Monthly Archives: December 2017

The Chisper Effect 7 : Dux Pictorum

Continuing the weekly serialization ofchisper_effect

Damian Beeson Bullen’s


In which a number of the world’s greatest mysteries are finally solved


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Chapter VII

In the last chapter we witnessed the supporting evidence for King Arthur’s historicity in the far south of Britain. Since his birth at Tintagel his fame has fanned out to every corner of the British Isles, swelling among folk memories & clinging hardily to topographical features. Scotland, especially, enjoys a vivid Arthurian tradition; there is a Loch Arthur near Dumfries, there is the great mountain of Arthur’s Seat at Edinburgh, while Stirling enjoys its own Round Table & a curious construction known as Arthur’s Oven. By analyzing the battle-list in the Historia Brittonum we can easily identify at least two consecutive battles fought by Arthur in Scotland. The seventh of the twelve battles was sited in the ‘Coit Celidon,’ i.e. the wood of Caledonia, the Roman name for Scotland. It is into this very wood that the wizard Merlin fled following the battle of Ardderyth in 573, and where, according to John of Fordun, he was murdered by shepherds at Drumelzier. The Caledonian Wood was once an epic affair, spreading mile after mile of foliage between Hadrian’s Wall & the Firth of Forth, & thus is too vague a reference point to locate the actual battlefield with any precision. Contrarily, we can state quite positively that Arthur’s eighth battle was fought in a singular & identifiable place in Scotland.

The eighth battle was at the fortress of Guinnion, in which Arthur carried the image of holy Mary ever virgin on his shoulders; and the pagans were put to flight on that day. And through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ and through the power of the blessed Virgin Mary his mother there was great slaughter among them


In a recension of the Historia Brittonum known as Vatican Reg.1964., there is a wonderful piece of handwritten scholia attached to this battle by a tenth-century scribe called Marc the Anchorite;

For Arthur proceeded to Jerusalem, and there made a cross to the size of the Saviour’s cross, and there it was consecrated, and for three successive days he fasted, watched, and prayed, before the Lord’s cross, that the Lord would give him the victory, by this sign, over the heathen; which also took place, and he took with him the image of St. Mary, the fragments of which are still preserved in great veneration at Wedale, in English Wodale, in Latin Vallis-doloris. Wodale is a village in the province of Lodonesia, but now of the jurisdiction of the bishop of St. Andrew’s, of Scotland, six miles on the west of that heretofore noble and eminent monastery of Meilros.


Astonishing stuff! We have been given a pin-point location for an Arthurian battlefield; a literary arrow aiming straight at Stow-in-Wedale in the Scottish Borders between Galashiels and Edinburgh. The fortress of Guinnion should then be Craigend Fort, two thirds of a mile to the north of Stow, whose grassy remnant of today barely does justice to what was once an impressive 900-foot high hill-fort. That a West Country Arthur was fighting this far north – & further, as we shall soon see – can be understood through the processes of the Chisper Effect. We begin by looking at an antique text known as the Pictish King List: only a handful of copies have survived the rigors of time, but they all contain pretty much the same sequence of kings, albeit with subtle variations in name spellings & reign lengths. The Picts were an ancient Scottish tribe who the Romans just could not conquer, building instead Hadrian’s Wall in order to keep them out of the Empire. Of the variant lists of their kings, the reigns given by the 14th century Poppleton Manuscript can be safely cross-referenced with dates found in the Irish Chronicles. Of these, the Annals of Clonmacnoise give us our first solid date, being;449: Drust mc Erb, K. of Pictland, died.’  Taking this as our starting point, let us examine the Poppleton King List, beginning with Talore, the successor of Drust McErb.

Year Crowned                       Reign-length

(449) Talore son of Aniel   (4)
(453) Necton Morbet son of Erip   (24)
(477) Drest Gurthinmoch   (30)
(507) Galalan Erilich   (12)
(519) Two Drests – son of Girom
———————— son of Uudrost

Drusts reign 5 years together / Drest son of Girom rules solo 5 years

(529) Garthnach son of Girom   (7)
(536) Cailtram son of Girom   (1)
(537) Talorg son of Muircholaich   (11)
(548) Drest son of Muniat   (1)
(549) Galam Cennaleph   (1)
(550) Galam Cennaleph and Bridei together   (1)
(551) Bridei son of Mailcon (30)

The final date of 581 (551+30) given as the end of King Bridei’s reign matches an event recorded in that same year by the Annals of Tigernach;

 581AD : The death of Bruide son of Maelchú, king of the Picts

In terms of reign-lengths, the Poppleton List can be certified as authentic, & looking through it with a keen chispological eye focusses our attention on a certain Garthnach, son of Girom. He was the ruler of the Picts between 529 & 536 & his parent’s name, like so many others scattered through the king lists, is non-especial. However, let us now look at Girom’s name as it appears in alternate versions of the Pictish King List, a cross-table in which philochisps are simply running riot;


Gygurn: Bodleian ms Lat misc c.75

Gigurnus: Scalacronica, Corpus Christi College


If we simply drop the Gs, we are left with a fellow called Arthnach son of Ygurn/Igurnus, which even the most skeptical of scholars must recognize as an incredible fit for Arthur son of Igerne. It has been a long, long time since anyone spoke Pictish; the phonetical rules of its language have been forgotten forever, expect in a few places where Pictish place-names still linger to this day, such as ‘aber’ for river-mouth & ‘pitt’ for portion of land. That the Picts placed a guttural ‘g’ before the vowels of their proper names is a distinct possibility, & if this is somehow not the case, then it must only be a massive coincidence that Garthnach son of Gygurn lived in the exact same period as Arthur son of Igerne, giving up his throne only a year before Arthur’s death at Camlann. Instead, I would prefer to praise the inherent abilities of the Chisper Effect, including the process of identifying semantics & etymologies of lost languages, a quality which can only enrich the work of future scholars.


If Garthnach & Arthur were one & the same individual, we are left with the not insignificant problem of transporting a Cornish Arthur onto the Pictish throne. The likeliest & most legal explanation is that Igerne/Gygurn was a Pictish princess, as – according to the venerable 7th century Northumbrian monk, Bede – the nature of Pictish kingship was matrilineal;

 The Picts, accordingly, sailing over into Britain, began to inhabit the northern parts thereof, for the Britons were possessed of the southern. Now the Picts had no wives, and asked them of the Scots; who would not consent to grant them upon any other terms, than that when any difficulty should arise, they should choose a king from the female royal race rather than from the male: which custom, as is well known, has been observed among the Picts to this day.

We know next to nothing about the power politics of 6th century Britain, even less about the Pictish system, but the idea of Igerne being both Duchess in the West Country & a princess of Pictland is not at all far-fetched,  for dynastical alliances between royal houses is a common feature that continues to this day. Britain’s reigning monarch, for example, Queen Elizabeth II, is married to a Greek, while in the age of Victoria, her many children married into most of the noble houses of Europe. We must also recall from the last chapter how a Pictish name, Drystan, appeared on the Fowey Stone only a few miles from Tintagel as the son of King Mark of Cornwall (see image above). Collating & examining the supporting evidence, & beginning with the latest piece chronologically, Arthur’s connection to Pictland seems to be behind the poetical words of Gruffud ap Meredudd ( fl. 1352-1382 ), who wrote of an ‘Arthur of the highlands, hill country of Prydein,’ where Prydein is the Welsh term for Pictavia. We may confirm this this by correlating the ‘Caw of Prydein’ as given in the Old Welsh tale, Culhwych &  Olwen, with the vita of Saint Gildas, which describes King Caw as, ‘the king of Scotia… the noblest of the kings of the north.’


