Chispology 9 : The Badon Babel Tree


chisp cover

Continuing the serialization of

Damian Beeson Bullen’s


In which a few more of the world’s greatest mysteries… are finally solved

Available to buy in book form

Autumn 2018


This time last week I had just wrapped up the Shakespeare: Blossoming chapter & made a note to my readers that this week’s chapter would concern the treasure of Captain Kidd. Later that Monday, in a moment’s idleness, I thought I would take a look at the Kidlaw fort in East Lothian, a walk in which area formed part of last week’s ‘Walking East Lothian’ series. A mention of a hill fort called The Castles caught my eye, & an examination of the topography of which resulted in the realisation that Dumbadam Burn contained the phonetics of the Arthurian Mount Badon, the obscurity of which possibility intrigued me. Postponing the Kidd investigation I threw myself into the Badon location problem once more. It wouldn’t be the first time. Since the inception of my Arthurian investigations, I’d bounced between Dumbarton & Bowden Hill near Linlithgow, never reaching a satisfactory conclusion. But this is 2018, & I am at the height of my Chispological nous, & instincts told me it was worth a punt. So here I am, over a week later, sat in the National Library of Scotland, assembling the previous nine days research into what I hope to be a cohesive whole.


In the Chisper Effect I presented the case for the actuality of Badon, the 12th of Arthur’s 12 victorious battles. The crux came with showing how Gildas meant Conomerus when he admonished Maglocunos in the De Excidio, & that this occurred in 560-ish. Thus, when he wrote that the battle was fought in the, ‘forty-fourth year begins (as I know) with one month already elapsed, which is also that of my birth,’ his statement neatly fits in with the Annales Cambrae;

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.

Because of the sudden alteration in course from Kidd to Badon, I thought this chapter would be best presented as something of a diary, to show how a Chispologist works in the field, so to speak. As I present the field-notes of my dig, I shall also be introducing a new word into the chispological lexicon – the Babel Tree. This is essentially a series of babel-chains stemming out from the original root wood, which in this case is Bodotria, the word used by Ptolemy for the Firth of Forth, only a few short miles of Edinburgh away from my seat in the NLS.

Tuesday 13th March

After an excited night musing on the Badon possibility, on the following morning I took a walk up to The Castles with the dog, taking photos. In the evening I assembled all my Badon research from the past and as I read through them I knew there was something about the Urbs Guardi that seemed to be significant.

Wednesday 14th March

Wife’s birthday. Surprised her at work with prosecco & fancy cakes. Dined at an Italian in the evening. Inbetween I wrote up the blog, using my old Badon notes. It reads;



As an aesthetic artist, I am absolutely head-over-heels in love with snowmelt. The variety it brings to photographs is immensely satisfying, especially up in the hills with all those lovely rolling contours. For this week’s walk it had to be the Lammermuirs, & I found myself going up two times to the same area because of the sheer quality of air, scenery & solitude. Firstly, & just after the up-county roads had opened following the Beast from the East, me & Daisy headed to Kidlaw for a wide circumnavigation of the Lammerloch Reservoir. A few days later we went to check out an intriguing Iron Age hillfort known as The Castles, at the heart of the Longyester Quarry system.


To reach Kidlaw from most parts of the county, get yourselves to Gifford first, then going up towards the golf club, turn left in the direction of Longnewton. This is a wee hamlet of tall, fine, pastel-painted houses standing in a neat row. It is also something of a T-junction, & half-way between our two walks.Turning right, the car ribbon’d along the last road before the Lammermuirs, the edge of civilisation, so to speak, & beautiful place to be. Above us buzzards, sparrowhawks and kestrels spiral’d thro the air like a dogfight over London . Behind us the vista spread magnificently along a smooth swathe of green fields & then the Forth, & beyond that the paps of Fife.


There’s plenty of parking at Kidlaw farm, & also some very interesting folklore. Adjoining the farmhouse are the ruins of The Ward, said to have been a keep or baronial prison. In former times, long before the Access Code Scotland (2003), the local lairds of Newtonhall would imprison inside its redoubtable, 5′ thick walls; ‘sturdy beggars, landloupers, tinkers, idle vagabonds & ragamuffins who were trespassing on the lands of Newtonhall.’ These scruffy guys & gals had come up over the Lammermuirs from the direction of Lauderdale, when, ‘arose the necessity of having a secure lock-up to confine them, & prevent them from prowling about the countryside.’ The Ward also used to give a night’s shelter to wayworn travelers, a group of whom, described as gypsies, were on one occasion surprised by James V.

