The Burial Mound of Olaf Guthfrithsson


 On Hacking out the Gododdin Heritage Trail

O for a walk along a printed line!
Remove the vagueries of random paths,
For when we from the city disincline,
Soul-peace in reach away from public baths!

There’s so much pleasure in a trodden route
That stays unhidden in the memory
Of generations, perrennial fruit
Ripens afresh, ever-exemplary.

With each footstep a sort of hypnosis
Descends like manna on the pacing host
That enters into cute symbiosis
With nature, rills & forest, hills & coast,

And history! The ghosts go with us too,
Enacting deeds, phantasma in the dew.


I quite like that sonnet – my most recent composition. It concerns my 2019 mission to create a heritage trail around the centre of East Lothian, which I am currently serialising in my Walking East Lothian blog. Not so long ago I found myself in an area called Papple, whose steading is currently being renovated as a historical site. As I was passing thro’ Papple, I couldn’t help but notice what could well be a Viking ship burial in a field to the west. Its one thing to say that looks like a Viking ship burial, but before we start digging or hiring georadar technology, it is prudent to examine the why.


1: They’ve done it before.

The Vikings sited a boat burial at Ardnamurchan, West Highlands, thought to be more than 1,000 years old. Artefacts buried alongside the Viking in his boat suggest he was a high-ranking warrior. Others have been excavated at sites on Orkney.


2: Papple was a Viking centre

A study of the immediate area around Papple proves it was definitely settled by Vikings. The oldest form of Stenton was Steinton, after the Norse word for stone, ‘stein.’ Just outside Stenton, we find Meiklerig Wood, from the Norse, Mikill = ‘great, tall, large size’, & hryggr, meaning ‘ridge’. In Timothy Pont’s 16th. c. map can be seen a place in Pressmennan Wood named Fattlipps XE “Fattlipps”, with Fatt being Norse for ‘upturned or bent backwards.’ lipps, may come from Old Scots lippie, ‘flax or corn seed measure’. A bit above Pressmennan is Rammer Wood, from the Norse, Ram(m)r, ‘strong, mighty’. Others include the two Hailes – Nether & Over – evolved from Neðar = ‘lower’ & ofarr = over, & Hedderwick near Dunbar, which derives from Heðarvík = ‘heather or moorland bay’.

3: Papple was a religious centre

The name Papple is similar to the ‘Papil’ of West Burra, in the Shetlands. This site was a pre-norse Christian centre, with the name Papil coming from ‘papar’ – a Nordic word for priests. Papple farmhouse & steading are connected to a very old site called the ‘Convent.’ All that now remains is a small part of the walls, covered with ivy and now forming the SE end of a cow house in Papple farmyard. Though both the Cistercian nuns of Haddington and the nuns of St Bothan’s of the same order held lands in ‘Popil’, there is no evidence to support the existence of a convent here.

4: Papple connected to Viking royalty

Papple, or rather Whittinghame of which it neighbours, was the home of king Guthred before he was crowned king of Viking Northumbria in 883. His path to power is unusual, as given by Symeon of Durham in two sources.  In his History of the Kings, Symeon simply states, “Guthred, from a slave, was made king”, but in his History of the Church of Durham he gives a longer account.

During this time the Viking army, and such of the inhabitants as survived, being without a king, were insecure; whereupon the blessed Cuthbert himself appeared in a vision to abbot Eadred… & addressed him in the following words:—”Go to the army of the Danes,” he said, “and announce to them that you are come as my messenger; and ask where you can find a lad named Guthred, the son of Hardacnut, whom they sold to a certain widow at Whittinghame. Having found him, and paid the widow the price of his liberty, let him be brought forward before the whole aforesaid army; and my will and pleasure is, that he be elected and appointed king at Oswiesdune, and let the bracelet be placed upon his right arm.

The mention of a widow is interesting, for regal widows in those days were prone to join or set up religious houses, which provides the perfect background for a convent at Papple.


IMG_20191129_134130The mound at Papple certainly feels like a Viking Boat – its the right shape, the right length, it looks out to the sea & Norway. Its got a cool little causeway too, its great. That Papple has Vikingly religious & regal connections suggest that if the mound is a burial ship, then its gonna be a king inside it, but who? Well, it just so happens that a significant Viking ruler’s last known movements were just a few miles away from Papple.

During my chispological studies I’ve come across Olaf Guthfrithsson of the Uí Ímar dynasty before – the famous ‘Analf’ of the Brunanburh campaign. Tho’ defeated, once Athelstan died, Analf was back in Jorvik as the Viking king of Northumbria. Then crucially, soon after after attacking Auldhame & bearby Tyninghame in East Lothian,  in 941, he died. The written evidence tells us;

941: Olaf, having plundered the church of St Balthere [i.e. St Baldred] and burnt Tyninghame, soon perished Symeon of Durham

941: Amlaíb son of Gothfrith, king of the fair foreigners and the dark foreigners, died Chronicon Scotorum


In 2005, a 10th century Viking skeleton was discovered at Auldhame cemetary on an archaeological dig. He was buried with a number of items indicating his high rank, & some folk have concluded this was Analf. ‘Whilst there is no way to prove the identity of the young man buried at Auldhame,’ says Alex Woolf, ‘the date of the burial and the equipment make it very likely that this death was connected with Olaf’s attack.’ For me, I am sure Analf would have had a cooler burial site, something as impressive as his ego.




So, Analf dies, no-one knows where he’s buried. So where to look. Well, a ships-shaped mound at a Viking religio-regal centre is not a bad start. What confirms it for me is two slight depressions in the mound, under which lie broken stones (see below). It is as if  the roof of the ship burial has caved in somewhat…





Fortriu & Grandtully’s Nechtansmere

A few years ago, Alex Woolf promoted a theory that the Pictish region known as Fortriu/Fortrenn was up near Moray & that the Battle of Dun Necthan was fought up there as well.  It was all very well done & ultimately wrong, as an almost too easy piece of Chispology has just helped me to hone in Fortriu, which re-opened the search for the Battle of Dun Necthan / Nechtansmere – which I have also solved.

First things first, Fortriu means river of the Fort, clearly the River Forth which starts out in the western belt of Scotland, meanders by Stirling & empties into the North Sea via the Firth of Forth, at whose mouth lies the island of Fidra. ‘Riu’ means ‘river’ in Old Occitan, a language spoken in southern France, including the region of Aquitaine.  Quite unsurprisingly there is a record of the Picts COMING from Aquitaine, & at a fell stroke we can now see at least one of the lingual roots of Pictish.  While Big Geoff describes a certain Goffar the Pict as  a king of Aquitaine c.1000 BC, Walter Bower’s Scotichronicon tells us;

After a long time had passed in which the Scots had lived in peaceful & quiet prosperity, a certain unknown people, later called the Picts, appeared from the lands of Aquitania & landed on the Irish shores

Among the Pictish King List’s names for the seven Pictish regions in their deepest antiquity, the name ‘Fidach,’ immediately resonates with Aquitane & Languedoc. We can also link the ‘renn’ variant to a river, for ‘renne’ means flow, or run, in Old Norwegian & I have covered the Scandinavian influence on the Picts elsewhere. We’ll come back to Fortriu at the end of this post, but lets have a pop at finding Nechtansmere for now.


The Battle of Dun Necthan / Nechtansmere between Egrid of the Angles & the Pictish King, Brude son of Beli  was one of the most important of the British Dark Ages. It bloodied the nose of the Angles & halted their drive north, in essence preserving the Picto-Scottish union which would develop over the next few centuries & crystallize as the nation of Scotland. The locating of its site has been controversial, but my Chispology these days is going thro’ the roof, & I believe that Nechtansmere was fought by the village of Grandtully, a small Tayside village in Perthshire, about 3 miles from Pitlochry.

In essence there are seven bullet points which we can use to hone in on the battle site. Looking at them in 2019 means most of the evidence needs to be altered in order to compensation for 14 centuries of factual & philological distortion. These clues are garnered from several brief accounts we have of the battle as contained in antique & written sources.


In the year 685, Egfrid, king of the Northumbrians rashly led his army to ravage the province of the Picts… the enemy made a feigned retreat, and the king was drawn into a narrow pass among remote mountains, and slain, with the greater part of the forces he had led thither.

The battle of Dún Nechtain was fought on Saturday, May 20th, and Egfrid son of Oswy, king of the Saxons, who had completed the 15th year of his reign, was slain therein with a great body of his soldiers
Annals of Ulster

Egfrid is he who made war against his cousin Brudei, king of the Picts, and he fell therein with all the strength of his army and the Picts with their king gained the victory; and the Saxons never again reduced the Picts so as to exact tribute from them. Since the time of this war it is called Gueith Lin Garan.
Historia Brittonum

In the very year that he had Cuthbert ordained bishop & in fulfillment of his father’s prophecy, King Ecgfrith was killed with most of the forces he was leading to lay waste the land of the Picts at a place called Nechtansmere (that is Nechtan’s water) on 20 May in the fifteenth year of his reign, & his body was buried on Iona, the island of Columba.
Symeon of Durham

The battle of Dún Nechtain was carried out on the twentieth day of the month of May, a Sunday, in which Ecfrith son of Osu, king of the Saxons, in the 15th year of his rule completed, with magna caterua of his soldiers was killed by Bruide son of Bile king of Fortriu.
Annals of Tigernach

Today Bridei gives battle
Over the land (inheritance) of his grandfather
Unless it is the wish of the son of God
That restitution be made.
Today the son of Oswig was slain
In battle against iron swords;
Even though he did penance,
It was penance too late.
Today the son of Oswig was slain,
Who was wont to have our dark drinks;
Christ heard our prayer
That Bredei would avenge Brega
(A poem found in a single MS in the Fragmentary Annals of Ireland,
attributed to Riaguil of Bangor)



Clue 1: Bredei would avenge Brega.

The mention of Brega suggests that the Nechtansmere campaign was linked to the attacks on the Celtic church in Ireland the previous year.

AU 684: A great storm. An earthquake in the Island. The Saxons wasted Magh-Bregh (in Ireland), and several churches, in the month of June.

ACL 684: This year Everth sent an army against the Scots, under the command of his alderman, Bright (Brecht), who lamentably plundered and burned the churches of God.

Everth is a philochisp of Egrid, whose motive was some form of Dark Age jihad, a bout of holy warfare over the date of Easter. In 664, the great Northumbrian King Oswiu had overseen a synod at Whitby, where the date for Easter was high on the agenda. The Roman Catholic Church had come up with a different date from the Celtic church, who obstinately refused to alter their traditional dates. Twenty years later, King Ecgfrith attacked the Celtic Church in Ireland. The mention of MAGH-BREGH by the AU is highly significant, for it was a centre of Easter worship in Ulster, as confirmed by the Tripartite Life of Saint Patrick;

When the solemnity of Easter approached, Patrick considered that there was no place more suitable to celebrate the high solemnity of the year than in Magh-Bregh, the place where the head of the idolatry and druidism of Erinn was… as the people of Tara were thus, they saw the consecrated Easter fire at a distance which Patrick had lighted. It illuminated all Magh-Bregh.

The Picts also worshipped in the Celtic way, & in the very next year it seems Ecgfrith was personally leading this ‘body of persuasion,’ but where? By the 7th century, only two Christian centres were named in Pictavia. The earlier site is at Abernethy, Fife, established about 500 AD, when in the Pictish King List we read; ‘Nectonius the Great, Wirp’s son, the king of all the provinces of the Picts, offered to Saint Brigid, to the day of judgement, Abernethy, with its territories.’


The slightly later site is at Dunkeld, by the River Tay.  Hector Boece describes the 6th century Columba meeting Saint Kentigern at a monastery at Dunkeld, where they spent 6 months together in spiritual cohabitation. Elsewhere, the poem Amra Coluimb Chille ‘Elegy of Colum Cille’, compiled soon after Columba’s death in 597, states that Columba was ‘the teacher who would teach to the peoples of the Tay’ and ‘subdued with a blessing’ the ‘arrogant ones who surrounded the great king of the Tay.’ The Life of Saint Cuthbert also places Columba at Dunkeld, but with an embedded factochisp. The vita tells that about the year 640; ‘Saint Columba, first bishop in Dunkeld, took Cuthbert when a boy, & kept & educated him for some time.’ Personally I think that Boece is correct – he generally is – & the Saint Cuthbert reference is down to the young boy being educated at the monastery established by Columba, & not the saint himself.


