Gwalchmai ap Gwyar

The HRB IX 11 tells us Gwalchmai, referred to as Gualguainus son of Loth, was twelve years old and had been knighted by pope Sulpicius. If this is a reference to the papacy of Simplicius (468-483) then it suggests Gwalchmai was likely of gen. -1. This dating is confirmed by a piece of inforamtion by William of Malmesbury, despite the fact he wrongly believes Gwalchmai was a nephew of Arthur:

“Regnavit in ea parte Britanniæ quae adhuc Walweitha vocatur: miles virtute nominatissimus, sed a fratre et nepote Hengistii … Cæterum, alterius bustum, ut præmisi, tempore Willelmi regis repertum est super oram maris, quatuordecim pedes longum …”[1]

“He [Walwen] reigned in that part of Britain [Ros in the province of Wales] which is still called Walweitha. A warrior most renowned for his valour, he was expelled from his kingdom by the brother and nephew of Hengist … The tomb of the other [that is Walwen], however, as I have said, was found in the time of king William upon the sea-shore, fourteen feet in length …”[2]

This would be compatible with HRB IX 9 which states Loth had married in the time of Aurelius Ambrosius. It follows that Loth would have been of gen. -2. That name appears in the ByB fol. 81 as “lew vab kynvarch”, that is Llew ap Cynfarch.[3]. Bromwich explains:

“Considerable confusion prevails in Welsh sources owing to the fact that Geoffrey of Monmouth gives Arthur’s sister Anna as the mother of Gualguanus. In the fourteenth-century Birth of Arthur (Cy. XXIV, pp. 250 ff.) an attempt is made to reconcile the native tradition with that of Geoffrey by substituting the name Gwyar for that of Anna as Arthur’s sister …”[4]

In its bid to reconcile contradictory traditions, it incorrectly maintains Gwyar was the daughter of Gwrlais and Eigr. However, it correctly says that Gwyar was  first married to Emyr Llydaw and then to Llew ap Cynfarch. This explains the reference to Aurelius Ambrosius in HRB IX 9, mentioned above, as Emyr Llydaw is likely to be a title held by him. Emyr Llydaw was of gen. -2, see table below, as indeed was Llew, see above.

Gen. ByS J 21 Proposed pedigree
-3 Kvnedda wledic Cynfarch
-2 Karedic Emhyr Llydaw Gwyar Llew
-1 Gwenn Petrwn Gwalchmai Medrod
0 Padarn


[1] Hardy, T. D., 1840 vol. 2, 466.
[2] Chambers, E. K., 1927, 17.
[3] Parry, J.J., 1937.
[4] Bromwich, R., 2006, 369.

Campus Elleti

HB 41 refers to a site called Campus Elleti:

“As they explored all the provinces they came to the plain of Elled in the country called Glywysing.”

where the envoys found what they were searching for, a child without a father. His name was “Ambrosius”, that is “Embreis Guletic”. The answer to the question of who the plain was named after can be found in JC 4 which consists of three parts:

Gen. JC 4a
JC 4b JC 4c seg.
1 Cadog
0 Gwynllyw
-1 Glywys
-2 Solor
-3 Nor
-4 Owain Finddu Constantinus Owain Finddu
-5 Macsen Wledig Magnus Maximus Macsen Wledig Ceindrech
-6 Maximianus Rheiden
-7 Constantinus Magnus Eledi
-8 Cynan Constantius Chlorus Elen Luyddog Morddu
-9 Eudaf Hen Meirchion

JC 4c mentions the individual, Eledi ap Morddu, as a grandfather of Ceindrech, a wife of Macsen Wledig and mother of Owain Finddu. JC 4a shows Glywys, the eponym of Glywysing, as a descendant of Owain.

The Liber Landavensis mentions the name “Elleti” and the place is located near “Llansanwyr”, that is Llansannor.[1] It may be significant that the village is less than 3 miles distant from Llanillid. There was a chapel dedicated to St. Ilid on Tintagel island.

[1] Davies, W., 1979, 98.

The three Merlins

As first stated by Giraldus Cambrensis, Merlin of the Historia Regum Britanniae was not the same individual as Myrddin Caledonius.[1] But whereas he stated there were two Merlins in fact there were three.

Gildas’s Ambrosius Aurelianus was known to the Welsh as Emrys Wledig. Geoffrey or a later copyist called him Ambrosius Merlinus. This Merlin was a boy during Gwrtheyrn’s reign and so belonged to gen -2. His father is likely to have been Constantine III. His mother may have been Gwledyr ferch Clydwyn. If so, his name appears in ABT 18d as Amwerydd ap Custennin.

Emrys was the father of Uthr Bendragon and not his brother as claimed by Geoffrey of Monmouth. Also, Geoffrey created a doublet of Emrys by inverting the two Latin elements and thus producing the name for this supposed brother as Aurelius Ambrosius.