Two centuries prior to Gruffud ap Meredudd, the 12th century French historian, Lambert of Saint-Omer, describes Arthur quite specifically as a Pictish war-leader; ‘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 also presents a second Picto-Arthurian tally with, ‘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.‘ This palace may have been at Rhynie, deep in the pretty Cairngorms, whose place at the heart of Pictavia is attested by a large number of Pictish Symbol stones found in the vicinity. 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 & Longbury Bank in the Dyfed parish of Penally. The latter should well have been the capital of Arthur’s Menevian ‘Throne’ as given in the Triads, & I would now like to remind the reader of the northern realm ascribed to Arthur in the same Triad, ‘Penrhionyd in the north,’ whose name easily transchispers into Rhynie.



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 a timber feasting hall at Rhynie. Nestled by the Water of Bogie, three fortified Pictish enclosures have been found in recent years – Rhynie’s ‘Royal Mile.’ Dr Gordon Noble describes the site as ‘a very royal place’ full of timber buildings, defense ditches based on the Roman style & wooden palisades – perhaps the bona fide capital of the Dux Pictorum.


The Tap o Noth


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. Cast in such a majestic setting it is well worth a trip to Rhynie, a remarkably compact & pretty village whose residents go about their business quite unaware that they are breathing the same pure & mountain air as Arthur did during his seven-year stint as King of the Picts. There was even found, in 1978, a Pictish stone with an image of a bearded man with a pointy nose, who is wearing a head-dress, sporting a kilt & wielding a double-headed axe. Known as the Rhynie Man, it was taken from Rhynie & placed in the foyer of Aberdeenshire council’s HQ. It is rather a stretch of the imagination to consider it an image of Arthur, but it may be the nearest pictorial image we possess of how the true Arthur would have appeared to his Caledonian contemporaries.

More support for a Pictish Arthur begins with another glance at the King List, where we encounter a certain ‘Drest Gurthinmoch’ as ruling the Picts between 477 & 507. The Gurthinmoch element is the most important here, for when we take another look at Arthur’s northern court as given in the Tribal Thrones Triad…

 Arthur the chief lord in Penrhionyd in the north,
And Cyndeyrn Garthwys the chief bishop,
And Gurthmwl Guledic the chief elder

…we can satisfactorily identify ‘Gurthmwl’ with Gurthinmoc.

It makes perfect sense that when Arthur – the chief lord – became the Pictish King in 529, Gurthmwl/Gurthinmoc would have been described as a ‘chief elder.’ He had been a Pictish King himself, ruling for a good thirty years, & combining this nugget with the cornucopia of solid proofs I have provided leads us to only one conclusion… Arthur was at least half Pictish!


Three years after the Battle of Badon, in 519, an otherwise un-sourced brother of Arthur, Drest son of Gygurn, became King of the Picts. What is interesting here is that at one point Drest shared his throne with a certain Drest, son of Uudrost, whose name transchispers into…


It seems probable that the two Drests were actually the same man, genflated into the list as individual sons of his mother & father. Either way, the presence of Uther in the King List, & his appearance beside Igerne, pretty much seals the deal that Garthnach was Arthur. He would be king for only seven years, being succeeded in 536 by ‘Cailtram,’ who appears in Arthuriana as Sir Kay. That same year, according to Big Geoff, Arthur had begun a march on Rome, which we may attach to the historical siege of that city by the Ostrogoths that commenced in March 537. According to Big Geoff, after campaigning in France (in 536) Arthur went on to winter in the same country. The following year, with the summer coming on, Big Geoff describes that after departing for Rome in the old Hannibal style, Arthur; ‘had begun to climb the passes of the mountains, when message was brought him that his nephew Mordred, unto whom he had committed the charge of Britain, had tyrannously and traitorously set the crown of the kingdom upon his own head, and had linked him in unhallowed union with Guenevere the Queen in despite of her former marriage.’ The war which followed is quite succinctly described in the Annales Cambrae;

 537 AD The Strife of Camlann, in which Arthur and Medraut fell

The location of this ‘deadly battle’ has never been established to satisfaction, but it seems certain it was somewhere in the north parts of Britain, where the Triads place both Picts & Scots at the battle, as in; ‘three Dishonoured Men who were in the Island of Britain: The third and worst was Medrawd… When Medrawd heard that Arthur’s host was dispersed, he turned against Arthur, and the Saxons and the Picts and the Scots united with him to hold this Island against Arthur.’ There is also a passage in the Old Welsh tale, The Dream of Rhonabwy, in which a certain Iddawg places the battle in 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.

Both Machman & Lech Las are unknown to modernity, but Machman certainly feels like Clackmannan, a town just to the east of Stirling. Named after the pre-Christian ‘Stone of Mannau,’ it would have been the perfect location-beacon upon which Arthur’s armies would have assembled before Camlann. Solid Scottish remembrances of the battle can be found in the 16th century Scottish history by the very erudite Hector Boece;

In that deadly battle more than twentythousand Scots and Picts, together with King Modredus and a great host of the nobles of both nations. About thirty
 thousand of the Britons and their Bretagne auxiliaries died, including King Arthur and Modredus’ brother Gawanus, whowas so loyal to Arthur that he fought against his brother that day.

This passage contains a lovely piece of information that adds peripheral support to Arthur’s historicity. The mention of ‘Bretagne auxiliaries’ finds a correlation in a ‘legio bretonum’ mentioned in the The Life of Saint Dalmas of Rodez (c.800 A.D.) who were stationed ‘Ultralegeretanis,’ or ‘beyond the Loire.’ Of its date, ‘all one can conclude for sure,‘ opines Australian scholar Howard M. Wiseman, ‘is that the incident took place between 534 or 541.’ During Arthur’s continental adventures in the year before Camlann, he is seen campaigning heavily in Burgundy, & may have been the very leader of the ‘legio bretonum‘ as mentioned in the vita.

Returning to Boece, when adding to the casualty list at Camlann, he tells us, ‘furthermore, there died Caimus, Gwalinus, and
 nearly the entire British nobility.’ We should take particular notice of the demise of a certain Caimus. This man, I believe, was the same fellow as Arthur’s successor to the Pictish throne, CailtramAccording to the King List, Cailtram ruled the Picts for only a year, ending his short stint on the throne on 537, heavily supporting the Cailtram to Caimus babel-chain. Another northern king to die in 537 was Comgall, king of the Scots, as given by the Annals of Tigernach;

 537 - Comgall, Domangart’s son, King of Scotland, fell in the 35th year of his reign

By this use of the word ‘fell’ we must come to the conclusion that Comgall died in battle – in the very same year as our seismic battle at Camlann. The ‘gall’ element of his name also philochisps into Gwalinus; & 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. On the other hand, it is difficult to believe that these two monarchs would have marched their armies all the way to Cornwall, where Camelford is thought by some to be the site of Camlann. This Cornish legend is more of an unsupported factochisp based upon a philochisp, a common error in historical investigations. Looking for the ‘Camellian battle‘ in the north, however, brings us to a possible philochisp found in the Pictish heartlands at Carmyllie, near Dundee – & one that may be supported by a definitive local tradition.


Travelling to the edge of the parish, & ascending the ridge over the gentle Vinney water, one may see the village of Dunnichen in the valley below. It is to the north of that sparklingly pretty townlet, in the gently undulating agricultural landscape of East Mains, that a memory of the battle of Camlann remained long in the folkspeech of the natives, where a transchispering whisper of an Arthurian battle having taken place there refused to fade into nothingness. In the second statistical account of Scotland (1845), the Rev. Mr Headrick records, ‘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.’ An Arthurian battle at Dunnichen is hinted at by a clear topographical reference in the locality; of which John Stuart-Glennie declared, ‘a rock on the north side of the hill of Dunbarrow, in Dunnichen parish (in the adjoining county of Forfar), has long borne, in the tradition of the country, the distinguished name of Arthur’s Seat.’  Was this hill the site of Arthur’s camp at the battle of Camlann?