Clue 2: The enemy made a feigned retreat, and the king was drawn into a narrow pass among remote/impassable mountains

Assuming that the point of contact was the defence of a Christian settlement, the feigned retreat into mountain passes tells us that the campaign was conducted around Dunkeld, a region heavily mountain’d as opposed to the much lower lying hills of Fife. Dunkeld lies on the verge of a great mountain barrier, at the southern end of a narrow valley of the Tay, with an opening towards verdant plains. The many hills of great height & diversified form in the locality resonate with the mention of remote/impassable mountains.


dn 1

Clue 3: Dún Nechtain / A place called Nechtansmere (that is Nechtan’s water)

Focussing our investigation on the mountain passes, straths and slens to the north of Dunkeld, we find a transchisper of Dun Necthan at Balnaguard. The Bal element of this name derives from the Gaelic ‘bhaile,’ which means ‘place, homestead, town, city.’ This leaves us with Naguard, which soon transchispers into Nechtan

Ne-guar-t (an)

dn 4
Just to the west of Balnaguard there is a clear contender for the dun of Dun Nechtan. I found it via the brilliant Oxford digital hillfort map of Britain, as the screen shot shows. The full text of the description reads;

Haughbrae of Grandtully:  A large and complex fortification is revealed by parchmarks on a promontory formed where a stream gully cuts down through the escarpment known as Haughbrae of Grandtully, which falls away steeply on the NE down to the W bank of the River Tay some 25m below. The defences almost certainly represent several phases of construction, comprising an inner series of ditches cutting off the tip of the promontory, which was already partly isolated by a natural hollow that bites into the escarpment on the NE flank, and an outer pair of ditches with two concentric internal palisade trenches. The two innermost ditches, which are both about 4m in breadth, are set roughly parallel behind the natural hollow, cutting off a triangular area measuring about 50m in length from NW to SE by a maximum of 35m transversely (0.09ha); although the parchmark of the outer peters out, the inner terminates abruptly a short distance from the SW margin of the promontory and almost certainly indicates the position of an entrance leading out towards the SE. Further complexities in the arrangement of the ditches at the entrance are probably masked by the natural hollow, which can be seen in the parchmarks extending in an arc across the entrance and into the stream gully on the SW; it may well hide another ditch, and outside its line there is another dark mark lying parallel to it on the edge of the stream gully, though if this is yet another ditch it does not seem to extend any further across the neck of the promontory. The outer defences lie some 30m beyond the natural hollow and cut off a much larger area measuring in the order of 100m in length from NW to SE by a maximum of 75m transversely (0.41ha). The two ditches lie roughly parallel 5m apart, though neither can be traced all the way to the edge of the escarpment on the NE. There is a clearly defined entrance towards this side, and while a short segment of the inner can be seen between the entrance and the lip of the escarpment, the outer apparently terminates on the SW side of the entrance, turning inwards slightly on this side of the causeway. Immediately within the line of the inner ditch, there are traces of two concentric palisade trenches set about 4m apart, both of which are also broken at the entrance causeway and turn inwards slightly to either side of the gap. While these outer elements are all concentric, it is unclear whether they all relate to a single scheme of defence, or whether the palisades indicate an earlier timber phase.


dn 9

Clue 4: Gueith Lin Garan

The ‘Garan’ element is found embedded in the village of Grandtully. The ‘Tully’ element is founded on the Irish ‘Tullach,’ meaning a ‘little hill’ that was a landmark, or a meeting place perhaps, where fairs were held. The ‘Lin’ element is found embedded in the name ‘Ballinluig,’ just to the south of Grandtully, which translates into Gaelic as ‘town of the hollow lake.’ This suggests that there was once a lake in the vicinity. The Tay at this point does flow through a low & level flood plain both sides of the Haughbrae of Grandtully, so its no stretch of the imagination to see it as a living lake 14 centuries ago.


dn 8

Clue 5: The Haugh of Grandtully Stone

In the floodplain at Gradntully there stands a mysterious stone, a memorial, perhaps to some unknown event. 1.4m tall by 1.0m wide by up to 0.5m thick, with thick veins of sparkly white quartz running through it, the stone was one of a pair, with Fred Coles being told in 1908 by “two aged residents in the immediate vicinity” that there used to be a second stone close by this stone. Aerial reconnaissance has recorded the cropmarks of two ring-ditches to the west of the stone, & also one to the north, which seem to be burial barrows, measuring between 10-15m in diameter with central pits. They could be Bronze Age, but they could also be markers of the battle of Nechtansmere…

dn 5

The barrows
The barrows


Clue 6: Today Bridei gives battle over the land (inheritance) of his grandfather

The home glen of the Clan Macnaughton is basically Balnaguard & Strathtay, the village neighbouring Grandtully. Their name derives from Nechtan, & indeed the Balnaguard members of the clan claim descent from Nechtan the Great. We must also remember that  ‘Elegy of Colum Cille’, places Columba as subduing the ‘arrogant ones who surrounded the great king of the Tay.’

dn 2



It is now time to analyze the Annals of Tigernach definition of Bruide as a  ‘king of Fortriu.’ The title essentially means the king of a united realm of Pictavia whose core was the River Forth, rather like Prussia would unite the disparate German principalities under one flag. In the 1st century, Tacitus described a number of tribes in Pictavia, but by Columba’s time, they were now down to two power blocks, North & South. Bede tells us;

There came from Ireland to Britain a priest and abbot named Columba, a true monk in life no less than in habit, to preach the word of God in the lands of the Northern Picts, these are by steep and rugged mountain separated from their southern regions. The Southern Picts, who have their own seats within those same mountains, a long time before, they say, had abandoned the errors of idolatry and accepted the true faith through the preaching of the Word by bishop Nynia…

These two power blocks were given names. Cassius Dio (3rd century) calls them the Maiatai & Kaledonioi, while Ammianus Marcellinnius (4th century) calls them the Verturians & Dincaledonus. The idea we get is that he Maiatai/Verturians were to be found near the Antonine wall, ie near the Central Belt & the Forth River / Fort-Riu. The major Pictish capital of Forteviot would herald from this time

In Britain there are two very large (free) nations, the Caledonians and the Maetae, and the names of the others have become included in these. The Maetae live by the wall which divides the country into two halves and the Caledonians beyond them; and they both inhabit wild and waterless mountains and lonely and swampy plains, without walls, cities, or cultivated land Cassius Dio

At that time the Picts, divided into two tribes, called Dicalydones and Verturiones, as well as the Attacotti, a warlike race of men, and the Scots, were ranging widely and causing great devastation  Ammianus Marcellinus

That the Meatae & the Verturiones originated from the same place – ie the  Forth river system, is supported by the summit of Dumyat hill in the Ochils, overlooking Stirling, where the remains of a n iron-age fort can be found. There is also a Myot Hill near Falkirk.

After the 4th century, is seems that the southern Picts would become the dominant Pictish force, for accounts continuously class the Picts as a whole as ‘Fortrenese’ as in the following accounts;

1: The AU entry for 866, gives us; ‘Amlaib & Ausisle went into Fortriu with the Gaill of Ireland & Britain & plundered the whole Pictish people & took hostages.’ If Fortenn was only a small part of Pictavia, then how could their entire nation be plundered & taken hostage?

2: The Irish recension of the Historia Brittonum describes, ‘Chuithnechan, the son of Lochit, son of Ingri, went over from the sons of Mileadh to the Britons of Fortenn to fight against the Saxons; & he defended the country for them, & he himself remained with them… so that the chiefs of the Cruithneach (the picts) have been the men of Erin from that time ever since.’  Here, the ‘Britons of Fortrenn’ were named the ‘Cruithneach’ after their leader, Cruithnechan. The name Cruithin was used by the Irish to denote the Picts.

3: The Tripartite Life of saint Patrick gives us this, in relation to Fergus of Dalriada; ‘From thee the kings of this territory shall ever descend, & in Fortrenn. And this was fulfilled by Aedan, son of Gabran, who took Alban by force.’ Once again giving Scotland two halves – the Scots of Dalriada & the Pictavia of Fortrenn.

4: Analyzing two accounts of the same event shows how the ‘men of Scotland/Foirtriu’were in action as far south as Newcastle

The foreigners of Loch dá Chaech, i.e. Ragnall, king of the dark foreigners, and the two jarls, Oitir and Gragabai, forsook Ireland and proceeded afterwards against the men of Scotland. The men of Scotland, moreover, moved against them and they met on the bank of the Tyne in northern Saxonland… The Scotsmen routed the three battalions which they saw, and made a very great slaughter of the heathens, including Oitir and Gragabai
Annals of Ulster

Almost at the same time the men of Foirtriu and the Norwegians fought a battle. The men of Alba fought this battle steadfastly… and many of the Norwegians were killed after their defeat, and their king was killed there, namely Oittir son of Iarngna
The Fragmentary Annals of Ireland

5: Where Ailred highlights, ‘when William conqueror of England penetrated Lothian, Calatria and Scotland as far as Abernethy,’ we can clearly see how the obscure Calatros was sited below Perth/Abernethy. This leads to the Annals of Ulster’s account for 736, when was fought, ‘the battle of Cnoc Coirpre in Calathros at Etar Linddu between Dál Riata and Fortriu.’

6: The Annals of Ulster also record, ‘768: A battle in Fortriu between Aed and Ciniod.’ The “Laws of Áed Eochaid’s son” are mentioned by the Chronicle of the Kings of Alba, & very much place, “Áed Eochaid’s son, in Forteviot.”


In the ninth century, the Christian centre of Dunkeld seems to be in spiritual command of the whole of Fortriu. The Annals of Ulster tells us that for the year 865, ‘Conmal, steward of Tamlacht, and Tuathal son of Artgus, chief bishop of Foirtriu and abbot of Dún Caillen, fell asleep.’ By the early tenth century, an area known as The Plains of Fortrenn / Wertermorum’ was being mentioned. This was, in essence, the breadbasket of the Picts in the fertile lowlands in Aberdeenshire & Moray.  In his account of Aethalstan’s invasion of Scotland, Symeon of Durham tells us, ‘he then subdued his enemies, laid waste to Scotland as far as Dunfoeder & Wertermorum with a land force, & ravaged with a naval force as far as Caithness & in a great measure depopulated it.’ The mention of Dunfoeder is interesting – this is Dunottar, on the east coast near Aberdeen, & its conquest by our very own  ‘Bruide… king of Fortriu,’ alongside other Pictish conquests north, south & west, seems to indicate the moment when the realm of Fortriu conquered the whole of Pictavia. The Annals of Ulster tells us;

AU681: The siege of Dún Foither
AU682: The Orkneys were destroyed by Bruide
AU683: The siege of Dún At and the siege of Dún Duirn

Woolf’s theory of a Moray Fortrui is based upon stanza 166 of the Prophecy of Berchan

One of the kings goes on a useless expedition
across the Mounth to the plain of Fortrenn;
though he may have gone, he does not return,
Dub of the three dark secrets will fall.

Elsewhere The Scottish King lists (Marjorie Anderson divided X-group 1980) states that King Dub was slain at Forres on the Moray Firth, which lies north of the Mounth mountain range & firmly in the Wertermorum breadbasket we have described. Just as Carlisle on the Scottish border belongs to the same country as faraway Hastings by the ENGLISH Channel, ‘The Plains of Fortrenn’ should be understood as the plains belonging to Fortrenn, & not the naive ‘Fortrenn is only plains.’ 


OTHER CLUES (so far)

1: There is a loch near Aberfeldy called Loch Holi, which could be named after Bridei’s sister or daughter, Der-Eli. Her son was Dagart, who is reported as dying violently (the Latin word iugulation is used) by the Annals of Tigernach in the same year as Nechtansmere.


2: Not far from Dunkeld is Dalguise, whose name appears embedded in the Segais’  of the Annals of Tigernach in conjunction with a pre-Nechtansmere ‘Nechtain.’

637: The battle of Segais in which fell Lochene son of Nechtán Longhead and Cumascach son of Aongus. At Dalguise, on the east banks of the Tay, a cairn once stood about thirty feet in diameter, supporting a battle was fougth there.

CLatchard Craig: The Orrea of the Venicones


In North Fife, a couple of miles from the coastal town of Newburgh, there once stood an impressive Iron Age fortress called Clatchart Craig. Before it was quarried out of existence, it cannot be denied that Clatchard Craig was an impressive elite-level fortress. The fort was first mentioned in the 17th century by Sir James Balfour of Denmilne and Kinnaird, who wrote; ‘. . . thair a great rock on the tope of the w(hi)che stuid thair a strange castell double trinshed leueiled with the ground by Martius Comander of the Thracian Choorts under the emperour Commodus, the ruine of thes Trinches may to this day be perceiued’.

So here we have a folk memory of an agressive late 2nd century Roman incursion into Fife, but why would Martius take such pains to level the defences, The answer is, I believe, that Clatchart Craig was once the capital of the Venicones, & that the campaign of Martius dragged them under the Roman yoke, so to speak. The supporting evidence is as follows.


Clatchard Craig took its Gaelic name (clach – stone, ard – high, creag – rock) from a prominent geographical feature, a projecting pillar of rock some 90 ft (27 m) high and 25 ft (7-60 m) wide, known as the High Post, which ‘rose in one columnar mass from the base to the summit of the craig’, closely adjoining the precipice. This pillar was blown-up with dynamite in 1846 – Edinburgh and Northern Railway. With ‘Clatchard’ being a Gaelic name, & the iron-age hillfort that once stood there being dated before the Irish Scots ‘conquer’d’ northern Britain, then logic tells us that it would have been previously known by a different name.



Clatchard is/was a quite complicated site to study; the ramparts are late iron age, while a pre-Roman Iron-Age occupation is attested by pottery dated fourth century
BC to the first century AD, Two small metal finds also suggest occupation in the
second century AD, which leads us through a certain soundness of natural thought to support that Clatchard was once the capital of the Venicones tribe, Orrea.


