West Saxon Genealogical Regnal List

In the article The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Arthur’s death it was stated Dumville derived the same date for the start of Cerdic’s reign. The following table illustrates the derivation.

WSGRL Reign Start ASC entries Discrepancy
Cerdic 16 538 519 19
Cynric 27 554 534 20
Ceawlin 7 581 560 21
Ceol 6 588 591 -3
Ceolwulf 17 594 597 -3
Cynegils 31 611 611 0
Cenwalh 31 642 643 -1
Seaxburh 1 673 672 1
Æscwine 2 674 674 0
Centwine 9 (10) 676 676 0
Cædwalla 3 (2) 685 685 0
Ine 38 688 688 0
Æthelheard 14 726 728 -2
Cuthred 16 740 741 -1
Sigebert 1 756 754 2
Cynewulf 29 757 755 2
Beorhtric 16 786 784 2
Egbert 37 802 800 2
Æthelwulf 16 (19) 839 836 3
Æthelbald 5 855 855 0
Æthelbert 6 860 860 0
Æthelred 5 866 866 0
Alfred 28 871 871 0

It can be seen from the discrepancy column that the only significant differences arise in the dating of the start of the reigns of Cerdic, Cynric and Ceawlin providing evidence that these dates were shifted earlier by one Metonic cycle in order to hide a period of Saxon defeats.

Advertisements

The Adventus Saxonum in the Chronicon Britannicum

The CBrit appears to indicate why there are differing dates for the Adventus suggested by the HB and the HE. One of the possible dates indicated by the former is 428 and by the latter 447.

HB 66:
“Vortigern reigned in Britain when Theodosius and Valentinian were consuls, and in the fourth year of his reign the Saxons came to Britain, in the consulship of Feliz and Taurus …”[1]

HE II 14:
“So King Edwin, with all the nobles of his race and a vast number of the common people, received the faith and regeneration by holy baptism in the eleventh year of his reign, that is in the year of our Lord 627 and about 180 years after the coming of the English to Britain.”[2]

The CBrit inserts between the entries for the years 413 and 427 the following entry dated, out of sequence, to the year 447:
“Angli in majorem Britanniam venerunt, & Britones inde ejecerunt.”

This suggests that CCCCXLVII (447) may have been a corruption of CCCCXXVII (427), that is although the author was allocating the same date to the event as that in the HE, he was sequencing it in his list in line with a date close to that cited by the HB.

[1] Han, K. W. L., 2008.
[2] McClure, J., Collins, R., 1999, 97.

 

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Arthur’s death

Under the year 501 the ASC A has the entry:

“Her cuom Port on Bretene 7 his .ii. suna Bieda 7 Mægla mid .ii. scipum on þære stowe þe is gecueden Portesmuþa 7 ofslogon anne giongne brettiscmonnan, swiþe ęþelne monnan.”
“Here Port and his 2 sons, Bieda and Mægla, came with 2 ships to Britain at the place which is called Portsmouth, and killed a certain young British man – a very noble man.”[1]

It is not usual for the ASC to mention the death of an enemy and if the individual was a nobleman we may be able to identify him. It will be argued that the dating for this event is incorrect. Moreover, the previous entry, for the year 495, and the following entry, for 508, are also suspect of being wrongly dated as they are very similar to the entries for the years 514 and 527 respectively except that some of the names have been altered. The reason why the authors would wish to make duplicate entries for the start of the 6th C is because Arthur’s victories occurred in that time frame and they needed to fill that period.

