Cadwaladr Fendigaid

There is an entry in Hengwrt 33 V, NLW Cwrtmawr 453 (c.1615×1630) that states:

“The age of the Lord when Cadwaladr Vendigaid went to Rome: 653.”[1]

There are two possible chronologies for Cadwaladr Fendigaid:

1. HRB XII 14 tells us his mother was a sister of Penda. This is confirmed by ByA 28a:

“Mam Gatwaladyr vendigait, merch Pyt, chwaer y Banna ap Pyt.”[2]

where Panna ap Pyd is the Welsh for Penda son of Pybba. The Annales Cambriae tells us his father died at ‘bellum cantscaul’ c.632 to 634. Bartrum estimated her marriage to Cadwallon c. 632.[3]  Thus, AC dating Cadwaladr’s death in 682, during a plague, is plausible. That there was indeed a plague around this time is confirmed by entries in a number of Irish annals.

2. Bartrum argued that the plague in which Cadwaladr died actually occurred in 664. Reference to it is given by Bede:

“In the same year of our Lord 664, there happened an eclipse of the sun, on the third day of May, about the tenth hour of the day. In the same year, a sudden pestilence …”[4]

The timing of the eclipse is accurate to within days, as the following reconstruction of the eclipse path shows:

Total Solar Eclipse of 1 May, 664 AD. NASA GSFC.

The earlier date is supported by HB 64 which talks of his death during the reign of Oswy. HRB states Cadwaladr reigned for 12 years which would give a start to his reign close to the time of his Rome visit. Charles Oman argued that HRB dating his death in Rome to 689 is a conflation with the Wessex Ceadwalla.[5]

The second of the two chronologies appears to carry more weight.

[1] Guy, B., 2016, 23.
[2] Bartrum, P.C., 1966, 91.
[3] Bartrum, P.C., 1993, 90.
[4] Sellar, A.M., 1907.
[5] Oman, C., 1921.

Rhita Gawr

The Arthurian connection of Ricca (or Ritta) may have originated from the HRB. Iolo Morganwg mentions a story of Rhita Gawr and he gave the source as a o Lyfr Iaco ap Dewi. Rhita settled a dispute between kings Nynnio and Peibio by conquering them and cutting off their beards. He did the same with all the other 28 kings that challenged him and made a mantle from the beards.

That this may not have been an invention of Iolo is the fact that Ricca may well have been of one generation earlier than Arthur since JC 9 and JC 10 indicate that to be the case for the brothers Nynnio and Peibio. This generational placement is in line with Culhwch ac Olwen which indicates that Eigr was married to a Ricca, chief elder of Cornwall.

One possible speculation, if Iolo’s story has any historical basis, is that if Eigr’s husband was indeed the paramount British ruler it would suggest his conflict with him was not over a damsel but rather over which ruler would have supremacy over the British kingdoms.

Nynnio and Peibio ruled in S. Wales and the Liber Landavensis locates a Tref Rita there.

The two bishop Davids

The AC B tells us that David, Dewi in Welsh, was born 30 years after Patrick left Menevia:

“Anus sanctus dewy nascitur anno xxx post dis(c)essum patricii de meneuia.”

As the Irish annals say Patrick arrived in Ireland in 432 it follows that David I was born in 462. This is the David whose ancestry is given in the Welsh genealogies and is spoken of in the Historia Regum Britanniae. His death is mentioned in AC C:

“Sanctus Dauid meneuensis archiepiscopus in domino quieuit .”

The death of the later individual, David II, appears in the AC A and B texts respectively thus:

“Dauid episcopus moni iudeorum.”

“dauid meneuensis episcopus obiit.”

The B text has incorrectly interpreted the A text, the last three words of which are “manu in deorum”, that is “in the hand of God”. So, in reality there is no reference to Mynyw. The date of 601 is not totally inconsistent with the Irish annals which date his obit between 587 and 589. It is this later David whose genealogy appears in ByS 1.

He appears in the Liber Landavensis under the name Deui. Bartrum points out that the V. David 62 tells us:

“According to the Life he died on March 1, the third day after a Sunday.”
He goes on to say
That would probably be Tuesday, perhaps Wednesday … Thus 589 is agreeable with Tuesday and 601 is agrreeable with Wednesday.”
“Neither is agreeable with the suggested date of birth.”[1]
However, §58 claims he reached the age of 147 years, clearly an impossibility. This figure was arrived at by conflating the two Davids. Adding 147 years to the birthdate of David I gives the year 579, that is dlxxix. This was an error for 589, dlxxxix, as a result of losing an x during transcription.