This Iron-Age site’s singular mention in the annals comes in Ptolemy’s geography, dated to about 150 AD. It reads; The Venicones, whose town is Orrea  (24*00/58°4). Ptolemy sites the ‘mouth of the Tina river,’ at 24*00, 58°30, i.e. very close to Orrea. With the mouth of the Tina being sited between the Forth & the Tay, the river is clearly the River Eden (E-Tina) which flows east through Fife to the North Sea.

Lindores Abbey
Lindores Abbey


That Clatchard Craig was Orrea comes in its clear proximity to Lindores, which chispology renders as;



Lindores is a very sacred site – an abbey was established there – while the wee church of Abdie is of high antiquity. In 1300, Abdie was referred to as Ebedyn, a modem descendent of an old ecclesiastical term denoting a ‘shrine’ connected with an abbey or monastery. As Abdie was known to have existed before Lindores Abbey was built the shrine would have  bore some relationship to pre-Christian spiritual practices. Lindores was given in 1178 as ‘Lundors,’ & if we see this as deriving from the Old Norse lundr (“grove, tree”) we gain a possible translation of ‘Grove of Orrea.’ Groves were sacred spaces in pre-Christian Europe, upon which sites were built many churches of the new faith. That Vikings were naming places in the very area is supported by nearby Tayside Wormit, whose name can be traced back to Danish, and means place of worm or serpent.


On the NE shore of Lindores Loch is a small mote-hill called Inchrye, at one time surrounded by lochs of which only Lindores Loch remains. This could mean island (inch) of Orrea, for the -Rrea element pleasantly transchispers into Rye. An even better match comes with Inchyra, on the north bancks of the Tay, while at Carpow, near Perth, where a Roman fort was built that was called “Horrea Classis” or “Poreo Classis”, with the latter name influencing the ‘Pow’ of Carpow.


Cunedda has been a bit of a theme recently, & its nice to chuck him into the equasion. Just to the north of Lindores rises Kinnaird Hill, on whose summit aerial photographs have identified a possible fort on the summit of Kinnaird Hill. The name reflects Cunedda, who in recent posts I have shown was a Pictish King called Canutalahina.  With Fife being a Pictish centre, it would make sense that he had a fortress there, & of course the ‘Cune’ of Cunedda reflects the ‘Cone’ of Venicones. That Cunedda settl’d & named Venedotia / Gwynned in North Wales, strongly supports his place among the Venicones. Nennius tells us that Cunedda migrated from ‘Manau Gododdin,’ with modern scholarship identifying it with the Clackmannan region near Stirling at the head of the Forth estuary. This area is about 20 miles to the SW of Clatchart Craig, suggesting that Manau Gododdin may have stretched as far as the Tay.

Orrea & the Tina estuary are to be found above the word OCEANUS


The Site of Camelot

dun 7

Before we begin this investigation, we must make allowance for one supposition, the hyper of the hyperbasis on which I shall build my case. This will be the reasoning that the two famous Arthurian places – the fortress of Camelot & the immortal battlefield of Camlann, being joined by the Cam suffix, existed in topographical proximity.

There is nowhere in Britain where a Camelot & a Camlann are sited near each other, but there does exist an area where, if we scrape away the linguistic topsoil, we may logically create a closely-linked Camlann & Camelot. The true inclination of this post is to prove the site of Camelot via weight of evidence & common sense, in order to point the way to a future excavation of the site. This, I have determined, is the iron-age hill fort at Dunhead, in Angus.



In late antiquity, the Welsh word Llan and its variants (Breton: lan; Cornish: lann; Pictish: lhan) was applied to the sanctified land occupied by communities of Christian converts. The typical llan was defended by a circular or oval embankment with a protective stockade. An Iron age llan can be found in the parish of Dunnichen, Angus, on a hillfort called Dumbarrow, confirmed by the Statistical Account of Forfarshire’s, ‘this Fort seems to have been built of dry stone in a circular form.’ Dumbarrow has clear Arthurian connections, with the Old Statistical Account of Scotland (1791) describing ‘a rock on its north side is still called Arthur’s Seat,’ while Alexander Warden in the third volume of Angus or Forfarshire, tells us, ‘The Hill of Dumbarrow (anciently Dunberach), in the parish, disputes with the Hill of Barry, near Alyth, the honour of having been the prison of Arthur’s frail Queen, Guanora.’

Dunbarrow in the distance
Dunbarrow in the distance

Dumbarrow is about 4 kilometres from Dunnichen, near which is a place (and a stone) called Arthurstone and a farm once named Arthur’s Fold. A positive connection to the Battle of Camlann is  given in the Second Statistical Account of Scotland’s account that a, ‘confused tradition prevails of a great battle having been fought on the East Mains of Dunnichen, between Lothus, King of the Picts, or his son Modred, and Arthur King of the Britons, in which that hero of romance was slain.’ This correlates with the Annales Cambraie’s ‘537: The Strife of Camlann, in which Arthur and Medraut fell.

dunnichen 1

It is possible, & indeed likely if you think about its similarity to the llan of Dumbarrow,  that Camlann actually derives from the fortification at a certain Castle Hill, by Dunnichen itself. The wonderful atlas of hillforts (which you can look at here) has the following information on Castle Hill;

A drystone enclosure likened to the small fortification on Dumbarrow Hill (Atlas no. 3076) was first noted in the late 18th century on Castle-Hill (Stat Acct, i, 1791, 419), which is the hillock forming a low spur at the foot of the S flank of Dunnichen Hill to the W of the village. Its destruction by quarrying before 1833 revealed evidence of occupation: ‘on its floor was found a thick bed of wood ashes, mixed with numerous bones (NSA, xi, Forfar, 146). Its site was noted with a cross and the annotation ‘Site of Tower’ on the 1st edition OS 25-inch map (Forfar 1865, sheet 34.9).

dun 3



The ‘elot’ of Camelot is found only a few miles to the south of Dunbarrow, where the River Elot – Elliot these days – rises in a moss called Diltymoss, and, after a course of about eight miles, falls into the North Sea at Arbirlot. Hard by its headwaters stands Dunhead, a fortification covered by dense deciduous woodland, situated on a steepsided promontory at a confluence of the Elliot Water, between two ravines, one of which contains the Black Den & the other the Den of Guynd. In 1754, Melville made a rough sketch-plan of the site, describing it as ‘the entrenchment on Down Head Hill near Arbilot.’

dun 6
Camelot is the ‘earthwork’ on the map

Dunhead is triangular in form, precipitous on two sides & defended by a ditch & a rough wall & dyke on the other. A visit by the RCAHMS in 1956 found on the SE a bank up to 5.8m in thickness by 1.5m in height cutting across the neck of the promontory. An OS surveyor in 1958 thought he could detect a kerb and a scatter of stones belonging to an inner rampart, a second surveyor in 1966 could see no trace of these. No fieldwork has been conducted since, while an archeaological dig has never been conducted. When they do, I am sure they will discover Arthur’s Camelot. I mean, lets just look at the traces of the name in the immediate area. The ‘Guyn’ of Guynd transchispers to Cam, the ‘Lot’ element is found in Arbirlot.




There is no Cam in the vicinity of Dunhead & Dunbarrow, but there is the definite ‘Carm’ of Carmyllie, in which Dunhead stands & the Dunnichen parish neighbours. The sparsely populated parish of Carmyllie has a clear resonation with the ‘Carmellie’ battle given in the Old Welsh tale, The Dream of Rhonabwy, in which a certain Iddawg places the battle near the Pictavian ‘Prydyn.’

I was one of the missionaries in the Camellian battle between Arthur and Medrawd his nephew… I was named in Iddawg Cordd Britain. And because of this the ranks of the troops were distributed at Machman. But, however, three nights before the end of the Camell battle I drove them out and I came to Lech Las in Prydyn to eat.



Dux Pictorum: There is a swelling body of evidence that shows how Arthur was at one point a Pictish king. The early 12th century Liber Floridus of Lambert of St Omer desrcibes ‘Arthur the leader of the Picts, directing kingdoms inland in Britain.’ He then adds ‘there is a palace, in Britain in the Picts’ land, of Arthur the soldier, built with wondrous art and variety, in which may be seen sculpted all his acts both of construction and in battle.’ This  palace, I believe, awaits excavation at Dunhead.


Garthnach: Arthur son of Igerne & Uthere appears as Garthnach son of Gygurnus & Uudrost in the Pictish King Lists. By analyzing the reign-lengths given in Poppleton recension, we can see how Arthur was the Pictish king between the years 529 & 536. His ‘abdication’ in the year before Camlann for Cailtram son of Gygurnus – Arthur’s brother it seems – totally fits with account by Big Geoff of Arthur marching through Europe towards, then turning round at the Alps in the Winter & marching back to Britain to fight Camlann the next year.

Rhynie: The Royal Pictish centre being excavated in recent years at Rhynie, Aberdeenshire, is given as Penrhionyd in one the Welsh Triads.

Three Tribal Thrones of the Island of Prydain: Arthur the Chief Lord at Menevia, and David the chief bishop, and Maelgwyn Gwyned the chief elder. Arthur the chief lord at Kelliwic in Cornwall, and Bishop Betwini the chief bishop, and Caradawg Vreichvras the chief elder. Arthur the chief lord in Penrhionyd in the north, and Cyndeyrn Garthwys the chief bishop, and Gurthmwl Guledic the chief elder


In the Welsh language, ‘Pen’ means ‘summit or peak,’ which renders Penrhionyd as meaning ‘Peak of Rhionyd.’ Above Rhynie towers the far-seen Tap o’ Noth, Scotland’s second highest hillfort, complete with impressive triple-ringed defense-works. A definitive Arthurian connection to Rhynie comes through Tintagelware, which had fanned out throughout Britain to a series of high-status sites such as South Cadbury in Somerset & also Longbury Bank in the Dyfed parish of Penally, situated within another of Arthur’s ‘Tribal Thrones.’ Just as Cadbury was home to a grand timber feasting hall; & just as at the ‘high-status’ Longbury Bank in Dyfed Ewan Campbell & Alan Lane suggest ‘there is tenuous evidence for at least one large timber building;’ so have archeologists uncovered the post-holes & plank slots of a timber feasting hall at Rhynie.

Drest Gurthinmoch: More support for a Pictish Arthur begins with a glance at the King List, where we encounter a certain ‘Drest Gurthinmoch’ as ruling the Picts between 477 & 507. We can now identify the Triad’s ‘Gurthmwl’ with Gurthinmoc, for it makes perfect sense that when Arthur – the chief lord – became the King in 529, Gurthmwl/Gurthinmoc would have been described as a ‘chief elder.



So we now have a Pictish Arthur & a possible Camlann at Dunnichen. It is time to analyze more of the local evidence in an effort to prove the battle was indeed fought at East Mains.

Guinevere’s Captivity: In the following extract from Hector Boece we learn how that after the Battle of Camlann, Guinevere was taken to ‘the Pictish district of Horestia, to Dunbar.’ The hillfort of ‘Dunbarr‘ is in fact situated at  at Alyth, a few miles from Dunnichen. It is possible that Boece is getting mixed up with Dunbarrow/Dunberach, but either way the locality remains more or less the same.

On the following day, the British camp was ransacked. In it were discovered Arthur’s consort Queen Guanora, and no few men and women of noble blood. Furthermore, ample spoils were collected and shared out among the victors in the traditional way. The Scots were allotted wagons decorated with precious British ornamentation, horses of noble appearance and speed, arms, and the captive nobles, while Queen Guanora, illustrious men and women, and the rest fell to the Picts. These were led to the Pictish district of Horestia, to Dunbar, which was then a very stoutly fortified stronghold (in our days, the name of the place endures, although nothing of the fort save some traces). There they were detained and spent the rest of their lives in wretched servitude.

East Mains: Archaeology has proven that a substantial conflict had been fought in the locality. A Pictish stone was dug up on East Mains, of which instance Headrick observes in 1833’s Statistical Account that, ‘a good many years ago, there was turned up with the plough a large flat stone, on which is cut a rude outline of an armed warrior’s head and shoulders; and not many years ago, the plough also uncovered some graves in another part of the same farm. These graves consisted of flat stones on all sides. They were filled with human bones, and urns of red clay with rude ornaments upon them ; the urns being filled with whitish ashes. By exposure to the air, the bones and urns mouldered to dust.’ To this information, Andrew Jervise adds (PSAS II, 1854–7), ‘on the lands of Lownie also, (the original property of the Auchterlonies) & in the King’s muir adjoining, a variety of ancient graves have been now and then discovered.’

Saint Constantine:  The parish saint of Dunnichen is Constantine, & alongside the church dedicated to him, there was also a ‘St Causnan’s Well,’ whose pure fine spring was renamed as the Camperdown Well to commemorate the battle of Camperdown. According to Big Geoff, Constantine succeeded to the high kingship of Britain after the Battle of Camlann, & on its very field, Arthur; ‘gave up the crown of Britain unto his kinsman Constantine.’