Æthelweard’s Chronicle has a comment under the year 500 which must have been originally part of the ASC 519 entry as it speaks of the six year gap between arrival and conquest:
“Sexto etiam anno aduentus eorum occidentalem circumierunt Brittanniæ partem, quae nunc Vuestsexe nuncupatur.”
“In the sixth year from their arrival they encircled that western area of Britain now known as Wessex.”[2]

Sims-Williams notes:
“That Æthelweard meant A.D. 500 is confirmed by his comment on Ecgberht’s accession in A.D. 800: ‘From the reign of Cerdic, who was King Ecgberht’s tenth ancestor, 300 years elapsed (reckoned from when he conquered the western area of Britain).’ “[3]

The question arises what is the correct dating for the 501 event. The clue to answering this question is the fact that the entries for the years 514 and 527 have been essentially repeated one Metonic cycle, that is 19 years, earlier. The 519 event could not be repeated wholesale under the year 500 as it would have meant giving two dates for the origin of Wessex with the coronation of Cerdic. The solution was to do a part transfer as indicated by the above quote from the Æthelweard’s Chronicle. The 501 entry has no parallel under the year 520. Instead, it was a transfer from two Metonic cycles, that is from the year 539. This is the date of Camlan and the very noble man is none other than Arthur.

The next question is who were the two individuals, Bieda and Mægla, who brought about Arthur’s demise. They appear in CO as Maelwys son of Baeddan, indicating their probably correct father to son relationship. The identification of Maelwys with Meleagant was made by Chambers.[4] As Meleagant was the name given by Chrétien de Troyes for Melwas we may conclude Mægla was Melwas, the abductor of Gwenhwyfar as indicated by a number of sources including the V. Gildae by Caradoc of Llancarfan.

Bieda appears as Baudemagus in the 13th C French poem Sone de Nansai and as Burmaltus in the pre-Galfridian Modena archivolt which is a representation of Camlan. Mægla appears on the archivolt as Mardoc, a name that eventually evolved into Mordred in the French Romances. Cerdic of Wessex, too, can be identified there as Carrado. The appearance of the name Port in the 501 entry, however, was probably an attempt to give the location an eponymous origin and is not likely to be historical.

August Hunt independently came to the same conclusion that Camlan occurred in the Portsmouth area, see WHY ARTHUR’S CAMLANN IS PROBABLY ‘THE CAMS’ ON PORTSMOUTH HARBOUR, although his thesis is quite different. The Modena archivolt seems to indicate Arthur was attacking a fortress which would have been Portchester Castle.

The HRB states that Arthur was taken to Avalon for healing. The V. Merlini indicates he was transported by water. This may have been a journey along the coast followed by largely travelling up the river Avon and down the river Brue to Glastonbury. However, Arthur was not buried there.

It needs to be noted that the 501 description of the murdered Briton as “young”, although present in mss. A and E, is absent from mss. B and C. It, therefore, may have been an insertion into the A text. If it was common knowledge that the victim was Arthur, this word could have been inserted to justify the early date being given for his death.The E recension may have recieved this insertion from the Canterbury manuscript it was copied from.

ASC versions and related texts

Instances of when the ASC mentions the death of enemy combatants include:
465. … and there killed 12 Welsh chieftains …
508. … killed a certain British king, whose name was Natanleod, and 5 thousand men with him …
577. … and they killed 3 kings, Coinmail and Condidan and Farinmail …
It would seem that the authors were happy to name opponents the Saxons had killed when there was a handful of names to provide. However, the individual who was slain in 501 went unnamed, despite his acknowledged nobility, which might indicate that to have mentioned who he was would have been taboo. The only individual we know who could just possibly have been a nonperson for the Saxons is Arthur as the fictitious ASC entries were purely designed to deny the existence of a period of British successes under his leadership.

The entries in the ASC from 514 to 544 are one Metonic cycle too early and the repetitions from 495 to 508 have been pre-dated by two cycles. So, for example, Cerdic’s arrival in 495 occurred in 533 and his coronation in 538, a date also suggested by Dumville for the event. This date can be arrived at by subtracting the total for the regnal years given in the 9th C West Saxon Genealogical Regnal List from Alfred’s accession in the year 871.[5]

[1] Swanton, M., 2000, 14.
[2] Campbell, A., 1962, 11.
[3] Sims-Williams, P., 2007, (ed.) Clemeos, P. et al., Anglo-Saxon England vol. 12, 38.
[4] Chambers, E. K.,1927, 213.
[5] Dumville, D. N., 1985