[1] Bartrum, P.C., MPS (ed.), 2009.

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.


The Tintagel slate is dedicated to an individual called Coliavus. He can be identified in the Llyfr Baglan as belonging to gen -1 as shown in the table below which has the names in the manuscript forms:

Gen. H2414a LB 79-80a LB 215a JC 46
25 Gwilim Gwillim Gwillim
24 Jankyn Jenkin Jenkin
23 Adam Adam (m. Herbert m. Peter) Adam
22 Kynhaethwy Reignallt Reignallt
21 Peter Peter
20 Herbart Herbert Herbert
19 Lord Herbert Lord Herbert
18 Lord Henry Herbert Lord Henry Herbert
17 Lord Herbert Lord Herbert
16 Godwin Godwin Godwin
15 Elfryd Alured Alured
14 Wlfyn beltharnsvs Vephyn(e) Vephyn(e)
13 Helin Vortegyn Vortegyn
12 Rol (m.) Aedaf Rolopedaph Rolopedaph
11 Alanor Alanor Alanor
10 Eliwd Elnyd Elnyd
9 Vernordin Fferverdyn Fferverdyn
8 Mordaf Mordaf Mordaf
7 Iopin Hopkin Hopkin
6 Hernam Hernam
5 Oswallt Oswallt Oswallt
4 Kawrddoli Canordoyl(e) Canordoyl(e)
3 Dwfnwal Dyfnuall Boifunall
2 Eiddyn Ithel Ithyn Amor
1 Dwn(gerth) Dwn Dwn Morith
0 (Dwn)gerth Caret Caret Aidan
-1 Koilbin Coilbye Coilbye Mor
-2 Progmaell Progmaell Brochuael
-3 Kuneda wledic

Note, JC 46 was added to the table to assist the dating as it shares Brochuael with LB.

Lord Henry Herbert, of gen. 18, was the king Henry I’s chamberlain. He attempted to assasinate the royal and is likely to be the same person as Herbert of Winchester. He did have a son called Herbert who became chamberlain to Scotland’s king David I. However, the Harleian 5835 states Lord Herbert, of gen. 19, was an illegitimate son of Henry I by Nest, daughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr. This would identify him as Henry FitzRoy who died in 1158.

The LB says Lord Herbert of Cornwall was son of Godwyn, duke of Cornwall. Moreover, the Harleian 2414 describes Godwin as “iarll Kernyw”. Pen. 135 p.369 goes further and calls him “ iarll Kernyw a Dyfnaint”. Yorke mentions:

“What had a more significant impact on the history of the six West Saxon shires as an administrative grouping was Cnut’s abolition of the two ealdormanries of eastern and western Wessex and his appointment of Godwine as earl of Wessex, that is of all England south of the Thames.”.[1]

He was the father of Harold Godwinson. The table shows Godwin’s predecessor as Alfred Aetheling, the brother of Edward the Confessor. Godwin’s father, Wulfnoth, is listed next.

The 12th C Norman poet Beroul in Tristran has a character called Godoine, described as a Cornish traitor, being killed by Tristan shooting an arrow into his eye. This appears to be a reference to Harold Godwinson although the name given is that of his father. As the above genealogy shows, Harold would have claimed Cornish ancestry. This suggests there may have been at Hastings the ironic situation of units in both the opposing forces at that battle invoking the name of Arthur! The Bayeux tapestry shows one of the Saxon banners with a red dragon, see The Bayeux tapestry and the draco standards. This could have been an assertion of Welsh ancestry, though some may argue a Danish connection.

The Tintagel slate is likely to have been a trial attempt for a plaque intended for the island chapel commemorating Coliavus. John Leland tells us the chapel was dedicated to “S. Ulette alias Uliane”.

Nicholas Orme in The Saints of Cornwall says “Perhaps this came about through Guilant being reinterpreted as Juliana, of which Juliot is a diminutive form; …”. Evidence for this claim is the fact that St. Juliot appears in the folio 122v of the Great Domesday Book as Sanguiland. The name Guiland derived from Koilbin, one of the manuscript forms for Coliavus. So we have the following sequence:

Coliavus → Koilbin → Guiland → Juliana/Juliot → Uliane/Ulette.