Battle Stuff:  Hector Boece describes ‘twenty thousand Scots and Picts,’ fighting at Camlann, suggesting a northern location far from the River Cam in Cornwall. According to the King List, Cailtram ruled the Picts for only a year, ending his short stint on the throne in the Camlan year of 537.  Among the Camellian casualties listed by Hector Boece, we read of a certain ‘Caimus,’  a clear philochisp of Cailtram, the Pictish King who ruled for a year after Arthur/Garthnach & died in the year of Camlann. Another northern king to die in 537 was Comgall, king of the Scots, as given by the Annals of Tigernach, who, “fell in the 35th year of his reign.” By this use of the word ‘fell’ we may come with some confidence to the conclusion that Comgall died in battle. The ‘gall’ element of his name also philochisps into Gwalinus, another of Boece’s eminent casualties, & one cannot help but feel that when Boece places Caimus & Gwalinus side-by-side in death, he is referring to them as the kings of the Picts & the Scots.

Morded’s Sons: In 537 a new dynasty seems to take control of the Pictish Kingship. No longer are the sons of Gygurnus on the throne, with ‘Talorg son of Mordeleg,’ coming to the throne. The ‘Muir’ element of this name could well derive from Mordred, & the fact that after Camlann Guinever was held in captivity supports a Mordredian victory. Big Geoff himself describes, ‘when Constantine was crowned King, the Saxons and the two sons of Mordred raised an insurrection.’ A variant name for Mordred, given in the Scalacronica, was Mendelgh, as in Talorg Mendelgh. Next in this succession was Drust son of Menech, & little Chispology confirms they were brothers.


Aberlemno 2: At Dunnichen was found one of the most remarkable symbol-stones in the Pictish pantheon. It had been dug up in 1811 in a field named ‘Chasel’ (Castle) park at East Mains, & moved to the church yard at Aberlemno. Its now in Dundee, actually, its a replica that stands at Aberlemno – but its still pretty cool. One side of this wonderfully carved stone shows a battle in full swing, presumably between the long-haired Picts & what appears to be helmet-wearing Saxons. Camlann was fought on an international scale, a great civil war in which Mordred obtained military assistance from the Saxons, with the Triads telling us;

The three disgraceful traitors who enabled the Saxons to take the crown of the Isle of Britain from the Cambrians… The second was Medrod, who with his men united with the Saxons, that he might secure the kingdom to himself, against Arthur; and in consequence of that treachery many of the Lloegrians became as Saxons.

Inchyra: The Welsh Triads tell us, ‘there took place the Battle of Camlan between Arthur and Medrawd, and was himself wounded to death. And from that wound he died, and was buried in a hall on the Island of Afallach.‘ The name Afallach translates as ‘apples’, & with Camlann being fought at Dunnichen, common sense tells us we are looking for an island with orchards somewhere in the vicinity. For as long as anyone can remember a rich & fertile tract of land in Perthshire called the Carse of Gowrie has flourished with that Fruit of Eve, the apple. The Carse still retains the pleasant moniker of ‘the Garden of Scotland,’ whose once sprawling historic orchards have dwindled to only five wee woods in the modern age; Bogmiln, Inchyra Farm, Muirhouses, Newbigging & Templehall.

Fifteen centuries ago, the alluvial flood plain on which the Carse is situated was a patchwork of many islands, including Inchyra, whose phonetic ‘inch’ stems from the Gaelic name for ‘small island.’ Inchyra House is a place of great significance to our investigation. A Pictish grave, disturbed by ploughing in 1945, was discovered 100 meters south of the house. The remains were covered by a large decorated flat slab lying flat over a cairn of forty-nine water-rolled stones. This seems to be Arthur’s, for the Triads say he was buried in, ‘a hall on the Island of Afallach.’ The skeletal remains, which included the upper part of a skull, an arm bone and shoulder socket, were later respectfully re-buried without a closer examination.

Arthur's Tomb, Inchyra
Arthur’s Tomb, Inchyra

On analysing a 1959 paper on the Inchyra Stone, by Robert Stevenson, the Ogham inscriptions leapt out at my mind like striking panthers. Transliterated by FT Wainwright, of their academic accuracy, Stevenson wrote; ‘Professor K.H.Jackson, who examined the stone along with us, is in general agreements.’ The first inscription reads, ‘INEHHETESTIE.’ We can here see the word Anoeth, as in the babel-chain, ‘Anoeth-Inohhet-Inehhet.’ The true meaning of the name Anoeth is not yet understood to satisfaction, but it is given by the poem’ The Stanzas of the Graves’ as the actual burial site of Arthur.
Another inscription on one of the stone’s edges gives us the winning ticket;

In the Welsh tradition, Igerne is given the name Eigr, & thus in the Ogham inscription above we can quite positively see the names of Arthur’s legendary parents;


Uther — Eigr

That the philochisps of Arthur’s burial site at Anoeth & the names of both of his parents appear on a single stone help us to paint Inchyra as the original Avalon. This means simply that King Arthur was – & still is – buried in the grounds.


dun 4


We have now come to a wonderful possibility. Thus far we have established that Arthur was a Pictish king & there is a good chance that Dunhead in Arbirlot was Camelot. Its now time to focus our historical eyes on the local area, & see what turns up. The results are startling;

1: The First Statistical Account refers to the recent demolition of a “druidical temple” in the parish, & the finding of a “Pictish crown” at Black Den, a forested ravine linked to the Guynd Den.

A few years ago the remains of a religious house in the parish, whose ruins had been revered for ages, were taken down. And though we cannot say at what time, or by what person, it was built, yet from the accounts given of it, we have reason to believe that it had been a druidical temple.

It is reported, with much confidence, that a crown of one of the kings of the Picts, was found in the Black-den of this Parish, by a quarryman, about the beginning of the present century, who sold part of it in the neighbourhood, for 20L. Scotch; & sent the remainder to London , with a view to procure its real value. But by some unforessn occurence, he & his family were prevented from reaping that advantage, which might have been expected from so valuable a curiosity

King Arthur’s Pictish crown dissapearing in 18th London, perhaps?

Arbirlot Stone,  recovered from the foundation of the old church of Arbirlot
Arbirlot Stone, recovered from the foundation of the old church of Arbirlot

There’s also time for one last spin through the haze, for there is both a weird stone found at Arbirlot, & a Castle Kelly whose origins are lost in the mists of time. Big Geoff called Excalibur ‘Caliburnus’ (from Kelly?), while the faint grooves running down the middle of the Arbirlot stone may have been intended to depict a sword, with a horizontal feature to the right of and adjacent to the lower book possibly representing the sword guard. Was this the source site of the Sword in the Stone legend….

The New Divan: Electrocardigam / The Great Axe


I’ve had a bit of a brain-carousel recently, diverting a tad from The New Divan. The other day was glorious, tho’ proper fine weather for transcreation, so I took the books & Daisy outfor a walk at the Hopes in East Lothian, coming back with two new poems for The New Divan; Fatemeh Shams ‘Electrocardiogram‘ & Jaan Kaplinski’s ‘The Great Axe.’


Fatemeh Shams
Fatemeh Shams


My back she aches again today,
Three months ago they mov’d my heart
& ledg’d my vital spine apart,
Then wedg’d it in the vertebrae,
Now each musk-fragrant breath depends
On one thin vein that empties blood,
From darkness to new heart’s blood wends
My idiotic bruise of vein.
My wanton whore of heart, the pain
My back endures nobody should.
My ECG supplies, these days,
My news, headlines from past suck’d out –
A woman used to laugh about
Her love for one man & his ways,
When lavish hearts love’s healths endow,
Form windows facing long exile,
These bunch’d red muscles bled servile,
I wish it were a mirror, now!

The medic team with smiles aflock
Chirps “We had to move it a bit,
& from today we must admit
By beating hearts please set your clock,”
Alarmic systems rotten grown,
My lover new has ask’d last night
“Are all our words & movements known?”
I thought he quizz’d me for to see
How paranoid & how crazy
I was, my shadows hid from sight,
For years my shadow’s eyes did hide
In dresses – cities far & wide,
The final shadow ran its part
& in his fist a bleeding heart –
The doctors are the shadow’s foes
& paranoia diagnose
Expertly well, & for exile
Prescibe a perfect potion’s phial,
Moving the heart to think & feel
In times when no heart’s scar could heal.




Jaan Kaplinski
Jaan Kaplinski


Knew everybody since childhood,
He’d dreamt he was a shaft of wood
By axehead topp’d, his foes to fight
To chop off heads & branches smite!
He grew & chopp’d & splinters flew,
Heads fell & everybody knew
He was the sharpest one of all,
Most pitiless of axeheads’ fall,
Him from the toughest shell was cast
The special spirit naught could rust,
Let no-one ken the truth display’d,
He was just normal, iron-made,
Of brittle rust was he afraid,
Standing alone before mirror
He would check, those new red stains were
Upon his blade? He tried to wash
Away the rust stains with blood fresh
From wounds, but not enough to hide,
Until his peace one day defied,
Smashing the mirror angrily,
He fell inside some phantasie
Beyond the Looking Glass’s ledge,
Near marshes large by forest edge,
& realised his place was there,
In that swamp’s pool, & full aware
He transformed could be back into
A fist of mud-brown bog ore goo!




1: Edinburgh Book Festival: The Divan Session

2: The New Divan: Genesis

3: Greenshoots

4: Final Greenshoots

5: The Song of the One Who Pours the Wine

6: Paradise on Earth / Ephesus Ghazal

7: Knowingly Willingly

8: Smoke

9: Electrocardigam / The Great Axe


The True Uther & King Arthur’s Grand-dad


For my latest post I thought I’d plug the second edition of The Chisper Effect, which you can read & buy here. I’ve basically streamlined the investigations into a story of sorts, started with the Indian Jesus & travelling through the world of King Arthur in the  mystery of the Holy Grail. It was during the assembly of this second edition that I uncovered some really interesting truth-tallies that increase our knowledge of Uther Pendragon, King Arthur’s legendary father. At this point we can place him bothamong the Picts AND in the West Country.

1: Uther is Duke Gorlois

Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall, was there, with his wife Igerne, that in beauty did surpass all the other dames of the whole of Britain. And when the King espied her amidst the others, he did suddenly wax so fain of her love that, paying no heed unto none of the others, he turned all his attention only upon her… At last, committing the siege into charge of his familiars, he did entrust himself unto the arts and medicaments of Merlin, and was transformed into the semblance of Gorlois… They then went their way toward Tintagel, and at dusk hour arrived at the castle. The porter, weening that the Duke had arrived, swiftly unmade the doors, and the three were admitted. For what other than Gorlois could it be, seeing that in all things it seemed as if Gorlois himself were there? So the King lay that night with Igerne. (Big Geoff)

When Geoffrey of Monmouth created the Arthurian Birth Certificate, he got round the confusion that both Uther & Duke Gorlois were the father of Arthur by having one magically transformed into the other.  The name Gorlois transchispers into Gorlasser of the ancient Welsh poem, the Death-Song of Uther Pendragon.

2: Uther is Gorlassar

indexAm I not with hosts making a din?
I would not cease, between two hosts, without gore.
Am I not he that is called Gorlassar?
Have I not been accustomed to blood about the wrathful,
A sword-stroke daring against the sons of Cawrnur?
I shared my shelter,
a ninth share in Arthur’s valour.
I broke a hundred forts.
I slew a hundred stewards.
I bestowed a hundred mantles.
I cut off a hundred heads.
I gave to an old chief
very great swords of protection.
Is it not I that performed the rights of purification,
When Hayarndor went to the top of the mountain?
To my deprivation, to my sorrow, sinew was brave.
The world would not be if not for my offspring.
I am a bard to be praised.
I am a bard, and I am a harper,
I am a piper, and I am a crowder.
Of seven score musicians the very great enchanter.
There was of the enamelled honor the privilege.
Hu of the expanded wings.
Thy son, thy barded proclamation,
Thy steward, of a gifted father.
My tongue to recite my death-song.
If of stone-work the opposing wall of the world.
May the countenance of Prydain be bright for my guidance.
Sovereign of heaven, let my messages not be rejected
Am I not with hosts making a din?
I would not cease, between two hosts, without gore.
Am I not he that is called Gorlassar?
Have I not been accustomed to blood about the wrathful,
A sword-stroke daring against the sons of Cawrnur?
I shared my shelter,
a ninth share in Arthur’s valour.
I broke a hundred forts.
I slew a hundred stewards.
I bestowed a hundred mantles.
I cut off a hundred heads.
I gave to an old chief
very great swords of protection.
Is it not I that performed the rights of purification,
When Hayarndor went to the top of the mountain?
To my deprivation, to my sorrow, sinew was brave.
The world would not be if not for my offspring.
I am a bard to be praised.
I am a bard, and I am a harper,
I am a piper, and I am a crowder.
Of seven score musicians the very great enchanter.
There was of the enamelled honor the privilege.
Hu of the expanded wings.
Thy son, thy barded proclamation,
Thy steward, of a gifted father.
My tongue to recite my death-song.
If of stone-work the opposing wall of the world.
May the countenance of Prydain be bright for my guidance.
Sovereign of heaven, let my messages not be rejected

In the Death-Song, Uther is given a northern background if we connect Cawrnur with King Caw of Strathclyde.We also have the mention of ‘Prydain,’ the archaic term for Pictavia. The northern element of the Uther canvas allows us to chisper ‘Gorlasser’ into the ‘Gleissiar of the North’ as found in the triads.