I’m from Burnley myself, Pendle Witch Country, & in the very same year – 1612 – that the old crones Demdike & Annie Chattox were being tried & executed for witchcraft in Lancaster, at Kidlaw a certain Bessie Henderson was also getting into bother. She even confessed to having been, ‘tane away with fyve hellis houndis’ which never helps your case, & alongside ‘Katherine Conynghame‘ from Samuelston, went the way as the North Berwick witches & all those other poor ladies who happened to be a bit different under an extremely superstitious king (James VI).

It was time to hit the walk. There was lots of snow, but not impassible, & there was glorious hill country stretching all before us. We first went through a gate at the same time as a bevvy of ladies off to ride their horses in the fields. Me & Daisy instead stuck to the track-path, keeping a small dam & a stream to our left. After passing some containers on our right, the track led upwards towards a gate, beyond which lay the frozen emerald of Lammerloch reservoir (opened 1905). Keeping this to our right, we found ourselves winding through a muddy, steep-sided narrow valley.

The track then passes a smaller waterbody called Latch Loch. After this comes a gate where one should turn right, but before doing so its only a little diversion to check out the ‘Minsters House’ as I like to call it, standing by another pond. With no power to speak of, it is used by a couple of ministers every now & again for ascetic meditation. Its always nice to just be there a few moments, sharing soul-energy in a religious haven.

Returning the way we came, & reaching the gate, me & Daisy turn’d left & headed uphill. It felt marvelous on the tundra & the snow, Daisy was loving it, & the views were simply delicious. Keeping a stream below us to our right, we followed the track for quite a way.  At the top of the field we then veered right up to a cairn of stones, & enjoyed the Olympian loftiness of it all.


It was time to head home, & the hill sloped kindly back in the direction of the Lammerloch. At the bottom of the field we followed the track into a field next door-but-one to the reservoir. This led us at a slow, happy pace back to the eastern edge of Lammerloch, where I noticed animal prints on the frozen ice.


On the descent to Kidlaw to our front right rose the snowy summit of a prehistoric hillfort on Highside Hill. One of a number of such elevated defence-works in East Lothian, I’m looking forward to making a study of them in the nearish future. My instinct is that the one’s against the Lammermuirs form some kind of Maginot Line for the Votadini, one of which we shall be looking at the now…


Driving through Longnewton from Kidlaw, one soon comes to the entrance-way at Longyester Quarry, where there’s lots of space to park either before or beyond the gate. Once inside the massive field, turn immediately right & skirt its edges. There’s sheep about & this time of the year there lambs as well, frolicking away in mild confusion.

It had been about five days since we did the Kidlaw walk, but there was still snowy patches here & there, finishing like glaciers on the rims of slopes. Daisy was thrill’d to be back among the white stuff as we kept the stream to our right as it gently curved to the left. At one point on this stretch we came across the detritus of sheep, where wool-shed & droppings made interesting patterns on the floor.

Cross here – fence is broken so quite easy to hop over
Cross here – fence is broken so quite easy to hop over

As one follows the stream, to the front rises The Castles hillfort. You also notice a wall/fence dropping towards the stream. Treat this as an arrow pointing to where you should cross. Once over the stream & climbing up the slopes, we found ourselves wandering in a windblast an intimidating multivallate, semi-promontory fort. Major lines of defences can still be made out, & it really is one of the hidden gems of the county. This is probably on account of the noisy mechanicals of nearby Longyester quarry putting off the feng-shui-feeling, serenity-seeking walker since 1976.

Now here’s the interesting part. Roundabout The Castles flows the  Dambadam Burn, which easily changes phonetically into Dun Badon, ie the hillfort of Badon. A famous Arthurian battle was fought at such a named place, & of course East Lothian has Arthurian connections via King Loth.  I must admit, the Badam element could relate to Saint Bathan/Bothons, to whom Yester Kirk was dedicated. But this was medieval & there may have been some confusion in remembrance, hagiographies are notoriously complex & mixed up, & of course no-one names a Dun, or military fort, after a saint. Assuming that Dumbadam deriviated from Dum Badon, here is a wee chronicle I’ve assembl’d which shows how an East Lothian location makes sense, chronologically & geographically.


