > MW ugeint, see my Studies in British Celtic Historical Phonology 159-60). This generates the ü that we need in order to later get rid of the initial j. The only remaining problem is connecting OE Ge- /je/ with OW j-. Barring that, I would say, yes, what you suggest is possible. That still leaves the origin and etymology of the name in the dark (the reconstruction leads to something like *iwissai- or *g/jewissai-), but first things first."

From Professor Doctor Stefan Zimmer, Department of Celtic, University of Bonn -

"Spontaneaously, your idea of interpreting "Iusay" as a W form of OE Gewisse seems quite attractive. One must, of course, check meticulously the palaeographic details. As I am, alas, not a palaeograher myself, I cannot say more. I see no "LINGUISTIC" problems."

From Professor Patrick Sims-Williams, Department of Welsh and Celtic Studies, The University of Wales, Aberystwyth -

"I suppose Ius- is the older form and became Us- like Iustic in Culhwch which becomes Usic. Forms of Gewissae are noted by Williams/Bromwich Armes Prydein pp. xv-xvi. One Welsh form is Iwys, which rhymes as I-wys, and as the diphthong wy can become w, you could get I-ws- which could be written Ius- in Old Welsh and then add  -ae from Latin which almost gets you to Iusay."

In a few days the AFTERWORD of the book...

THE UNENVIABLE FATE OF A REVISIONIST or THE INEVITABLE CONSEQUENCES OF DIMINISHING A BELOVED HERO

APPENDIX III: AMBROSIUS

Over the past several years, I've written a handful of articles on Ambrosius Aurelianus, a geographically and temporally dislocated figure in early British legend.  Yet despite the evidence I've presented, Arthurian scholars, professional and amateur alike, continue to mistake him for a real personage of 5th century Britain.  The idea that he might even be Arthur is still out there.  I feel, therefore, that it is time for a summary treatment of this supposed military hero.  The easiest way for me to do this is to itemize the points of my argument.

1) The name of A.A. matches perfectly that of the fourth century Governor of Gaul (whose territories included those of Britain) and his famous son, St. Ambrose.  Vortigern's grandfather Vitalinus is said to have fought A.A. at Wallop in Hampshire.  Such a battle reference puts A.A. well before Vortigern and negates the possibility that A.A. was a boy during Vortigern's reign.

2) St. Ambrose and his father lived at Trier on the Moselle.  The Campus Elleti in Wales where Vortigern's men are said to have found the boy A.A. comes from a Welsh place-name Maes Elei and this is plainly a substitute for the Moselle (Mosella/Mosellae).

3) Dinas Emrys is a relocation for Amesbury, the latter thought (wrongly) to contain the name of Ambrosius.  Dinas Emrys was placed in Eryri because this mountain range was fancifully connected to the Welsh word for eagle, and both St. Ambrose and Magnus the Tyrant (easily confused with Vor-tigern) are known to have been at Aquileia, a place-name that could have been incorrectly linked with the Latin word for eagle.

4) Trier was in Gallia Belgica, 'Gaul of the Belgae', and A.A.'s Wallop in Hampshire was in the ancient tribal territory of the British Belgae.  Gallia could be used in medieval sources for both Gaul and Wales.

5) A.A. is said to have been given Dinas Emrys and the western kingdoms of Britain by Vortigern. This is impossible, as Gwynedd belonged to Cunedda and his sons.  Obviously, a mistake has been made here for Amesbury, which was inside of what was to become Wessex, the kingdom of the West Saxons.

6) A.A appears to have been identified in folk belief with the god Lleu, styled Lord of Gwynedd,who was himself identified by the Welsh with the god Mabon.  The Campus Elleti ballgame story is paralleled in the Irish story of Mac Og, the 'Young Son', the Gaelic version of  Mabon.

