Thorolf’s Grave (Brunanburh clue)


Historical research is a bit like brewing your own wine. You get all the studies down, let it ferment for & bit, its ready to get you drunk on the buzziness of your discoveries. Yet, if you leave it a few years & have a drink, it’ll always taste better after the tantric fashion. Thus, a couple of nights ago I was reading through my Brunanburh studies & was struck by an almighty thunderbolt – something I’d overlooked, but made sooooooooooo much sense.

But first off a reminder about the battle of Brunanburh. Over the past decade or so a few contenders have been put forward as to its location, none of which are able to tick the  boxes Burnley can.

Castle Hill lies to the rear of Townley Hall
Castle Hill lies to the rear of Townley Hall

1: There is a pre-medieval fortification attached to the name Brun.

Near Townley Hall in Burnley there is a very Anglo-Saxonesque fortifaction of otherwise unknown origin, sited on a certain Castle Hill. Was this Brunanburh? Well, an Anglo-Saxon ‘burh’ formed the central administrative point of the administrative ‘Tun,’ from which we get the name Tunlay, & thus, Towneley. In the 12th century, Towneley formed part of an ancient township called ‘Tunlay-with Brunshaw,’ the latter meaning ‘Brun’s Wood.’ The progression of the name Brunan to Brun would have occured as it did with Ottanlege (972) to Otley (c.1200).

The Western Trench @ Castle Hill…
The Western Trench @ Castle Hill…

2: The Ford of the Brun

When William of Malmesbury gave the battle site as ‘Bruneford,’ & John of Fordun ‘Brunford,’ we are led to the only waterway by that name in the whole of Britain, rising on moorland a few miles to the west of Burnley. Another historian to place the battle by a river-ford was Ranulf Higden (c.1280-1364), who gave the variant spelling of Brumford. Coincidence or not, he was writing at the very period in history when Burnley’s name was given as Brumleye in a 1294 market charter. The ford it describes is probably at the heart of old Burnley, where the River Brun flows under the bridge in Church Street. In times past, in a more infant Burnley, this river crossing was passed by fords and stepping stones.


3: Etheldreda’s Ash

Where the Annals of Clonmacnoise state the battle being fought on the ‘Plains of Othlyn.’ The core phonetic of this name is to be found in the person of Saint Etheldreda, whose vita tells us that after leaving Altham she headed for Bradford in Yorkshire,  ‘as she continued on her way at a slow pace, it was arranged by God’s grace that she happened upon a place nearby, suitable as a stopping place for travelers, a remarkably flat meadow… When, after a little while, she woke up from her sleep & rose to her feet, she found that her travelling-staff, the end of which she had driven into the ground, dry & long-seasoned, was now clothed with green bark, and had sprouted and put forth leaves.’ This tree was an ash, & the miracle provides us with the philological root to Othlyn, meaning the ash tree (Celtic=ynn) of Othl/Etheldreda. That the battle was fought on the ‘plains’ of Othlyn also connects to the legend of Etheldreda’s miracle taking place on ‘a remarkably flat meadow.’ From an original of Æthelthryth or Æþelðryþe, by medieval times the name had become ‘Audrey.’ As Saint Audrey, the latter degenerated even further into the ‘Shorey’ of Shorey’s Well which can still be found at the oldest part of Burnley off Church Street.

Shorey’s Well in its original form
Shorey’s Well in its original form


4: Earls’ Ness

More evidence for the Burnley Brunanburh can be found in Egil’s Saga, where a cowardly flight from the field of Athelstan’s ally, Earl Alfgeir, gives us a vital geographical clue; ‘then he rode to the south country, and of his travel ’tis to be told that he rode a night and a day till he came westwards to Earls-ness. Then the earl got a ship to take him southwards over the sea.’ In 937, the Burnley area was part of Northumbria, but lay only thirty or so miles north of the Mercian border, which stretched between the Mersey & the Humber estuaries. Just beyond that demarcation line lay an Anglo-Saxon people known as the Southumbrians, a record of whom is found in the Chronicle, when in 702 King Kenred ‘assumed the government of the Southumbrians.’ Thus, when Alfgeir crossed the Mersey he would have entered Southumbria, the ‘South Country’ through which he would travel westwards to a certain ‘Earls Ness.’ A full night & days riding (24 hours) through the thick Lancashire forests of a thousand years ago, would have equated to somewhere between 50 & a 100 miles. This means we are looking for a sea-port called Earls Ness to the south of the Mersey & somewhere to the west of Burnley. The only other record of an Earl’s Ness in these parts of Britain is a ‘Jarlsness’ mentioned in the Orkneyinga Saga, which is the Viking sea-port called Ness/Neston on the south Wirral coast.

Alfgeir’s possible route (if he’d have had a car)
Alfgeir’s possible route (if he’d have had a car)

5: Less than a day from the Irish Sea

According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle;

The West-Saxons pushed onward
All day; in troops they pursued the hostile people.
They hewed the fugitive grievously from behind ASC

There the North-men’s chief was put
To flight, by need constrained
To the prow of a ship with little company:
He pressed the ship afloat, the king went out
On fealene flot, he saved his life

Departed then the Northmen in nailed ships.
The dejected survivors of the battle,
On Dingesmere, sought Dublin over the deep water,
To return to Ireland, ashamed in spirit.


Where the ASC says ‘all the day the West Saxons pressed on the loathed bands,’ we can assume that the battle was fought within a day’s retreat of a seacoast or river estuary. Egil’s Saga provides a little extra gloss, saying the ships were ‘far’ from the field. Paul Cavill confirms that the ‘mere’ element in Dingesmere means ‘sea’ when he writes, ‘in verse, both as a simplex and as the first element of many compounds, it means ‘the sea, the ocean.’ As for the ‘Dinges’ part, it is named after the Viking ‘Ting’ on the Isle of Man, which still meets today as the Tynvald. Founded in the early 10th century – i.e. the Brunanburh period – its position at the centre of the Irish Sea indicates that the name ‘Dingesmere’ is  attached to the circular portion of the Irish Sea epicentred by the Isle of Man.

6: Vinheath

According to Egil’s Saga, the fight at Brunanburh was at first ruled by Dark Age codes of behaviour, resulting in a civilized stand-off known as ‘Hazelling the Field.’ While running through the extract, the reader should be aware that the two towns mentioned are the early prototypes of Burnley & Colne, both of which were granted to the monks of Pontefract Abbey in an 1122 charter.

After this they sent messengers to king Olaf, giving out this as their errand, that king Athelstan would fain enhazel him a field and offer battle on Vin-heath by Vin-wood.. North of the heath stood a town… The place ought to be chosen level, and whereon a large host might be set in array. And such was this; for in the place where the battle was to be the heath was level, with a river flowing on one side, on the other a large wood… From day to day Athelstan’s men said that the king would come, or was come, to the town that lay south of the heath.

The Vin element can be positively found near Colne in the phonetics of the wee hamlet of Winewall.

The Vinheath


OK – so thats the six cardinal pro-Burnley points – there are other clues, but these six are the most striking. So to my recent eureka moment, which began with reading Christine Fell’s accurate translation of Egil’s Saga;

Flame-hearted Thorolf, fear’s
Foe, Earl-killer, who so
Dared danger in Odin’s
Dark wars is dead at last.
Here, by Vina’s bank,
My brother lies under earth


So Thorolf was buried by the river Vina, was he? Crucially, Winewall’s earliest record (1324) calls it Wynwell – ‘spring of the river Wyn.’ After leaving Winewall, Colne Water soon merges with the ‘Pendle Water.’ This confluence occurs at the lovely village of Barrowford, and forms what we can assume was the River Wyn/Wine/Vina, whose headwaters creep into the hills around for a few miles above Barrowford.

Local tradition holds that Barrowford is named after some ancient burial site – i.e. a barrow – as in John Widdup’s; ‘The name “Barrowford” suggests that such a barrow formerly existed near the stream crossing, but the site of the barrow remains in dispute, as all evidence of it has been lost by land cultivation. It has been suggested that the mound on the side of the road at Park Hill marks the spot.’

The barrow at Barrowford…
The barrow at Barrowford…

This is definitely a pre-dig Sutton Hoo, Hisalrik moment. Under that mound lie the mortal bones of Thorolf, proof of which will be in the discovery of two gold bracelets as recorded  in C. Green’s 1893 translation of Egil’s Saga.

Chapter 55 – Egil buries Thorolf. While his men still pursued the fugitives, king Athelstan left the battle-field, and rode back to the town, nor stayed he for the night before he came thither. But Egil pursued the flying foe, and followed them far, slaying every man whom he overtook. At length, sated with pursuit, he with his followers turned back, and came where the battle had been, and found there the dead body of his brother Thorolf. He took it up, washed it, and performed such other offices as were the wont of the time. They dug a grave there, and laid Thorolf therein with all his weapons and raiment. Then Egil clasped a gold bracelet on either wrist before he parted from him; this done they heaped on stones and cast in mould.

The Attacotti Timeline

The Attacotti Timeline

After my very recent investigations into the Huns (last post), which led to their association of with the Attacotti, I thought it prudent to assemble the following timeline which shows how this obscure tribe was formed & remembered in history. They really only turn up in the records over a span of three or four decades, before vanishing as obscurely as they arrived. I would like to here propose that the reason for this was their absorption into the Pictish diaspora. The information is best presented in chronicle format.

c.450 BC

The Agathyrsi were described by Herodotus as a tribe of mix’d Dacian-Scythian origin, whom he places in Romanian Transylvania; ‘from the country of the Agathyrsoi comes down another river, the Maris, which empties itself into the same.’ Herodotus then describes the Agathyrsi as being quite a sexually liberated bunch; ‘The most luxurious of men and wear gold ornaments for the most part: also they have promiscuous intercourse with their women, in order that they may be brethren to one another and being all nearly related may not feel envy or malice one against another. In their other customs they have come to resemble the Thracians.’

c.350 BC

The Thracian-Agathyrsi link maintained by Herodotus turns up in the list of the Pictish Kings, with version D relating they, ‘came from the land of Thracia; that is, they are the children of Gleoin, son of Ercol. Agathirsi was their name.’ The Agathyrsi also appear in the writings of Scotland’s 16th century writer, Hektor Boece’s ‘History & Chronickles of Scotland;’

Sum authouris sayis {the Picts} come first in Orknay; and, sone  efter, in Cathues, Ros, Murray, Mernis, Angus, Fiffe, and Louthiane: and expellit all the pepill, that inhabit that region afore thair cuming. Thir pepill war callit Pichtis.. fra the Pichtis namit Agathirsanis, thair anciant faderis. In probation heirof, Orknay wes calht the auld realme of  Pichtis. Siclike, thee seeis betwix Cathnes and Orknay war namit Pentland Firth ; and all the landis, quhilkis ar now callit Louthiane, war callit than Pentland.