 

Cawrnur

The name Cawrnur occurs in the Kadeir Teyrnon, The Chair of the Prince, which speaks of pale horses under saddle being led from him. In the Marwnat vthyr pen, Uthr Pen[dragon]’s Elegy, there is a reference to an attack on the sons of someone named Cawrnur. Sims-Williams wrote:

“Presumably the fact that Cawrnur and Arthur rhyme partly explains their collocation, but both poems may allude to some lost Arthurian story.”[1]

If we speculate that for the sake of rhyming Cawrnur is a variant of the individuals actual name than a reasonable candidate would be Cawrdaf ap Caradog Freichfras who was of gen 1, see St. Collen. According to triad 13 he was one of the Chief Officers of the Island of Britain. He appears as one of Arthur’s counsellors in Breuddwyd Rhonabwy, The Dream of Rhonabwy, when Osla Gyllellfawr asked for a limited truce.

Gen. ByS 51 ByS J 51 ByS Y(S) 88 ByS Y(S) 89
3 St. Dyfnog St. Dyfnog
2 Medrod Medrod Gwenhwyach Iddew Corn Brydain St. Cathen
1 Cawrdaf Cawrdaf Gocuran Gawr Cawrdaf Cawrdaf
0 Caradog Freichfras Caradog Freichfras Caradog Freichfras Caradog Freichfras
-1 Llŷr Marini Llŷr Marini

Gwenhwyach, the wife of Medrod, was a sister of Gwenhwyfar. TYP 53 indicates a dispute with the two led to Camlan. Iddog Cordd Prydain, Agitator of Britain, was one of the messengers between Arthur and Medrod but he twisted Arthur’s words when reporting them as he was keen for the battle to occur. These hostilities may be what is alluded to in the references to Cawrnur.

However, as Gwenhwyfar would have belonged to gen. 0, the Gwenhwyach of ByS J 51 could not have been the sister of Arthur’s wife. That lady was married to Medrod ap Llew. Moreover, Iddew Corn Brydain of gen. 2 could not have been Iddog Cordd Prydain ap Mynio of gen. 0.

[1] Bromwich, R., Jarman, A.O.H., Roberts, B. F., 1991, 53.

Tintagel 2017

In 2017, during the dig at Tintagel which was commissioned by English Heritage and done by Cornwall Archaeological Unit, a 7th C inscription was found at the southern terrace which like the 1998 discovery had inscription indicating a mix of different cultures. The dating may be a reference to the fact that the site was a post-Roman occupation from at least the 5th to the 7th C.

Two of the names that appear are Budic and Tito. The former is well-known and appears as an alternative to Emyr Llydaw, amongst other instances. The latter name, Titus, appears on an inscription located at Tawna, Cornwall, see CISP.

The stone will be examined further. I would propose the possibility of there being a third name. I believe what has been interpreted as “viri duo” is a reference to the name “Viridu”. The small circle at the end of that name has been misinterpreted to be an -o-. The use of such a symbol can be seen on the inscription at Lancarffe, also in Cornwall, see CISP.  Charles Thomas interpreted that to mean “of”. So the first part of the inscription states:

“Titus the son of Viridius” or “Titus the son of Viridus”.

The final name has been written incorrectly as “Viridu” where the -u- is an error for -ii- or -i-. The same mistake was made at Lanivet, in Cornwall, as pointed out by Thomas, see CISP.

The gens Viridia was a Roman family. The name is related to that of the Celtic god Viridius or Viridios. Dedications to him as well as a possible image were found at Ancaster, Lincolnshire. It has been suggested that the name may refer to “virile” or “verdant” and to associations with the Green Man.

Deo Viridio Stone from Ancaster. Author – Gfawkes05.

Time Team Stone Inscription from Ancaster. Author – Gfawkes05.

Carving from Ancaster. Photographer – The Portable Antiquities Scheme, Adam Daubney.