516, Annales Cambraie: 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.

The Anglo-Saxons had occupied the Forth area since about 450 AD. Arthur at first kicked them out of Edinburgh, known as the Battle of Mount Agnet, before winning his final battle at Badon, after which the Anglo-Saxons were driven out of the Lothians.

600, Y Gododdin: From Edina’s splendid, castellated crag / He led his loyal men-at-arms to war

This shows that in the year 600 or so, the Gododdin were still based in Edinburgh, from where they would march to the Battle of Catreath at Liddesdsale.

623, Annals of Ulster: The storming of  Rath Guali by Fiachna son of Baetan.

Rath Guali was the Anglo-Saxon stronghold of Bamborough, in Berwickshire. Fiachna son of Baetan was a Gaelic Scot, whose father ruled Ireland & Alba. There is an old Irish poem which reads; Many score of miles From Dun Baetan in Lethead, And much of land as of sea Between it and Imlech Ibhair.’ Imlech Ibhair is in Tipperary, Ireland, & if one were to head towards Lethead, ie Lothian, from there, & sail from Dublin to the Solway, there would indeed be equal amounts of land & sea.

668, Annals of Ulster: The battle of Glen Mureson & the siege of Eten.

This shows how the Anglo-Saxons returned to Lothian, fighting at Murieston water near Livingstone & laying siege to Edinburgh rock not long after.

664, Annals of Ulster: The battle of Luith Feirn i.e. in Fortrenn.
665, Annales Cambraie: The second battle of Badon.

Allowing for the slight discrepancies in Irish annal-keeping, it is possible that these two battles are one & the same. Luith is clearly Lothian (feirn means land) while Fortrenn (sometimes Fortriu) is essentially the Pictish world south of the Great Glen. The Roman writer, Ammianus Marcellinus, describes, ‘the Picts, divided into two tribes, called Dicalydones and Verturiones,’ from which passage we see the foundation of Fortrui in Verturiones. Fortriu, naturally, is the etymylogical root of Forth. The notion of two main Pictish power blocks is alluded to be Bede in his Ecclisiastical History;

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

As Abernethy was the religious center of the Verturiones, so Forteviot was its capital. It’s palace dates from the ninth century, when a series of monarchs were styled as ‘Kings of Fortriu,’ & indeed the great Kenneth MacAlpin was said to have died there. Twenty miles to the north of Forteviot is Dunkeld, given as Dun Caillen in the Annals of Ulster (865AD), where Tuathal son of Artgus was considered to be the, ‘chief bishop of Foirtriu and abbot of Dún Caillen.’ From this political & spiritual center, the realm of Fortrenn spread south to Lothian, & also north to an area known as Wertermorum. The name is given by Symeon of Durham in his account of Aethalstan’s invasion of Scotland.

He then subdued his enemies, laid waste to Scotland as far as Dunfoeder & Wertermorum with a land force, & ravaged with a naval force as far as Caithness & in a great measure depopulated it.

Dunfoeder was identified by Skene as Dunnotar on the east coast of Scotland, south of Aberdeen, suggesting that the Wertermorum is the boggy, peaty North East Coastal plain that stretches between Stonehaven, Peterhead & Banff, as testified by he large quantity of Pictish relics found along the valley of the River Don. This area also connects with an area mentioned in the Prophecy of Berchan (stanza 166);

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

The Scottish King lists (Marjorie Anderson divided X-group 1980) states that King Dub was slain at Forres on the Moray Firth, which indeed lies north of the Mounth mountain range near Aberdeen. This fertile farm region would have been to Fortrenn what Egypt was to Rome, the ‘breadbasket’ that fed the empire.