7) A.A. was further identified with Merlin (Myrddin), himself possibly a form of Lleu or an avatar of that god. Geoffrey of Monmouth places Merlin at the springs of Galabes, his transparent attempt at the Guoloph/Wallop of the hero Ambrosius

In conclusion, the Ambrosius Aurelianus who first appears in the pages of Gildas is a purely legendary figure, based on the known historical Ambrosii of the Continent.  He was mistakenly transferred to Britain during the normal course of folklore development, largely due to a confusion of place-names. There is no reason to believe that either Ambrosius - father or son - ever set foot on British soil.  To concoct some famous war-leader of the Britons who happened to have been named after one of the Ambrosii is to ignore points 1-7 above.

APPENDIX II: VORTIGERN

The name Vortigern or Gwrtheyrn, as found in the HB of Nennius, was once held to be a ruling title. It was thought to be represented by Gildas' Latin pun 'superbus tyrannus' or ‘Proud Tyrant’. However, we now know that Vortigern was a proper name and not a title. It is found recorded not only in several localities in Wales, but in Ireland as well.

Aside from the British Vortigern, whose name means ‘Over-lord’, we have records for the following Dark Age Irish Vortigerns or ‘Fortcherns’:

1) Fortchern, the smith of St. Patrick (Annals of the Four Masters Year Entry 448); as this Fortchern is paired with another smith, Laebhan, i.e. St. Lomman (?), this Fortchern may be:

2) Foirtchern son of Fedelmid, who was for a short time bishop of St. Lomman's Trim. Fortchern of Trim, who was of mixed Irish and British blood, is said to have later retired to Killoughterane/Cill Fortchern in the parish of Muinebeag, Co. Carlow. However, we are told in the ancient Irish sources that Fortchern the smith is the same as Foirtchern of Rath Seimhne (see below). It may not be a coincidence that there is a Gobbin's Cliff, the Cliffs of the divine smith Goban Saor, in Seimhne/Island Magee.
3) Vortigern of Ballyhank, East Muskerry, Co. Cork (inscribed stone).
4) Vortigern of Knockboy in Decies Without Drum, Co. Waterford (inscribed stone dated c. 700-900 CE).
5) Foirtchern of Monte Cainle (probably the Hill of Conlig/Coinleac in north Co. Down), a contemporary of St. Columba.
6)Foirtchern of Rath Seimhne (Island Magee, south Co. Antrim).
7)Fortchern, brother of Cathchern (a name cognate with British Cattigern, a supposed son of Vortigern in the HB narrative), son of Tigernach of the Meic Carthind of the Lough Foyle region.
8)Fortcheirn son of Mael Rubae of the Ui Dicholla of the Dessi
9)Fortchern son of Iarlaith of the Ui Brigte of the Dessi
10)Fortchern son of Tigernach of the Ui Brigte of the Dessi
11)Clan Foirtchern in the Breadach genealogy on Inishowen, near the Lough Foyle Meic Carthind

These examples, some ‘in stone’, should be sufficient to dispell the notion that Vortigern is merely a title. Instead, Vortigern is a genuine Brythonic personal name.

In Wales, Radnorshire or Maesyfed (the ‘field of Hyfaidd’) was once known as Gwrtheyrnion, i.e. the kingdom of Gwrtheyrn. Gwrtheyrnion, roughly between the Wye and Ithon rivers, was a relatively small kingdom in southwestern Powys. Other places in Wales where Vortigern's name is preserved are Nant Gwrtheyrn in Lleyn, close to Gwyniasa (and surrounding Gwynus placenames), and a Craig Gwrtheyrn on the Teifi.

These three places are mentioned in Nennius's narrative, but only Gwrtheyrnion carries weight. The Lleyn and Teifi sites may represent the presence in these places of other Vortigerns, but in all likelihood it is merely the proximity to them of St. Garmon place-names that accounts for the ‘Over-lord’s’ association with them. In Nennius's story of Vortigern, the poor chieftain is literally hounded all over Wales by the saint. Thus wherever there was a known St. Garmon site, Vortigern was placed there. In my opinion, Vortigern was probably not in Lleyn, nor was he on the Teifi (despite the presence at nearby Nevern of a Vitalinus Stone; see below). He belonged instead to Gwrtheyrnion, which was merely one of several Welsh Dark Age sub-kingdoms.

