Dark Age Candles (III)


Coroticus & Old King Cole

Carlow Cathedral St Patrick Preaching to the Kings
Carlow Cathedral St Patrick Preaching to the Kings

During my Grail-Quest, I observed how the famous Old King Cole of the nursery rhyme was in fact the founding father of a series of northern dynasties stretching from the mid-fifth  to the late 6th century. I also showed how he had been slain in battle by Horwendil – where he had the name Koller – & was buried in Ayrshire. Saxo Grammaticus tells us;

Horwendil held the monarchy for three years, and then, to will the height of glory, devoted himself to roving. Then Koller, King of Norway, in rivalry of his great deeds and renown, deemed it would be a handsome deed if by his greater strength in arms he could bedim the far-famed glory of the rover;

We learn from this that that Old King Cole was something of a ‘rover’ – ie a pirate. Now, before we continue I would like to introduce the following babel-chain;



Cereticus * Guledic

It is possible, then, that Cole is a shortening of Guledic, which meant something like cheiftan in Dark Age Welsh. Indeed,  Harleian pedigree 19 reads:

Catguallaun map Guitcun map Samuil penissel map Pappa post Priten map Ceneu map Gyl hen

Gyl, by the way, is a perfect match for Kyle – the district in Ayrshire said to be named after King Coel himself. This means that Cole/Koller could have been Cereticus Guledic, who appears in the Harleain genealogies as the father of Cinuit. It cannot be denied that Cinuit is a match for Ceneu, who just so happens (in the DMN) to be the son of Coel. Further proof comes with the descendental presence of Cynfelyn, king of Edinburgh, in both genealogies.


Returning a moment to Koller’s status as a sea-rover, as suggested by Saxo Grammaticus, let us examine parts of a letter written in the 5th century by Saint Patrick to a certain Coroticus. In it, the saint announces that he has excommunicated Coroticus’ men, while the seventh century Life of St Patrick by Muirchu Maccu Machtheni (found in the 9th century Book of Armagh) supports Ceretic-as-Coroticus with the phrase, “De conflict sancti Patricii aduersum Coirthech regem Aloo.‘ Here, Aloo stands for Alt Clud, i.e. Dumbarton, the capital of Ceretic Guledic (see note). More support for Coroticus being the British-based Coel, etc, comes in a 12th century version of the Life of St Patrick found in the Royal Library at Brussels which gives us a chapter missing from the Book of Armargh. In it we are presented with, ‘a certain British king called Coroticus, an ill-starred and cruel tyrant.

Extracts from the letter read;


With my own hand I have written and put together these words to be given and handed on and sent to the soldiers of Coroticus. I cannot say that they are my fellow-citizens, nor fellow-citizens of the saints of Rome, but fellow-citizens of demons, because of their evil works. By their hostile ways they live in death, allies of the apostate Scots and Picts. They are blood-stained: blood-stained with the blood of innocent Christians, whose numbers I have given birth to in God and confirmed in Christ.

The newly baptised and anointed were dressed in white robes; the anointing was still to be seen clearly on their foreheads when they were cruelly slain and sacrificed by the sword of the ones I referred to above. On the day after that, I sent a letter by a holy priest (whom I had taught from infancy), with clerics, to ask that they return to us some of the booty or of the baptised prisoners they had captured. They scoffed at them.

So where will Coroticus and his villainous rebels against Christ find themselves – those who divide out defenceless baptised women as prizes, all for the sake of a miserable temporal kingdom, which will pass away in a moment of time. Just as cloud of smoke is blown away by the wind, that is how deceitful sinners will perish from the face of the Lord. The just, however, will banquet in great constancy with Christ. They will judge nations, and will rule over evil kings for all ages. Amen.


Essentially, we have the dastardly doings of a sea-rover, whose name Coroticus can be chispologicaly connected with some ease to King Koller/Coel. Knowing that Koller was the King of Norway, we can now gain an insight into the etymology of Guletic. It derives, as can be seen, from the name Gulating (Old Norse Gulaþing), which was an annual parliamentary assembly which took place in Gulen (Gyl Hen?), on the west coast of Norway north of Bergen, from at least 900AD. Its roots, however, may have stretched back centuries to the days when the Kings of Norway were also known as the Guletic.

Norwegian Parliamentary Plains at Eivindvik in Gulen
Norwegian Parliamentary Plains at Eivindvik in Gulen



In the first of this Dark Age Candles series, I showed how the East Anglian dynasty was connected to both Scandinavia & Scotland, & it is the eking out of the true King Coel that stands this all in good stead.

It seems highly likely that King Coel / Ceretic Guledic / Koller & Coroticus were all the same personage – a Norwegian king who at befriended the Scots & Picts & went on to conquer the Roman-abandoned north in the 450s; whose descendants went on to rule kingdoms as far south as the Pennines. Most significantly for our studies, it also places a Scandinavian dynasty at the head of political affairs in the north. Most British scholars have never heard of the Gulating,  a situation endemic throughout British academia for there’s a reluctance to think outwith the islands.  Instead, it is there, across the North Sea, that the answers to many mysteries about the origins of the English lie…



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