Viridius appears in the Arthurian Romance as Gweirydd ap Llew, the brother of Gwalchmai. He may be a doublet for Gareth. Their names appear in the Marchogion y Vort Gron (Soldiers of the Round Table). In the Vulgate cycle these names appear as Guerrehes and Gaheries respectively. He may have been Gwair dathar Weinidog with the cognomen Adarweinidog ([having] bird-servants or servant of birds) who appears in CO and had the daughter Tangwen.

Since Gweirydd’s mother was Gwyar, the daughter of Gwrlais and Eigr, it is not surprising for his name to appear at Tintagel. Nor so with Budic since Gwyar was first married to Emyr Llydaw and then to Llew ap Cynfarch. The name that the HRB gives for ByB’s Emyr Llydaw is Budic. That these figures of the Arthurian tradition are to be considered historical is a reflection of the fact that Gwalchmai belongs to its earliest stratum.

Frollo and Freothwulf

The HB gives the following list for the kings of the Deira:

“Theodoric, son of Ida, reigned seven years. Freothwulf reigned six years. In whose time the kingdom of Kent, by the mission of Gregory, received baptism. Hussa reigned seven years. Against him fought four kings, Urien, and Ryderthen, and Guallauc, and Morcant. Theodoric fought bravely, together with his sons, against that Urien.”

The FH states:

“In the year of grace 570, Frethwulf reigned in Bernicia seven years. In this year the people of Armenia embraced the faith of Christ …
In the year of grace 577 … This year died Frethwulf, king of Bernicia, and was succeeded by Theodoric, who reigned seven years.”

The inversion in HB’s sequence, Theodoric followed by Freothwulf, in the FH’s list may be explained by the CeC which gives a sequence of kings together with the lengths of their reigns:

“… Theodwlf uno, Freothulf VII., Theodric VII. …”

indicating the first name listed above was mistakenly written as Theodoric.

Freothwulf name becomes Frollo (Flollo in the Latin text) in the HRB. It takes the form Freol in The Awntyrs of Arthur. Indeed, in the Vulgate Merlin and Lancelot Frollo is said to be from Germany. Frollo’s flight to Paris may be a garbled version of Freothwulf retreating to the kingdom of Deira which originated as the civitas of the Parisi.

Those dates in the FH seem to indicate chronologically Freothwulf could not have been an adversary of Arthur. However, Urien fought against Theodoric and if Freothwulf preceded Theodoric then it is possible that Freothwulf was a contemporary of Arthur and the FH dating is incorrect. The FH does contain dates that may be questionable, such as Maelgwn’s death in the year 586.

Arthur and Batraz

From Scythia to Camelot draws attention to the similarity between the disposal into water of Arthur’s sword, Excalibur, by Bedivere for the mortally wounded hero in Le Morte Darthur and that of the Ossetian Batraz, as discovered by Joël Grisward.[1]
C. Scott Littleton postulated that the legend was transmitted to the west on the basis of a comment in the Roman History by Dio Cassius that 5,500 Iazyges, a Sarmatian people, were sent to Britain.[2]

However, it is likely that the transmission went the opposite way, from west to east, as a result of the Crusades. The name Batraz is likely to be a derivative from Paternus, the other name by which Arthur was known, as indicated on the Tintagel slate. J. Colarusso states that the protoform for Batraz was */pat‛(e)raʒ/.[3] He explains that the Nart epic took shape from ancient times up to the 14th C.

Bedivere or Bedwyr itself is another derivative, and a doublet of Arthur. He had a son called Amren just as Arthur had a son named Amr.

It would thus indicate that the link between the names Paternus and Arthur survived into the 11th C. The Tintagel slate tells us Arthur’s name was originally Artorgnou, before the loss of the epithet ‘gnou’. Whether the form Artor indicates that Arthur was named after Lucius Artorius Castus, as claimed by Linda A. Malcor, is a seperate question.

[1] Grisward, J. H., 1969.
[2] Cary, E., 1955, 37.
[3] May, W., 2016, Colarusso, J., Salbiev, T. (eds.), LXV.