Continuing the weekly serialization of
Damian Beeson Bullen’s
THE CHISPER EFFECT
In which a number of the world’s greatest mysteries are finally solved
(Register with Completely Novel to…)
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 & 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.
PATERNI COLIAVI FICIT ARTOGNOU
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).
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.
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 are 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, 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 erroneus 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. Firstly, let us reinforce the 516 birth-date with what we know about Gildas from other sources. His 9th century vita, written by an anonymous Monk of Rhuys, has Gildas returning from a pilgrimage to Rome & Ravenna before he was thirty. According to the excellent study by W. Julian Edens, Saint Gildas and the Pestilent Dragon (Heroic Age 6 ) 2003); ‘the war-time conditions in the western Mediterranean and in Italy delimit three periods when Gildas’ pilgrimage could be made… the presence of pestilence in Rome during Gildas’ pilgrimage makes the interval 540-541 the more likely window.’ The Rhuys Life also shows Ainmericus, the High King of Ireland between 565 & 569, asking Gildas to restore church order, confirming 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