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Archeology 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.’  Also 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. 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.’

We also have an account of Guinevere being imprisoned in the locality after the battle. Hector Boece, following, ‘Vairement, Tergotus, and other reliable writers of our national history, because they record things more truthfully, without the tales of itinerant minstrels,’ writes that after the Battle of Camlann, Guinevere was taken to a hill-fort in Perthshire. In May 2014, I decided to investigate the matter for myself, writing it up in the following blogpost;


Queen Guinevere’s Grave

May 16, 2014

 It has been quite a week. Only the other day I made the first inroads into the previously unfathomable mysteries of the Voynich manuscript, then yesterday I began my initial forays into the academic minefield that are the Pictish symbols. These enigmatic images are found on memorial stones & bits of jewelry across northern Britain, & their true meaning has remained a mystery. Speculation has abounded, but with no Pictish literature to speak of, nothing has ever been able to be properly verified. A lovely clutch of them can be found at a place called Meigle, so two days ago I secured the company of my friend Victor Pope (& his plus one free bus pass) & head off into Scotland in search of a Pictish stone. Our journey took us from Edinburgh, over the red-iron leviathan that is Queensferry Bridge, an experience which reminds me of crossing the Goan river estuaries. From there we trundled through Dumfermline & the western reaches of Fife, before arriving in the gorgeous, stately Tayside town of Perth. Changing busses, we now set off east in the direction of Dundee, along the lush stretch of undulating Green that is the Strathmore.


After passing through Coupar Angus, the bus veered north-east for a while & took us to the exquisitely compact & cute townlet of Alyth, over which stands the earthy remains of a majestic Pictish hill-fort. Full of Arthuriana, the 16th century Scottish historian Hector Boece writes that following the disastrous battle of Camlann, in which Arthur met his doom, Guinevere was taken to Alyth;

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.

The bus then trundled on another 3 miles, dropping me & Vic off at Meigle. We had an hour to spend there, the purpose of the visit being to check out the collection of Pictish stones found in the village churchyard & gathered together inside a small, yet atmospheric museum. Luckily, Vic’s plus one bus pass got us in half-price (£2.25 each) & we had a jolly good time checking out the marvelous carvings of a long-dead race. Outside the church there is also the famous ‘Vanora’s Mound,’ said to be the grave of Guinevere herself. The New Statistical Account of Scotland 1845, tells us; ‘Like other places of the same kind, it is the scene of innumerable legends, which agree in representing it as the residence or prison of the infamous Vanora or Guinevar, who appears in the local traditions under the more homely appellation of Queen Wander, and is generally described as a malignant giantess,’ while Boece adds, ‘the most ornate of these is that of Queen Guanora, as we are advised by its inscription. There is a superstition in that district that women who tread on that tomb henceforth remain as barren as was Guanora.’

The connection between the mound & the grave comes from a massive symbol stone at whose center stands a figure in a dress being torn apart by lions – local folklore suggests this is Guinevere being attacked for getting it on with Mordred. Other scholars think it might likely to be the biblical Daniel, who also got torn apart by lions & appears elsewhere in Pictish imagery. Anyway, that is our starting block; two separate traditions placing Guinevere in the vicinity of Meigle. The thing is, the reason I’d hauled ass up into this pretty corner of Scotland was that I had a different idea as to the location of Guinevere’s grave. So me & Vic jumps on a bus three miles down the road to Newtyle, chomping on a bridie as we went, from where we began a six mile hike back to Coupar Angus through fields full of May flowers & buzzing insectry. Across the Strathmore the Grampians began their epic journey north to the Moray Firth, with pockets of snow still skipping the tallest peaks in the distance.


About two miles into the walk, Vic & I came across a tall Pictish stone known as the ‘Keillar Stone.’ It stands on an ancient burial mound, with a clear view across Strathmore to the hillfort at Alyth, & is a really special location indeed. Of the stone, in 1875 William Oliphant described it as an; ‘old and striking monument, making the spot on which it stands historical, though no syllable of the history has come down to us.‘ In 1856, John Stuart-Glennie reported there was a ‘graveyard’ under the stone as in;

The tumulus on which it is placed is formed of earth and stones, and several cists containing bones have been found in it. Ancient sepulchral remains have also been dug up in various parts of the adjoining field.

Of the mysterious Pictish symbols on the stone, the presence of a rimmed mirror & comb combo seems to reflect the eternal female predilection for making themselves beautiful. In the 7th century, Bede records Pope Boniface sending the combo to a Saxon Queen, called Ethelberga. In Bede’s account, he reprints the Pope’s letter to the queen in its entirety, an extract of which reads;

We have, moreover, sent you the blessing of your protector, St. Peter, the prince of the apostles, that is, a silver looking-glass, and a gilt ivory comb, which we entreat your glory will receive with the same kind affection as it is known to be sent by us.

To finish my post I would just like to hypothesise upon a possible factochisp that had taken in the locality. It is true that Guinevere & her fellow nobles were taken in captivity to Alyth, where ‘they were detained and spent the rest of their lives in wretched servitude.’ On their deaths they were buried at the Keillar stone, but over the passage of time, the local tradition that Guinevere was buried in the area, was accidentally shifted to the Vanora Mound at nearby Meigle.



Back in 2017, one final clue to Camlann’s siting at Dunnichen lies in a long-lost church which once stood in the village. Known as St Causnan’s Chapel, the name is a chispological degeneration of Saint Constantine, Arthur’s kinsman, who received the kingship of the Britons on the field of Camlann itself, when Big Geoff tells us, ‘even the renowned King Arthur himself was wounded deadly, and was borne thence unto the island of Avalon for the healing of his wounds, where he gave up the crown of Britain unto his kinsman Constantine.’ This crucial passage introduces us to the concept of Avalon, or ‘the Isle of Apples,’ one of the most mysterious & magical places in British mythology. An alternative name, ‘Afallach,’ is given in the Triads.

 Three Dishonoured Men who were in the Island of Britain: 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

According to legend, Arthur sailed to Afallach to be treated for his wounds by Morgan Le fey & her nine maidens. The Somerset idyll of crankpots, fine scrumpy & quaint, old streets that is Glastonbury has for a long time staked a claim to its being the Arthurian Avalon, even going so far as to fake Arthur’s grave at the back-end of the 12th century. In 1190, an ancient coffin was ‘discovered,’ by the monks of Glastonbury, in which was found a woman’s bones with the hair still intact. Another coffin was unearthed underneath her, which was found to contain a man’s bones. This being removed, they subsequently found a third coffin upon which a lead cross had been placed, which bore the inscription, ‘Here lies the famous king Arthur, buried in the isle of Avalon.’  On opening the third coffin, they found large & sturdy bones, which the monks transferred with suitable honour and much pomp into a marble tomb in their church. They also declared that the other two coffins contained the bones of Guinevere, & waited for the tourists to pour in.

Looking deeper into the initial discovery, we learn that the Abbey was in deep financial trouble. A few years before the discovery, in 1184, the monastic buildings & church of Glastonbury had been burnt to the ground. Money was needed, & with the relics of saints being big business at the time, these wily monks ‘found’ the bones of Saint Patrick. Widespread belief in an Irish burial site soon put paid to that particular claim, & the bones of Saint Dunstan ‘discovered,’ not long after were dismissed just as swiftly. By 1189, with Richard the Lionheart pressing the churches for financial assistance to aid his crusade, the monks were getting desperate. How fortuitous an occasion it was, then, that the bones of King Arthur were unearthed the next year!