Vortigern of Wales, who is said to have been the son of Guitaul (= Roman Vitalis) son of Guitolin (= Roman Vitalinus, a name found on a stone at Nevern dated by Charles Thomas between 466 and 533 CE – too late for Vortigern’s grandfather) son of Gloiu (Gloyw, the eponym of Welsh Caerloyw, modern Gloucester), is actually the British-Irish Fortchern son of Fedelmid son of Laeghaire. This Fortchern son of Fedelmid was of the right time to be the Vortigern of Nennius. Both Guitaul and Guitolin are substituted for the name Fedel-mid.

It was Robert Vermaat who first called my attention to the details surrounding this particular Fortchern. To quote extensively from his Vortigern Studies website article,

‘Scotnoe & Foirtgirn, the Irish Branch’:

“Foirtchern was the son of Fedelmid, son of Loguire, who was High King of Ireland throughout the period of the mission of St. Patrick (whose dates may be 428-462). Foirtchern’s mother was a daughter of the King of the Britons. The story goes that when St. Patrick’s nephew Lomman visited Trim (in Ireland), the boy Foirtchernn took him home to Fedelmid and his mother, who both spoke British and were delighted to see a visitor from his mother’s country. They made Lomman stay, who then subsequently converted the whole family. The mother might have been a Christian in the first place, for she ‘welcomed’ the saint. Maybe the fact that Lomman was a Christian made him more welcome than his being from Britain. Fedelmid may have embraced Christianity because the saint had just come from Tara Hill, where St. Patrick had defeated the druids of Fedelmid’s father the High King Loguire.

Foirtchern's date may be confirmed by the Annala Rioghachta Eirann:

Annals of the Four Masters, M432.0 – 4

The Age of Christ, 432. The fourth year of Laeghaire. Patrick came to Ireland this year, and proceeded to baptize and bless the Irish, men, women, sons, and daughters, except a few who did not consent to receive faith or baptism from him, as his Life relates. Ath Truim was founded by Patrick, it having been granted by Fedhlim, son of Laeghaire, son of Niall, to God and to him, Loman, and Fortchern.

These annals, though dating to 1616 in their youngest version, date back at least to 1172.

In any case, Fedelmid enthrusted Foirtchirnn to Lomman and founded the church of Trim, making St Patrick, Lomman and Foirtchirnn his heirs. But Foirtchernn was obdurate and did not want to accept his heritage, after which Lomman had to threaten him with taking away the blessing of the church, which is tantamount to incurring its curse. After Lomman's death, though, Foirtchirnn gave away his church within three days. This may be apocryphal, for Foirtchirnn was listed afterwards as the first episcopus (abbot) after Fedelmid and Lomman. He might have given it up later though, for he is also listed as a plebilis, a lay successor.”

Now, the question on my mind, after reading this account, was "Who succeeded Lomman at Trim?" The answer is in the Patrician Texts in the Book of Armagh:

He [Foirtchernn] held the abbacy for three days after his master's death until he came to Ath Truim, and then immediately handed his church over to the foreigner Cathlaid [Cathlaido perigrino].

I immediately recognized this ‘Cathlaid the Foreigner’ as a doublet for Catel Durnluc, the traditional founder of Powys, the kingdom that succeeded that of the Roman-period Cornovii.  In the book above I suggested Catel or Cadel might be a pet-name for Cunorix son of Cunedda.

The only objection to a Gwrtherynion ruled by a chieftain of mixed British-Irish ancestry would be that such a king, with such a small sub-kingdom, could not possibly be the ‘superbus tyrannus’ of Gildas. But I offer this argument to account for how such a confusion could have taken place: any chieftain possessing a name such Vor-tigern, ‘the over-/super-/great- lord’ could easily have been misinterpreted as an over-king similar to the ardrigh or ‘high-king’ of Ireland. If I am right and Fortchern son of Fedelmid son of Laeghaire the high king is the British Vortigern of Gwrtheyrnion, then this kind of royal descent from an ardrigh could also have contributed to Gildas's misinterpretation of Vortigern's status in Britain.