As for the Angles, after winning the second battle of Badon, they built a significant timber hall on the summit of Doon Hill, near Dunbar, c.650. We also have a distinct record of the Angle Church infiltrating Lothians at that very period in the three conjoining districts Tyninghame, Whittinghame & Coldinghame; their names contain the ‘ingaham’ element belonging to the earliest Angle settlements in Scotland. In the Life of St Cuthbert  (634–687) we read of how a church was founded at Tyninghame in the saint’s lifetime via the monks of Lindisfarne. At Whittinghame a church was founded by Saint Oswald, the Christian King of the Angles (634-642). Marshall B Lang, in his ‘The Seven Ages of an East Lothian Parish being the Story of Whittinghame,’ records, ‘tradition has it that this church, earlier & later, stood somewhere near, probably on the field now & for a long previous known as Kirklands, a red clay field, part of which is still marked by a curious dark colour, & from which within living memory there were dug up & removed nearly two hundred stone cists or coffins, with masses of bones, involving thirty five cart loads.‘ Further south, a priory was founded near Coldinghame c.640 by Oswald’s sister, Æbbe. It was sited on a Brythonic fortress called urbs Coludi, now known as Kirk Hill at St Abb’s Head. In 680, Æbbe played a a vital role in rectifying a dispute between her nephew Ecgfrith, King of Northumbria,and the Bishop Wilfrid. During which struggle, Bede tells us, Wilfrid imprison’d at ‘Dynbaer’ under the jurisdiction of Roman-titled Praefectus. This shows how Dunbar had become an important administrative center, reflected by a large rectangular grubenhaus found on the site of Dunbar’s Castle Park (where the swimming pool is today). of which Philip Holdsworth, in the Transactions of the East Lothian Antiquarian & Field Naturalists Society XXII:1993, writes;

This is the first occasion that a grubenhaus has been found in Scotland, & Dunbar represents the most northerly distribution in Britain of this type of structure. The nearest comparable structure is that found at New Berwick, about 10 miles north-west of Alnwick.

A year after Wilfrid’s imprisonment at Dunbar,  Bishop Trumwine established a Bishopric at Abercorn, near Falkirk, showing how the Angles had conquered the rest of East Lothian & beyond. The highwater mark of the invasion would come at Nechtansmere in 685, after which these fledgling sassanachs were slowly pushed back towards Berwickshire.

Longyester Quarry
Longyester Quarry

Was The Castles once called Mount Badon? Probably, but only a proper archeological dig would prove the matter. If it does, the site would take on elements of national dignity, for it was the place which first held the ‘English’ from conquering Northern Britain. Our island’s first historian, Gildas, in his ‘De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae,’ after declaring the Anglo-Saxons had ‘dipped their red and savage tongue in the western ocean’ & assaulted Britain, & after a resistance had sprung up in response;

From that time, the citizens were sometimes victorious, sometimes the enemy, in order that the Lord, according to His wont, might try in this nation the Israel of to-day, whether it loves Him or not. This continued up to the year of the siege of Badon Hill (obsessionis Badonici montis), and of almost the last great slaughter inflicted upon the rascally crew.


Thursday 15th March

 I thought I would check out the local history library in Haddington, East Lothian’s county capital. It was there that I found a vital piece of research. I’d been a bit flummoxed by the possibility St Bathan/Bothons was the etymological root of Dumbadam. The saint post-dates the Battle of Badon, but it just felt right, & I am always aware of possible factochisps. I happily found what I was looking for,  when in the Transactions of the Antiquarian & Field Naturalists’ Society (1963/v.IX), James Bulloch wrote;

In the course of the centuries this church acquired a spurious dedication because of the similarity of its name to St. Bathans on the southern slope of the Lammermuirs. Even in the late middle ages the name Bothans became transform’d into St Bothans but there is clear evidence that the original dedication was to Saint Cuthbert. It is told in the Lanercost Chronicle that in 1282 the woodwork of the choir ‘of the church of Bothans in Lothian‘ was being carved at the expense of the rector ‘in honour of Saint Cuthbert, whose church it is.’

…& duly edited the Walking East Lothian post accordingly.

Friday 16th March

It was time to look at James E Fraser’s detailed essasy in The Scottish Historical Review (87/2008), Bede, the Firth of Forth, and the Location of Urbs Iudeu. The chief points he raised, including relevent quotes from the sources, are;


Bede’s Urbs Iudeu

We call these nations from beyond the sea, not on account of their being seated out of Britain, but because they were separated from that part of it which was possessed by the Britons, two broad and long inlets of the sea lying between them, one of which runs into the interior of Britain, from the Eastern Sea, and the other from the Western, though they do not reach so far as to touch one another. The eastern has in the midst of it the Urbs Iudeu. On the Western Sea, that is, on its right shore, stands the city of Alcluith, which in their language signifies the Rock Cluith, for it is close by the river of that name.  

The word Urbs, as Bede understood it, means, ‘a stronghold fortified by native, rather than Roman.’ The Castles fits. The name Iudeu philochisps into Y Gododdin’s Iodeo;

From beyond the sea of Iodeo, valiant in battle,
Thrice as fierce as a fierce lion,
Bubon wrought with mighty wrath.