150 AD

In Ptolemy’s 2nd centry AD Geography we may witness topographical support for the Agathyrsi of Heredotus settling in the same regions as the Picts of the Kinglist. Herodotus regurgiates a Pontic Greek myth – i.e. Greeks who had settl’d the Black Sea area – which states that a certain Agathyrsus was the eldest son of Herakles, & brother to a certain Skythes. The latter’s name strongly resembles Sketis, an island which appears roughly where the Shetland islands, or Sketland islands, should be if the mainland is correctly retilted. A variant name for Sketis given by Ptolemy was Ocitis, & in these name we see both; A-gath-yrsus/O-cit-is & Sk-yt-hes/Sk-et-is. Ptolemy essentially gives the Orkneys & Shetlands twice – once where they should be (as Dumna & Thule) & once where they’d be if Scotland was tilted at the Forths.


300 AD

The Roman grammarian Maurus Servius Honoratus (c.400 AD) wrote a commentary on the works of Virgil, which states that the Agathyrsi sent a contingent across the sea to Scotland c. 300 AD. He adds that they were formidable warriors, seriously fatigued all who stood against them & the crucial fact that these Agathyrsi became identified with Picts, which explains why the Attacotti dissappear’d from the records by the end of the 4th century.

These Agathyrsi are, in fact, a branch of the Hunnish Acatir. The name Attacotti translates as ‘both Acotti’ – & reflects the merging of the Pictish branch of the Agathyrsi with the Hunnish incomers.  The “Agatziri” or “Akatziroi,” were first mentioned by Priscus, who described them leading a nomadic life on the Lower Volga, and reported them as having been Hunnic subjects in pre-Attila times.  Priscus relates an anecdote in which two brothers, Denghizikh and Hernak were discussing making war on the Romans, but the Acatziri, Saraguri, and the other Hunnic tribes, who lived by the Caucasus and the Caspian, were engaged in a war with Persia; and thought it folly to engage in two wars at once. A century later, Jordanes located the Acatziri to the south of the Aesti (Balts), in roughly the same region as the Agathyrsi of Transylvania, describing them as “a very brave tribe ignorant of agriculture, who subsist on their flocks and by hunting.”

310 AD

The leader of the Acatirs who came to Britain is no other than the mortal Woden – not the divine god, but the very human being on which that deity was based. The evidence begins with Snorri Sturluson, who describes Woden-Odin as controlling ‘great lands near the Turks.’ Snorri then states that Woden’s, ‘descendents would live in the northern parts of the world,’ & has him conquering lands in France, ‘Saxland’ & Scandinavia.  One of Woden’s sons, Siggi, is clearly depicted by the Völsunga saga as being a Hunnish king. Woden’s coming from Asia also has a clear remembrance in the mythologized tribal name for the Teutonic gods, the ‘Aesir.’

320 AD

The famous Brythonic king, Cunedda, appears in the Pictish King List as Canutulahina – Cunedda the Hun – & is followed as the Pictish king by ‘Wradech,’ evidently Cunedda’s son, Ceredic. We can connect him to the Hunnish Woden thro’ the very Pictishesque broch near Duns in the borders, Edin’s Hall, formally known as Wooden’s Hall. From Woden-Wooden-Edin we reach Edern & Aeturn, variant names for the father of Cunedda. Harleian MS 3859 then tells us how Tybion was Cunedda’s first-born son, which mirrors Titmon/Tẏtiman/Titinon being Woden’s grandson in the royal Anglo-Saxon genealogies of East Anglia. Cunedda the Hun indeed!

367-68 AD

The Attacotti are active against the Romans during ‘The Barbarian Conspiracy.’ The Roman historian, Ammianus Marcellinus tells us; ‘ at that time the Picts, divided into two tribes, called Dicalydones and Verturiones, as well as the Attacotti, a warlike race of men, and the Scots, were ranging widely and causing great devastation.’


In the late 4th century St Jerome traveled to Gaul, where he observed certain members of the Attacotti getting up to some rather bestial behaviour. In his Adversus Jovinianum (c.393AD) he writes;

Why should I speak of other nations when I, a youth, in Gaul beheld the Attacotti, a British tribe, eat human flesh, and when they find herds of swine, cattle, and sheep in the woods, they are accustomed to cut off the buttocks of the shepherds, and the paps of the shepherdesses, and to consider them as the only delicacies of food.

More evidence for the Attacotti on the Continent comes in the Notitia Digitatum, compiled about 400 AD, which lists four Attacotti auxillary regiments as fighting in the Roman Legions, two of of whom, the Honoriani Atecotti seniores & the Atecotti iuniores Gallicani,  were stationed in Gaul. It seems that after Count Theodosius’ restoration of Roman order in Britain, the Attacotti were recruited to fight as auxilia palatina in the legions. The Notitia reads

In Italy: Atecotti Honoriani iuniores

In the Gauls with the illustrious master of horse in Gauls:
Atecotti Honoriani seniores
Atecotti iuniores Gallicani.


398 AD

When the Roman poet Claudian wrote ‘The Orcades ran red with Saxon slaughter,’ in response to the activities of Theodosius in 398, we can now assume that the Hunnish-influenced Attacotti were considered as ‘Saxons’ by the Roman world. The same cultural connection appears in the story of  one of Woden’s sons, the Hunnish king Siggi. This figure also appears as the founder of the royal house of Deira, ie the Anglo-Saxon kingdom between the Humber & the Tyne.


Offering more support, Siggi’s son in the geneaology, Seabald, appears in an Irish text known as ‘The adventure of the sons of Eochaid Mugmedón’ as a king of the Saxons called Sachell Balb.


In 448 the Acatziri were a main force of the Attila’s army. Their commander was a certain  Karadach or Curidachus, whose name is a clear philochisp of Cereticus – as in the son of Cunedda & certain 5th century figures of the same name who this leader of the Acatziri just well might be. In 449, Vortigern is using a translator called Cereticus in his negotiations with Henghist – who was descended from Woden, & thus of at least some Hunnish ancestry. In that same period, 448-449, Priscus of Panium visited the court of Attila the Hun as part of an official delegation & tells us; ‘no previous ruler of Scythia or of any other land had ever achieved so much in so short a time. He ruled the islands of the Ocean and, in addition to the whole of Scythia, forced the Romans to pay tribute.’ Writers such as  Orosius & St Augustine were definers of the British Isles as among the ‘islands of the Ocean,’ reinforcing the factochain.

We must also recall that 80 years later, the Romans considered Britain to be under the ‘Gothic’ influence, with Procopius recording Belisarius as saying, ‘we on our side permit the Goths to have the whole of Britain.’ The presence of the Huns in late Roman Britain was additionally remembered in the 8th century by Bede, in whose Historia Ecclesiastica we read; ‘He knew that there were very many peoples in Germany from whom the Angles and the Saxons, who now live in Britain, derive their origin… Now these people are the Frisians, Rugians, Danes, Huns, Old Saxons, and Boruhtware (Bructeri).’


For a long, long time, scholars have speculated on the homelands of the Attacotti, but to no avail. So far I’ve connected them to the saxons of the Orkneys in 398 AD, but there is also a definitive epigraphical remembrance of them on the Shetland Islands. Etched into what is known as the Lunnasting Stone, are four words;

ettecuhetts: ahehhttannn: hccvvevv: nehhtons 

The Senchus fer n-Alban indicates that Gartnait, the son of Áedán mac Gabráin, King of Dál Riata, sired a son named Cano, names which seem to appear in the inscription alongside Attacotti. Aedan was active in the Orkneys in the 580s, which may be of relevance, for just as the Picts controlled Lothian & the Orkneys, & just as the Arthurian King Loth did the same, so Aedan would become a king of the Lothians.

Chispologically speaking, Ettecuhetts is a lovely match for Attacotti, especially when we combine two variant spelling in the Notitia, being ‘attecotti’ & ‘attcoetti,’ as in;  Attecoet / Ettecuhet. Elsewhere on the Shetlands, at a place called Cunningsburgh, another Pictish stone also seems to mention the Attacotti.

  Transcription :   +TTEC[O^G][–] | [–]A[V^BL]:DATT[V][B!][–] | [–][A!]VVR[–]
     Reading :   ETTEC[O^G] [–][A!]VVR[–]A[V^BL]: DATT[V][B!][–]

There is an island called Mousa, just a stone-skip across the waters from Cuningsburgh, which is home to the greatest of all the stone, Pictish roundhouses known as Brochs. Archeologists calculate a date of 100 BC for its construction.

Looking once more at the Notitia shield patterns, it is with the Junior Honorianes that a real clincher can be found. Their shield carries a curious image of two heads facing each other, with at least one of them seeming to be a bill-beaked bird. An extremely similar image is also found on a Pictish stone discovered in 1887 at Papil, West Burra, in the Shetlands.

The stone was found at a pre-norse  Christian centre – the name Papil comes from papar – a Nordic word for priests – & was removed to the National Museum in Edinburgh, though a replica still stands in the churchyard of St Laurence’s Church, Papil. Kelly A Kilpatrick, in his ‘The iconography of the Papil Stone: sculptural and literary comparisons with a Pictish motif’ (Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 141 (2011), 159–205), writes of the birdmen,
 They have commonly been regarded as a misrepresentation of the Temptation of St
Antony, but this theory is debatable and needs to be compared and contrasted within the wider framework of this motif in Irish and Pictish art. Examples of axe-brandishing human and beast-headed figures are, however, found in Pictish sculpture, and are comparable with the imagery on the Papil Stone. Furthermore, the bird-men motif on the Papil Stone has striking parallels with contemporary battlefield demons in early Irish literature
 A common interpretation of the Papil birdmen is that they are a distorted representation
of the Temptation of St Antony, a scene in which Antony was tempted by women disguised as birds who whispered into his ear. This was, in the words of Radford), ‘a favourite scene on the Irish crosses, where it is usually pictured in a more realistic manner.’
Detail of the Temptation of St. Antonny the hermit. Moone high cross, Kildare
The Papil bird-men have a stronger connection with axe- and weapon-carrying hybrid & monstrous human-like figures in Pictish sculpture. There are 10 similar examples in the corpus of Pictish sculpture, three of which, it should be emphasised, have bird-features. They occur as single figures or as single figures associated with an anmimal or beast, & also as paired figures like the Papil bird-men. They must have had a long currency in Pictish art, for they are found on a variety of monumental media, ranging from simple incised stone boulders to panelled motifs on elaborate cross-slabs and even on a sculpted shrine panel.
Of these, the image of a dog-masked man found at Cuningsburgh, Shetland, where as we have seen there was an inscription to the Attacotti, seems the most important. Also of interest is a stone found at Murthly, Perthsire.  When comparing it with the Juniores shield pattern, we see that to the left is the long-beaked bird & to the right is the stubby-nosed dog or boar.


