Paganism in the Arthurian age

Although Arthur, himself, was likely to be Christian it does not follow that paganism had disappeared in the early 6th C. O.J. Padel refers to a probably early 10th C text in the Vatican library listing between twenty-four and thirty-two names of saints revered in Cornwall.[1] Another text lists the twenty-four saintly children of Brychan Brycheiniog, the Cornish version of which is in The Life of Saint Nectan. Both lists are in the vernacular and the names are partly geographically arranged. Padel states that these lists demonstrate the existence in Cornwall of local dedications, many of which are unique to particular parish churches. The explanations he gives for the dedications is usually in terms of the conversion of the area by the local saint. The Vatican list dedications includes a number of 6th C saints, such as St Levan, St Just and St Gerrans.

The Annales Cambriae records for the year 589 AD ‘The conversion of Constantine to the Lord’. This may well be Constantine, the king of Damnonia, the one rebuked by Gildas.

 

[1] Thacker, A., Sharpe, R., 2002, 316-319