Arthur’s descent from Cunedda

Gwen, the supposed mother of Eigr, is said to have been the daughter of Cunedda Wledig, see Amlawdd and Gwen. Arthur is identified with Paternus on the Tintagel slate. The VSP tells us that Paternus’s mother was a lady named Gwen (Guean) but does not give her ancestry. This is provided by a late addition to the ByS in the manuscript Pen. 128:

Gwenn v’ch Karedic ap Kvnedda wledic

The respective pedigrees are shown below:

Gen. JC 7, ByA 29(13, 14) ByS Pen. 128 Reconciled
0 Arthur Paternus Arthur/Paternus
-1 Eigr Gwen Eigr Gwendragon
-2 Gwen Ceredig Ceredig
-3 Cunedda Cunedda Cunedda

Arthur’s pedigree may be reconciled with that of Paternus as follows. Gwen was not the mother of Eigr and that name was part of her cognomen as shown in column entitled ‘Reconciled’ in the table above. The evidence for this assertion is provided by two Irish Arthurian Romances. In the RIA.23D 22 version of the Romance Eachtra an Mhadra Mhaoil (The Story of the Crop-Eared Dog)[1] we have:

Artur mhic Iobhair mhic Ambros mhic Constaintin

whereas in the RIA.23M 26 version it is:

Arthur mhac Ambróis mic ConstantÍn mic Uighir Finndrea guin

In the Romance Eachtra Mhacaoimh an Iolair (The Story of Eagle-boy)[2] the last name in the above pedigree takes the form Ughdaire Finndreagain. These pedigrees are consistent but need to be interpreted thus:

Gen. EaMM RIA.23D 22 EaMM RIA.23M 26 EMaI
0 Artur Arthur Artur
-1 Iobhair [Iobhair] Uighir Finndreaguin Iubhair Ughdaire Finndreagain
-2 Ambros Ambróis Ambrois
-3 Constaintin ConstantÍn Constaintin

So, Arthur’s father, Iobhair, was the son of Ambrois (Ambrosius) who in turn was the son of Constantin (Custennin Gorneu). Moreover, Arthur’s mother was Uighir Finndreaguin (Eigr Gwendragon), where Irish Finn and Welsh Gwen have the meaning white or fair or blessed. Finndreaguin was erroneoulsy taken to be Cinndreaguin, resulting in the matronymic Arthur m. Uighir Finndreaguin becoming the false patronymic Arthur m. Uther Pendragon. Another inaccuracy is the assertion that Eigr’s father was Amlawdd Wledig. As noted by Brynley F. Roberts[3] he is a fictitious character whose only role is that his daughters are the mothers of heroic figures.

[1] ITS vol.10 1907 2
[2] ITS vol.10 1907 118
[[3] AoW 94
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Was Arthur a king?

This question is raised from time to time. That Arthur was not a king during the period of his twelve battles is confirmed by the HB and is not surprising since during these campaigns he may well have been in his early to mid-twenties. Consequently, Gildas would not have considered mentioning him. That he eventually became king of Dyfed is shown by HG 2.

Pre-Galfridian Arthur

The importance of Arthur, at least to the people of the West Country and Brittany, was not a creation of Geoffrey of Monmouth. This is indicated by Hermann of Tournai’s 1146 chronicle De Miraculis Sanctae Mariae Laudunensis which states that in 1113 nine canons from Laon in France were on a fund-raising journey that included Cornwall. They were shown local sites associated with Arthur. That there was at this early date landmarks associated with Arthur is remarkable in itself. What is even more intriguing is the incident that occurred at Bodmin in Cornwall. The French canons had brought the Shrine of Our Lady of Laon. A man with a withered arm came to be cured by the relics. The individual mentioning that Arthur still lived led to a quarrel with one of the French called Hangello and this in turn developed into a riot with order eventually being restored by the cleric Algardus. Hermann had mentioned that the Bretons, too, quarrel with the French with regards to Arthur.[1]