The Anthrotree is a shortened version of ‘Anthropological Factotree,’ which constitutes the main trunk of the ancient peoples, or tribe, we are discussing. Out of this entity shoot branches – & of course sub-branches – representing Culture, Theology, Linguistics, Archeology & Genetics. If any theoretical tree is living well & prospering with the vital energies of life, a rush of green foliage soon flows into & between the branches like tidal water into coastal rocks. In the same fashion, if the hyperbasis of an anthrotree is correct, & the evidence which has created its branches infallible, then we should be able to find upon the tree certain corresponding literary legacies – ie leaves. Together they make up the foliage of an anthrotree, which I shall call Cultural Subnotes.

Cultural Subnote 1 – No Writing Records : That the Picts left no writing can now be explained by Aristotle, who tells us of the Agathyrsi (Problemata, xix. 28), ‘Why are the nomes which are sung so called ?  Is it because before men knew the art of writing they used to sing their laws  in order not to forget them, as  they are still accustomed to do among the Agathyrsi?’

Cultural Subnote 2 – Tattoos: The Agathirsi, or the ‘painted Agathyrsians,’ as described by Virgil,  were given more detail in the 380s by Ammianus-Marcellinus, who describ’d them as dieing, ‘both their bodies and their hair of a blue colour, the lower classes using spots few in number and small – the nobles broad spots, close and thick, and of a deeper hue.’ That the Agathrysi nobility have more tattoos reflect the Picts, whose name, according to Isidore of Seville, whose name was ‘taken from their bodies, because an artisan, with the tiny point of a pin and the juice squeezed from a native plant, tricks them out with scars to serve as identifying marks, and their nobility are distinguished by their tattooed limbs.’

Cultural Subnote 3 – Animal Depictions: Despite the distance between ancient Scythia & the mountain fastnesses of northern Britain, both cultures are bound by vivid, animal-based art. Some of these symbolic depictions were imprinted in the form of tattoos, a practice given to the Picts by several classical authors, including;

They tattoo their bodies with colored designs and drawings of all kinds of animals; for this reason they do not wear clothes, which would conceal the decorations on their bodies. Herodian of Antioch

Barbarians, who from childhood have different pictures of animals skillfully implanted on their bodies, so that as the man grows, so grow the marks painted on him; there is nothing more that they consider as a test of patience than to have their limbs soak up the maximum amount of dye through these permanent scars. Solinus


The Scythian Chieftain found in 1948
The Scythian Chieftain found in 1948

Pictishesque body-tattoos were found on the frozen bodies of a Scythian chieftan & a twenty-five year old warrior-priestess, both discover’d in the same region of Siberia. It seems no coincidence that the chieftan still retained a bright red mop of hair, a Pictish trait retained in 13 percent of Scotland’s population, as compar’d to only two percent of the world’s population. Other links include the Pictish Beast symbol’s perfect match to the Scythian Ibex,  a sea-goddess image at Meigle in Perthshire which matches Scythian goldwork found in the Ukraine; & a stone figure discovered on Boa, an island in Northern Ireland, which is nigh-identical to a Scythian Kurgan Stele from Kyrgyzstan.

Scythian Ibex
Scythian Ibex
Pictish Beast
Pictish Beast

Cultural Subnote 4 – The Sarmatian Connection : The Sarmatian peoples of the steppes were part of the wider Scythian umbrella, & it seems that they at some point joined the Agathyrsean migration to northern Britain where they appear as the Smertae in Ptolemy;

From the Lemannonis bay as far as the Varar estuary are the Caledoni, and above these is the Caledonian forest, from which toward the east are the Decantae, and next to these the Lugi extending to the Cornavi boundary, and above the Lugi are the Smertae; below Caledonia are the Vacomagi

There is a Càrn Smeart in Sutherland to this day, an ancient burial mound on the ridge between the rivers Carron and Oykel.  It may also be relevant that the Smertae’s neighbours, the Lugi, shared a name with the Lugii, a large tribal confederation mentioned by Roman authors living in ca. 100 BC–300 AD in the Polish regions of today.


To conclude this post let us look at Pliny’s description of the Sarmations, as in, ‘from this point all the races in general are Scythian, though various sections have occupied the lands adjacent to the coast, in one place the Getae, called by the Romans Dacians, at another the Sarmatae.’ Here we have the Getae, of course, who would be the Pictish kingdom of Cat, & thus Caithness…

Honing on Saint Patrick’s boyhood home (& then some more Huns)

I’m just having a wee break from the creation of The New Divan. But a poet’s mind never rests & I thought I’d return to the Saint Patrick mystery which I first approached this time last year. There’s a couple of new ideas I can add to the mix, the conclusion of which is that Saint Patrick was brought up in the area where Emmot Hall used to stand, a couple of miles outside Colne in East Lancashire, the Ravenna Cosmography’s Calunio.  A definitive Roman presence at Emmott was confirmed  by TT Whitaker, who writing in the year 1800 affirmed, ‘a large silver cup filled with {Roman coins} was turned up by the plough in the latter end of the 17th century.’


Both the Hymn of Fiacc & the the anonymous Latin ‘Life of Saint Patrick’ place his birthplace at Nemthur, the latter stating, ‘The holy Patrick was reared at Nemthur until he was a lad.‘ The name seems to derive from Nemeton, which means ‘sacred space’ in Brythonic, & thus to Emmott. Placing the young saint in this corner of East Lancashire a moment, let us read the following extracts from the anonymous life.


Now Patrick’s race was of the Britons of Dumbarton. Calpurn was his father’s name, a high priest was he. Otid (Potitus) was the name of his grandfather: he was a deacon. But Conchess was his mother’s name: daughter was she of Ochbas: of France was her race, that is, she was a sister of Martin’s.


This tells us that Patrick was born in the Kingdom of Strathclyde, which in that period stretched deep in to Lancashire from its capital at Dumbarton.


At Nemthur, now, was he born, and (as to) the flagstone on which he was born, when any one commits perjury thereunder, it sheds water as if it were bewailing the false declaration. If his oath is true the stone abides in its proper nature. Now when the holy Patrick was born, he was brought to be baptized to the blind flat-faced youth named Gornias. But Gornias had not water wherewith he could perform the baptism, so with the infant’s hand he made the sign of the cross over the earth, and a wellspring of water brake therefrom. Gornias put the water on his own face, and it healed him at once, and he understood the letters (of the alphabet), though he had never seen them before. Now here at one time God wrought a threefold miracle for Patrick, the wellspring of water from the earth, and his eyesight to the blind youth, and skill in reading aloud the order of baptism without knowing the letters beforehand. Thereafter Patrick was baptized.


Hallown Well



Patrick’s birth should be connected to the Well of Hallown at Emmott – with baptisms taking place here as far back as AD 835 – which was known to have healing properties into the modern age, just as Gornias had his eyesight restored.  That, among the miracles attached to Patrick’s birth, one clearly stipulates a well is significant. An ancient holy well on the site supports the Nemeton to Emmott philochisp, & with miracles being attached to Saint Patrick own baptism,  no wonder it would be used as a baptism site centuries later.  Also on the site stood  a 7 foot high medieval cross-shaft, before it was moved to Colne churchyard in the 1960s from Emmott Hall, showing just how sacred a spot it was.


At this point let us have a look at thesome other evidence that places Saint Patrick at Emmott, by looking at the other two  names we have for Patrick’s birthplace include Bannavem Tarburnaie & Ventre.

I, Patrick, a sinner, a most simple countryman, … had for my father the deacon Calpurnius, son of the late Potitus, a priest of the settlement of Bannavem Taburniae; he had a small villula nearby where I was taken captive. I was at that time about sixteen year of age… I was taken into captivity in Ireland with many thousands of people.  (Confessio)

This place, as I am informed beyond hesitation or doubt, is Ventre. (Milúch)

Now, look at the names of these three places all within a couple of miles of one another. ‘Tre’ & ‘Traw’ both mean farm.

N-EMT-hur – Emmott
VEN-tre – Winewall
Ven-TRE – Trawden

The Vinheath - Emmot Hall is near Winewall (top right hand cormner)
The Vinheath – Emmot Hall is near Winewall (top right hand cormner)

The Ven element leads to the Wendune & Vinheath placenames in the Brunanburh manifest,  Both the ‘dune’ & ‘heath’ elements of Wendune & Vinheath mean the same as banna: pinnacle, peak, mountain, bare hill, etc.. Near to Emmott is the Lancashire town of Burnley, which naturally leads to the the ‘burn’ element of Bannavem Tarburnaie. There is another Bannaventa in Britain, near the village of Norton in Northamptonshire, & is named thus in the mid-second century ‘Itinerary’ of Antonius Pius. What we may logically conclude is that the second Bannaventa came later, with an addition of ‘Burniae’ applied for the purpose of differentation.

The transition from the Brythonic ‘Burn’ to the Saxon ‘Brun’ would have taken place during the reign of Athelstan (926-939), confirmed by Layamon‘s, ‘
& the names of the towns in saxish speech…
 & in saxish he gan speak the names of the men,‘ & the Angol-Saxon Chronicles use of both name variants on the early 930s;

A.D. 931. This year died Frithstan… and Brynstan was blessed in his place.
A.D. 932. This year Burnstan was invested Bishop of Winchester

The antique metathesis between these two names occured several times in the early middle-ages. In the early 12th century, the Anglo-Norman chronicler Geoffrey Gaimar gave the names Bruneswerce & Burneweste for the battle of Brunanburh itself. Other examples include Saint Brynstan/Burnstan & Roger de Burne/Brun. But I digress to far once again.


That on the day of the Battle of Brunanburh the routed Vikings made the safety of the Irish Sea supports the kidnapping of Patrick by Irish pirates. Further exploration of the Brunanburh matrix allows to come full circle, so to speak, to Emmott, which the older locals in the area pronounce it as Ee-ah-mut.  It is significant that the borders of Strathclyde, Northumbria & Mercia all meet here, while a Roman road passes just a few miles to the North, giving Emmott easy access to the twin Viking capitals of York & Dublin. That Emmott has a famous baptising well connects with William Malmesbury’s description of the events at Eamoton, in which Athelstan takes a son of Constantine hostage; ‘Out of regard to this treaty, the king himself stood for the son of Constantine, who was ordered to be baptized, at the sacred font.’ Is this ‘sacred fon’t the Hallown? The ASC states that the kings ‘renounced all idolatry,’ just as the local pagans had done at the same well in 835.