That Coliavus was in some way identified with Arthur, that is Paternus according to the slate, led to Juliot being misidentified with St. Julitta, the mother of St. Paternus of Avranches.

The Welsh version for Julitta is Ilid. This appears as Loth in the Historia Regum Britanniae and Llew in the Brut y Brenhinedd. Gweirydd ap Llew was Gareth of the Arthurian Romances and it is that name that appears in the above table under gen. 0.

[1] Yorke, B., 1995, 145.

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.[1]
“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.”[2]

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. It is proposed 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.”[3]

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).’ “[4]

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 Culhwch ac Olwen as Maelwys son of Baeddan, indicating their probably correct father to son relationship. The identification of Maelwys with Meleagant was made by Chambers.[5] 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 (shown above) and E, is absent from mss. B and C:
ASC B year 501
“Her com Port on Brytene 7 his twegen suna, Bieda 7 Mægla, mid twæm scipum on ðære stowe þe is nemned Portesmuða 7 þær ofslogan anne Bryttiscne man swyþe æþelne.”
Note: No “young” mentioned.
ASC C year 501
“Her com Port on Brytene 7 his twegen sunu, Bieda 7 Mægla, mid twam scipum on þære stowe þe is nemned Portesmuþa 7 þær ofslogan anne Brittiscne man swiþe æþelne.”
Note: No “young” mentioned.
ASC D year 501
No entry for year 501.
ASC E year 501
“Her com Port on Brytene 7 his twegan sunan Bieda 7 Mægla mid .ii. scipum in þære stowe þe is gecweden Portesmuða, 7 sona land namon 7 ofslogon ænne gungne Brytiscne man swiðe æðelne.”
“Here Port and his two sons, Bieda and Mægla, came with 2 ships to Britain at the place which is called Portsmouth, and immediately seized land and killed a certain young British man – very noble.”
Note: “young” mentioned. The “immediatly” may have referred to the seizing of land, not the killing of the noble man.

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.

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 ASC entries were intentionally misdated to deny the existence of a period of British successes under his leadership.

Actual dates for the Wessex rulers

The entries in the ASC from 514 to 544 are one Metonic cycle too early (coloured black in the table} while the repetitions from 495 to 508 have been pre-dated by two cycles (coloured red). 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.[6]

In order to obscure the generation of military defeats that may be called the Arthurian age the ASC made the Adventus Saxonum one Metonic cycle later than the actual date of 428, as indicated by the Historia Brittonum.

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


Custennin Gorneu and Custennin Fendigaid

Bartum argued the two names Custennin Gorneu and Custennin Fendigaid, that of the brother of Aldwr, refer to the same individual citing ByS 76 as one piece of evidence:

“Thus Custennin Gorneu and Custennin, the grandfather of Arthur, have been tacitly identified. Further confirmation of this is the fact that Erbin ap Custennin is said to have been uncle to Arthur, and Geraint ab Erbin first cousin to Arthur in the tale of ‘Geraint and Enid’ …”[1]

However, that passage has been influenced by Historia Regum Britanniae which attempts to claim a Breton ancestry for Arthur. The following table shows that Custennin Gorneu was of gen. -2 whereas Custennin Fendigaid, being the brother of Aldwr, was one generation earlier:

Gen. ByS 26 ChB a
ByS G 24a
4 Alanus Magnus
3 Salomon II
2 Hoelus Tertius
1 Kyby Alanus Cristiolus Rystvd
0 Selyf Gereint Hoelus Secundus Howel vychan
-1 Erbin Hoelus Magnus Howel
-2 Custennyn Gorneu Budicus Emyr Llydaw
-3 Audroenus
-4 Salomon
-5 Grallonus Magnus
-6 Conanus Meriadocus

The names in the above table are as they appear in the document. Note, ByS 26 has been adjusted to show Cybi as being the son of Selyf ab Erbin as indicated by his Vitae. As indicated by ByS G 24, Budic was referred to as Emyr Llydaw. This can be confirmed by looking at parallel entries in the HRB and the ByB.

[1] Bartrum, P. C., 2009, 178.