Bede places Urbs Iudeu ‘in medio sui’ of the Firth of Forth, which means in the middle of, or half-way along. Tho’ situated inland by some way, Longyester is indeed half way along the Forth. There is also a reference to Iudeu in the Historia Brittonum;

Oswy son of Aeðilfrith reigned twenty-eight years and six months… And he killed Penda in Maes Gai, and now the massacre of Maes Gai was made, and  British  kings were killed who  h ad gone out with King Penda on theexpedition as far as the urban that is called Iudeu. Then Oswy gave back all the riches that were with him in the urbs right into the hand of Penda,and Penda distributed them to the British kings, to wit, ‘the restitution of

These events happened in the early 650s, after the Anglian return to East Lothian, & may signify some kind of brief reconquista by the Britons with the help of Penda. This neatly sets up a second Battle of Badon at The Castles. We should also acknowledge the similarity between Iedeu and the name for Badon used in the Dream of Rhonabwy – Badeu.

Saint Serf
Saint Serf

Mur nGiudan

An Irish tractate on the mothers of saints tells us;

Alma, daughter of a Pictish king, the mother of Serb mac Proic, king of Canaan of Egypt; and he [Serb, i.e., St Serf] is the venerable old man whopossesses Culross in Strathearn inComgellaig, between the Ochil upland and the sea of nGiudan.

This shows how Iudeu becomes Guidan. The same name appears as the Gadeni in Ptolemy, said to ‘lie more to the north’ of the Otadini in the Lothian areas. Combining the two give us the Gododdin of Dun Eidyn, as recorded by Aneirin c.600.

Wednesday 21st March

After a busy weekend of helping my ladylove move house, I finally returned to the Badon problem at the NLS, typing this as I think. Reading through Fraser’s essay gave me a few books to order, being Two Lives of Saint Cuthbert (Bertram Colgrave (ed.), 1940), Anglo-Saxons: Studies in some Aspects of the History and Culture presented to Bruce Dickins (Ed Peter Clemoes, 1959), The Place-Names of Roman Britain (Rivet, A. L. F; Smith, Colin 1981),  Abbey St Bathans (James Logan Mack 1926), The History of the Celtic Place-Names of Scotland(W. J. Watson,, 1926) & the periodical,  Northern History (40/2003). My findings from these studies are;

St Bathan

Reinforcing James Bulloch’s description of ‘a spurious dedication because of the similarity of its name to St. Bathans on the southern slope of the Lammermuir,’ James Logan Mack mentioned the numerous similar sounding saints’ names I’d been digging about on the internet for, including St Bothan, St Bathan, St Baithan, St Baithen, St Baiton &  Saint Baothin. Mack then writes; ‘as to the deriviation of the name Bathan we have Anglo Saxon Bat a boat. One authority expressed the opinion that the name is purely Celtic but could offer no suggestion as to what it implied.’ Mack dedicated the copy of his book in my hands, & very kindly stuck a handwritten letter on the inside, being;



In the Anonymous vita of Saint Cuthbert, whose activity spheres included the Lothians, there is a mention of ‘a village which is called Bedesfeld,’ which could be the origins of St Bathans as pondered on by Mack. More solid is the following passage;

At another time also, he went from the same monastery which is called Melrose with two brothers, &, setting sail for the land of the Picts, they reached the land called the region of the Niuduera in safety

According to Andrew Breeze in Northern History 40 (St Cuthbert, Bede, & the Niduari of Pictland), ‘In 1841 Joseph Stevenson, editor of the anonymous life, suggested the Niduari lived in Nithsdale, Dumfriesshire, & this view was later supported by Skene.’ A sea-voyage to Dumfries is unlikley, but just as the River Nith flows through Dumfries – ie the city of the Frisians – so in the Dark Ages the lands beside the Forth’s gorgeous waterway were once known as ‘The Frisian Shore,’ ie the ‘Frisicum litus’ of Joceline’s Vita of Saint Kentigern. This name connects the Forth to the Frisii, a tribe of Saxons who dwelt on the shores of what is today’s Holland. In the Chisper Effect I showed how King Arthur was half-Pictish & that  the ‘Nudi’ were based on a figure called Nudd, as in the Dream of Rhonabbwy’s ‘Edeyrn, son of Nudd.’ I also showed how Arthur’s successor, who appears in the lineages as Eleuther son of Arthwys, had a son called Peredur. Eleuther’s name then transchispers into Efrawg in the Mabinogion tale, Peredur son of Efrawg. Finally, according to Polydore Vergil in his English History, from an Early Translation, Efrawg ‘builded the town of Maidens, now called Edinburgh Castle, being planted in the uttermost part of Britain, now called Scotland.’ This supports the notion that the Nudd/Nudi heralded from the Forth area, a perfect match for the ‘region of the Niuduera.’ Early versions of the Anonymous vita of Cuthbert give the name Mudpieralegis for Niudera, a fascinating word which deserves more study (but not today).