A.D. 926. This year appeared fiery lights in the northern part of the firmament; and Sihtric departed; and King Athelstan took to the kingdom of Northumbria, and governed all the kings that were in this island: — First, Howel, King of West-Wales; and Constantine, King of the Scots; and Owen, King of Monmouth; and Aldred, the son of Eadulf, of Bamburgh. And with covenants and oaths they ratified their agreement in the place called Eamoton, on the fourth day before the ides of July; and renounced all idolatry, and afterwards returned in peace.


I’ve also discovered a key philochisp in the next step of Saint Patrick’s vita. Folkore states that that Niall of the Nine Hostages, a very ancient King of Ulster, was the man behind the capture of Patrick – known as ‘Succat’ – & now we can toss in more support. We begin with the Latin Life;


Now this was the cause of Patrick’s coming to Ireland. Seven sons of Sechtmad, to wit, seven sons of the King of Britain, were in exile. They wrought rapine in the land of Britain, and Ulstermen were along with them, and so they brought Patrick in captivity to Ireland, and his two sisters Tigris and Lupait, and they sold Patrick to Míliucc maccu Buain, that is, to the King of Dalaraide.


indexThe name Sechtmad transchispers into Sachell Balb, a king of the Saxons given in an Irish text known as ‘The adventure of the sons of Eochaid Mugmedón.’ Sachell’s daughter, Cairenn Chasdub, is the mother of Niall. Thus the ‘Seven sons of Sechtmad’ would be Niall’s uncles, & it is through them that they invited the ‘Ulstermen’ on their raids on Britain. This presents a hyperbasis based on Sechtmad/Sachell being a Saxon king in Britain.  Indeed, Siggeat and Seabald appear in the Anglo-Saxon genealogies as father and son 9-10 generations before Aelle, the first king of Deira, in the North East of modern England, from AD 560.


That Claudian wrote ‘The Orcades ran red with Saxon slaughter,’ in response to the activities of Theodosius in 398 now has more substance & we can at least present a solid hyperbasis that there was a Saxon occupation of the Orkney islands, whose king was Siggeat/Seabald, from whom descendents a greater kingdom was established in the 6th century. There’ll be more to it, obviously, but this what we can pin down for now – a toehold on the truth just as Siggeat made a toehold in the Orkneys.

Now, in an earlier post I showed how Woden & Cunnedda were Huns.  According to Snorri Sturluson, another of Woden’s sons was a certain, ‘Siggi, who ruled over what is now France.’ The Icelandic Völsunga saga states that Siggi was a Hun & tuis with some simple philochisps we can see how Siggeat/Sechtmad was a Hunnish ‘King of Britain’ at the very same time that his brother, Cunedda, was a Hunnish king of the Picts. This now presents double support for Bede’s placement of the Huns among the English gene-pool, when;

The Angles or Saxons, who now inhabit Britain… are still corruptly called ‘Garmans’ by the neighbouring nation of the Britons. Such are the Frisians, the Rugini, the Danes, the Huns, the Old Saxons, and the Boructuari

 But why is there no mention of the Huns settling in Britain? Well, I believe there is, & we can finally solve the Attacotti conundrum, the obscure tribe named as part of the Barbarian Conspiracy of 368.  According to Priscus, a 5th century Byzantine Historian, there existed a tribal group  called the Acatziri, who led a nomadic life on the Lower Volga, who were reported as having been Hunnic subjects before the time of Attila. Priscus relates anecdote in which two brothers, Denghizikh and Hernak were discussing making war on the Romans, but Priscus says that the the Acatziri, Saraguri, and the other Hunnic tribes, who lived by the Caucasus and the Caspian, were then engaged in a war with Persia; and that it would be folly to engage in two wars at once.

Jordanes located the Acatziri to the south of the Aesti (Balts) — roughly the same region as the Agathyrsi of Transylvania — describing them as “a very brave tribe ignorant of agriculture, who subsist on their flocks and by hunting,” which resonates with Ammianus Marcellinus’ description of the Attacotti  as ‘a warlike race of men.’ The Acatziri were a main force of the Attila’s army in 448, whose chieftan was Karadach/Curidachus, a name which clearly contains the Ceredic/Wradech shared by the early British kings including Cunedda’s own son.  Also named Ceretic was the Vortigern’ s translator, employed in his negotiations with Henghist, whose descendancy from Woden also indicates he was Hunnish.

My final hypothesis, then, is that the Acatziri were used by the Huns to cement their 4th century conquests within Britain…

…& of course, Saint Patrick was from near Burnley

The New Divan: Smoke

Reza Mohammadi

This next transcreated poem is originally by Reza Mohammadi, an Afghani born in 1979, who originally composed Smoke in Persian. From this point Reza himself & Narguess Farzad made English translations, which were then comblended into one by Nick Laird. It was from this last version that I made the Goethe-friendly poem you are about to read.



Unto the man I would return
Who once inside my shirt did burn.

At each lip’s precipice I fret
To find the voice I once did set
Down-dangling from a cigarette.

I ask the card-turn to unshroud
The revelations thro’ the crowd
That sweeps aside bird, plant & cloud.

Carry off, great Lord, this flower,
To tables fill’d by my mother,
& to the house of my father,

& to the fish of the rivers
Whom, three times a day, take lovers,
Suicide’s soft deliverers.

I’m six years old, care to buy bread?
What am I doing here, I said.

Carry my soul to the tented
Gypsy mystic, tinted, scented,
Take it to be finger-printed.

I’ll never leave this street, y’know,
That named a missile long ago.

You’ll see I only came to buy
Some rolls of bread – you’ll see that I
Have seen exactly six years by.

Before the next man join’d my thread
Morning stopp’d gorging on his head,
& like this poem’s folding, he
Was thrown, was caught, within old me.

Hey! This much wind my shirt won’t stand,
We should not let this much cloud land.

The blacken’d body’s shrapnel flew
Right back to eat, snack, feast on you.

Why should I be God’s kick’d up dust,
I flow like ink from His fingers.

The broken lighters of his feet
Flicker & flare in mine like heat.

His heart a wet, spent ciggarette,
His mother’s lashes crudely set
Inside his pocket, food for worms,
With sister’s hair that fistfull squirms,
& those barb’d eyelids of his wife.

I wish somebody in his life
Had told him moons dont burst in flame
When clad in clothes by top brands made.

The one runs from me as he ran
From his ma’s table & her pan,
Thus I would like to tell him this,
How poet’s metamorphosis
Grows on lips like little roses
Caus’d by earth – which decomposes!

Even the river dodges me,
Even the doves take flight to flee
& all the Judas trees within
Are made of debris from this bin;
How was your face made up, I said,
What shade the scarf swath’d round your head?
Black-sooted in black suit I stand,
A dandelion in one hand,
Addresses I can’t call to mind,
As on moth-wings descends dusts fine,
Dusts upon petals de-scend-ing –
Now I’m forgetting everything.



1: Edinburgh Book Festival: The Divan Session

2: The New Divan: Genesis

3: Greenshoots

4: Final Greenshoots

5: The Song of the One Who Pours the Wine

6: Paradise on Earth / Ephesus Ghazal

7: Knowingly Willingly

8: Smoke

9: Electrocardigam / The Great Axe

The New Divan: Knowingly Willingly


Like I said last time out, every composition session is different. whereas last time I got two poems in one day, this weekend I got one poem over three days. It is called ‘Knowingly Willingly,’ & is the creation of a Turkish poet, Gonca Ozman, who quite unlike the majority of the Divan poets is actually younger than me – I’m 1976, she’s 1982. Anyway, without further ado, lets see my transcreation, based on the translation out of the Turkish by Maureen Freely & Ozge Calli Spike, & poeticized by Jo Shapcott. Mt transcraeyion has taken some effort, as the irregular-length couplets were difficult to formalize in regular quatrains, but the beast was eventually tamed!


GONCA OZMEN: Knowingly Willingly


Insane the shadows that I taste
& speak to, tho’ I promis’d not;
Love keep me from my home displac’d,
Especially its nights boycott!

Come & empty out my bottom
Drawer, the garden incinerate,
& then, just like the hick I am,
Fling me outside, without debate.

Your halls ancestral snow-tall climb,
As each into each other coils,
& into you, & into time,
Why stand so awkward with your spoils?

Forgive me love this very night,
Night most of all, when comes dusk’s shroud
To turn things dark, let me alight
Once more the dance-floor, blend with crowd.

My body is a gun, by flags
Of sorrow made, & aim’d at thee,
Tho’ trapp’d in your unwelcome snags
Tis naught to what once made me flee.

Love! Rescue! Save me! Hear my song,
Untether unpleasant morning,
Save me from both those tables long
& elegance rooms adorning.

Into the poison Marsh of Death,
You could take a swim most eely,
But you’d dive, in an instant’s breath,
Back into those morning’s freely.

When rose your mother’s fine cheekbone
Approving stomach’s rumbling,
My tights were full of holes, alone,
I pass through your breakfast stumbling!

VLUU L110  / Samsung L110


Love, to me listen, most of all
At night, when moondust lingers long,
When I can trust soft words to fall
Like wine draughts crooning on the tongue!

Unlike my voice each prickly thread,
Love lay me down within the night,
Destitute-distill’d your wine-bed,
Poverty-fed, is pour’d from fright.

Go to the garden, love, & tell,
The Jasmines & the Freesias,
About myself, night comes to dwell,
Absolve me to the Dervishes.



Love see a world in me, a grape
Peel’d delicately heavenly,
Let not outside your mind escape
Where spools spinning machinery.

Forget the pain that I maintain,
Pressing upon you, unallay’d,
Yes, let it rest, forget the pain,
Into the distance let it fade.

Go catch an apple & a burst
of street-jive, then a catcall clear,
A stream of conscience unrehears’d,
Exploding laughter in your ear.

You’ve ran like water thro’ my voice,
& what you drop don’t pockets blame,
More dust than one long-untouch’d vase
I’ve gathered, while I play your game.

In buttons undone there’s meaning,
Words slay their targets, well you know,
Love look at me, in me leaning,
You touch me but left long ago.

Even waters have no spare time
To flow with me, nobody cares,
To halt night’s sordid paradigm,
Allowing morning’s gloryglares.





