King Arthur & the Pictish Matrilineal Succession


In recent months I found myself being astonished by the presence of Cunedda in the Pictish King List. He’s not the first famous Dark Age figure I found there, for King Arthur himself appears as Garthnach son of Gygurnus. To allay scepticism I thought I’d do a bit more research, & if I am correct then all of a sudden we have the solid evidence for the Pictish matrilineal succession as stated by Bede, who tells us;

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.

Here’s the list between Cunedda, who appears as Canutulahina, & Arthur, who appears as Garthnach.

Wradech uecla
Talorc son of Achivir
Drust son of Erp
Talorc son of Aniel
Necton morbet son of Erip
Drest Gurthinmoch
Galanan erilich
Drest son of Gygurnus
Drest son of Uudrost
Garthnach son of Gygurnus

Cunedda’s rough dates can be ascertained by a passage in Nennius, who stated, ‘Cunedag… had come previously from the northern part… one hundred and forty-six years before Maelgwn reigned’. According to the Annales Cambraie, Maelgwyn Gwynned died in 547, which means Cunedda must have left Scotland at some point before 401. He & his sons went to & settled in Wales, bringing them into contact with the royal houses there.

According to Jesus College genealogy 7, Cunedda Wledig had two daughters, Tegid and Gwen. The latter then marries a certain Amlawdd Wledig, so the matrinlineal Pictish royal line should flow through their children. Another genealogy in Peniarth MS 177 shows their daughter to be a certain Eigr, otherwise known as Eigyr, Igraine or Ygerne. This woman, of course, is the father of King Arthur & appears in the Pictish king list as Gygurnus mother of Garthnach.

Cunedda Wledig / Canutalahina
Gwen = Amlawdd Wledig
Eigr / Gygurnus
Arthur / Garthnach

The only conclusion we can make now is that Cunedda was King Arthur’s great grandfather. Inbetween them in the lineage is Amlawdd Wledig, who appears in Saxo Grammaticus as Amleth. Now this guy marries a Scottish queen Saxo gives the name of Hermuthruda. If she was called Gwen, or a variant, then boom! everything fits together. Even so, we’re half way there at least via the Scottish, ie, Pictish connection, so lets just equate for chispers having occured in the transmission of information between the Welsh genealogies & the Scandinavian sagas, & continue. I’ll be soon putting up some posts in which aspects of Arthur’s Scandinavian ancestry & activities will be unearthed, but before then I’d like to offer one last nugget unearthed from the secrets of the Pictish King List.

A genealogy known as Bonedd yr Arwr states that Gwen was the mother of a certain Cynwal Garnhwch. This man then appears in Cuhlwych & Olwen as Kynwal Canhwch, the father of Gwen Alarch. Both these guys seem to appear in the PKL, where CYNWAL GARNARCH is Gartnaich-diuberr & GWEN ALARCH may be Talorc son of Achivir or Talorc son of Aniel. In the latter case, Gwen Alarch becomes Gwenddoleu & thus Talorc, a pattern repeated a century later when the Garthnach-Cailtram-Talorg succession mirrors the Descent of the Men of the North, where we see an Arthwys-Ceidyaw & Gwenddoleu succesion.

To finish, let us look at the King List, compare it to the lineage of Cunedda & just realise how feffin cool the whole thing is!

Canutulahina ——————————————- Cunedda
Wradech uecla (Ceretic son of Cunedda) ————- Gwen
Gartnaich-diuberr ————————- Cynwal Garnarch
Talorc son of Achivir ————————————————-
Drust son of Erp ——————————————————
Talorc son of Aniel ——————————–  Gwen Alarch
Necton morbet son of Erip —-————————————
Drest Gurthinmoch ————————————————–
Galanan erilich ——————————————————-
Drest son of Gygurnus ———————————— Igerne
Drest son of Uudrost  ———————————————– 
Garthnach son of Gygurnus——————————– Arthur

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