In summary, then, what may have happened is this: a chieftain named Vortigern (or Fortchern), who was of mixed Irish-British ancestry, and whose grandfather was the ardrigh of Ireland, had established a small sub-kingdom in southwestern Powys in the 5th century. Gildas, attracted to the name because it seemed to denote a sort of British high king, laid the blame for the Saxon ‘invitation’ (i.e. the use of Germanic barbarian federates) in this presumed high king's lap. Further vilification continued after this identification of Vortigern as the offending monarch was made, until by the 9th century we have a fully developed story of Vortigern in the HB of Nennius.

Alternately, given that the Eliseg Pillar in what was the kingdom of Powys traces the descent of the Powys dynasty from Vortigern, and Catel Durnluc is in the various genealogies confused with Vortigern or made his near-descendent, it is possible that Fortchern son of Fedelmid, at least partly through his wife’s British blood, had managed to lay claim to the throne of Powys itself. His sub-kingdom of Gwrtheyrnion was, after all, part of Powys.

A final possibility, and one which calls into some doubt the notion that Vortigern was related to the Irish high king, is the proximity of Gwrtheyrnion to Brycheiniog.  The latter, as Charles Thomas has shown in his ‘And Shall These Mute Stones Speak?”, was likely founded by the Irish-descended Dessi dynasty of Dyfed.  We have seen above that fully three of the Irish Vortigerns hailed from the Dessi.

The Bodvoc Stone and Vortigern

On Mynydd Margam in southern Wales, there is an interesting inscribed stone dated either 500-599 or 400-550 A.D..  Interesting chiefly because it bears the name Catotigirnus, a name we know from the Historia Brittonum of Nennius and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.  A Cattigern, modern Caderyn, is said according to competing genealogies to be either the son of the great Vortigern or of Cadell Dyrnllwg.  While Catotigirnus may well have been a relatively common name in the period, the fact that we find it on a stone means that at least his son Bodvoc must have been someone of considerable importance.  Could the father of Bodvoc also have been an important man?  Could he have actually been THE Cattigern?

Here is the relevant inscription:

BODVOC{I}HICI{A}CIT | F/IL/IVSC{A}TOTIGIRNI | PRONEPVSETERN{A}L/I | VEDOM{A}V{I}
Expansion:
BODVOCI HIC IACIT FILIVS CATOTIGIRNI PRONEPVS ETERNALI VEDOMAVI
Translation:
Of Bodvocus (PN) -- he lies here, the son of Catotigirnus (PN) and great-grandson of Eternalis (PN) Vedomavus (PN).
RCAHMW/1976 37 reading only


We learn more about this stone from the CADW Web page:

"The earliest and perhaps most visual features of the pre-industrial landscape throughout the area are funerary monuments located within the uplands dating to the Bronze Age (2300-800BC); these features are arranged in two main clusters or groups; one towards the western end of the Mynydd Margam ridge including two Bronze Age Cairns, or round barrows at Ergyd Isaf (SAM Gm 160; PRNs 741 and 742; HLCA 004), and nearby at Ergyd Uchaf (SAM Gm 159; PRN 749w; HLCA 010), and a second grouping at the head of Cwm Cynffig, including a two cairns near Llyndwr Fawr (PRNs 751w and 752w; HLCA 010), a ring cairn (PRN 753w; HLCA 010), the 'supposed' original site of the early medieval inscribed Bodvoc stone (SAM Gm 443; HLCA 010), to the south the so called Port Talbot Tumulus (PRN 763w; HLCA 013) and at Waun Lluest-wen another ring cairn (PRN 115m; HLCA 013), and Twmpath Diwlith (PRN 00754w; excavation in 1921 revealed a cist burial; HLCA 013). Outliers include the possible barrow of Mynydd Margam Beacon (NPRN 307,286; HLCA 010), also considered to be a maritime defensive feature of medieval date, and to the south west the near destroyed Rhyd Llechws round barrow, just south east of the summit and the round barrow on Moel Ton mawr (PRN 00755w; HLCA 014). Several of these sites were excavated on behalf of the National Museum of Wales by Dr RE Mortimer Wheeler in 1921 (RCAHMW. Glamorgan Inventory, Volume 1, Part 1); the Royal Commission record that all of the barrows and cairns excavated had been previously damaged and that 'some of the the mounds had been built of irregularly cut turves, and yielded a few flint flakes during excavation.

