The following is a second submission to the International celtic Resource
Centre from the same source. This, too, is a summary of part of the
publication-in-the-works I mentioned in the last mail.
This one is somewhat more overtly Arthurian in subject, so will perhaps
provoke learned responses from those of you subbed to Arthurnet and the
like. Go on, tear it to pieces... you know you want to. ;-)
Arthur buff or not, your comments are sought.
> THE IRISH ARTHUR
> An Essay by August Hunt
> A great deal of ink has been spilt over the search for an
> historical Arthur. Bolstered by the account of this war leader's
> twelve battles in the ninth century HISTORIA BRITTONUM attributed to
> Nennius, grand figures have been sought who could, conceivably, have
> spear-headed the resistance to the Germanic invasions of Britain in the
> 5th-6th centuries.
> Unfortunately, because none of the historical Arthurs we know of
> seem to fit this pattern, known British leaders bearing names other than
> Arthur have been proposed as either prototypes of Arthur or as Arthur
> himself. In the latter case, Arthur is considered to be this great hero's
> Latin name, derived from the recorded Artorius (see below), while his more
> common name is thought to represent his British name.
> The problem with this approach is that, with enough ingenuity,
> almost any major British chieftain of the right historical period can be
> "made" into Arthur. I did this myself for a spell, suggesting that Arthur
> the dux bellorum or "war leader" might be Cadwallader son of Meirion of
> Meirionydd. My basis for this argument was 1) that Cadwallader's name
> could be rendered "Battle-lord" and 2) that there were Camlan placenames
> Meirionydd and near the border of Meirionydd.
> I have been convinced by very qualified critics that to search for
> Arthur in characters who do not bear the name of Arthur is a foolhardy and
> misleading endeavor. This being so, I will restrict myself in the present
> essay to an examination of the real Arthurs.
> The famous Arthurian battle list of the HISTORIA BRITTONUM is found
> immediately after mention of Octha's (Octha = Aesc) ascension to the
> of Kent in 488. In my paper "Arthur's Battles", soon to be available from
> Jason Godesky's _The Saxon Shore_ website, I show how the battles of
> were actually borrowed from those of Cerdic of Wessex (495-534) and a
> series of battles listed under year entry 577 of the Anglo-Saxon
> We know of the following 6th-7th century Arthurs, discounting for a
> moment Nennius's Arthur dux bellorum:
> Arthur son of Aedan (or Conaing) of Dalriada
> Arthur grandfather of Feradach (mentioned in connection with St. Adomnan,
> and thus probably also of Scotland)
> Arthur son of Petr (the Irish Petuir or Retheoir)
> Arthur son of Bicoir the Briton
> What I asked myself, in looking at these various Arthurs, is why
> one of them would have been placed by the HISTORIA BRITTONUM narrative
> right after mention of Aesc of Kent and in the southern England of the
> early Wessex dynasty.
> No answer revealed itself, until I looked at year entry 625 of the
> Irish Tigernach Annals:
> ... Baptismum Etuin maic Elle, qui primus credidit in reghionibus
> Saxonum... Mongan mac Fiachna Lurgan, ab Artuir filio Bicoir Britone
> lapide percussus interit. Unde Bed Boirche dixit
> IS uarin gaeth dar Ile,
> do fuil oca i Cind Tire,
> do-genat gnim amnus de,
> mairbfit Mongan mac Fiachnae.
> The translation of the regular entry tells how Arthur son of
> Bicoir, a Briton, killed Mongan, King of Ulster, with a stone.
> prior to the entry on Artuir son of Bicoir we are told of the baptism of
> Edwin son of Aelle of Northumbria, an event mentioned under the year 627
> the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.
> The poem stanza is translated as follows:
> Cold is the wind over Islay;
> there are warriors in Kintyre,
> they will commit a cruel deed therefor,
> they will kill Mongan, son of Fiachna.