3: Uther is Gleissiar

Three Brave Men of the Island of Britain: Gruddnei, and Henben, and Edenawg. They would not return from battle except on their biers. And those were three sons of Gleissiar of the North, by Haearnwedd the Wily their mother. (Triads)

Examining the first element of the name of Gleissiar’s wife, ‘Haearnwedd,’ we gain credible link to Big Geoff’s Igerne, as in ‘Ig-Hearn.’ At thi spoint lets just make a little graph-thinky to show how its all fitting together so far.

 Big Geoff                       Death-Song                              Triads

Gorlois                                Gorlassar                               Gleissiar

Igerne                                                                                    Haearnwedd

Tintagel                          Attacks Cawrnur                    ‘of the North




In the Death-Soong, Uther declares himself as ‘the very great enchanter,’ & ‘a bard to be praised.’ According to Julius Ceasar, becoming a bard was the first step on a twenty year learning curve that ended up being a master druid. ‘Report says,’ writes Ceasar, ‘that in the schools of the Druids they learn by heart a great number of verses, and therefore some persons remain twenty years in training.‘ That he is cgiven the epithet, Pendragon, ie ‘Chief Dragon,’ is reflected in the poem’s ‘Hu of the expanded wings.’ George Oliver writes, ‘the Druids had a high veneration for the Serpent. Their great god, Hu, was typified by that reptile; and he is represented by the Bards as ‘the wonderful chief Dragon, the sovereign of heaven,’ Hu was a Sumerian-Egyptian god, the personification of Divine Utterance, the voice of the poets.’

The notion of a leading druid goes back to at least Ceasar, who recorded, ‘of all these Druids one is chief, who has the highest authority among them. At his death, either any other that is prominent in position succeeds, or if there be several of equal standing, they strive for the primacy by the vote of the Druids.’ The Life of Saint Patrick mentions a chief druid, naming him a Primus Magus, reflecting his magical powers. The name given him by in Manx was Kion-Druaight or Ard-Druaight. Translating Kion & Ard into Welsh, we are given Pen, & the Druaight is extremely close to Draig, Welsh for Dragon, as in;





In The Death-Song Uther sings, ‘am I not with hosts making a din / I would not cease, between two hosts, without gore.’ This reflects the position the druids took up between two armies, ringing bells & chanting to the gods, as stated by Diodorus Siculus (44BC); Frequently, during hostilities, when armies are approaching each other with swords drawn and lances extended, these men rushing between them put an end to their contention, taming them as they would tame wild beasts.’


519: Two Drests – Drest son of Girom, Drest  son of Uudrost
529: Garthnach son of Girom  Pictish King List


Arthur, Dux Pictorum, ruling realms of the interior of Britain, resolute in his strength, a very fierce warrior, seeing that England was being assaulted from all sides, and that property was being stolen away, and many people taken hostage and redeemed, and expelled from their inherited lands, attacks the Saxons in a ferocious onslaught along with the kings of Britain, and rushing upon them, fought valiantly, coming forward as leader in twelve battles. Lambert of Saint-Omer

The identity of the two Drests who ruled between 519 & 529 are otherwise unknown, but the fact that they ruled together & that their parents were Girom & Uudrost is highly significant. Uudrost would be Uther Pendragon, while Girom appears as Gigurnus, or Gygurn, in alternate versions of the genealogy. Following the Drests is Garthnach son of Gygurn, & dropping the guttural ‘g’ from the names gives us Arthnach son of Ygurn, who should be the same man as Arthur son of Igerne. It comes as no surprise to see how the Triads’, ‘Gruddnei… son of Gleissiar… by Haearnwedd,’ philochisps into Gartnait, a common alternate name for Garthnach as given in the lists. This suggests that Gleissiar’s other sons, Henben & Edenawg, are the two Pictish Drests who ruled before Garthnach/Arthur. All this allows us to expand our  ID chart.

 Big Geoff           Death-Song                  Triads                         King-List

Gorlois                  Gorlassar                       Gleissiar                      Uudrost

Igerne                                                              Haearnwedd                Gygurn

Tintagel               Attacks Cawrnur           ‘of the North’            Fathers a Pictish King

Arthur                     Arthur                               Gruddnei                  Gathnait/Garthnach



Three Tribal Thrones of the Island of Prydain:  Arthur the Chief Lord at Menevia, and David the chief bishop, and Maelgwyn Gwyned the chief elder. Arthur the chief lord at Kelliwic in Cornwall, and Bishop Betwini the chief bishop, and Caradawg Vreichvras the chief elder.  Arthur the chief lord in Penrhionyd in the north, and Cyndeyrn Garthwys the chief bishop, and Gurthmwl Guledic the chief elder Triads

There is in Britain, in the land of the Picts, a palace of the warrior Arthur, built with marvelous art and variety, in which the history of all his exploits and wars is to be seen in sculpture. Lambert of St Omer

  • The name ‘Penrhionyd in the north,’ easily transchispers into Rhynie, deep in the pretty Cairngorms near Aberdeen. In the Welsh language, ‘Pen’ means ‘summit or peak,’ which renders Penrhionyd as meaning ‘Peak of Rhionyd.’ Above Rhynie towers the far-seen Tap o’ Noth, Scotland’s second highest hillfort, complete with impressive triple-ringed defense-works. It is well worth a trip to Rhynie, a remarkably compact & pretty village whose residents go about their business quite unaware they are breathing the same pure & mountain air as Arthur did during his seven-year stint as King of the Picts.
  • A definite Arthurian connection to Rhynie comes through Tintagelware, which had fanned out throughout Britain to a series of high-status sites such as South Cadbury in Somerst & also Longbury Bank in the Dyfed parish of Penally, situated within another of Arthur’s ‘Tribal Thrones.’ Just as Cadbury was home to a grand timber feasting hall; & just as at the ‘high-status’ Longbury Bank in Dyfed, Ewan Campbell & Alan Lane suggest ‘there is tenuous evidence for at least one large timber building;’ so have archeologists uncovered the post-holes & plank slots of a timber feasting hall at Rhynie.
  • More support for a Pictish Arthur begins with a glance at the King List, where we encounter a certain ‘Drest Gurthinmoch’ as ruling the Picts between 477 & 507. We can now identify the Triad’s ‘Gurthmwl’ with Gurthinmoc, for it makes perfect sense that when Arthur – the chief lord – became the King in 529, Gurthmwl/Gurthinmoc would have been described as a ‘chief elder.



We have already seen how Uther Pendragon was based in the West Country. If we look again at the genaology of the kings of Dyfed we see, ‘Cincar – Pedr – Arthur.’ The spelling Pedr is echoed in the Pictish King List, where in the the Scalacronica version held at Corpus Christi College we see a certain Budrost, whose name is given in place of Uudrost in alternate version of the King List. The Pedr-Arthur / Budrost-Garthnach / Uther-Arthur successions indicate that the Paterni Coliavi of the Artognou stone is Arthur’s father.


In 1983, A lovely piece of epigraphical evidence turned up at Tintagel itself, when a massive grass-fire raged across its promontory. Once the fire had scorched its business, the foundations of several dark-age buildings were uncovered on the promontory, one of which yielded in 1998 an extremely interesting piece of broken slate known now as the Artognou Stone. Upon it was found scribbled a sample of sub-roman ‘graffiti’ that shall prove to be the key to unlocking the mysteries of King Arthur.


Peter Coliavi made this Artognou


When I saw the letters A-R-T,’ declared the archeologist who found the slate, ‘I thought, uh-oh.’ One can imagine the excitement that rippled out from Tintagel that summer, the discovery sending historians & linguists scrambling to identify what the word Artognou meant, with the ‘gnou’ element getting everybody all confused. A few possibilities were mentioned, but no-one got anywhere really – the connection to Arthur was deemed unproven & the whole thing slowly forgotten. The thing is, the slate is broken off at just the place where ‘Artognou’ ends, meaning the word could well have contained more letters. It is all a case of thinking outside the box, or in this case outside the dark-age slate. So I started chucking some of our 26 noble glyphs at the inscription & found that by adding a single letter ‘s,’ we gain the word ARTOGNOUS,’ or ‘Artogenous,’ a Latin word meaning ‘of the gens/family of Arto.’ The slate’s inscription should then be rendered as;

Paterni Coliavi made this, of the family of Arto

  • A solid candidate for Paterni turns up in the 7th century Life of Saint Turian. This vita was thought lost until 1912, when it was unearthed by Tabbe Duin in the Public Library of Clermont, France, whose archaic nomenclature suggests a very early date of composition, c.700AD. In chapter five of the vita, a virgin named Meldoch speaks to King Graddalon about his seat in heaven being;

A place destined from him in the kingdom of god, close to Constantine, a king beyond the sea, the son of Peterni, of Cornwall

  • The 16th century Aberdeen Breviary confirms that (Saint) Constantine’s father was ‘Paterni Regis Cornubie,’ i.e. Paterni, the king of Cornwall, a perfect match to the ‘Paterni’ of the Artognou Stone. According to Big Geoff, Constantine was Arthur’s ‘kinsman,’ supporting the Artognou Stone’s Peterni as being, ‘of the family of Arto.
  • The Jesus College genealogies show a certain ‘Peder’ listed among the sons of ‘Glois.’ Ewein vab keredic. Pedroc sant. Kynvarch. Edelic. Luip. Clesoeph. Sant. Perun. Saul. Peder. Katwaladyr. Meirchyawn. Margam Amroeth. Gwher. Cornuill. Catwall. Cetweli. Gwrrai. Mur (JC20)
  • We can connect the ‘Coliavi’ of the Artognou Stone to Gorlois thro’ the following babel-chain.

Coliavi – Gleve – Glevesing – Glywysyg – Glywys – Glois – Gorlois

This places the Gorlois clan in South Wales, as confirmed positively in the 11th century Life of Saint Cadog by Lifris of Llancarfan.

There reigned formerly on the borders of Britain, called Dimetia, a certain regulus, named Glywys, from whom all the country of that district, in all the days of his life, was called Glywysyg

From the evidence garnered thus far, it seems that Cyngar, the king of Dyfed who ruled before Pedr, would also be Glywys, the king of Dyfed (ie Demetia) whose son was called Peter. Congar Glywys/Coliavi! If the succession was via a bloodline, then we can hypothesize on King Arthur’s paternal grandfather beung Saint Congar. That he founded a monastery at Cadbury leads naturally to the Arthurian connections, both legendary & archeologically, to South Cadbury hillfort.



According to Big Geoff, Uther Pendragon & Ambrosius Aurelianus were brothers. Where the Jesus College that has‘Peder’  among the sons of ‘Glois,’ we also find Margam Amroeth, which seems to translate as Margam Ambrosius. The village of Margam is in ‘Glywysing,’ South Wales, which leads us to a contemporary of Ambrosius – Saint Paul Aurelian. His vita, written by Wrmonoc, tells us; ‘Saint Paul, surnamed Aurelian, the son of a certain count named Perphirius, who held a position of high rank in the world, came from a province which is in the language of the British race, because a section of it is regarded as an island, is called Penychen.’Penychen was one of the cantrefs of Glywysing, placing another nobly-born Aurelian in the very area where the young Ambrosius grew up. With these matching home regions & surnames, & the fact that the name ‘Perphirius’ means ‘clad-in-purple,’ it is highly likely that they were related.

In my Arthurian studies I disovered that the father of Ambrosius was a certain Quintus Aurelius Symmachus, a member of the Symmachi branch of the Aureli gens, & the consul for the Western Empire in 446 AD. We can now make a simple babel-chain between our two fathers of Uther Pendragon.

Quintus Aurelius

Of course this is pure speculation, and at first it may seem incongruous to identify a high-ranking Roman with a religious Welsh Saint. Cyngar’s vita, however, was composed seven centuries after he lived and consists of a patchwork of other saints’ lives, reducing its credibility as biography. It is possible that only the genealogical record is useful, along with perhaps one or two true anecdotes. In Cyngar’s case, we learn he hailed from a ‘royal’ family, with his birthplace being Llanungar near St. Davids. I shall be exploring Cyngar & Quintus again in the future, but for now let us at least acknowledge that the Sub-Roman site at Cadbury/Congresbury was definitely a high status as a cultural centre, patronizing craft-workers, and having access to glass and ceramics from the Anglo-Saxon areas to the east, and from the Eastern Mediterranean, North Africa and possibly France or Spain – possible reliques of consular activity! A Roman villa has been discovered in the area, while also of relevance may be last year’s discovery at Yatton, next to Congresbury, of 300 Roman graves!

The Roman burial site discovered at Yatton (Image: Rebel Sage)


Uther Pendragon was the father of Arthur, as attested via several obscure philochisps. It seems he as from the clan of ‘Glywys,’ based in South Wales, but was also strongly connected to the north. Ygerne’s presence in the matrinlineal Pictish King List suggests she was Pictish & thus Uther would have married into the Pictish royal family. This naturally leads to Arthur being both a West Country warrior AND a Pictish King. The presence of a Pictish name – Drust – on a sub-roman stone in Cornwall reinforces the connection.