1: Edinburgh Book Festival: The Divan Session

2: The New Divan: Genesis

3: Greenshoots

4: Final Greenshoots

5: The Song of the One Who Pours the Wine

6: Paradise on Earth / Ephesus Ghazal

7: Knowingly Willingly

8: Smoke

9: Electrocardigam / The Great Axe

The New Divan: Paradise on Earth / Ephesus Ghazal


Every composition session is different – there are many contributing factors which lead to a day’s creation in the genres of longer poem. I recall being on Rab Island in 2004, & creating 12 tryptychs worth of Axis & Allies in a single day – 240 lines. Keats, while scrambling about the Isle of White during Endymion managed 50. Thus, returning to The New Divan, I simply whistled through two poems as opposed to last week’s projection of one completed & several doodled at per session. The two are Paradise on Earth by Fadhil Al Azzawi, & Ephesus Ghazal by Jan Wagner. They are the last two poems in the collection, actually, & it was on hearing Robin Robertson’s translation of the Ephesus Ghazal, & his admittance that ‘he didnt really rhyme’ which started this whole project in the first place.

It was a perfectly delightful morning, Indian Summery almost, & Daisy was also enjoying an early morning strut. Today’s compositions took place in two places – the first was near a wind-farm as you top the Lammermuirs on the A68. The second was in a delightful spot on the Lauder-Stow road.  On that same road I filmed a Pendragon Post, talking about the New Divan – it seemd apt. After here we went to Stow for a bit, where I filmed Daisy for an idea I have about her presenting history shows to dubbed on voice overs, with the first one being called DAISY & THE SECRETS OF THE PICTISH KING LIST. Then, on the return via the Sutra Aisle road, I paused at the foresty place to dash off a poem from THE NEW TRUTH - my new & main poetical creation for the rest of 2019.  But I digress too far, & let us now enjoy – I hope – the second & third full poems of THE NEW DIVAN.




FADHIL AL-AZZAWI: Paradise on Earth

I see it as I leave the inn
The dark of night, an evil djinn
Pursues me close, each step I take,
These steps shall shudder as I shake
Dogs furious, a-bark behind
Like hunt-track wolves, outflung from mind,
I must drive this road’s solitude,
I must sing madly, loud & crude!
Dervish disguis’d as angel slips
Out from the mosque, threats on his lips,
Waving his stick thro’ air at me,
Hey, you are losing your life!” he
Screams, “You have lost your life,” Adam,
Did you not know its forbidden
In this world to drink Eden’s wine?
But in Paradise, hey, that’s fine!
Go drink that wine, its bountiful
& free, search for the beautiful
Eyes, bountiful houris, gratis.

Oh master of my days, where is
This place, lord tell me where we are.

He points his stick up to a star,
“There,” utters he, “Eternity,”
Twinkling… blazing… “Up there!” says he,
Fluttering as the falcons rise
Evanishing in splendid skies!

I do not move, stricken with doubt,
I dare not move, Hafiz steps out
Arriving as he always does
As of-a-sudden surprises,
“My friend!” he laughs, “Why worry so?
Their walls are high & you have no
Wings there to fly – no – let us make
This mortal rock an angels’ lake ,
Look at these mountains rising up,
For when the flood oerflows the cup,
These seas, these oceans, all aswirl
With fish & gorgeous whales which whirl
About this Godufactured Earth,
Where even serpents maintain worth,
We must remember to release
Snakes from their cages, whom, in peace,
Shall twine around those fine branches
Of our tree – happy, glorious -

What more will we need than that?



JAN WAGNER: Ephesus Ghazal

With tyrants who cavort like gods,
Our days cut-short at shortest odds,
Of these severe was one in faith,
His painters perpetrate a wraith,
With shaggy face & eyes like sleet,
Lads seven underneath his feet,
Prepar’d for freedom, so they hid
Themselves before Dawn lifts its lid.
Cavebound, the dog curl’d at their feet,
That loved them all with love complete,
While they first slept the Emperor
Gave rocks in cartloads the order,
‘Block up the entrance!’ Still they slept,
Dispersing trances, by them crept
Long centuries on centuries,
So deep that sleep it seems death is
Enmesh’d with slumbers – angel’s hand
As gentle as a grazing land,
Did turn them… dreadful, delicate;
Depending on which way the foot
Did point – to Heaven, down to Hell –
Limbs rolling as lads dreamlands dwell.

Eroded rocks, awoke hungry,
Thinking new morn was what they see
Just one night old; so sent to town
Their youngest, keenest, skills a crown,
Who found a bakers where once stood
The court, the baker’s face of blood
Drain’d white, straining for friends, in fear –
The proffer’d coin engrav’d, a clear
Depicted face, some king long dead,
“He was the emperor,” someone said,
A whole town came to gawp & glare
At this young marvel standing there,
Whose uncles & great-grandchildren
Were lang syne dust, distant aeon
In which he tried to grow a beard,
The townsfolk thought this very weird,
Tho’ simmering their pots were set,
They shrank Ephesus’ parapet,
To distant dots, even before
The millet cook’d; they wanted more
To see the cave, & when they did,
The other six no longer hid,
A clan of seven spread from death,
Who’d somehow shar’d eternal breath!



1: Edinburgh Book Festival: The Divan Session

2: The New Divan: Genesis

3: Greenshoots

4: Final Greenshoots

5: The Song of the One Who Pours the Wine

6: Paradise on Earth / Ephesus Ghazal

7: Knowingly Willingly

8: Smoke

9: Electrocardigam / The Great Axe

The New Divan: The Song of the One Who Pours the Wine


Here is my first full transcreation of A New Divan into The New Divan.  I decided to do it as altho the project is noble, what has been presented to the public is lacking distinctly in the art which both Goethe & Hafiz would have appreciated. Instead we have what appears to the naked eye as field notes in free verse. In its current form it is accessible to the vast majority of the English-speaking world, which is something I would like to redress thro’ the creation of a natural synthesis of all the parts into an octosyllabic, rhyming harmony. Borrowing a car for the day I headed out from Edinburgh with Daisy the dog for my whistlestop tour of the Borders. I mean, its great down there, I don’t know why folk are determined on driving seven hours to Skye, the scenery is just as resplendent & the drive is better for the Carbon footprint.  After traversing the Lammermuirs we skirted Duns, paused at Hume Castle,  & popped into Kelso for an hour. This is where the Teviot meets the Tweed & the riverside walk is a wide, cerebral, link-like stretch. As for the town itself, its a fine affair with a massive square & a genial atmosphere of the highest quality.


From Kelso we drove towards Morebattle, skirted it & headed through a romantic glen towards, through & beyond the house-huddle of Hownam (pronounced Hoonam). Just at the point where we hit Dere Street – the old Roman road between York & Scotland – I found myself at the foot of Woden Law, a climb of whose steep slopes afforded a windy yet spectacular view. Daisy kept up & was intrigued to watch the 6 or 7 crows/ravens hovering over sections of shale. It was a superb sensation to stumble on the defenses of the iron age hillfort, & that it had Roman additions, is situated so close to Deer Street, & of course that it was named after Cunedda’s father (see the last post) set my naturally inquisitive mind a-racing.


From Woden Law we popped into Morebattle, having a couple of coffees in a church that is in the middle of being converted into a pilgrim center for walkers of St Cuthbert’s Way between Melrose & Lindisfarne. Pilgrims had been complaining that there were not more spiritual experiences on the route, plus the coffee was really good. The priest – an Episcopalian named Margaret Pederson – came for a chat & I showed her The New Divan. She said she was familiar with Hafiz for his spiritual insight, & providing a cue for me to waffle on a bit about what I was doing with the project as I tossed off a few more lines.


Morebattle itself was a fine village, with a community shop & its own John Clare-Rabbie Burns hybrid, the peasant poet Robert Davidson. He was a farm labourer who published three volumes of his own poetry during his lifetime. He also wrote a short autobiography to accompany his third and final book of poems. This makes Davidson one of the first working men anywhere to have published an account of their lives. Given his circumstances, his achievement is a considerable one. Given his circumstances, the insight he provides into such lives and times is an invaluable one. Davidson never to have once left the Morebattle district, the small corner of the Scottish Borders in which he was born, lived and died. Davidson was a ‘day labourer’ and sometime ‘hind’ and like others from his station in life, his wages were low and somewhat uncertain. He lived his life in poverty and often on the edge of destitution. His is the authentic voice of the rural poor.


From Morebattle it was just a wee drive in the direction of Coldstream to Branxton & the fabulous Flodden battlefield. It wasn’t that fabolous for the Scottish king, James IV, who finding himself tactically outflanked by a forced English march, left his secure position on the Flodden Ridge & turned about face to meet the English from the top of Branxton Hill who were now between him & home. Obsessed with attacking in the Swiss echelon styles, & losing the artillery battle with his massive seige cannon which couldn’t handle the new elevation in time, he ordered his men to leave the relative safety of the hill summit just as the Scots would do againts Cromwell at Doon Hill, & march downslopes to attack the English. Unfortunately they wandered into uscouted  marshy ground & the momentum halted, allowing the dense mass of Scots & their unwieldy pikes to be targeted by arrowstorms or hacked to pieces by the shorter but nimbler English bills. There died on the field the flower of Scottish nobility,  among whom was the Scottish king himself. This is a poem I wrote about the visit penned when I got back to the ranche.

Sonnet: Upon Seeing the Merits in a Second Referendum

I go to Flodden in these bareback times,
How sad the phantoms in this sodden field,
Lamenting not them dying by their King,
But how no Scotsman dares to thrust his pike
Against the machinations of the South,
These days, when Scotia knows herself once more.

Before, I wished an island to remain,
But now, I sense a nation full reborn,
Transcending quibblings of a Quisling House
Descending into spittle-threats and farce,
For whom would want to member with a gang
Determined on a dead-end in the dark?

My song’s for Independence to redress
Those crimes ‘No’ voted for, this time I’m ‘Yes!’


It was on the field of Flodden that I also finished my first full poem for The New Divan. Its path to my pen began with Clara Janés’ Canto del Escanciador, or ‘The Song of the One Who Pours the Wine.’  Clara is a Spanish poet, & a distinguishd translator of several central & Eastern European languages, so you can see her credentials. Next up was Lavinia Greenlaw, a winner of the TS. Eliot, Forward and Whitbread Poetry Prizes, and the Prix du Premier Roman Etranger – again quite a high-ranking poet in the current Ancien Régime. The full poem reads as follows;

Clara Janés
Clara Janés

The Song of the One Who Pours the Wine

As Shiraz roses sheer upclimb
These pages thro’, so hear the chime
Sung by the Holy Fool that stands
Beside the well at dusk – these hands
Reveal the decorated cup,
As if, from it, Jamshid did sup,
Containing worlds within wine-pools
Where ripple stars, submerging jewels,
Revealing patterns unimpair’d
By fauna & by flora shar’d,
A human heart or pulseless stone?
Upon a palm leaf focus hone
In some garden botanica,
Such as the one in Padua,
When famously illustrated
The metamorph you’ll see outspread!