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As seems likely, the Monks of Glastonbury had made the whole thing up, meaning the search for Arthur’s grave is back on. With Camlann being fought at Dunnichen, common sense tells us we are looking for an island with orchards somewhere in the vicinity. There is such a place; 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. In days long gone, a holy Pictish community once prospered in the vicinity of Inchyra Farm, as attested by a tall cross slab discovered at St Madoes, which is now in the Perth Museum. Just on the edge of St Madoes we come to Inchyra House, a place of great significance to our investigation on account of two particular Dark Age relics, which placed side-by-side very much invoke the idea that Inchyra was once Avalon.


The first is a Pictish grave, discovered by ploughing in 1945, & situated 100 meters south of Inchyra House. The remains were been covered by a large decorated flat slab and forty-nine water-rolled stones. This may well be Arthur’s, for the Triads say he was buried on, ‘a hall on the Island of Afallach.’ The skeletal remains were later re-buried. The second relique can still be seen an arrow shot from Inchyra House; the once prominent conical tumulus known as the Witch Knowe. Roundabout the year 1830 a gardener called James Powrie, removed several cartloads of stones, urns and numerous calcined bones. That the remians were buried at the ‘Witch Knowe’ provides a solid link to the attepted magical healing of Arthur after Camlan. It seems quite casual to just slip in the fact that Arthur may have been buried in the grounds of Inchyra, but further evidences suggest as much. An antique Welsh poem called Pa Gur has Arthur up to all sorts of obscure deeds in even obscurer places, including;

In the hall of Awarnach
Fighting with a hag
He cleft the head of Paiach

Here we have a clear philochisp for the Hall of Afallach, where the Triads say Arthur was buried. If this was at Inchyra, then of course the ‘Witch Knowe’ connects with the ‘Hag’ at Awarnach. That Arthur was buried in the area can also be ascertained through the following babel-chain;


According to a poem known as the Stanzas of the Graves, found in the 13th century ‘Black Book of Carmathen, among a comprehensive list of the burial sites of ancient Welsh heroes we read; ‘Anoeth, the grave of Arthur. In this area we can also place Arthur’s ‘nurse,’ Morgan Le fey. Constructing a babel-chain around her name leads us to St Madoes, the village by Inchyra House. In the chain we encounter a variant of Madoes – Madianus – & the name o yet another Dark Age female sorceress, Modron.


In Celtic mythology, Modron was the daughter of Avallach, whose husband was a certain Urien of Rheged with whom she sired a prince called Owain. Likewise, Morgan Le fey was said to be the wife of King Urien of Rheged, with whom she sired a certain Prince Owain. The two are clearly the same woman, with the philochisp occurring during the transference of Modron’s legend to Brittany, where the figure of Morgan Le fey first prospered in folk-tales & literature.


Fifteen centuries ago, the alluvial flood plain that is the Carse of Gowrie was a patchwork of many islands, including Inchyra, whose phonetic ‘inch’ stems from the Gaelic name for ‘small island.’ The land upon which the Witch Knowe was raised does rather feel like it was in the island in the past, about a football pitch’s worth. From this place, & on crossing the Tay estuary, one comes to quaint Abernethy, the capital of the southern Pictland. The town even gets a mention in the Pictish King List, as in, ‘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 vocal, local folklore of Abernethy relates how back in the 6th century Saint Brigit sent nine maidens to the town from Ireland. Their healing skills would have been among the best in Dark Age Britain, & transporting the mortally wounded Arthur to their bosom after Camlann would have been the best option at the time. In his Vita Merlini, Big Geoff describes the nine sisters of Avalon in a classic creochisp based upon Saint Bridget’s maidens at Abernethy;


There nine sisters rule by a pleasing set of laws those who come to them from our country. She who is first of them is more skilled in the healing art, and excels her sisters in the beauty of her person.  Morgen is her name, and she has learned what useful properties all the herbs contain, so that she can cure sick bodies…. And men say that she has taught mathematics to her sisters, Moronoe, Mazoe, Gliten, Glitonea, Gliton, Tyronoe, Thitis; Thitis best known for her cither.  Thither after the battle of Camlan we took the wounded Arthur, guided by Barinthus to whom the waters and the stars of heaven were well known.  With him steering the ship we arrived there with the prince, and Morgen received is with fitting honour, and in her chamber she placed the king on a golden bed and with her own hand she uncovered his honourable wound and gazed at it for a long time.  At length she said that health could be restored to him if he stayed with her for a long time and made use of her healing art.  Rejoicing, therefore, we entrusted the king to her and returning spread our sails to the favouring winds.

Unfortunately for Arthur, his wounds turned out to be outwith the pale of even the abilities of Morgan Le fey, & so Death came & claimed him. That he was buried in a ‘hall’ in the future grounds of Inchyra House certainly feels right, & I began to investigate the matter further. What I discovered was something quite beautiful which all but confirms, in chispological terms, that Arthur was once buried under that ornate Pictish slab & its 49 water-rolled stones discovered at Inchrya in 1945.


One sleepless night during the writing of this book, as I stared at the ceiling in my bedroom, I was picturing the stone & the Ogham letters inscribed into it. While ruminating on the matter further I came to the conclusion that; if I was right, & Arthur was buried at Inchyra, the Ogham inscription on the stone might mention Arthur, Uther or Igerne in some capacity. A wee google later & the pdf was on my screen of a 1959 paper on the Inchyra Stone by written by Robert Stevenson. To my sleepy joy, the Ogham inscriptions appeared, as 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…


…in which one can see Anoeth, as in the babel-chain;


It is the inscription on one of the stone’s edges that 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;

UHTU                     AGE

Uther                       Eigr

That the philochisps of Arthur’s burial site at Anoeth & the names of both of his parents appear on a single stone are just two more of the many ‘coincidences’ that paint Inchyra as the original Avalon. This means simply that King Arthur was – & still is – buried in the grounds. Inches was not the first time I had found Arthur’s grave, however, for back in my early days as a trainee chispologist I had deciphered another dark-age inscription, & come to the conclusion that Arthur & Mordred had been buried in a romantic glen in the Scottish Borders. It turned out I was wrong, but what I didn’t realise at the time was instead of finding Arthur, I’d actually found the guy who’d found the Holy Grail…


Next Wednesday, 20/12/17

Chapter 8

The Holy Grail

The Chisper Effect 6 : Dux Bellorum

Continuing the weekly serialization ofchisper_effect

Damian Beeson Bullen’s


In which a number of the world’s greatest mysteries are finally solved


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Chapter VI

Cupbearer, fill these eager mead-horns, for I have a song to sing. Let us plunge helmet first into the Dark Ages, as the candle of Roman civilization goes out over Europe, & an empire finally falls. The Britons, placid citizens after centuries of the Pax Romana, are suddenly assaulted on three sides; from the west sailed the Irish, from the north marauded the Picts &IMG_20171205_130923870_BURST000_COVER_TOP from across the North Sea the Anglo-Saxons slammed into the eastern coasts. For almost a century the situation was getting a tad desperate, until a great hero would rise up from the ranks & lead the Britons to victory. This man, who turned back the invading tide for the duration of his lifetime, was the world famous figurehead, King Arthur. With him we arrive at the world’s greatest collection of creochsips, factochisps, philochisps, & just about every other musterable kind of chisper there is.