The Drsutan Stone, Fowey





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Thorolf’s Grave (Brunanburh clue)


Historical research is a bit like brewing your own wine. You get all the studies down, let it ferment for & bit, its ready to get you drunk on the buzziness of your discoveries. Yet, if you leave it a few years & have a drink, it’ll always taste better after the tantric fashion. Thus, a couple of nights ago I was reading through my Brunanburh studies & was struck by an almighty thunderbolt – something I’d overlooked, but made sooooooooooo much sense.

But first off a reminder about the battle of Brunanburh. Over the past decade or so a few contenders have been put forward as to its location, none of which are able to tick the  boxes Burnley can.

Castle Hill lies to the rear of Townley Hall
Castle Hill lies to the rear of Townley Hall

1: There is a pre-medieval fortification attached to the name Brun.

Near Townley Hall in Burnley there is a very Anglo-Saxonesque fortifaction of otherwise unknown origin, sited on a certain Castle Hill. Was this Brunanburh? Well, an Anglo-Saxon ‘burh’ formed the central administrative point of the administrative ‘Tun,’ from which we get the name Tunlay, & thus, Towneley. In the 12th century, Towneley formed part of an ancient township called ‘Tunlay-with Brunshaw,’ the latter meaning ‘Brun’s Wood.’ The progression of the name Brunan to Brun would have occured as it did with Ottanlege (972) to Otley (c.1200).

The Western Trench @ Castle Hill…
The Western Trench @ Castle Hill…

2: The Ford of the Brun

When William of Malmesbury gave the battle site as ‘Bruneford,’ & John of Fordun ‘Brunford,’ we are led to the only waterway by that name in the whole of Britain, rising on moorland a few miles to the west of Burnley. Another historian to place the battle by a river-ford was Ranulf Higden (c.1280-1364), who gave the variant spelling of Brumford. Coincidence or not, he was writing at the very period in history when Burnley’s name was given as Brumleye in a 1294 market charter. The ford it describes is probably at the heart of old Burnley, where the River Brun flows under the bridge in Church Street. In times past, in a more infant Burnley, this river crossing was passed by fords and stepping stones.


3: Etheldreda’s Ash

Where the Annals of Clonmacnoise state the battle being fought on the ‘Plains of Othlyn.’ The core phonetic of this name is to be found in the person of Saint Etheldreda, whose vita tells us that after leaving Altham she headed for Bradford in Yorkshire,  ‘as she continued on her way at a slow pace, it was arranged by God’s grace that she happened upon a place nearby, suitable as a stopping place for travelers, a remarkably flat meadow… When, after a little while, she woke up from her sleep & rose to her feet, she found that her travelling-staff, the end of which she had driven into the ground, dry & long-seasoned, was now clothed with green bark, and had sprouted and put forth leaves.’ This tree was an ash, & the miracle provides us with the philological root to Othlyn, meaning the ash tree (Celtic=ynn) of Othl/Etheldreda. That the battle was fought on the ‘plains’ of Othlyn also connects to the legend of Etheldreda’s miracle taking place on ‘a remarkably flat meadow.’ From an original of Æthelthryth or Æþelðryþe, by medieval times the name had become ‘Audrey.’ As Saint Audrey, the latter degenerated even further into the ‘Shorey’ of Shorey’s Well which can still be found at the oldest part of Burnley off Church Street.

Shorey’s Well in its original form
Shorey’s Well in its original form


4: Earls’ Ness

More evidence for the Burnley Brunanburh can be found in Egil’s Saga, where a cowardly flight from the field of Athelstan’s ally, Earl Alfgeir, gives us a vital geographical clue; ‘then he rode to the south country, and of his travel ’tis to be told that he rode a night and a day till he came westwards to Earls-ness. Then the earl got a ship to take him southwards over the sea.’ In 937, the Burnley area was part of Northumbria, but lay only thirty or so miles north of the Mercian border, which stretched between the Mersey & the Humber estuaries. Just beyond that demarcation line lay an Anglo-Saxon people known as the Southumbrians, a record of whom is found in the Chronicle, when in 702 King Kenred ‘assumed the government of the Southumbrians.’ Thus, when Alfgeir crossed the Mersey he would have entered Southumbria, the ‘South Country’ through which he would travel westwards to a certain ‘Earls Ness.’ A full night & days riding (24 hours) through the thick Lancashire forests of a thousand years ago, would have equated to somewhere between 50 & a 100 miles. This means we are looking for a sea-port called Earls Ness to the south of the Mersey & somewhere to the west of Burnley. The only other record of an Earl’s Ness in these parts of Britain is a ‘Jarlsness’ mentioned in the Orkneyinga Saga, which is the Viking sea-port called Ness/Neston on the south Wirral coast.

Alfgeir’s possible route (if he’d have had a car)
Alfgeir’s possible route (if he’d have had a car)

5: Less than a day from the Irish Sea

According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle;

The West-Saxons pushed onward
All day; in troops they pursued the hostile people.
They hewed the fugitive grievously from behind ASC

There the North-men’s chief was put
To flight, by need constrained
To the prow of a ship with little company:
He pressed the ship afloat, the king went out
On fealene flot, he saved his life

Departed then the Northmen in nailed ships.
The dejected survivors of the battle,
On Dingesmere, sought Dublin over the deep water,
To return to Ireland, ashamed in spirit.


Where the ASC says ‘all the day the West Saxons pressed on the loathed bands,’ we can assume that the battle was fought within a day’s retreat of a seacoast or river estuary. Egil’s Saga provides a little extra gloss, saying the ships were ‘far’ from the field. Paul Cavill confirms that the ‘mere’ element in Dingesmere means ‘sea’ when he writes, ‘in verse, both as a simplex and as the first element of many compounds, it means ‘the sea, the ocean.’ As for the ‘Dinges’ part, it is named after the Viking ‘Ting’ on the Isle of Man, which still meets today as the Tynvald. Founded in the early 10th century – i.e. the Brunanburh period – its position at the centre of the Irish Sea indicates that the name ‘Dingesmere’ is  attached to the circular portion of the Irish Sea epicentred by the Isle of Man.

6: Vinheath

According to Egil’s Saga, the fight at Brunanburh was at first ruled by Dark Age codes of behaviour, resulting in a civilized stand-off known as ‘Hazelling the Field.’ While running through the extract, the reader should be aware that the two towns mentioned are the early prototypes of Burnley & Colne, both of which were granted to the monks of Pontefract Abbey in an 1122 charter.

After this they sent messengers to king Olaf, giving out this as their errand, that king Athelstan would fain enhazel him a field and offer battle on Vin-heath by Vin-wood.. North of the heath stood a town… The place ought to be chosen level, and whereon a large host might be set in array. And such was this; for in the place where the battle was to be the heath was level, with a river flowing on one side, on the other a large wood… From day to day Athelstan’s men said that the king would come, or was come, to the town that lay south of the heath.

The Vin element can be positively found near Colne in the phonetics of the wee hamlet of Winewall.

The Vinheath


OK – so thats the six cardinal pro-Burnley points – there are other clues, but these six are the most striking. So to my recent eureka moment, which began with reading Christine Fell’s accurate translation of Egil’s Saga;

Flame-hearted Thorolf, fear’s
Foe, Earl-killer, who so
Dared danger in Odin’s
Dark wars is dead at last.
Here, by Vina’s bank,
My brother lies under earth


So Thorolf was buried by the river Vina, was he? Crucially, Winewall’s earliest record (1324) calls it Wynwell – ‘spring of the river Wyn.’ After leaving Winewall, Colne Water soon merges with the ‘Pendle Water.’ This confluence occurs at the lovely village of Barrowford, and forms what we can assume was the River Wyn/Wine/Vina, whose headwaters creep into the hills around for a few miles above Barrowford.

Local tradition holds that Barrowford is named after some ancient burial site – i.e. a barrow – as in John Widdup’s; ‘The name “Barrowford” suggests that such a barrow formerly existed near the stream crossing, but the site of the barrow remains in dispute, as all evidence of it has been lost by land cultivation. It has been suggested that the mound on the side of the road at Park Hill marks the spot.’

The barrow at Barrowford…
The barrow at Barrowford…

This is definitely a pre-dig Sutton Hoo, Hisalrik moment. Under that mound lie the mortal bones of Thorolf, proof of which will be in the discovery of two gold bracelets as recorded  in C. Green’s 1893 translation of Egil’s Saga.

Chapter 55 – Egil buries Thorolf. While his men still pursued the fugitives, king Athelstan left the battle-field, and rode back to the town, nor stayed he for the night before he came thither. But Egil pursued the flying foe, and followed them far, slaying every man whom he overtook. At length, sated with pursuit, he with his followers turned back, and came where the battle had been, and found there the dead body of his brother Thorolf. He took it up, washed it, and performed such other offices as were the wont of the time. They dug a grave there, and laid Thorolf therein with all his weapons and raiment. Then Egil clasped a gold bracelet on either wrist before he parted from him; this done they heaped on stones and cast in mould.

The Attacotti Timeline

The Attacotti Timeline

After my very recent investigations into the Huns (last post), which led to their association of with the Attacotti, I thought it prudent to assemble the following timeline which shows how this obscure tribe was formed & remembered in history. They really only turn up in the records over a span of three or four decades, before vanishing as obscurely as they arrived. I would like to here propose that the reason for this was their absorption into the Pictish diaspora. The information is best presented in chronicle format.

c.450 BC

The Agathyrsi were described by Herodotus as a tribe of mix’d Dacian-Scythian origin, whom he places in Romanian Transylvania; ‘from the country of the Agathyrsoi comes down another river, the Maris, which empties itself into the same.’ Herodotus then describes the Agathyrsi as being quite a sexually liberated bunch; ‘The most luxurious of men and wear gold ornaments for the most part: also they have promiscuous intercourse with their women, in order that they may be brethren to one another and being all nearly related may not feel envy or malice one against another. In their other customs they have come to resemble the Thracians.’

c.350 BC

The Thracian-Agathyrsi link maintained by Herodotus turns up in the list of the Pictish Kings, with version D relating they, ‘came from the land of Thracia; that is, they are the children of Gleoin, son of Ercol. Agathirsi was their name.’ The Agathyrsi also appear in the writings of Scotland’s 16th century writer, Hektor Boece’s ‘History & Chronickles of Scotland;’

Sum authouris sayis {the Picts} come first in Orknay; and, sone  efter, in Cathues, Ros, Murray, Mernis, Angus, Fiffe, and Louthiane: and expellit all the pepill, that inhabit that region afore thair cuming. Thir pepill war callit Pichtis.. fra the Pichtis namit Agathirsanis, thair anciant faderis. In probation heirof, Orknay wes calht the auld realme of  Pichtis. Siclike, thee seeis betwix Cathnes and Orknay war namit Pentland Firth ; and all the landis, quhilkis ar now callit Louthiane, war callit than Pentland.

150 AD

In Ptolemy’s 2nd centry AD Geography we may witness topographical support for the Agathyrsi of Heredotus settling in the same regions as the Picts of the Kinglist. Herodotus regurgiates a Pontic Greek myth – i.e. Greeks who had settl’d the Black Sea area – which states that a certain Agathyrsus was the eldest son of Herakles, & brother to a certain Skythes. The latter’s name strongly resembles Sketis, an island which appears roughly where the Shetland islands, or Sketland islands, should be if the mainland is correctly retilted. A variant name for Sketis given by Ptolemy was Ocitis, & in these name we see both; A-gath-yrsus/O-cit-is & Sk-yt-hes/Sk-et-is. Ptolemy essentially gives the Orkneys & Shetlands twice – once where they should be (as Dumna & Thule) & once where they’d be if Scotland was tilted at the Forths.


300 AD

The Roman grammarian Maurus Servius Honoratus (c.400 AD) wrote a commentary on the works of Virgil, which states that the Agathyrsi sent a contingent across the sea to Scotland c. 300 AD. He adds that they were formidable warriors, seriously fatigued all who stood against them & the crucial fact that these Agathyrsi became identified with Picts, which explains why the Attacotti dissappear’d from the records by the end of the 4th century.

These Agathyrsi are, in fact, a branch of the Hunnish Acatir. The name Attacotti translates as ‘both Acotti’ – & reflects the merging of the Pictish branch of the Agathyrsi with the Hunnish incomers.  The “Agatziri” or “Akatziroi,” were first mentioned by Priscus, who described them leading a nomadic life on the Lower Volga, and reported them as having been Hunnic subjects in pre-Attila times.  Priscus relates an anecdote in which two brothers, Denghizikh and Hernak were discussing making war on the Romans, but the Acatziri, Saraguri, and the other Hunnic tribes, who lived by the Caucasus and the Caspian, were engaged in a war with Persia; and thought it folly to engage in two wars at once. A century later, Jordanes located the Acatziri to the south of the Aesti (Balts), in roughly the same region as the Agathyrsi of Transylvania, describing them as “a very brave tribe ignorant of agriculture, who subsist on their flocks and by hunting.”