The second Merlin was An, the son of a daughter of Helig ap Glannog, see Myrddin Emrys, and consequently of gen. -1. He was the one who articulated the prophecy in HRB VII 3 and was involved in the deception played on Eigr.

The third Merlin is he of the Vita Merlini, known as Myrddin Caledonius, son of Morfryn and king of Dyfed. His sister, Ganieda, was married to Rhydderch Hael who was of gen. 0, see Rhydderch Hael and Rhydderch Hen. He may well have been a contemporary of the adult Arthur, being of gen. 1.

It is generally held that the name Merlin was created to avoid the association with the Latin equivalent of Myrddin, namely Merdinus. However, in reality, the name originated in the HRB as a corruption of Aurelianus.

[1] Rhys, E., 1908, 125.

Identifying Cynan Wledig

The name Cynan Wledig appears in its Latin form as Aurelius Caninus in the De Excidio where it is listed as one of five tyrants alive at the time of Gildas. Their territories were as follows:

Dumnonia (Constantinus),
? (Aurelius Caninus),
Dyfed (Vortiporius),
Rhos (Cuneglasus),
Gwynedd (Maglocunus).

Gildas’s list follows a geographical progression which suggests Cynan ruled over an area of South Wales. Bartrum suggests Aurelius Caninus could be identified with Cynan Garwyn of Powys. He adds that there is no consensus as to which kingdom he ruled. The king would have been of gen. 0 or 1, as were the other tyrants mentioned by Gildas, suggesting that he may have been Cynan ap Casanauth Wledig of Powys, see JC20 16b at Sanan ferch Elise.

The five rulers appear in the DEB after the Ambrosius passage. They may have inherited their kingdoms from Arthur who had succeeded Ambrosius:

brenin Emrys y bumran
King Emrys of the Five Parts[1]

HB 42 states tells us that Vortigern gave Emrys Wledig all the kingdoms in the western part of Britain. Triad 1 tells us Arthur ruled over Gwynedd, Cornwall and Pen Rhionydd.[2] The last name is likely to be in Rheged and, therfore, chronology suggests Aurelius Caninus is likely to have been Cynfarch Oer, the father of Urien. Koch derives Cynfarch from a name which literally means hound-stallion.[3] So here we have another example of Gildas’s name play.

[1] Arch. Camb. vol. 6, 239. NLWJ vol. 18 no. 4, 412 and 414.
[2] Bromwich, R., 2006, 1.
[3] Koch, J.T., 2006, 537.

Arthurian connections with Ewyas and Ergyng

In Culhwch ac Olwen,during his chase, Twrch Trwyth killed Llygadrudd Emys and Gwrfoddw, Arthur’s uncles, his mother’s brothers. The latter name appears in that of Gwrfoddw Hen, king of Ergyng, but he appears to be a later ruler. However, Welsh dynasties often preserved the same name, so Gwrfoddw Hen may have been a descendant. This suggests Eigr, Gwrfoddw’s sister, could have come from that region.

Ergyng may have covered parts of Herefordshire, Monmouthshire and Gloucestershire. The Brut y Brenhinedd calls Eudaf, an ancestor of Arthur, as “Eudaf yarll ergig ac euas”, that is Earl of Ewyas and Ergyng. However, Geoffrey refers to him anachronistically as “Octavius dux Wisseorum”, presumably the territorial name being derived from Welsh Ewyas.

Magnus Maximus had a daughter, named Sevira, by Elen who was the daughter of Eudaf. It was through Gwrtheyrn’s marriage with Sevira that he gained control of the territory that was to become known as Ewyas. Geoffrey referred to him as the “Consol Gewissiorum”. He invited Germanic warriors to settle in the Abingdon area to help defend attacks on his territory in Ergyng. The ASC confuses this event with the later settlement in Kent. The name for Gwent is easily confused with that for Kent. Gwrtheyrn locating the Gewisse, a Saxon tribe, in the upper Thames valley made logistical sense, as his opponent, Emrys Wledig i.e. Aurelius Ambrosius, was based in the Wiltshire area. Located in that county is the village of Amesbury, formerly known as “Ambres byrig” in the Cartularium Saxonicum.[1] It is likely that the East Wansdyke earthwork was built by the Britons as a defense against attack from the north.

Cerdic is attributed in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as the founder of the Wessex dynasty. However, as Dumville has pointed out, his reign started later than the chronicle suggests. In fact, he belonged to a second Wessex dynasty. The first dynasty was founded by the eponymous ruler, Wig/Giwis, the two names being, as Sisam explains, alliterative pairs. His reign was followed by that of Esla/Elesa. The latter is known as Osla Gyllellfawr, whose defeat by Arthur brought the first Wessex dynasty to an end. For obvious reasons, this disaster goes unmentioned in the ASC.

[1] Birch, W. de G., 1887, 178.