This point in my investigations seems perfect to introduce the hyperbasis that Liberalis/Eleuther/Efrawg, father of Peredur, was in fact King Loth of Lothian. Of course, Loth & the Leuth in Eleuther are easy philochisps, but there is plenty of extant support for the babel-chain. In the following extract from Big Geoff, we may observe how Loth is Arthur’s ‘sister’s son,’ explaining the hereditary succession between Arthwys & Eleuther as given in the genealogies.

Fitting forth his fleets accordingly, he made first of all for Norway, being minded to set the crown thereof upon the head of Lot, his sister’s son. For Lot was grandson of Sichelm, King of Norway, who at that time had died leaving the kingdom unto him. But the Norwegians disinclined to receive him, and had raised one Riculf to the kingly power, deeming that, so they garrisoned their cities, he would be able to withstand Arthur himself. Accordingly, when Arthur, as I had begun to tell, landed upon the coast of Norway, King Riculf met him with the whole people of the kingdom and did battle; but after much blood had been shed upon both sides, the Britons at last prevailed, and making an onset, slew Riculf with a number of his men. When they had won this victory they overran and set fire to the cities, scattering the country folk, nor did they cease to give full loose to their cruelty until they had submitted the whole of Norway as well as Denmark unto the dominion of Arthur.

The same campaign is described by Saxo Grammaticus in his History of Denmark (Bk 2),
where the names of Arthur, Riculf & Loth are rendered as Hiartur, Rolf & Hother. When Saxo all tells us that Hother, ‘learned that Denmark lacked leaders… In truth, if the pedigree of his forefathers were rightly traced, that realm was his by ancestral right… he joined the Swedish empire to that of Denmark,’ this completley mirrors Monmouth’s account. It is through this clear match that we can place Arthur & Loth in Scandinavia. Indeed, Saxo gives an excellent confirmation of a Thraco-gothic Arthur when he says; ‘Where, then, are the captains of the Goths, and the soldiery of Hiartuar?’

Arthur – Sister = ????

Sichelm, king of Norway, & grandfather to Loth (on his father’s side) has never been truly identified. Both elements of his name, however, do appear as Kings – of the Sea-Danes & the Wulfingas – in the Anglo-Saxon poem ‘Widsith.’

Sigehere ruled the Sea-Danes for a very long while, Hnæf the Hocingas, Helm the Wulfingas, Wald the Woingas, Wod the Thuringians, Sæferth the Secgan, Ongendtheow the Swedes, Sceafthere the Ymbras, Sceafa the Longbeardan, Hun the Hætwere and Holen the Wrosnas. . . .


In The Place-Names of Roman Britain I neatened up my Bodotria studies. The name was in use as early as Tacitus, & is mentioned in the Agricola as a sister-firth to the Clota (Clyde). Ptolemy calls it the Boderiae Aestuarium, while the Ravenna text names it Bdora. the Latin B is significant & early on in this book – the chapter on the Picts – I showed how B’s and Vs were interchangeable, as in Boresti/Varar Est & Volsinii-Bolsena. Thus the Votadini tribe should been known as the Bodadini, securing the B-V-G philochain. It is upon this basis that I would like to introduce the Babel Tree into my Chispological studies. In this instance the branches, ie babel-chains, are rooted in the Bodotria name for the Firth of Forth. Note how two branches, nGuidan & Badon, become entangled about the name Guidan.