310 AD

The leader of the Acatirs who came to Britain is no other than the mortal Woden – not the divine god, but the very human being on which that deity was based. The evidence begins with Snorri Sturluson, who describes Woden-Odin as controlling ‘great lands near the Turks.’ Snorri then states that Woden’s, ‘descendents would live in the northern parts of the world,’ & has him conquering lands in France, ‘Saxland’ & Scandinavia.  One of Woden’s sons, Siggi, is clearly depicted by the Völsunga saga as being a Hunnish king. Woden’s coming from Asia also has a clear remembrance in the mythologized tribal name for the Teutonic gods, the ‘Aesir.’

320 AD

The famous Brythonic king, Cunedda, appears in the Pictish King List as Canutulahina – Cunedda the Hun – & is followed as the Pictish king by ‘Wradech,’ evidently Cunedda’s son, Ceredic. We can connect him to the Hunnish Woden thro’ the very Pictishesque broch near Duns in the borders, Edin’s Hall, formally known as Wooden’s Hall. From Woden-Wooden-Edin we reach Edern & Aeturn, variant names for the father of Cunedda. Harleian MS 3859 then tells us how Tybion was Cunedda’s first-born son, which mirrors Titmon/Tẏtiman/Titinon being Woden’s grandson in the royal Anglo-Saxon genealogies of East Anglia. Cunedda the Hun indeed!

367-68 AD

The Attacotti are active against the Romans during ‘The Barbarian Conspiracy.’ The Roman historian, Ammianus Marcellinus tells us; ‘ at that time the Picts, divided into two tribes, called Dicalydones and Verturiones, as well as the Attacotti, a warlike race of men, and the Scots, were ranging widely and causing great devastation.’


In the late 4th century St Jerome traveled to Gaul, where he observed certain members of the Attacotti getting up to some rather bestial behaviour. In his Adversus Jovinianum (c.393AD) he writes;

Why should I speak of other nations when I, a youth, in Gaul beheld the Attacotti, a British tribe, eat human flesh, and when they find herds of swine, cattle, and sheep in the woods, they are accustomed to cut off the buttocks of the shepherds, and the paps of the shepherdesses, and to consider them as the only delicacies of food.

More evidence for the Attacotti on the Continent comes in the Notitia Digitatum, compiled about 400 AD, which lists four Attacotti auxillary regiments as fighting in the Roman Legions, two of of whom, the Honoriani Atecotti seniores & the Atecotti iuniores Gallicani,  were stationed in Gaul. It seems that after Count Theodosius’ restoration of Roman order in Britain, the Attacotti were recruited to fight as auxilia palatina in the legions. The Notitia reads

In Italy: Atecotti Honoriani iuniores

In the Gauls with the illustrious master of horse in Gauls:
Atecotti Honoriani seniores
Atecotti iuniores Gallicani.


398 AD

When the Roman poet Claudian wrote ‘The Orcades ran red with Saxon slaughter,’ in response to the activities of Theodosius in 398, we can now assume that the Hunnish-influenced Attacotti were considered as ‘Saxons’ by the Roman world. The same cultural connection appears in the story of  one of Woden’s sons, the Hunnish king Siggi. This figure also appears as the founder of the royal house of Deira, ie the Anglo-Saxon kingdom between the Humber & the Tyne.


Offering more support, Siggi’s son in the geneaology, Seabald, appears in an Irish text known as ‘The adventure of the sons of Eochaid Mugmedón’ as a king of the Saxons called Sachell Balb.


In 448 the Acatziri were a main force of the Attila’s army. Their commander was a certain  Karadach or Curidachus, whose name is a clear philochisp of Cereticus – as in the son of Cunedda & certain 5th century figures of the same name who this leader of the Acatziri just well might be. In 449, Vortigern is using a translator called Cereticus in his negotiations with Henghist – who was descended from Woden, & thus of at least some Hunnish ancestry. In that same period, 448-449, Priscus of Panium visited the court of Attila the Hun as part of an official delegation & tells us; ‘no previous ruler of Scythia or of any other land had ever achieved so much in so short a time. He ruled the islands of the Ocean and, in addition to the whole of Scythia, forced the Romans to pay tribute.’ Writers such as  Orosius & St Augustine were definers of the British Isles as among the ‘islands of the Ocean,’ reinforcing the factochain.

We must also recall that 80 years later, the Romans considered Britain to be under the ‘Gothic’ influence, with Procopius recording Belisarius as saying, ‘we on our side permit the Goths to have the whole of Britain.’ The presence of the Huns in late Roman Britain was additionally remembered in the 8th century by Bede, in whose Historia Ecclesiastica we read; ‘He knew that there were very many peoples in Germany from whom the Angles and the Saxons, who now live in Britain, derive their origin… Now these people are the Frisians, Rugians, Danes, Huns, Old Saxons, and Boruhtware (Bructeri).’


For a long, long time, scholars have speculated on the homelands of the Attacotti, but to no avail. So far I’ve connected them to the saxons of the Orkneys in 398 AD, but there is also a definitive epigraphical remembrance of them on the Shetland Islands. Etched into what is known as the Lunnasting Stone, are four words;

ettecuhetts: ahehhttannn: hccvvevv: nehhtons 

The Senchus fer n-Alban indicates that Gartnait, the son of Áedán mac Gabráin, King of Dál Riata, sired a son named Cano, names which seem to appear in the inscription alongside Attacotti. Aedan was active in the Orkneys in the 580s, which may be of relevance, for just as the Picts controlled Lothian & the Orkneys, & just as the Arthurian King Loth did the same, so Aedan would become a king of the Lothians.

Chispologically speaking, Ettecuhetts is a lovely match for Attacotti, especially when we combine two variant spelling in the Notitia, being ‘attecotti’ & ‘attcoetti,’ as in;  Attecoet / Ettecuhet. Elsewhere on the Shetlands, at a place called Cunningsburgh, another Pictish stone also seems to mention the Attacotti.

  Transcription :   +TTEC[O^G][–] | [–]A[V^BL]:DATT[V][B!][–] | [–][A!]VVR[–]
     Reading :   ETTEC[O^G] [–][A!]VVR[–]A[V^BL]: DATT[V][B!][–]

There is an island called Mousa, just a stone-skip across the waters from Cuningsburgh, which is home to the greatest of all the stone, Pictish roundhouses known as Brochs. Archeologists calculate a date of 100 BC for its construction.

Looking once more at the Notitia shield patterns, it is with the Junior Honorianes that a real clincher can be found. Their shield carries a curious image of two heads facing each other, with at least one of them seeming to be a bill-beaked bird. An extremely similar image is also found on a Pictish stone discovered in 1887 at Papil, West Burra, in the Shetlands.

The stone was found at a pre-norse  Christian centre – the name Papil comes from papar – a Nordic word for priests – & was removed to the National Museum in Edinburgh, though a replica still stands in the churchyard of St Laurence’s Church, Papil. Kelly A Kilpatrick, in his ‘The iconography of the Papil Stone: sculptural and literary comparisons with a Pictish motif’ (Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 141 (2011), 159–205), writes of the birdmen,
 They have commonly been regarded as a misrepresentation of the Temptation of St
Antony, but this theory is debatable and needs to be compared and contrasted within the wider framework of this motif in Irish and Pictish art. Examples of axe-brandishing human and beast-headed figures are, however, found in Pictish sculpture, and are comparable with the imagery on the Papil Stone. Furthermore, the bird-men motif on the Papil Stone has striking parallels with contemporary battlefield demons in early Irish literature
 A common interpretation of the Papil birdmen is that they are a distorted representation
of the Temptation of St Antony, a scene in which Antony was tempted by women disguised as birds who whispered into his ear. This was, in the words of Radford), ‘a favourite scene on the Irish crosses, where it is usually pictured in a more realistic manner.’
Detail of the Temptation of St. Antonny the hermit. Moone high cross, Kildare
The Papil bird-men have a stronger connection with axe- and weapon-carrying hybrid & monstrous human-like figures in Pictish sculpture. There are 10 similar examples in the corpus of Pictish sculpture, three of which, it should be emphasised, have bird-features. They occur as single figures or as single figures associated with an anmimal or beast, & also as paired figures like the Papil bird-men. They must have had a long currency in Pictish art, for they are found on a variety of monumental media, ranging from simple incised stone boulders to panelled motifs on elaborate cross-slabs and even on a sculpted shrine panel.
Of these, the image of a dog-masked man found at Cuningsburgh, Shetland, where as we have seen there was an inscription to the Attacotti, seems the most important. Also of interest is a stone found at Murthly, Perthsire.  When comparing it with the Juniores shield pattern, we see that to the left is the long-beaked bird & to the right is the stubby-nosed dog or boar.


The Anthrotree is a shortened version of ‘Anthropological Factotree,’ which constitutes the main trunk of the ancient peoples, or tribe, we are discussing. Out of this entity shoot branches – & of course sub-branches – representing Culture, Theology, Linguistics, Archeology & Genetics. If any theoretical tree is living well & prospering with the vital energies of life, a rush of green foliage soon flows into & between the branches like tidal water into coastal rocks. In the same fashion, if the hyperbasis of an anthrotree is correct, & the evidence which has created its branches infallible, then we should be able to find upon the tree certain corresponding literary legacies – ie leaves. Together they make up the foliage of an anthrotree, which I shall call Cultural Subnotes.

Cultural Subnote 1 – No Writing Records : That the Picts left no writing can now be explained by Aristotle, who tells us of the Agathyrsi (Problemata, xix. 28), ‘Why are the nomes which are sung so called ?  Is it because before men knew the art of writing they used to sing their laws  in order not to forget them, as  they are still accustomed to do among the Agathyrsi?’

Cultural Subnote 2 – Tattoos: The Agathirsi, or the ‘painted Agathyrsians,’ as described by Virgil,  were given more detail in the 380s by Ammianus-Marcellinus, who describ’d them as dieing, ‘both their bodies and their hair of a blue colour, the lower classes using spots few in number and small – the nobles broad spots, close and thick, and of a deeper hue.’ That the Agathrysi nobility have more tattoos reflect the Picts, whose name, according to Isidore of Seville, whose name was ‘taken from their bodies, because an artisan, with the tiny point of a pin and the juice squeezed from a native plant, tricks them out with scars to serve as identifying marks, and their nobility are distinguished by their tattooed limbs.’

Cultural Subnote 3 – Animal Depictions: Despite the distance between ancient Scythia & the mountain fastnesses of northern Britain, both cultures are bound by vivid, animal-based art. Some of these symbolic depictions were imprinted in the form of tattoos, a practice given to the Picts by several classical authors, including;

They tattoo their bodies with colored designs and drawings of all kinds of animals; for this reason they do not wear clothes, which would conceal the decorations on their bodies. Herodian of Antioch

Barbarians, who from childhood have different pictures of animals skillfully implanted on their bodies, so that as the man grows, so grow the marks painted on him; there is nothing more that they consider as a test of patience than to have their limbs soak up the maximum amount of dye through these permanent scars. Solinus


The Scythian Chieftain found in 1948
The Scythian Chieftain found in 1948

Pictishesque body-tattoos were found on the frozen bodies of a Scythian chieftan & a twenty-five year old warrior-priestess, both discover’d in the same region of Siberia. It seems no coincidence that the chieftan still retained a bright red mop of hair, a Pictish trait retained in 13 percent of Scotland’s population, as compar’d to only two percent of the world’s population. Other links include the Pictish Beast symbol’s perfect match to the Scythian Ibex,  a sea-goddess image at Meigle in Perthshire which matches Scythian goldwork found in the Ukraine; & a stone figure discovered on Boa, an island in Northern Ireland, which is nigh-identical to a Scythian Kurgan Stele from Kyrgyzstan.

Scythian Ibex
Scythian Ibex
Pictish Beast
Pictish Beast

Cultural Subnote 4 – The Sarmatian Connection : The Sarmatian peoples of the steppes were part of the wider Scythian umbrella, & it seems that they at some point joined the Agathyrsean migration to northern Britain where they appear as the Smertae in Ptolemy;

From the Lemannonis bay as far as the Varar estuary are the Caledoni, and above these is the Caledonian forest, from which toward the east are the Decantae, and next to these the Lugi extending to the Cornavi boundary, and above the Lugi are the Smertae; below Caledonia are the Vacomagi

There is a Càrn Smeart in Sutherland to this day, an ancient burial mound on the ridge between the rivers Carron and Oykel.  It may also be relevant that the Smertae’s neighbours, the Lugi, shared a name with the Lugii, a large tribal confederation mentioned by Roman authors living in ca. 100 BC–300 AD in the Polish regions of today.