Of particular interest is the barrow of Twmpath Diwlith (PRN 00754w; SS 8322 8879; HLCA 013), this was found to have been constructed of turf over a rough cist-burial containing fragmentary burnt bones', the site had later been enlarged with earth and a secondary interment (disturbed) inserted. The important 6th century Bodvoc stone (ECM 229; PRN 809w; replica, original in NMW) inscribed BODVOC-HIC IACIT / FILIVIS CATOTIGIRNI / PRONEPVS ETERNALI VEDOMAV ('the stone of Bodvocus-he lies here, the son of Catotigirnus and great grandson of Eternalis Vedomavus') is set into the adjacent ringcairn (PRN 753w; SAM Gm 443; SS 8306 8878; HLCA 010). The 1st edition 6'' OS map of 1884 shows the then location of the stone on the 'tumulus' immediately east of the ancient ridgeway route of Heol-y-moch (an extention of Ffordd-y-gyfraith), and names it as careg-lythrog (inscribed stone). There is a possibility that the Bodvoc stone may have originally have been associated with Twmpath Diwlith, especially in the light of the secondary burial; this is, however, largely speculative.

The significance of the Bodvoc stone is enhanced by its location close to a well-established civil and ecclesiastic boundary; the boundary between the parishes of Margam and Llangynwyd ('yr Hen Blwyf') and the boundary of main monastic lands of Margam during the medieval period (Rees 1932; Williams 1990), the stone's location is thought to reflect the even earlier boundary between the early medieval parochiae of Margam and Llangynnd (Knight 1995)."

Let us first tackle the name Vedomav-.  Celtic language specialists are in agreement that the second component is "servant."  To quote again from the CISP site:

"MAU is attested as the second element in the name Tutamau (CR no. 281), and also probably in Wormawi in ch. 14 of the Vita of Paul Aurelian), unless that is Uurm-/Uorm- `brown' plus the suffix -(i)au. Cornish has a common noun maw `young man, servant' from British *magus. Magu- is attested as a name element in Gaulish. These forms correspond to the OIr. common noun mug `slave, servant'. The same root is found in Breton maouez `woman', corresponding to Cornish mowes `girl', and probably in Breton mevel `domestic servant'. The Early Welsh collective maon (two syllables) is used with the meaning `subjects, a king's warband' (GPC sn.). The singular occurs in the Welsh fossilized phrase meudwy `hermit, monk', as if from *magus Dewi: `servant of God'. The same element occurs in two compound names in Late Romano-British spellings in inscriptions from Wales: MAVOHE[N-] from *Magu-senos (Llanboidy: ECMW no. 149) and VEDOMAV- (Margam: ECMW no. 229). If Gallmau is not simply a name that is servile in origin, it may contain the sense of meudwy as a name in faith, i.e. `Gallo-Roman Servant [of God]'."

Vedo- is from some word which in modern Welsh would appear as gwydd (information courtesy Dr. Simon Rodway).  I will present my reason below for choosing gwydd, 'tree(s), branches, twigs' (see Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru).

The second thing we notice about the Bodvoc Stone inscription is that the name of the father of Catotigirnus is left out.  We thus must be satisfied with the great-grandfather of Bodvoc, Eternalis Vedomavus.  Now, long ago I suggested that Vortigern was at least part Irish.

At the time, I had not plugged the Bodvoc Stone into the equation.  As a result, I did not bother to check into the etymologies for Lomman and Fedelmid (Feidilmidh and other variants).