The actual existence of King Arthur is a seemingly never-ending hot potato of academic contention. In the early 12th century, William of Malmesbury writes of the ‘warlike Arthur… of whom the trifling of the Britons talks such nonsense even today; a man clearly worthy not to be dreamed of in fallacious fables, but to be proclaimed in veracious histories, as one who long sustained his tottering country, and gave the shattered minds of his fellow citizens an edge for war.’ It is because of those ‘fallacious fables’ that the historicity of Arthur is so strenuously debated, pickling many an academic head & producing a series of ‘Arthurs’ that jump about through time like Doctor Who in his Tardis. Recent scholarship of the most defeatist fashion places him in the same bracket as UFOs & the continent of Atlantis, with Guy Halsall stating, ‘I wish that Arthur had existed but that I must admit there is no evidence – at any rate none admissible in any serious court of history.’ This is essentially a case of ‘we cannot solve the puzzle therefore the puzzle is unsolvable.’


The thing is there is just too much of an Arthurian tradition for it all to be dismissed as fiction. To find the answers we will have to embark on a Dark Age detective story; it won’t be like Agatha Christie or anything, where a bunch of middle-class grannies & well-educated toffs wander round posh hotels acting all guilty. Instead, we shall undertake our very own Grailquest to find the nuggets of genuine evidence left behind by King Arthur, who was a man, according to William of Malmesbury; ‘worthy to be celebrated, not by ideal fictions, but by authentic history.’ His legend is the primary myth of the British Islands whose name still resonates in every corner of the planet. As time dissolved memories of the historical Arthur, the traces of his famous happenings remained etched in the fabric of time. Clues include mentions in the vitas of seven saints; a crucial passage in the Historia Brittonum made by a ninth century monk, Nennius; while two centuries later, Geoffrey of Monmouth created his fluid Arthurcentric chronicle, the History of the Kings of Britain. Arthur, & many other characters associated with his legend, also turn up numerous times in the archaic poetry of the Welsh. By cross-referencing all this literary information against the archeological record, we are actually quite able to paint quite a detailed picture of Arthur & his times. Exist he must, & we are just about set to prove it.

We begin our investigation with Arthur’s paternal uncle, a certain Ambrosius Aurelanius, said to be the brother of Arthur’s father, Uther Pendragon. Ambrosius was a 5th century Roman general who led Brythonic opposition to the first furious waves of Saxon invaders. We learn of this in the writings of a 6th century cleric called Gildas, whose De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae (On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain) is the oldest British history to survive the rigours of time. It relates how the Britons, ‘took arms under the conduct of Ambrosius Aurelianus, a modest man, who of all the Roman nation was then alone in the confusion of this troubled period by chance left alive. His parents, who for their merit were adorned with the purple, had been slain in these same broils.’ From this one statement we glean several concrete facts about Arthur’s uncle;

Ambrosius was a Roman: His surname Aurelianus means he belonged to the high-status Aureli gens, an ancient Plebian family. By the 5th century AD, the Aureli had broken into numerous sub-branches, including the Cottae, Oristedes & the Symmachi.

He was one of the last true Romans to remain in Britain: That the Romans stayed behind in positions of power after the departure of the legions is confirmed by a chronicle known as the Bern Codex; ‘in the year 409, Rome was taken by the Goths, and from that time Roman rule came to an end in Britain, except for some, who were born there, and who reigned for a short time.’ The actual length of time meant by the Codex is vague, but we may conclude that the island-born Romans had control over Britain for only a single generation.

His parents were members of the Roman aristocracy: They were probably of senatorial or consular rank on account of them being ‘adorned with the purple,’ i.e. wearing purple-bordered togas.

His parents had been slain in Britain: Gildas describes the plight of the native Britons; ‘the miserable remnant, being taken in the mountains, were murdered in great numbers.’ According to Geoffrey of Monmouth – whom we shall from now on call Big Geoff – the mother of Ambrosius was a daughter of the king of Dyfed (Demetia) in SW Wales; ‘they told them that none knew his father, but that his mother was daughter of the King of Demetia, and that she lived along with the nuns in St. Peter’s Church in that same city.’ This seems to indicate that Ambrosius’ father died before his mother.


The next record of our man comes from the 9th century Historia Brittonum, in which we read; “What is your name?” asked the king (Vortigern); “I am called Ambrose,” returned the boy; and in answer to the king’s question, “What is your origin?” he replied, “A Roman consul was my father.’ From this we can glean certain new facts with which to flesh out Ambrosius;

Ambrosius was born in the 440s: Chronologically, the passage above occurred after the arrival of the Saxons in England, dated by Gallic Chronicle to before 442. This connects with a passage in the medieval English chronicle made by Roger De Hovedon; ‘In the year of grace 464, the Britons sent messengers into Brittany to Aurelius Ambrosius and his brother Uterpendragon, who had been sent there for fear of Vortigern, beseeching them to come over from the Armorican country without delay, to drive out the Saxons and king Vortigern, and take the crown themselves. As they had now arrived at man’s estate, they began to make preparations of men and ships for the expedition.’ If Ambrosius had  just arrived at his ‘man’s estate’ by 464, then we can see him being born at some point in the mid 440s.

The father of Ambrosius was a Roman consul: At this period, the Roman empire elected two consuls every year, one for the western empire based in Rome, & the other for the eastern empire in Constantinople. Looking through the consular list of Rome kept by Cassiodorus, we find three consuls who bore the name Aurelianus in the 5th century. The first is far too early (Aurelianus, consul 400) & likewise the third is far too late (Quintus Aurelius Memmius Symmachus, consul 485), which leaves only one possible candidate for an Aurelian consul. His name was Quintus Aurelius Symmachus, a member of the Symmachi branch of the Aureli gens, & the consul for the Western Empire in 446 AD. Throughout my chispological surveys I have often been surprised at how much historical information has been missed by many centuries of serious scholarship, but this particular nugget seems so obvious its perpetual non-discovery defies belief. When our oldest historians tell us that a certain man was the son of a Roman consul, common sense dictates we flick through a list of Roman consuls just as we moderns flick through a telephone directory!

In the same year that Quintus was the western consul, the Eastern Empire came for the third time under the jurisdiction of Flavius Aetius. To him was sent, according to Gildas, a desperate letter from the British, reading; ‘to Aetius, now consul for the third time: the groans of the Britons… The barbarians drive us to the sea; the sea throws us back on the barbarians: thus two modes of death await us, we are either slain or drowned.’ Gildas then quite curtly says that the Romans ‘could not assist them.’ At first it seems strange that the western ends of the Empire would make a plea for help to the eastern consul – but knowing now that Quintus died in the Gildasian ‘broils’ which beset the native Britons, we can make sense of the quandary. The refusal of Aetius may have been based along the lines of, ‘if one consul died in Britain fighting the Saxons, why should I, it all sounds rather too dangerous for my liking & I’m gonna have to pass, thanks.’


We must now look at another passage by Nennius, in which Ambrosius appears as a boy in south Wales; ‘the king (Vortigern) sent messengers throughout Britain, in search of a child born without a father. After having inquired in all the provinces, they came to the field of Aelecti, in the district of Glevesing, where a party of boys were playing at ball. And two of them quarrelling, one said to the other, ‘boy without a father, no good will ever happen to you.’ It is here made apparent that Quintus was slain before the birth of his son Ambrosius, which must have taken place after 446 in order for Quintus to be remembered as a consul. We also discover Ambrosius was living in the kingdom of Glevesing, or Glywysing, a coastal sub-kingdom between the modern-day cities of Swansea & Cardiff. This location 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 matching home regions & surnames, & the fact that the name ‘Perphirius’ means ‘clad-in-purple,’ it is highly likely that they were related. It is by placing the boy Ambrosius in Glywysing that we may finally begin to unravel the truth behind his legendary status as the uncle of Arthur. I conject at this point that after losing his consular father, Ambrosius was adopted by a certain king called Glyws, the ruler of Glywysing. In a medieval manuscript known as Jesus College 20,  among the sons of ‘Glois,’ let us now observe an obscure figure known as Amroeth of Margam;

 Ewein vab keredic. Pedroc sant. Kynvarch. Edelic. Luip. Clesoeph. Sant. Perun. Saul. Peder. Katwaladyr. Meirchyawn. Margam Amroeth. Gwher. Cornuill. Catwall. Cetweli. Gwrrai. Mur.