To conclude this post let us look at Pliny’s description of the Sarmations, as in, ‘from this point all the races in general are Scythian, though various sections have occupied the lands adjacent to the coast, in one place the Getae, called by the Romans Dacians, at another the Sarmatae.’ Here we have the Getae, of course, who would be the Pictish kingdom of Cat, & thus Caithness…

Honing on Saint Patrick’s boyhood home (& then some more Huns)

I’m just having a wee break from the creation of The New Divan. But a poet’s mind never rests & I thought I’d return to the Saint Patrick mystery which I first approached this time last year. There’s a couple of new ideas I can add to the mix, the conclusion of which is that Saint Patrick was brought up in the area where Emmot Hall used to stand, a couple of miles outside Colne in East Lancashire, the Ravenna Cosmography’s Calunio.  A definitive Roman presence at Emmott was confirmed  by TT Whitaker, who writing in the year 1800 affirmed, ‘a large silver cup filled with {Roman coins} was turned up by the plough in the latter end of the 17th century.’


Both the Hymn of Fiacc & the the anonymous Latin ‘Life of Saint Patrick’ place his birthplace at Nemthur, the latter stating, ‘The holy Patrick was reared at Nemthur until he was a lad.‘ The name seems to derive from Nemeton, which means ‘sacred space’ in Brythonic, & thus to Emmott. Placing the young saint in this corner of East Lancashire a moment, let us read the following extracts from the anonymous life.


Now Patrick’s race was of the Britons of Dumbarton. Calpurn was his father’s name, a high priest was he. Otid (Potitus) was the name of his grandfather: he was a deacon. But Conchess was his mother’s name: daughter was she of Ochbas: of France was her race, that is, she was a sister of Martin’s.


This tells us that Patrick was born in the Kingdom of Strathclyde, which in that period stretched deep in to Lancashire from its capital at Dumbarton.


At Nemthur, now, was he born, and (as to) the flagstone on which he was born, when any one commits perjury thereunder, it sheds water as if it were bewailing the false declaration. If his oath is true the stone abides in its proper nature. Now when the holy Patrick was born, he was brought to be baptized to the blind flat-faced youth named Gornias. But Gornias had not water wherewith he could perform the baptism, so with the infant’s hand he made the sign of the cross over the earth, and a wellspring of water brake therefrom. Gornias put the water on his own face, and it healed him at once, and he understood the letters (of the alphabet), though he had never seen them before. Now here at one time God wrought a threefold miracle for Patrick, the wellspring of water from the earth, and his eyesight to the blind youth, and skill in reading aloud the order of baptism without knowing the letters beforehand. Thereafter Patrick was baptized.


Hallown Well



Patrick’s birth should be connected to the Well of Hallown at Emmott – with baptisms taking place here as far back as AD 835 – which was known to have healing properties into the modern age, just as Gornias had his eyesight restored.  That, among the miracles attached to Patrick’s birth, one clearly stipulates a well is significant. An ancient holy well on the site supports the Nemeton to Emmott philochisp, & with miracles being attached to Saint Patrick own baptism,  no wonder it would be used as a baptism site centuries later.  Also on the site stood  a 7 foot high medieval cross-shaft, before it was moved to Colne churchyard in the 1960s from Emmott Hall, showing just how sacred a spot it was.


At this point let us have a look at thesome other evidence that places Saint Patrick at Emmott, by looking at the other two  names we have for Patrick’s birthplace include Bannavem Tarburnaie & Ventre.

I, Patrick, a sinner, a most simple countryman, … had for my father the deacon Calpurnius, son of the late Potitus, a priest of the settlement of Bannavem Taburniae; he had a small villula nearby where I was taken captive. I was at that time about sixteen year of age… I was taken into captivity in Ireland with many thousands of people.  (Confessio)

This place, as I am informed beyond hesitation or doubt, is Ventre. (Milúch)

Now, look at the names of these three places all within a couple of miles of one another. ‘Tre’ & ‘Traw’ both mean farm.

N-EMT-hur – Emmott
VEN-tre – Winewall
Ven-TRE – Trawden

The Vinheath - Emmot Hall is near Winewall (top right hand cormner)
The Vinheath – Emmot Hall is near Winewall (top right hand cormner)

The Ven element leads to the Wendune & Vinheath placenames in the Brunanburh manifest,  Both the ‘dune’ & ‘heath’ elements of Wendune & Vinheath mean the same as banna: pinnacle, peak, mountain, bare hill, etc.. Near to Emmott is the Lancashire town of Burnley, which naturally leads to the the ‘burn’ element of Bannavem Tarburnaie. There is another Bannaventa in Britain, near the village of Norton in Northamptonshire, & is named thus in the mid-second century ‘Itinerary’ of Antonius Pius. What we may logically conclude is that the second Bannaventa came later, with an addition of ‘Burniae’ applied for the purpose of differentation.

The transition from the Brythonic ‘Burn’ to the Saxon ‘Brun’ would have taken place during the reign of Athelstan (926-939), confirmed by Layamon‘s, ‘
& the names of the towns in saxish speech…
 & in saxish he gan speak the names of the men,‘ & the Angol-Saxon Chronicles use of both name variants on the early 930s;

A.D. 931. This year died Frithstan… and Brynstan was blessed in his place.
A.D. 932. This year Burnstan was invested Bishop of Winchester

The antique metathesis between these two names occured several times in the early middle-ages. In the early 12th century, the Anglo-Norman chronicler Geoffrey Gaimar gave the names Bruneswerce & Burneweste for the battle of Brunanburh itself. Other examples include Saint Brynstan/Burnstan & Roger de Burne/Brun. But I digress to far once again.


That on the day of the Battle of Brunanburh the routed Vikings made the safety of the Irish Sea supports the kidnapping of Patrick by Irish pirates. Further exploration of the Brunanburh matrix allows to come full circle, so to speak, to Emmott, which the older locals in the area pronounce it as Ee-ah-mut.  It is significant that the borders of Strathclyde, Northumbria & Mercia all meet here, while a Roman road passes just a few miles to the North, giving Emmott easy access to the twin Viking capitals of York & Dublin. That Emmott has a famous baptising well connects with William Malmesbury’s description of the events at Eamoton, in which Athelstan takes a son of Constantine hostage; ‘Out of regard to this treaty, the king himself stood for the son of Constantine, who was ordered to be baptized, at the sacred font.’ Is this ‘sacred fon’t the Hallown? The ASC states that the kings ‘renounced all idolatry,’ just as the local pagans had done at the same well in 835.

A.D. 926. This year appeared fiery lights in the northern part of the firmament; and Sihtric departed; and King Athelstan took to the kingdom of Northumbria, and governed all the kings that were in this island: — First, Howel, King of West-Wales; and Constantine, King of the Scots; and Owen, King of Monmouth; and Aldred, the son of Eadulf, of Bamburgh. And with covenants and oaths they ratified their agreement in the place called Eamoton, on the fourth day before the ides of July; and renounced all idolatry, and afterwards returned in peace.


I’ve also discovered a key philochisp in the next step of Saint Patrick’s vita. Folkore states that that Niall of the Nine Hostages, a very ancient King of Ulster, was the man behind the capture of Patrick – known as ‘Succat’ – & now we can toss in more support. We begin with the Latin Life;


Now this was the cause of Patrick’s coming to Ireland. Seven sons of Sechtmad, to wit, seven sons of the King of Britain, were in exile. They wrought rapine in the land of Britain, and Ulstermen were along with them, and so they brought Patrick in captivity to Ireland, and his two sisters Tigris and Lupait, and they sold Patrick to Míliucc maccu Buain, that is, to the King of Dalaraide.


indexThe name Sechtmad transchispers into Sachell Balb, a king of the Saxons given in an Irish text known as ‘The adventure of the sons of Eochaid Mugmedón.’ Sachell’s daughter, Cairenn Chasdub, is the mother of Niall. Thus the ‘Seven sons of Sechtmad’ would be Niall’s uncles, & it is through them that they invited the ‘Ulstermen’ on their raids on Britain. This presents a hyperbasis based on Sechtmad/Sachell being a Saxon king in Britain.  Indeed, Siggeat and Seabald appear in the Anglo-Saxon genealogies as father and son 9-10 generations before Aelle, the first king of Deira, in the North East of modern England, from AD 560.


That Claudian wrote ‘The Orcades ran red with Saxon slaughter,’ in response to the activities of Theodosius in 398 now has more substance & we can at least present a solid hyperbasis that there was a Saxon occupation of the Orkney islands, whose king was Siggeat/Seabald, from whom descendents a greater kingdom was established in the 6th century. There’ll be more to it, obviously, but this what we can pin down for now – a toehold on the truth just as Siggeat made a toehold in the Orkneys.

Now, in an earlier post I showed how Woden & Cunnedda were Huns.  According to Snorri Sturluson, another of Woden’s sons was a certain, ‘Siggi, who ruled over what is now France.’ The Icelandic Völsunga saga states that Siggi was a Hun & tuis with some simple philochisps we can see how Siggeat/Sechtmad was a Hunnish ‘King of Britain’ at the very same time that his brother, Cunedda, was a Hunnish king of the Picts. This now presents double support for Bede’s placement of the Huns among the English gene-pool, when;

The Angles or Saxons, who now inhabit Britain… are still corruptly called ‘Garmans’ by the neighbouring nation of the Britons. Such are the Frisians, the Rugini, the Danes, the Huns, the Old Saxons, and the Boructuari

 But why is there no mention of the Huns settling in Britain? Well, I believe there is, & we can finally solve the Attacotti conundrum, the obscure tribe named as part of the Barbarian Conspiracy of 368.  According to Priscus, a 5th century Byzantine Historian, there existed a tribal group  called the Acatziri, who led a nomadic life on the Lower Volga, who were reported as having been Hunnic subjects before the time of Attila. Priscus relates anecdote in which two brothers, Denghizikh and Hernak were discussing making war on the Romans, but Priscus says that the the Acatziri, Saraguri, and the other Hunnic tribes, who lived by the Caucasus and the Caspian, were then engaged in a war with Persia; and that it would be folly to engage in two wars at once.

Jordanes located the Acatziri to the south of the Aesti (Balts) — roughly the same region as the Agathyrsi of Transylvania — describing them as “a very brave tribe ignorant of agriculture, who subsist on their flocks and by hunting,” which resonates with Ammianus Marcellinus’ description of the Attacotti  as ‘a warlike race of men.’ The Acatziri were a main force of the Attila’s army in 448, whose chieftan was Karadach/Curidachus, a name which clearly contains the Ceredic/Wradech shared by the early British kings including Cunedda’s own son.  Also named Ceretic was the Vortigern’ s translator, employed in his negotiations with Henghist, whose descendancy from Woden also indicates he was Hunnish.

My final hypothesis, then, is that the Acatziri were used by the Huns to cement their 4th century conquests within Britain…

…& of course, Saint Patrick was from near Burnley

The New Divan: Smoke

Reza Mohammadi

This next transcreated poem is originally by Reza Mohammadi, an Afghani born in 1979, who originally composed Smoke in Persian. From this point Reza himself & Narguess Farzad made English translations, which were then comblended into one by Nick Laird. It was from this last version that I made the Goethe-friendly poem you are about to read.



Unto the man I would return
Who once inside my shirt did burn.

At each lip’s precipice I fret
To find the voice I once did set
Down-dangling from a cigarette.

I ask the card-turn to unshroud
The revelations thro’ the crowd
That sweeps aside bird, plant & cloud.

Carry off, great Lord, this flower,
To tables fill’d by my mother,
& to the house of my father,

& to the fish of the rivers
Whom, three times a day, take lovers,
Suicide’s soft deliverers.

I’m six years old, care to buy bread?
What am I doing here, I said.

Carry my soul to the tented
Gypsy mystic, tinted, scented,
Take it to be finger-printed.

I’ll never leave this street, y’know,
That named a missile long ago.

You’ll see I only came to buy
Some rolls of bread – you’ll see that I
Have seen exactly six years by.

Before the next man join’d my thread
Morning stopp’d gorging on his head,
& like this poem’s folding, he
Was thrown, was caught, within old me.

Hey! This much wind my shirt won’t stand,
We should not let this much cloud land.

The blacken’d body’s shrapnel flew
Right back to eat, snack, feast on you.

Why should I be God’s kick’d up dust,
I flow like ink from His fingers.

The broken lighters of his feet
Flicker & flare in mine like heat.

His heart a wet, spent ciggarette,
His mother’s lashes crudely set
Inside his pocket, food for worms,
With sister’s hair that fistfull squirms,
& those barb’d eyelids of his wife.

I wish somebody in his life
Had told him moons dont burst in flame
When clad in clothes by top brands made.

The one runs from me as he ran
From his ma’s table & her pan,
Thus I would like to tell him this,
How poet’s metamorphosis
Grows on lips like little roses
Caus’d by earth – which decomposes!

Even the river dodges me,
Even the doves take flight to flee
& all the Judas trees within
Are made of debris from this bin;
How was your face made up, I said,
What shade the scarf swath’d round your head?
Black-sooted in black suit I stand,
A dandelion in one hand,
Addresses I can’t call to mind,
As on moth-wings descends dusts fine,
Dusts upon petals de-scend-ing –
Now I’m forgetting everything.



1: Edinburgh Book Festival: The Divan Session

2: The New Divan: Genesis

3: Greenshoots

4: Final Greenshoots

5: The Song of the One Who Pours the Wine

6: Paradise on Earth / Ephesus Ghazal

7: Knowingly Willingly

8: Smoke

9: Electrocardigam / The Great Axe