> Now, the implication is, of course, that Arthur is from or at least
> "in" Kintyre, which was part of Dalriada, the later Argyle. However,
> compare the Old Irish Cind Tire/Kintyre with the following entry from the
> Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which tells of the 457 Crecganford battle featuring
> Hengist and his son, Aesc. And bear in mind that it is this Aesc - or
> Octha, as Nennius calls him - who is mentioned as succeeding to the
> kingship of Kent just prior to the listing of the Arthurian battles.
> Her Hengest 7 Aesc fuhton with Brettas in thaere stowe the is gecueden
> Creganford 7 thaer ofslogon .iiiim. wera, 7 tha Brettas the forleton
> What I am proposing is that the Cind Tire of the Artuir passage in
> Tigernach was interpreted as Cent/"Kent" + Welsh tir (cf. L. terre, "land,
> earth, country") and equated with the Centlond of the ASC entry for the
> year 457. It is also possible that the Elle/Aelle mentioned in Tigernach
> 625 may have been identified with the much earlier Aelle of Sussex, who is
> mentioned in the Chronicle just prior to Cerdic. With Arthur now in Kent,
> the author of the HISTORIA BRITTONUM appropriated Cerdic of Wessex's
> battles to further glorify this imaginatively created Dark Age British
> The famous Arthur of legend would appear to have originally been
> Arthur son of Bicoir of Kintyre.
> Kintyre or "Cind Tire", according to Dr. Simon Taylor of the
> Scottish Place-Name Society, is from ceann + tir. Dr Taylor says that
> placename is often better translated as "End [of the] land", i.e. Land's
> End. Mike Darton, in his DICTIONARY OF SCOTTISH PLACE NAMES, 1990, has
> Kintyre [Strathclyde] 'Head (ceann) [of the] land (tir)'.
> The Mull of Kintyre is very much an enormously elongated
> The placename Kintyre, then, perfectly matches in meaning Pembroke
> or Pen, "Head", brog, "land", in the Dyfed of Arthur son of Petr. The
> traditional royal court of the Dyfed kings - Arberth, modern Narberth - is
> in Pembrokeshire.
> P and B can substitute for one another, c and t can be mistaken in
> MS., and in the Deisi pedigree Arthur of Dyfed's father is not Petr, but
> Petuir (var. Retheoir). Is it possible that this Artuir son of Bicoir "the
> Briton" in Cind Tire is a slight corruption of Arthur son of Petuir of
> Pembroke? Arthur son of Petuir (Welsh "Petr") is the ONLY Arthur listed
> the genealogies appended to Nennius.
> Artuir son of Bicoir
> Artuir son of Petuir
> Was the King Arthur of legend born in Dyfed? Is his grave to be
> sought in the vicinity of Castell Dwyran, where the memorial stone of his
> great-grandfather Voteporix/Votepor was found?
> Lastly, Kintyre and Pembroke remind one of Land's End in Cornwall.
> According to Patrick Roper and Charles Penglase, the Cornish names of
> Land's End were variously Pen an Gluas, Pedden an Wolas, Pedn an Wolaze,
> etc. Prior to 1600, this name was Pen an Wlas, "End of the Land", from
> pen, "end, head"; an, "the"; and gwlas, "land". Could the similarity of
> placenames 'Cind Tire' and Land's End be the reason why King Arthur was
> relocated to Cornwall?
> Better yet is Pentire near Newquay and Pentire near Padstow, both
> the exact P-Celtic equivalent of the Q-Celtic Kintyre. Pentire near
> Padstow is near the mouth of the Camel just a little southwest of
> The Arthurian Kelliwic may well be the Killibury fort only half a dozen
> miles east of Pentire.
> Incidentally, there is no evidence to support the notion that the
> name Arthur is from the L. Artorius. Besides the Arthur mentioned in the
> narrative of Nennius, who was either from Irish-held Kintyre in Dalriada
> from the Irish-descended dynasty of Dyfed, we know of only two other
> 6th-7th century Arthurs. These are: Arthur son of either Aedan or Conaing
> of Dalriada and Arthur grandfather of Feradach. All four "Arturs" or
> "Artuirs", therefore, are of Irish extraction.