Amroeth is a treblechisp away from Ambrosius. We must first shorten the source name to Ambros, secondly we take away a ‘b’ – Amros – & finally we change the ending, giving us Amroeth. This suggests three different modes of transmission have occurred, with the last one happening in the 14th century, when the Jesus College genealogies were assembled in Middle Welsh. As for Margam, on the borders of Penychen, it was one of seven cantrefs into which the kingdom of Gylwysing divided on the death of Glyws. A number of early Christian crosses inscribed with Roman names were found about Margam, dating from 450AD, firmly supporting a Romano-British presence in the same small area in which Ambrosius was brought up.

Looking at the Jesus College genealogy, if the legends are correct, then Arthur’s father Uther Pendragon should be among the names as a brother of Ambrosius… but it is not. There is, however, a certain Peder, to whom we can positively attach the site of Arthur’s birth, Tintagel, a Dark Age sea-fortress guarding  the northern coasts of Cornwall. The  key evidence begins with Big Geoff. The guy is recognized as the godfather of Arthuriana, but unfortunately gets a lot of stick from historians, & I can see why. His work is all over the shop, a patchwork quilt of historical flashbacks knitted together in any old fashion… but every now & again he hits the nail right on the head. In the case of Arthur’s birth, he describes a certain Duke Gorlois of Cornwall & his wife, Igerne, the mother of Arthur. Duke Gorlois was not Arthur’s father, however, the honour going instead to Uther Pendragon, who with the help of the wizard Merlin, tricked Igerne into sleeping with him. The story, as told by Big Geoff, is the nearest thing we have to Arthur’s birth certificate;

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.


To many, the birth of Arthur at Tintagel is nothing but an old wives tale wrapped up in a fanciful piece of mythmaking, garnished with a slice of magical nonsense. The problem is, most of what we know about Arthur is the creation of medieval writers who added all the romantic trimmings; such as Excalibur, lofty-towered Camelot, the Knights of the Round Table & that most mystical wizard of the court, Merlin. No wonder people nowadays find it hard to believe that he was ever a real person, & all these negative vibes about his actual existence is upsetting the tourist board of Cornwall no end, whose Arthurian tradition is a real money-spinner. Tintagel receives thousands of visitors a year, all wanting to see the place where Arthur was born, but their ears are beginning to ring with the voices of a growing number of media-influenced skeptics scoffing, ‘he doesn’t exist, you know’ or, ‘he is actually Scottish, you know.’ For the sake of the Cornish Tourist Board, & for good old honest truth, it is time to put all that errant & nonsensical speculation to bed.

More than eight centuries after Big Geoff penned his history, a lovely piece of epigraphical evidence turned up at Tintagel itself, when a massive grass-fire raged across its promontory in 1983.  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. 

Artognou Slate



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

Moving quietly along this line of investigation, we need to find somebody called Paterni who was related to Arthur. Looking through the historical notices, a solid candidate 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

We gain a full account of this Constantine’s religious life & martyrdom in the 16th century Aberdeen Breviary, a great tome of a book which contains short lives of the saints upon their particular saint’s days. The March 11th entry for St Constantine confirms that his 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, it was a Constantine who succeeded to the high kingship of Britain after the Battle of Camlann, when; ‘even the renowned King Arthur himself was wounded deadly, and was borne thence unto the island of Avalon for the healing of his wounds, where he gave up the crown of Britain unto his kinsman Constantine.’ If Constantine was Arthur’s ‘kinsman’ then surely his father, the Cornish Paterni, would also have been related to Arthur, which makes Paterni clearly ‘Artogenous!’ The evidence for Arthur’s existence has been there along, but it is only by peering through the kaleidoscopic lens of chispology can it be seen with any true clarity. As for the second name – Coliavi – it can be connected to the Arthurian Birth Certificate through the following babel-chain, where only a hyperthetical ‘Cleve’ has no record in the annals.


We have already seen how Ambrosius was brought up in Glevesing, a name which philochisps into Glywys as given in the Life of Saint Cadog. Written shortly before 1086 by Lifris of Llancarfan, we read; ‘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.’ The name Glywys is a clear philochisp of Big Geoff’s Gorlois, the husband of Igerne, tho’ in this instance Duke Gorlois is the son of Glywys, i.e. Peder son of Glois. Untangling such threads leads to the conclusion that Arthur was a half, or perhaps step-brother to Constantine, & that Ambrosius Aurelianus – as the adopted brother of Peder son of Glyws – was indeed Arthur’s uncle in a rather roundabout way quite reminiscent of the fractured family units of the 21st century. For example, my own half-sister’s children class as proper cousins my wife’s two daughters from her first marriage.


Another direct connection between Peter & Arthur comes through a lineage of the Kings of Dyfed – i.e. South-West Wales in the Pembrokeshire region – a region which possesses a number of Arthurian references in folklore & topography.



The last king given appears as the Goidelic ‘Votecorigas‘ the ‘Protector’ (the G/C & V are philochisps between Old Welsh & the Latin languages) on a 6th century memorial stone found in Dyfed itself. The name is given in the Ogham script of the Irish, but is also inscribed in tandem on the stone as the Latinized ‘Voteporigis.’ This man would then be Vortipori, one of five British kings admonished by Gildas in the De Excidio. The ‘tyrant‘ of Dyfed, Gildas writes an open letter to him stating, ‘though the end of life is gradually drawing near… to crown all thy sins, dost thou, when thine own wife had been removed and her death had been virtuous, by the violation of a shameless daughter.’

We have seen already how the mother of Arthur’s step uncle, Ambrosius Aurelianus, was a princess of Dyfed. Another Arthurian connection to the region can be found in the vita of Saint Padarn (480-550), whose monastery was at Aberystwyth, we are told; ‘when Padarn was in his church resting after so much labour at sea, a certain tyrant, Arthur by name, was traversing the regions on either side, who one day came to the cell of saint Padarn the bishop.’  That Arthur became a ruler of this lovely corner of the island, known as Menevia in the Dark Ages, is also recorded in a medieval Welsh text known as the Triads of the Island of Britain. This collection of brief triplets contains an enormous amount of historical details, including a great many nods to Arthuriana, which are still being analyzed & harvested for their fruits. One of the most important of these triads depicts Arthur as ruling in three separate areas of the island; at Kelliwic in Cornwall; in Dyfed; & in a later-to-be-ascertained ‘Penrhionyd,’ somewhere in the north of Britain.

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 elderI

It seems the historical King Arthur is slowly, but surely, emerging from the mists. Some of the best evidence dwells deep within the pages of a single book given the rather mundane title of MS Harleian 3859 h. This lovely tome’s arrival into the public domain occurred in 1753, when the Duchess of Portland, Margaret Cavendish Bentinck, sold her family library to the United Kingdom for £10,000. She was one of the Harleys, a family of book-loving antiquarians that had over the years collected more than 7,000 manuscripts, 14,000 charters and 500 rolls. Among this rich seam of literary jewels such is Harleian 3859h, a beautifully illuminated book that when it comes to deciphering the Matter of Britain is something of a Rosetta Stone; for it contains two of the oldest historical documents to mentions King Arthur. One of these, the Annales Cambrae, is stuffed full of brief & fascinating entries which record the most memorable moments in Dark-Age Welsh history, with a few non-Welsh happenings chucked in for good measure. I shall now present the most informative entries given for the 6th century, in which we see the historical King Arthur mentioned in two separate entries. Both of these place him at a battlefield; the first being Mount Badon (516) & the second in which he was slain at the fatal fight at Camlann (537).