As formula, in chimes, upswells
From caravans & tiny bells;
All things must change, all time must pass,
But even so, as higher class
Of thinker contemplates these things,
All fixed must be in place on strings –
Prayer beads of love & science.

Pour me another cup forth-hence,
Permitting detailed inspection
Of all that swims in reflection,
I’ll read the Cosmos as a sacred text,
Accepting what I’ll see I must acknowledge next.

Keeping electrons in a trance,
By atom procharge made to dance,
Like the limitless extension
Of the waves in curv’d connexion;
Deep secrets of this circuitrie
Reveals the links twyx atomie,
When object & subject between
Sees space collapsing mezzanine.

All this is held by such perfume
Exhaled by Shiraz rose in bloom,
Love is the scent-sway, & does etch
The first & best alphabet, which
Declaring in Persopolis,
This Human grace forever is!

Yet, falls the dusk, the Holy Fool
Sings by the well’s radiant pool,
The poet plucks from blazing flames
A flicker of all things, all names,
That brand my hands, together we
Repeat his arcane sorcery;

Nature, my one joy is to connect!


Despite snatching at several of the poems during the day, & getting a few decent lines for each, it was Clara’s that I saw to the finish-line. I quite like the process actually, its quite demanding mentally to enter someone’s poetry & to make it sound satisfactorily better in both sound & sense, while adhering to the general form system I have universally imposed. It felt only natural that whenever I hit a brick wall of transcreation, after a stanza or so, I could leap like a flea to another poem & start with a fresh impulse. Why waste one’s energies trying to find the perfect line when that moment is clearly not the one intended to find it. Poetry, remember, the true essence of poetry, is a collection of the best moments. It definitely feels the right way to proceed, its the same method I used to get the openings to all 24 poems down first. I also enjoyed making a day of it, out in the field absorbing poesis, writing poetry as I went. So I hope to repeat it in the future, of which there will be 23 more days of composition!




1: Edinburgh Book Festival: The Divan Session

2: The New Divan: Genesis

3: Greenshoots

4: Final Greenshoots

5: The Song of the One Who Pours the Wine

6: Paradise on Earth / Ephesus Ghazal

7: Knowingly Willingly

 8: Smoke

9: Electrocardigam / The Great Axe


The New Divan: Final Greenshoots


69243169_370526970310014_4520528661874475008_nYesterday I completed the final few openings to The New Divan. Earlier in the day I went to the outside auction in Leith to see what poetry had popped up. It was a bumper day actually, & I got all the above ones for a fiver. Its an interesting experience. They auction starts at 11, but at at 10 they put the books out. This brings a gaggle of the city’s booksellers to have a look, & there seems a tacit agreement among them to carve up the spoils, very rarely bidding against each other. Luckily theres not that much money in poetry books (old & new) so I can make my own pretty pile & no bothers me, maybe someone takes a book out & places it n their own pile – you’re allowed to bid for them separately. For example yesterday, I noticed Percy’s Reliques in a guy’s pile, so I took them out to bid separetely. The guy was great tho, & said don’t worry about it & put it in my pile, chit-chatting about a poetry a little & gaurding them fastiduously from predatary sellers. In the end those three books are worth about £40 on their own, but I’m there to study them not sell them.


Another of the books I picked up had a wonderful effect on the day’s transcreation. It was a litttle book of Robert Louis Stevenson’s, whose ‘children’s poetry’ were both octosyllabic & rhyming, & emotive as love! absolutely brilliant transportational abilities & I’ll be doing a Pendragon poetry post on them soon! Reading the poems absorbed the measured music into my mind, & when I sat down with A New Divan, I found very much the whole process of transcreation easier than previously. Having him board has made me realise that the English poets & Scottish Makars & of course the Welsh bards shiould be involved somewhere in The New Divan. To facilitate this idea I shall take me with me on my composition sessions a poet or two from a pantheon, whose words I can bounce off when lacking inspiration, whose music I can draw on to mould a proper mindset. 24 poems to go…



Knew everybody since childhood,
He’d dreamt he was a shaft of wood
By axehead topp’d, his foes to fight
To chop off heads & branches smite!



NUJOOM ALGHANEM: The Crimson Shades

If Venus e’er should act a thief
Of hearts once sworn our destiny
Or if Lord Jupiter’s mischief
Would draw upon us furtively
Should ever come to pass these odds
Let us refuse their rudest guiles
Bestow, instead, on Fates & Gods
The Rose of Hope that grows in smiles!



Each runic bottle teaches me
Beseeching pure humility
If every god can be seduced
By the carafe, & thus reduced,
How fine a drop am I?

Intoxicating, misty dream
I sip between my lips, & seem
Made larger & more eloquent.




Words you have grasp’d all on your own
I cannot utter unto you
Without inflicting ills to groan
Or causing harm, send thought askew.

I can’t go on, I do not care
To wound or flatter, so I stay
Within my family, to share
Encircled warmth, tho cool as May.

So words be good, be gone into
The silence of a summit bird
My voice it plummets low for you
So much you cannot hear a word.


MOURID BARGHOUTI: The Obedience of Water

Nights of art & erudition
Sacrifice & hesitation
At little, or at great expense,
Must pass, how many, since or hence
Need you to cleverly invent,
A simple gadget’s supplement,
When all we need for tyranny
Are single bendings of one knee!



Goethe, Goethe, poet master
From the furthest lands a-wester
Of the East, I have sung in praise
Of that peace goblet you did raise
To happiness, under the vines,
To goodness dressing all designs.



Cunedda, son of Woden… King of Picts

Breth son of Buthut
Vipoig namet
Wradech uecla
Talore son of Achivir
Drust son of Erp
Talore son of Aniel (PKL)

These are the names of the sons of Cunedda, whose number was nine: Tybion, the firstborn, who died in the region called Manaw Gododdin and did not come hither with his father and his aforesaid brothers. Meirion, his son, divided his possessions among his brothers. 2, Ysfael, 3. Rhufon, 4. Dunod, 5. Ceredig, 6, Afloeg, 7. Einion Yrth, 8. Dogfael, 9. Edern Harleian 3859 (pedigree 32)

Maelgwyn, the great king, was reigning among the Britons in the region of Gwynedd, for his ancestor, Cunedag, with his sons, whose number was eight, had come previously from the northern part, that is from the region which is called Manaw Gododdin, one hundred and forty-six years before Maelgwn reigned. And with great slaughter they drove out from those regions the Scotti who never returned again to inhabit them.’ (NEN)


The first extract is from the Pictish King List. Only a handful of these lists that survived the rigors of time, but they all contain pretty much the same sequence of kings (tho’ spelt differently) to which are attached reign-lengths (which differ between recensions) and on rare occasions a piece of biographical information. The second extract refers to one of the first recorded monarchs of Britain, & a babel-chain between Cunedda & the PKL’s Canutulahina is both easy to create & to support, for the names of Cantaluhina’s immediate successors in the PKL have chispological correspondnaces in the Harleian MS, where Wradech transchispers into Ceretic, Dorornauch becomes Dunaut. We also have the chispological connections between the Historia Brittonum’s Cunedag variant for Cunedda, & the PKL’s Canutulachama variant.

We now fast-forward in time to the reign of Maelgwyn Gwynned, whose death in 547 is recorded by the Annales Cambraie as, ‘The great death [plague] in which Maelgwn, king of Gwynedd died. Thus they say ‘The long sleep of Maelgwn in the court of Rhos’.  It is through a passage in Nennius that we can link Cunedda to Maelgwyn;
Maelgwn, the great king, was reigning among the Britons in the region of Gwynedd, for his ancestor, Cunedag, with his sons, whose number was eight, had come previously from the northern part, that is from the region which is called Manaw Gododdin, one hundred and forty-six years before Maelgwn reigned. And with great slaughter they drove out from those regions the Scotti who never returned again to inhabit them.

If we say that it was 20 years after his reign as the King of Picts that Cunedda left Scotland for Wales as given in Nennius, & that Maelgwyn had also been ruling for 20 years before he died, then the 146 years as given by Nennius gives us a tentative date of 361 for Cunedda.


We may infer from Nennius that Cunedda had taken took up a position of power in the eastern central Belt of Scotland, the approximate area of Manaw Gododdin. That this region is was connected to his Pictish monarchy is remembered in the Pentland Hills, which were originally known as the ‘Pehtland’ Hills, after a variant name for the Picts also found in the Pentland Firth which seperate the Orkneys from the Scottish mainland. In East Lothian, at Traprain Law, a massive double-linked Silver Chain of the Early Christian period was discovered in 1938, a tangible hallmark of Pictish nobility.



Nennius tells us that in the 4th century, Cunedda & his sons travelled from Scotland to North Wales, where they fought & defeated the ‘Scotti’ – the same Irish tribe that would eventually establish itself further north in Dalriada – & established the Kingdom of Gwynedd. The approximate 361 dates for Cunedda is significant, for in 367 we have historical evidence for the Scotti, & others, attacking Britain.  Known as ‘The Barbarian Conspiracy,’ it was eventually put down the following year by the Roman general, Flavius Theodosius.  The Roman historian, Ammianus Marcellinus, has all the details;

At that time the Picts, divided into two tribes, called Dicalydones and Verturiones, as well as the Attacotti, a warlike race of men, and the Scots, were ranging widely and causing great devastation; while the Gallic regions, wherever anyone could break in by land or by sea, were harassed by the Franks and their neighbours, the Saxons, with cruel robbery, fire, and the murder of all who were taken prisoners.

When the Batavi, Heruli, Jovii, and Victores, who followed {Flavius Theodosius}, had arrived, troops confident in their strength, he began his march and came to the old town of Lundinium, which later times called Augusta. There he divided his troops into many parts and attacked the predatory bands of the enemy, which were ranging about and were laden with heavy packs; quickly routing those who were driving along prisoners and cattle, he wrested from them the booty which the wretched tribute-paying people had lost. And when all this had been restored to them, except for a small part which was allotted to the wearied soldiers, he entered the city, which had previously been plunged into the greatest difficulties, but had been restored more quickly than rescue could have been expected, rejoicing and as if celebrating an ovation.