[1] Coe and Young, 1995, 46

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the British victories

That the ASC makes no mention of Baddon is not surprising as the policy was clearly not to mention their defeats. A further example of this are the battles mentioned in the AC and also referred to in the ByT, dated to the year 721:

And the battle of Heilin, with Rhodri Molwynog, took place in Cornwall; and the action of Garthmaelog, and the fight of Pencoed in South Wales. And in those three battles the Britons were victorious.[1]

Moreover, although the ASC is reasonably accurate, it is clear that in the Arthurian age the information has been manipulated. The entries for the years 495 and 508 look similar to those of 514 and 527 respectively, seperated by 19 years, the Metonic cycle. It would appear that, by the use of repetition, the chronicle blanked out a disastrous period for the Saxons.

[1] Williams, J., 1860, 5

Dating Baddon

The AC A-text indicates the battle of Baddon occurred 63 years after Pope Leo’s dating of Easter which occurred in the year 455. This points to a date for Baddon of 518.
The AC B-text describes the occurrence of an eclipse thus:

Anus dies tenebrosa sicut nox.

This is likely to be that which occurred on 23 December 447 and would have been visible over Britain. The document shows Baddon as occurring 71 years later. This too indicates Baddon took place in the year 518.

Further confirmation of this date is given by the ASC and DE as can be seen in the post entitled The Adventus Saxonum.

Celliwig

Arthur’s court is said to be located at a place called Celliwig in Cernyw. I believe it must be a place that occupies a prime strategic site in Cornwall. The Romans had to make a similar decision as to where to locate their forts. Two of their three known forts in Cornwall are a mere 5 miles apart. Both occupy hilltops that overlook the highest navigable point on major Cornish rivers.

The first is at Nanstallon and the associated river is the Camel which drains on the north coast at Padstow. The second fort is at Restormel, near the river Fowey which drains on the south coast at the town of Fowey. The forts are separated by an east-west ridgeway, possibly prehistoric in origin, which runs along the central spine of Cornwall. They could also monitor the north-south traffic, some of which would be avoiding having to sail round the tip of the peninsula.

It is here, near the geographical centre of Cornwall and between the two forts, that Castle Canyke or Kynock is situated. It is the largest hill-fort in Cornwall and I believe it to be Kelli wic. It is bivallate and oval in shape measuring 348 m and 308 m. Ferdinand Lot (1901) thought Arthur’s residence was Bodmin, the town the castle is located in, and he noted that nearby was a place called Callywith.[1] Nearby is Callywith wood, perhaps originally part of the forest indicated by the meaning of the name Celliwig, i.e forest grove.

[1] Romania 30, 13

The Tintagel slate

The slate was found on the island at Tintagel in 1998. I believe it reads

The Tintagel slate (Glasgow University)

  1.   MAV E[IGIR]
  2.   †
  3.   PATERN[VS]
  4.   COLI AVI FICIT
  5.   ARTOR GNOV
  6.   COLI [AVI]
  7.   FICIT

where the bracketed letters are now missing and some of the words run together. A cross occupies the space between lines one and three.

The letters in the first line are in larger characters. They are not easy to identify and their interpretation has changed since the slate’s discovery. The M and A are ligatured with the start of the letter M being only just visible. The text below the cross occupies five lines and the script is smaller. The lefthand diagonal descender of the letter V in the third line is just about visible. Also, what has thus far been interpreted as a G on the fifth line is in reality an R and G ligatured as illustrated below.

Letter r

Letter g

Letters r and g ligatured

 

 

 

 

 

 

The inscription is clearly Arthurian as indicated by the following interpretation. The text in lines one to four form a sentence which is repeated in lines five to seven, but with the matronymic missing and the name Paternus replaced by Artor. This suggests that Paternus is an alternative name for Artor. The slate thus reads:

The son of Igraine, Paternus, made this for his grandfather Coel.
The renowned Arthur made this for his grandfather Coel.

We thus have an inscription with an interesting mix of Brythonic and Latin text.