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516: The Battle of Badon, in which Arthur carried the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ for three days and three nights on his shoulders and the Britons were the victors.

537: The battle of Camlann, in which Arthur and Medraut fell: and there was plague in Britain and Ireland.

547: The great mortality in which Maelgwn, king of Gwynedd died. Thus they say ‘The long sleep of Maelgwn in the court of Rhos’. Then was the yellow plague.

565: The voyage of Gildas to Ireland.

570: Gildas wisest of Britons died.

573: The battle of Arfderydd between the sons of Eliffer and Gwenddolau son of Ceidio; in which battle Gwenddolau fell; Merlin went mad.

580: Gwrgi and Peredur sons of Elifert died.

The Annales Cambrae terminates its entries towards the end of the tenth century, & we may assume that it was roundabout the year 1000 that the chronicle was originally assembled. Even older than this text, however, is the Historia Brittonum, in whose preface we read;

I, Nennius, a disciple of the holy Elbodugus have taken the trouble to write down some excerpts which the idleness of the people of Briton had caused to be throne aside… I, however, have made a heap of all that I have found, both of the annals of the Romans & of the chronicles of the holy fathers, & from the writings of the Irish & of the English & from the information handed down by the old men of our people.

This tells us that Nennius added nothing of his own research to the HB, which should be considered a 9th Century compendium of earlier writings, whose final notices are dated to the 7th century. As for Arthur, he turns up in only one place towards the end of the text (Chapter 56). This passage is our oldest officially recognised mention of our boy, who appears in a passage known to historians as the ‘Battle-List.’ Here, we encounter an Arthur who is not a king, but a Romanesque ‘Dux Bellorum,’ or battle-leader, who wins twelve military victories against the Saxon invaders of Britain. Once the Romans had abandoned the island, the notion of defence had devolved onto the tribal leaders once more, a fractious state of affairs which allowed the Saxons to gain major footholds in the east of Britain. Four centuries of life under the Roman yoke had had the most pernicious effect on the Brythonic character. Once a hardy & industrious race, the acquisition of Roman wealth had produced its natural effects; employing it in gratification of their appetites & in coarse, sensual pleasures. It is no wonder they were conquered so easily by a relative handful of Saxons, that grandly significant bouleversement of the British islands which would eventually create the nation we know as England, & from this the de facto lingua franca of the globe. Long before then, however,  Arthur would stem the tide during his lifetime. Alas, the names of Arthur’s battle-sites are shrouded in mystery, & it does not help matters when each of the numerous recensions of the Historia offers a slightly different version of the list. In order to simplify matters for the reader, I have synthesized them into a single account;

At that time, the Saxons grew strong by virtue of their large number and increased in power in Britain. Hengist having died, however, his son Octha crossed from the northern part of Britain to the kingdom of Kent and from him are descended the kings of Kent.

Then it was, that the magnanimous Arthur, with all the kings and military force of Britain, fought against the Saxons in those days, but Arthur himself was the Dux Bellorum. And though there were many more noble than himself, yet he was twelve times chosen their commander, and was as often conqueror.

His first battle was at the mouth of the river which is called Glein. His second, third, fourth, and fifth battles were above another river which is called Dubglas and is in the region of Linnuis. The sixth battle was above the river which is called Bassas. The seventh battle was in the forest of Celidon, which the Britons call Cat Coit Celidon. The eighth battle was near the fortress of Guinnion, in which Arthur carried the image of holy Mary ever virgin on his shoulders; and the pagans were put to flight on that day. And through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ and through the power of the blessed Virgin Mary his mother there was great slaughter among them. The ninth was at the City of Legion, which is called Cair Lion. The tenth battle was waged on the banks of a river which is called Tribruit. The eleventh battle was fought on the mountain which is called Agnet. The twelfth was a most severe contest, when Arthur penetrated to the hill of Badon in which there fell in one day 960 men from one charge by Arthur; no one but the Lord affording him assistance. In all these engagements the Britons were successful. For no strength can avail against the will of the Almighty.

And while they were being defeated in all the battles, they were seeking assistance from Germany and their numbers were being augmented many times over without interruption. And they brought over kings from Germany that they might reign over them in Britain, right down to the time in which Ida reigned, who was son of Eobba. He was the first king in Bernicia, i.e., in Berneich.

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It was Arthur’s now legendary prowess with a weapon which earned him overall command of the native resistance armies. Victorious on a dozen battlefields, by the 12th century all of the locations were forgotten, with Henry of Huntingdon declaring, ‘in our times the places are unknown.’ For the chispologist, solving the Arthurian battle-list is one of the greatest challenges there is, but what we can glean from the Historia’s information is when Arthur was active. The passage gives us two concrete dates on which to fix the Arthurian period, for the Battle-List has been sandwiched between two events verifiable through an early English history known as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle;

 488: This year Esc succeeded to the kingdom; and was king of the men of Kent twenty-four winters.

Esc was the son of Hengist, the death of whom opens the Twelve Battles chapter in the HB, as in ‘Hengist having died, however, his son Octha crossed from the northern part of Britain to the kingdom of Kent and from him are descended the kings of Kent.’  Common sense tells us that Esc (a variant name for Ochta) would have inherited the throne upon the death of Hengist, anchoring the early book-end of the Arthurian era in 488.

547: Ida began his reign; from whom first arose the royal kindred of the Northumbrians. Ida was the son of Eoppa, Eoppa of Esa.’

We are here presented with a direct match to the Battle-List’s final sentences, as in; ‘they brought over kings from Germany that they might reign over them in Britain, right down to the time in which Ida reigned, who was son of Eobba.’ The succession of Ida forms the later book-end of the Arthurian period, which we can now assume took place between 488 & 547. The Annales Cambrae support these dates; by stating Arthur died at Camlann in 537 we narrow things by ten more years, resulting in a final timespan of 488-537.


This same half a century is almost a perfect match for certain shards of broken pottery, coins & glasswork found chiefly at Arthur’s birthplace. Known as Tintagelware, they are reliques of goods imported to Britain from the Byzantine Empire during the 5th & 6th centuries.  Only last year, archeologists unearthed 150 new pieces & also revealed  a series of metre thick ‘palace walls.’ The chief Brythonic export at that period would have been tin (the Greeks referred to Britain as the Cassiterides or tin-islands), while  in return oil & wine poured into the island, contained in the painted clay jars that would one day become the fractured pieces of Tintagelware. According to archeologist Rachael C Barrowman, there was only, ‘a comparatively brief importation from the Mediterranean lasting from c.AD 475-c.AD 550 at the most.’ Large quantities of Tintagelware has also been discovered at South Cadbury hillfort in Somerset, a site long associated with Arthurian tradition. A 16th century traveler & writer called John Leland recorded; ‘at the very south ende of the chirch of South-Cadbyri standith Camallate, sumtyme a famose toun or castelle, upon a very torre or hill, wunderfully enstrengtheid of nature, to the which be 2. enteringes up by very stepe way: one by north est and another by south west… The people can telle nothing ther but that they have hard say that Arture much restorid to Camalat.’ South Cadbury is an impressive hill fort in Somerset, a worthy Camelot indeed, & also the site of a grand timber feasting hall thrust up by some powerful leader round about the year 500 AD. The name has its origins in a certain Cador, whom the monk Lifris, in his ‘Life of Saint Carantoc,’ has ruling side-by-side with Arthur in the West Country; ‘in those times Cato and Arthur were reigning in that country, dwelling in Dindraithov.’ It is by no great leap of faith to include South Cadbury into a royal system established in the Arthurian period, where palaces & feasting halls were filled with, & placed upon, goods imported from the Mediterranean.