> We could trace Arthur to Artorius only if we could demonstrate that
> there were British Arthurs of this time period - and this is something we
> cannot do. If the name Arthur is Irish, as it would appear to be, it may
> derive from a word like Old Irish art, "stone", or, more probably, Old
> Irish art, "bear", plus either the Celtic *viro-s, "man" (cf. Irish fer,
> Welsh gwr, L. vir) or *-rigos/-rix, "king" (e.g. Cunorix > Cynyr,
> Vortamorix > Guorthemir/Gwerthefyr, etc.).
> *Artu-rix (artu-s "stone" is a u-stem as opposed to the o-stem arto-s
> "bear"; information courtesy Christopher Gwynn via Arthurnet mailing list)
> - Stone king
> *Artu-uiros - Stone man
> *Arto-rix - Bear king
> *Arto-uiros - Bear man
> The story of Artuir's killing Mongan with a stone was probably
> concocted by the Irish annalist because the first component of Artuir's
> name reminded him of the word art, "stone".
> In summary, I wish to briefly discuss the five "Arthurian
> candidates" we know of.
> 1) L. Artorius Castus, 2nd century praefectus castrorum of the VI Legion
> stationed at York, who was sent at the head of two legions to Armorica to
> suppress a rebellion. Despite any argument to the contrary (am I am
> willing to accept certain anachronisms or temporal displacements, as long
> as they are reasonable ones), this character is much to early to be
> considered in the context of a 5th-6th century war-leader. I don't know
> how the chronological gap can be breached. There are many additional
> arguments which can be raised against Lucius, but the one from the
> perspective of historical time is, I think, the most potent.
> 2) Artuir son of Aedan (or Conaing, according to the source consulted; see
> John Bannerman) of Dalriada. A non-Briton who is said to have perished
> fighting the Miathi, a Pictish tribe whose territory is found around the
> middle of the Antonine Wall. Another source puts his death in Chirchind,
> which is to the northeast of the Miathi territory proper. While credible
> date-wise (he is said to have died near the end of the 6th century), there
> is no record of him having fought the encroaching Anglo-Saxons.
> 3) Artuir grandfather of Feradach. A figure associated with St. Columba,
> so he is presumably another Dalriadan. Again, there is no extant evidence
> placing him in a military sphere against invading Germanic tribesmen.
> 4) Arthur son of Petr (Artur mac Petuir) of Dyfed, a king of Deisi (Irish)
> descent. Very little is known about him. The Welsh genealogists altered
> his pedigree to make his dynasty of Romano-British descent, rather than of
> Irish descent. Thus this Arthur was doubtless thought to be a Briton.
> There is little reason to doubt his existence, as we have proof in the
> inscribed stone found dedicated to his great-grandfather Voteporix that
> Dyfed royal genealogy may be trustworthy at least in its later portion.
> Bartrum puts his traditional birth-date at c. 560.
> 5) Arthur son of Bicoir the Briton, apparently of or in Kintyre, called
> Cind Tyre in the Tigernach Annals, "Head -land" or "End-of-the-Land". He
> is credited with killing the Irish king Mongan mac Fiachna Lurgan in 625.
> I have made a good linguistic case for Bicoir being a variant or minor
> corruption of Petuir, since B- and P- are readily substituted for each
> other and -c- and -t- can easily be mistaken in MS. In other words, I
> think it is likely that Artur mac Petuir and Arthur son of Bicoir, despite
> the slight chronological gap, are one and the same personage. Kintyre or
> "Head-land" is, in this context, an error for Pembroke or Penbrog, which
> has exactly the same meaning. The court of the Dyfed kings (Arberth or
> Narberth) is in Pembroke. Arthur son of Bicoir is the only Arthur
> to as a Briton.
> All things considered, it seems reasonable to conclude that the
> Arthur of Nennius's HISTORIA BRITTONUM is Arthur of Dyfed. He was a
> local chieftain whose significance was magnified precisely because the
> British needed a national hero to call their own.