Lomman, as it turns out, means (see the eDIL) 'tree (or branch) stripped of its bark and/or leaves and/or twigs.'  He is given an epithet lainnech, meaning 'the Scaly' (perhaps for the appearance of bark?).  Ath Truim, his church, means "ford of the elder trees." According to a traditional account, Foirtchern son of Fedelmid was a follower of Lomman.

This reminded me immediately of Vedomavus as "Tree-servant."

Could Eternalis be a Latin rendering of Fedelmid?  We have examples in stone and in MSS. of Latin being used as "translations" of Celtic names.  In Dyfed we have the Voteporigas Protictoris stone, while Gildas wrongly renders Cuneglasus as 'tawny butcher'.

I went to look for an etymology for Fedelmid.  One possibility, supplied by Christopher Gwinn, wasn't helpful:

“Fedelm is the Irish equivalent of the Gaulish name Uidluia (for *Uidlmia). The first element is based on the root ‘to see’ (Uid-). The name likely means ‘seeress.’”

According to Professor Jurgen Uhlich of Trinity College, a derivation from a word similar to Gaulish Uidluia is not possible:

"And finally ref. the connection you propose with Gaulish Uidluia, even IF < *vidlmia (which, however, seems a phonotactically impossible formation). Be that as it may, such a preform could not possible lead to the vocalism of the first syllable of Fedelm(-id), where the e must either be original or the result of Primitive Irish lowering, which however only happens before *a or *o in the following syllable. Also, a group *dl could not have survived into Old Irish, but would regularly lose the d with ensuing compensatory lengthening, thus yielding something like *file, or if really with an original *m, *fílme (all of this a purely formal exercise, of course). So while words beginning with, or containing, the sequence <vid> make one think of the IE root ‘to see’ (though there are other formal possibilities), one can still not be sure that even the apparently appellative Gaulish word containing this must have meant ‘seer(ess)’, unless it can be argued plausibly have that meaning in its transmitted Larzac context. But this would still do nothing for Fedelm etc., unless the formal concerns could be addressed, and even then it is attested as a context-free name, not an appellative noun."

The second possibility for Fedlemid, however, was quite remarkable:

Sabine Ziegler derives Fedelm and Fedelmid from the adjective feidil "enduring, lasting".

I went to the eDIL for feidil (or fedil) and derivatives and found these meanings:

lasting, enduring, long-lived, constant, continuous, perpetual

Prof. Jurgen's opinion on this derivation is as follows:

"...the only formal connection available indeed appears to be the Irish word feidil... All of this leaves us at best with feidil, for no other reason that this is the most similar word the Irish dictionary can come up with (albeit a very similar one in the present case, admittedly)... I will restate that that connection with feidil seems more suggestive than some other, shorter, root-etymologies... "

What I propose is this: whoever carved the Bodvoc Stone had rightly or wrongly interpreted Fedelmid to mean the same as Latin Eternalis and so he "translated" the name.

Prof. Jurgen commented on this idea thusly:

 "...the latter “meaning” would only have been the one that the translator assumed the name to have by his own reinterpretation (which may have been historically “correct” or incorrect), not the actual meaning of the name at the time, which again would have been limited to denoting a particular person. This is the realm of folk-etymology (usually called that only when the contemporary interpretation of a form can be shown by modern linguists to be historically wrong, but the approach is the exact same when the explanation happens to be “correct”, a criterion that would have made no sense to the folk-etymologiser)."

Eternalis = Fedelmid

Vedomavus = Tree-servant (i.e. Fedelmid, who was, as is made plain in the hagiographical account, a follower of the "tree" Lomman)

If I'm right about this, the Vortigern of Wales was indeed Foirtchern son of Fedelmid by a British wife.  This Foirtchern eventually carved out a kingdom for himself called Gwrtheyrnion, located in southern Powys.

I realize some may challenge my reading of this stone.  Still, I feel that what I have come up with is more than merely provocative.  In truth, it may point to the actual historical existence of Vortigern and allow us to trace his ancestry back to an Irish king.