There is one problem that must be overcome. The crux of the case of the Antiarthurians, as I like to call them, is the date given by the Annales Cambrae for the Battle of Badon (516) being plunged into all manners of disrepute by modern scholarship. This rather erroneous supposition begins by misunderstanding a passage in St Gildas, in which is mentioned the ‘siege of Badon Hill’ (obsessio montis Badonicus); ‘from that time on now the citizens, now the enemy, were victorious … right up until the year of the siege of Badon Hill, almost the last, not the least, slaughter of the villains, and this the forty-fourth year begins (as I know) with one month already elapsed, which is also that of my birth.’ This means quite simply that Badon was fought in the year in which Gildas was born, & 44 years before he set his pen to paper. If the the Annales Cambrae ar accurate, he would have written the above passage roundabout the year 560. This means that in that period, there should exist a certain king called Maglocune,  who is another of five British kings admonished by Gildas alongside Vortipor.

And likewise, O thou dragon of the island, who hast deprived many tyrants, as well of their kingdoms as of their lives, and though the last-mentioned in my writing, the first in mischief, exceeding many in power, and also in malice, more liberal than others in giving, more licentious in sinning, strong in arms, but stronger in working thine own soul’s destruction, Maglocune


The aforementioned modern scholarship had searched through the 6th century for a man who sounded like Maglocunus, & opted for the Annales Cambrae’s Maelwgyn, King of Gwynedd, who died in 547. To support their babel-chain, they completely ignored the evidence of the Annales Cambrae, & declared that Badon must have been at least fought 44 years earlier – i.e. before 503. Instead, let us retain complete trust in our ancient sources, & begin to look for a Maglocunos as described by Gildas, around the year 560. This date does rest well with what we know about Gildas. His 9th century vita, written by an anonymous Monk of Rhuys, shows how Ainmericus, the High King of Ireland between 565 & 569, asked Gildas to restore church order. This confirms the Annales Cambrae entries for Gildas;

 565: The voyage of Gildas to Ireland

570: Gildas wisest of Britons died.

The Rhuys life connects Gildas to the existence of a leader called Conomerus. At this point in the vita, Gildas is in Brittany where he; ‘at the request of brother monks who had come to him from Britain, ten years after he had departed from the country, wrote a short epistolary book, in which he reproved five of the kings of that island who had been ensnared by various crimes and sins. Now there lived in these days, in the upper parts of that country, a certain tyrant whose name was Conomerus, a man allured by a perverse credulity and a diabolical crime’ The death of Conomerus soon follows in the vita, which leads us to Count Conomor of Poher,  whom the French historian Gregory of Tours has dying about 560. Chispologically, the two names match, for Conomorus is a simple inversion of Maglocune, both of which translate as ‘Majestic Hound.’ There is also a very significant factual match, for both Conomerus & Maglocune are said to have committed what appears to be an identical crime. According to the ‘Life of St Samson of Dol,’ Conomerus killed his own wife & then murdered a certain King Jonas in order to marry Jonas’ widow – an exact sequence of events attributed to Maglocune by Gildas;

For contempt is thrown upon thy first marriage, though after thy violated vow as a monk it was illicit, yet was to be assumed as the marriage of thine own proper wife; another marriage is sought after, not with anybody’s widow, but with the beloved wife of a living man; and he not a stranger, but thy brother’s son. On this account, that stiff neck, already weighted with many burdens of sins (to wit, a double daring murder, the killing of the husband above named, and the wife that was for a time regarded by thee as thine), is bent down through the extreme excess of thy sacrilegious deed, from lowest crimes to still lower.


As for the Gildasian description of Maglocunos being the ‘dragon of the island, who hast deprived many tyrants, as well of their kingdoms as of their lives,’ Brittany is definitely not an island, & we must assume that the British mainland is intended. Not unsurprisingly, another text places Conomerus across the English Channel at Cornwall, where the Breton monk Wromnoc describes a certain King Mark of Cornwall, otherwise known as ‘Quonomorius,’ who ruled over peoples speaking four different languages. These would be;

Gallo : The Latinized language of Brittany spoken in the sixth century. Big Geoff called Conomerus ‘Chinmarchocus,’ & had him ruling Treguier, near Lannion. In the vicinity stands an Dark Age hill-fort called Ruvarq, which translates into English as ‘Mark’s Hill.’

Brythonic : A Celtic language spoken by the native Britons of Cornwall. According to the vita of Samson of Dol, Conomerus was a usurper in Brittany, an ‘external judge,’ after whose defeat & death a certain Iudalus took over his lands in Dumnonia. This old Brythonic kingdom covered the modern West Country counties of Cornwall, Devon, Wiltshire & Somerset. Also important is a 6th century memorial stone found at Fowey in Cornwall, near Castle Dore, said to be the fortress of King Mark. In a medieval Arthurian text known as the Prose Tristan, Castle Dore is said to be sited on the lands of Lancien, which transchispers into the medieval manor of Lantyan on which the stone was found. On it is inscribed ‘Drustanus son of Conomori,’ a relationship confirmed by the Triads of the Island of Britain, which consider a ‘Drystan son of March’ as one of the ‘Three Peers of Arthur’s Court.’ The name Drustan is actually Pictish, ie the Dark Age tribe which dwelt in Scotland,  which leads us to Mark’s next language.

Pictish : Maglocunus easily philochisps into Mailchon, or Máelchú, the father of the great Pictish King Bridei as given in the chronicles. Mailcon’s powerful status in the north is reflected through his daughter Domlech’s marriage to Aedan, King of Dalriada, whose son became a Pictish king. There are also Pictish symbol stones found at Trusty’s Hill in Dumfries & Galloway, whose origin could be from the same Drustanus of the Fowey stone, for only a few miles away stands a Dark-Age hillfort called The Mote of Mark.

Old Norwegian : The Dream of Rhonabwy tells us that Prince Mark led a group of men from Llychlyn – i.e. Scandinavia – at the Battle of Badon, turning up as; ‘the men of Norway, led by March, son of Meirchyawn.’ Big Geoff also places him among the Nordic lands (& Ireland) with; ‘Malgo, one of the comeliest men in the whole of Britain, the driver-out of many tyrants, redoubted in arms, more bountiful than others and renowned for prowess beyond compare, yet hateful in the sight of God for his secret vices. He obtained the sovereignty of the whole island, and after many exceeding deadly battles did add unto his dominions the six neighbour islands of the Ocean, to wit, Ireland, Iceland, Gothland, the Orkneys, Norway and Denmark.

The conquest of these widely scattered regions confirms the Gildasian descripton of Maglocune as being the ‘dragon of the island,’ who dispossessed ‘tyrants’ of their kingdoms. This combined evidence suggests that Maglocunus was never Maelgwyn Gwynned, but was instead the famous King Mark of Cornwall. Otherwise known as Conomerus, he would have ruled a pan-ocean empire from Norway to Brittany. All this correlates sweetly  with one of the medieval Welsh Triads which state that ‘March ap Meirchiawn’ was one of the ‘three seafarers of the island of Britain.’ With that, the case for Arthur’s existence should be closed, & all it took was to create a hyperchisp – a hypothetical chisper – that turned ‘Artognou’ into ‘Artogenous,’ to set the ball rolling, since which occasion all the evidence has slotted into place as easy as leaves grow on a tree.


Next Wednesday, 13/12/17

Chapter 7

Dux Pictorum