By assembling this Babel Tree, we may acknowledge the very distinct possibility that, as Badon could also be Guidan, then the neighbouring hillfort, Kidlaw, could well be the actual Badon on account of the Kid-Guid philochisp. The Dumbadam Burn flows extremely close by, of course. On account of the plurality of the name ‘The Castles,’ perhaps Mount Badon consisted of all the ground between the two ‘citadels,’ & a possible third hill-fort to the south-west of Kidlaw. Sub-Roman structures have been discovered at Kidlaw, supporting in the Arthurian period. It’s early days – ie just nine – but it just feels right, & I’ll soon be returning to the area in search of the ‘flat island’ near Badon as given by The Dream of Rhonabwy, where; ‘for a mile around the ford on both sides of the road, they saw tents and encampments, and there was the clamour of a mighty host. And they came to the edge of the ford, and there they beheld Arthur sitting on a flat island below the ford.’

Annotated draft inked plans of The Castles (left) and Kidlaw (right)
Annotated draft inked plans of The Castles (left) and Kidlaw (right)

Thursday 5th April

I am now back in the National Library, which is a shame as its the nicest day (u can see the sun) since I was last here. I’m currently going through my research for the next chapter (which you may read imminently), when I stumbl’d across a few final pieces of the Anglian-Lothian jigsaw contained in the county’s names – especially in the east – such as Auldhame & Stenton. Elsewhere Innerwick  means ‘inward hamlet,’ while Garvald is a comblending of Garth (an enclosed quadrangle or yard, especially one surrounded by a cloister) & wald , which means strong. I also found – & shall leave you with – this lovely poem which concerns ‘Dun Baedan;’

Even I from Rath Cruachan the pleasant
Who have come with my tributes,
Long is my face after dinner
In Dun Baedan of the son of Cairill

Even I who have come from Sky
I have come twice & three times
To convey gems of varying hue
The albanach feels neglected

Fifty sixty are on the water
Between Manand & Erin
Here are nine who seek for heaven
& sporrowful is their pilgrimage

Even I from the Sliabh Elpa
I have seen great dangers
I have brought much silver & gold
Although I have received no honour

& it was by him Manand was cleared of the Galls, so that its sovereignity belonged to the Ultonians thenceforth, & the second year after his death, the Gael abandoned Manand

Let us now sandwich the statement which follows the poem between two entries given by the annals of Ulster

581: The death of Baetán son of Cairell

It was by him Manand was cleared of the Galls, so that its sovereignity belonged to the Ultonians thenceforth, & the second year after his death, the Gael abandoned Manand

583: The battle of Manu won by Aedán.

From these little nuggets we learn that for a good portion of the 6th century, the Lothians – known then as Manau Gododdin as in the ‘regione que vocatur Manau Guotodin‘ given by Nennius as the homelands of Cunedda – was in the hands of the kings of Ulster, ie the Ultonians. ‘When the notices of the slaughter of the Picts in 710 by the Irish annalists and the Saxon historians are compared,‘ writes my mate William Forbes Skene, in his excellent Four Ancient Books of Wales,’ ‘they give us the situation of the “Campus Manann”–a battle fought on it was “between Haefe and Caere.” It is impossible here to mistake the rivers Avon and Carron, which flow within some miles of each other; and the Avon rises in a moor called now Slamannan, and of old Slamannan Moor. This name is, in fact, Sliabhmannan, the moor or plain of Manann.’ God bless MR Skene, an absolute leviathan of Victorian Chispology. He’s a bit like the gatekeeper, really, & as things are certainly movinf more & more Dark Age I believe it prudent to finish this chapter here before plunging head first into the deeper history of my chosen county, East Lothian.


In two Wednesdays, 04/04/18

Chapter 10:  The Saxon Advent


chisp cover


Chapter 1: The Exodus
Chapter 2: The Aryan Invasion
Chapter 3: The Mahabharata
Chapter 4: Agastya
Chapter 5: The Picts
Chapter 6: Brunanburh
Chapter 7: The Young Shakespeare
Chapter 8: Shakespeare’s Blossom
Chapter 9: The Badon Babel Tree
Chapter 10: The Saxon Advent



chisper_effectChapter 1: Chispology 
Chapter 2: Princess Scota
Chapter 3: The Ithica Frage
Chapter 4: The Jesus Jigsaw
Chapter 5: Asvaghosha
Chapter 6: Dux Bellorum
Chapter 7: Dux Pictorum
Chapter 8: The Holy Grail
Chapter 9: The Mandylion
Chapter 10: Shakespeare’s Grand Tour
Chapter 11: The Dark Lady
Chapter 12: The Ripper Gang

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