While he lingered there, encouraged by the successful outcome to dare greater deeds, he carefully considered what plans would be safe; and he was in doubt about his future course, since he learned from the confessions of the captives and the reports of deserters that the widely scattered enemy, a mob of various natives and frightfully savage, could be overcome only by secret craft and unforeseen attacks. 10 Finally, he issued proclamations, and under promise of pardon summoned the deserters to return to service, as well as many others who were wandering about in various places on furlough. In consequence of this demand and strongly moved by his offer, most returned


 We here see Roman Britain continuing in a state of reconciliation. Was Cunedda part of the attacking force & later redeemed, or did he stay put in Lothian all the while & remain loyal to Rome while the Barbarians hordes ravaged Britain. We know the Attacotti members of the Barbarian Conspiracy were absorbed into the legions, so Cunedda may have experienced the same treatment. It is imposible to say at this juncture, but the timing of his move against the Irish in North Wales in all likelihood seems connected to the Roman restoration of its Britannic power base after 368.


Returning to the genealogy of Cunedda, I would like to show that he was the son of a human figure deified with some majesty by the Nordic & Teutonic races. The god was Woden, or Odin, but the man was given as either Edern (Jesus College MS20) or Aeturn (Harleian MS 3859). Aeturn-Waeturn-Woden is an easy babel-chain, but of course we need support.  We begin with Harleian MS 3859, which tells us how Tybion was Cunedda’s first-born son. This gives us a possible Woden-Cunedda-Tybion lineage, which has a mirror in the royal Anglo-Saxon genealogies of East Anglia. Here Caser would be Cunedda, with the name either corrupted from ‘Cune,’ or perhaps even Ceasar, which is a lofty rank similar to Cunedda’s ‘Guledig’ epithet.

Woden – (Aeturn)

Caser / Casser – (Cunedda Gwledig)

Titmon  / Tẏtiman / Titinon – (Tybion)


 We should also examine Cunedda’s grandfather & great-grandfather, who appear in Jesus & Harleain as Tegyth/Tacit and Padarn Beisrud/Patern Pesrut. These names translate into Latin as Tacitus & Paternus, with the latter’s epithet meaning ‘of the red robe’, indicating a high rank in the Roman administration. A link to Rome is suggested by the Scandinavian record of Woden/Odin as recorded by the medieval chronicler, Snorri Sturluson, who places him in the Trojan region of NW Turkey, beside the Dardanelles. This region was a part of the Roman province of Asia, which seems to be the etymological route of the Aesir.



In the middle of the world was built a city called Troy. This is in the land of Turkey. Twelve kingdoms were there and one high King. In this city there were twelve languages. The twelve rulers were better than any human in all the world. One king was called Munon or Mennon. His son was called Tror, who we call Thor. He would later take control of Thrace, which we call Thrudheim. He travelled all through the world and found a sibyl who we call Sif. Thor married her. Their male descendents are Loridi, Einridi, Vingethor, Vingenir, Moda, Magi, Sescef, Bedvig, Athra (who we call Annar), Itrmann, Heremod, Scialdum (who we call Skiold), Biaf (who we call Biar), Iat, Gudolf, Finn, Friallaf (who we call Fridleif), and Woden. Odin is the name we use for Woden.

The chief Odin was a great warrior and travelled all over and gained many kingdoms. He was very victorious wherever he went. This made him very esteemed and praised so much so that everyone believed that he always won every fight and battle.

Odin was supposed to have great lands near the Turks. When the Roman Emperors were trying to conquer the world they dispersed many people and kings, who fled their lands. During this time, Odin used his magic to see the future and learned that his descendents would live in the northern parts of the world. As a result, he made his brothers Ve and Vili leaders of the people of Asaland and went off to the northern lands. He took with him all his priests and many of his people.

Odin conquered many lands and had many sons who he set as leaders upon those lands. His travels took him to Gardarik (Germany), then to Saxland. There they stayed for a while. Odin had three sons in Saxony, who were put to rule over the area:

Veggdegg, who ruled East Saxony.
Beldegg (who we call Balder), who ruled Westphalia.
Siggi, who ruled over what is now France. The Volsungs are descended from him.
Odin then went northward to a country called Reidgotaland (which is now called jutland) and conquered it. In this land he set his son Skiold as ruler. From him are descended the Skioldungs dynasty of Denmark. Snorri
He then travelled north to the sea and made a home in Odenso in Fyn, Denmark.

After this he went northward into Sweden where there was a king called Gylfi. When the Aesir (what the people of Asia are called) arrived King Gylfi offered them as much power as they desired in his land. Odin found the area pleasant to live in and settled in an area now called Sigtunir. In this new land he set up rulers in the same pattern as was seen in Troy. There were twelve chiefs to administer law, and he established a legal system as it was in Troy.

After this, he travelled north even more til he confronted the sea. He then set one of his son, Saemung (who all the rulers of Norway are descended), as ruler over this area, which is now called Norway.

The Aesir had many marriages with the people and their family became quite extensive from Saxony all the way to the north. In this area, also, their language spread, the language of the people of Asia, and became the mother tongue there. Because of this, there are names for regions and places in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and England that come from the ancient language before the Aesir appeared.

Odin died in his bed in Sweden. As he approached death he had himself marked, or stabbed, with a spear point and dedicated himself all men who died through weapons. Odin was burned after his death and they say his fire was very glorious.

‘Odin was credited, the world over, as a god,‘ wrote Saxo Grammaticus, ‘which was false. He spent his time in Uppsala.’ According to my analysis, he was also connected to Britain, & Pictland in particular. The key passage in Snorri reads, ‘the Aesir had many marriages with the people and their family became quite extensive from Saxony all the way to the north.’ This sentence opens up the possibility that Woden’s son, Cunedda, married into the Pictish Royal bloodline.


Woden was clearly once a mortal. We can now deduce he had at least some aristocratic Roman blood in his veins, & that he came from the Trojan region of NW Turkey, beside the Dardanelles. This region was a part of the Roman province of Asia, which seems to be the etymological route of the Aesir. This opens up the intriguing possibility that Woden’s grandfather could have been Titus Flavius Festus, who was the govenor of Asia c.286. Saying that, an earlier Titus – Titus Flavius Postumius Varus – was actually in northern Britain during the 240s as Legatus legionis of the Legio II Augusta. But I ruminate too far in unclear waters, altho’ Varus did at one point hold the position of the Augurship, whose prophetic abilites strike a tally with the prophetic powers of Snorri’s Woden.

The key passage in Snorri  reads, ‘the Aesir had many marriages with the people and their family became quite extensive from Saxony all the way to the north.’ This sentence opens up the possibility that Woden’s son, Cunedda, married into the Pictish Royal bloodline. Also of interest is how Woden took control of Denmark & Jutland, the very homelands of the Angles who would go on to invade & name the southern portions of Britain. What has always been a bit of a mystery is why an island of NW Wales, & part of the Kingdom of Gwynedd, is also named after the Angles – Anglesey. However, if we were to simply place Cunedda in command of a group of Angles conquered by Woden & placed in the Hunnic imperial service, then all makes perfect sense.



According to various lineages, such as in Bede & the Anglian Collection,  another of Woden’s sons was Vecta, who Snorri says was a ruler in East Saxony (as Vegdagr). His name was found etched inyo a stone memorial near Edinburgh. When Bede tells us Hengist was the ‘son of Vitgilsus, whose father was Vecta, son of Woden’ we have a direct match up to an inscribed 6th century memorial called the Cat Stane, which stands in the precincts of Edinburgh Airport. It reads;

 In this tomb lies Vetta son of Victus

This places the burial site of Cunedda’s nephew in Manau Gododdin, encouraging a belief that Edinburgh was named after Aeternus-Woden. The ‘Finnesburh Fragment’ describes Hengist & his men as ‘Eotona,’ a name which clearly derives from Woden, Hengist’s great-great grandfather. Hengist’s son, Octa, led the mid-fifth century conquest of Scotland, where according to the Lancelot-Graal, they fortified a very Edinburgh like ‘Rock.’ Thus Edinburgh was named, not after Woden, but the royal house which he had founded.

Further affirmation of Woden’s children being connected to the Pictish kingship comes thro’ Vetta, whose alternative names were given as Vegdagr & Waegdaeg. Chispering these together gives us Ve-gd-aeg, which transchispers into Vipoig, who is given in the King lists as ruling directly before Cantulahina/Cunedda.



We must also look at Woden Hillfort in the Scottish Borders, near Kelso, which has a correctly-dated Roman influence. Canmore ID 58068 tells us, “Originally it was a native British fort, built in three stages – a settlement surrounded by a single, oval stone dyke, to which was then added a double rampart and intervening ditch. Both ramparts were demolished quite soon after completion, probably as a result of Roman road-building and occupation, and the site was only reoccupied by native peoples after the Romans left. Then the innermost rubble dyke on the top of the hill was built and faced with boulders. The Romans, however, seem to have used Woden Law for siege practice (if the so-called siegeworks are not simply part of the native defences). They dug a remarkable earthwork of two banks between three ditches at 12m-30m from the fort’s defences: in other words, mostly beyond the killing-range for hand-thrown missiles. Several flattened platforms on the outer bank seem to have provided sites for siege engines, protected by the inner bank and ditch, whilst beyond the main siegework, three further independent lines of earthworks were built in the customary Roman manner of short, separate sections. These are all incomplete. A further feature, the series of five cross-dykes spanning the easy ridge between Woden Law and Hunthall Hill, is pre-Roman however, and part of the native British defence system. Such cross-dykes are not uncommon in relation to hillforts in the Cheviotsi here they guard access from the main Cheviot ridge and emphasise the importance of the site and the route.”


We have now come to the most fascinating piece of the puzzle. It begins with Cunedda’s Pictish name – Canutulahina. Breaking this down we obtain – Canutu – la – hina, which seems to translate as Cunedda the Hun. This Scythian tribe would rise to a devastating prominence with Attila in the middle of the 5th century, but it seems that a couple of centuries earlier among their number was counted Woden himself. The northern settlement of Woden & his people should then be responsible for the Hunaland region mentioned in the Eddas,  which some sources place on either side of the Gulf of Bothnia down to Gästrikland, in Sweden. The key evidence comes from the Völsunga saga, a late thirteenth century Icelandic text. in it we read that Sigi, Woden’s son as given by Sturluson, was also the king of the Huns. A priceless clue that dictates how if Sigi was a Hun, then his brother Cunedda should also be one.

Oguz Yabgu State in Kazakhstan, 750–1055
Oguz Yabgu State in Kazakhstan, 750–1055

The presence of the Huns in late Roman Britain was remembered by Bede, in whose Historia Ecclesiastica we read; ‘He knew that there were very many peoples in Germany from whom the Angles and the Saxons, who now live in Britain, derive their origin… Now these people are the Frisians, Rugians, Danes, Huns, Old Saxons, and Boruhtware (Bructeri).’ The last two tribes also appear among the allies of Atilla the Hun in his 451 invasion of Gaul. Two years earlier, what we may now observe as a Hunnish contingent led by Henghist were active in south England.  Octa, for example, the kinsman of Henghist  seems a variant of the Hunnic name Octar – Attila’s uncle and earlier ruler of the Hunnic Empire. It also seems likely that the ‘the elders of the Oghgul Race’ referred to by Nennius as advising Henghist were Huns. Oghgul – Mohgul – Mongol is a distinctly possible babel-chain, but more likely is a connection to the Oghuz Turks


Where Nennius tells us that Henghist despacted reinforcemnet requests ‘to Scythia, ‘ in more recent times Lotte Hedeager has expertly shown how the ‘Anglo-Saxon’ homelands on the continent were made a part of the Hunnic Empire during the early 400s, maintaining a Hunnic presence throughout. Archeology tell us that gold open-ended earrings show the presence of the Huns in Denmark & Britain, where also a Dyerkan-type cicada brooch, found primarily in the Middle Danube, the Black Sea area and the Northern Caucasus (5th century), was discovered in Suffolk. We also have the Skjoldunge–Skilfinger texts, which descibe the early Norse rulers Haldan, Roo, Ottar and Adils – these names & their activities correspond to the fifth-century Hunnic kings Huldin, Roas, Octar and Attila.

That we have a record of the ‘Saxons’ in Britain at least as early as 441 (the Gallic Chronicle) & as we now understand, there were Huns in Pictavia, then we may now understand better a statement made by  Priscus of Panium,  who visited the court of Attila the Hun as part of an official delegation in AD 448/9.

No previous ruler of Scythia or of any other land had ever achieved so much in so short a time. He ruled the islands of the Ocean and, in addition to the whole of Scythia, forced the Romans to pay tribute. He was aiming at more than his present achievements and, in order to increase his empire further, he now wanted to attack the Persians.

Writers such as  Orosius & St Augustine were definers of the British Isles as among the ‘islands of the Ocean.’ We must also recall that 80 years later, the Romans also considered Britain to be under the ‘Giothic’ influence, with Procopius recording Belisarius as saying, ‘we on our side permit the Goths to have the whole of Britain, & the Hun-Goth connection  secured through Priscus, who said that Attila’s “Scythian” subjects spoke “besides their own barbarian tongues, either Hunnish, or Gothic.”


We have also the fabulous possibility of identifying the Pictish symbols with the Hunnic invasion of North Britain, that they are based upon the druidlike, paganistic, shamanistic Tengrism of the Huns. Recent discoveries at a Pictish site at Dunnicaer have dated the symbols to a third or fourth century date – fitting in with the arrival of Cunedda into the Pictish King List.



To wrap everything up, the Pictish King List unveils a figure called Cunedda in the very time period that the Cunedda of the Welsh tradion came down from the north. Through significant Chispological protocol we learn that he was Hunnish, & that his father was Woden, a historical figure rather like Zeus, who was originally a Hyksos king known as Seuserenre before being deified by posterity. We also learn that the ‘Saxon Advent’ Britain was in fact only a small part in a long-term Hunnish conquest. ‘Given the cultural background,‘ writes Dr Caitlin Green, ‘of the time and the textual context of the passage in question, the most credible solution is arguably that the Western Roman ambassador to the Huns did indeed believe that Attila ruled in parts of Britain and its associated islands in the late 440s, as Peter Heather, C. E. Stevens and others have indicated in the past.

The New Divan: Greenshoots


In Edinburgh a soul can call its home
As classical as Athens, Thebes & Rome
With catacoombs quite gloomy underneath
I’ve heard them say some flume as far as Leith
City of Gargoyles in the sandy stone…


I am currently in the National Library in Edinburgh, typing up my first efforts at transcreating ‘A New Divan’ into the more uniform, Goethe-pleasing octosyllabics of ‘The New Divan.’ Over the weekend I got the rough openings to most of the 24 poems, which you’ll see shortly. Ive just had a book delivered to my desk which contains translations out of the Divan of Hafiz, from which I’ll transplant  a few nuggets into the text of The New Divan as we go. So without further ado, this is the state of play as of 12.35 on the 28th August, 2019.




After mountains of Albania’s
Glimps’d thro’ portholes & the haze,
All downy & yielding, like cultures
Under microscopic gaze,
After distant lakes of mercury
Let us see the peaks at last,
See the ragged shores of Thessaly!
As the plane touches downcast,
Meeting July’s deep melted tarmac
Open door hot furnace frees
But feels like paradise to be back
Among these the blossom lemon trees


RAOUL SCHROTTL: suleika speaks

Time after time, “Where are you from?”
Its all a blur, tormented bomb,
Dark memories of paths & routes
Laughing them off with substitutes;
My father hears the question too,
That same queer tone, that same brain screw,
Which drove him off from land & kin,
To taxifahrer, father’s chin
Gleams strong, when ends the night’s long shift
Wine glasses… one, two… he’ll uplift
Such keepers of our faith toast-rise
Shiraz into entempl’d skies!



FADHIL AL-AZZAWI: Paradise on Earth

I see it as I leave the inn
The dark of night, an evil djinn
Close follows me, each step I take
Each step I shudder & I shake
Furious dogs barking behind
Down hunting me, out flung from mind,
I should drive this road’s solitude
I must sing madly, loud & crude!


GONCA OZMEN: Knowingly Willingly

Insane the shadows that I taste
& speak to, tho’ I promis’d not

Love, keep me from my home displac’d,
Its nights especially boycott!


JAN WAGNER: Ephesus Ghazal

With tyrants who cavort like gods,
Our early day the shortest odds,
There so severe was one in faith
His painters perpetrate a wraith
With shaggy face & eyes like sleet
Young jasmine seven at his feet
Preparing freedom swift, they hid
Themselves, before Dawn lifts its lid


CLARA JANES: The Song of the One Who Pours the Wine

As Shiraz roses still upclimb
These pages thro, as does the chime
Sung by the Holy Fool that stands
Beside the well at dusk – my hands
Reveal the decorated cup
As if from it Jamshid did sup
Containing worlds within wine-pools
Where ripple stars, submerging jewels,


HAFEZ MOUSAVI: The Name of that Sad Dove

The Parsi couple returning
From bathing their baby’s ashes
Under morning’s hot sun’s burning
Passing sadly by charr’d flashes
Of Baucis & Philemon’s hut
From their bones burnt smoke still rises
Likewise guest skeletons in soot
Heavy-hearted Herr Faust sizes
His realm long prized,  stretching endless
From this tower-top – Ode to Joy
Rings out, Europa whole to bless!

Photograph © Beowulf Sheehan /PEN American Center

HOMERO ARIDJIS: The Creation of the World by the Animals

Across unmoving, dark blank sky,
Scarlet Macaw did flash & fly
Daybreak’s orioles yellow
With turquoise eyes, began solo
Dances of lightning honeybee
Sundering mighty Ceiba Tree



Unto the man I would return
Who inside, once, my shirt did burn

At each lip’s precipice I fret
To find the voice I once did set
Down-dangling from a ciggarette

I ask the card-turn to unshroud
The revelations thro the crowd
That sweeps away plant, bird & cloud


ADONIS: Letter to Goethe

I conjur’d, in the afternoon,
In your dear name, my night & moon,
I heard the Great Bear breathe & blow
Vain verses off to Earth’s blood flow
& in the cities, laws-wax seal’d
Found scrolls recited & reveal’d
To people made of wounds & bread
Who roam, asking the streets instead
Where do we come from, where’ll we go,
Erewhile the eastern moon did flow

My Spring of freedom, is it time
I’ll go on walking clime-on-clime
Does from the West the East now veer,
To ther moons offer its sphere,
I’ll go on walking – all allow’d
The soul is nothing but the cloud
Of sperm reveal’d as guises two –
Is it the image that time drew
With ink temptated yon amends
While space the other apprehends?

The West behind you but the East
Lies not before mine eyes releas’d
They are the river’s double sedge
One transcending the abyss edge
More than a rock, tis Sisyphus
Screaning the slopes, Sinbad wanders



KHALED MATTAWA: Easter Sunday, Rajab in Mid-Moon

A poet let us find down there
Beside the waves off Mozambique
Flown south had he to taste the air
Of those first migrants who did creak
Across the Earth, canoeing free,
Khidr’s eternal progeny!


DON PATERSON: Eleven Maxims from the Book of Ill-Humour

Unleash a poem slow enough,
Fie with vigilance & care
& you’ll discover lots of stuff
That quite simply is not there!

In the country of the two-eye’d
Sentiment still holds the same
The one-eyed man still puffs with pride
For he has the better aim!



Tell me, bent branch, how came ye here?
How did you pass thro’ cobalt wood
Thro’ shrouds of white, to reach the sneer
Where fat hyenas feast on blood.

The God we’ve worshipp’d for so long
Abandons us this very night
No longer do we set among
Sanguineous heaven, his light!


ABBAS BEYDOUN: Suleika & Marilyn

I heard my throat deep from the well,
The wolf my brothers’ summon spell
Invok’d, did hear & fled to Hell,
My shirt with others’ blood did swell
My father’s eyes were still a shell
But were they real; that shirt, that well?
Was desert a false infidel?
Was Wolf himself an actuelle?
What waited yon the parallel?
Of surfac’d Earth’s detention cell
But the Prophet’s road to Egypt!


Durs Gru?nbein 

DURS GUNBEIN: The Devil in the orient

Today’s slogan buzzword goes, ‘lie!’
newspapers, TVs, politics
Are duping voters with dark tricks
War’s still our master, as awry
Falls everyone – friends, enemies –
Morass’d by chutzpah perfidies
Reminding of the Auschwitz lie.


IMAN MERSAL: Your Smell is the World’s Dust

The fish the seller touts bushwhack
Belongs to the sea no longer
Washing lines & salt smell stronger
As I pass the woman in black.


ANGELICA FREITAS: The Peacock on the Roof

It flies, its up there on the roof
Of the hostel, extraordinairre,
At that same time a bird aloof,
I know not how it flies thro’ air
This ashram silence souls restore
Ten days of peacocks, none dare speak,
From sitting legs-cross’d on cool floor
My knees groan aching as they creak.


FATEMEH SHAMS: Electrocardiogram

My back she aches again today
Three months ago they moved my heart
& ledg’d my vital spine apart
Then wedg’d it in the vertebrae
Now each musk-fragrant breath depends
On one thin vein that empties blood
From darkness to new heart blood wends,
My idiotic bruise of vein
My wanton whore of heart, the pain
My back endures nobody should.
My ECG supplies, these days,
My news, headlines from past suck’d out –
A woman used to laugh about
Her love for one man & his ways,
When lavish hearts love’s healths endow
Form windows facing long exile,
These bunch’d red muscles bled servile
I wish it were a mirror, now!