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Kin of Coel: 410-600
A look at the foremost dynasty of The Old North and how the legend of Arthur may have began..
This is a long one, and I have decided to eschew the email size limit in order to try and produce something a little nicer that usual, even though you’ll have to open this in your browser or the substack app to read the entire article I hope you stick around and do so. In the last year I have written much on the Brythonic Heroic Age, and much of that has been on the dynasty of Coel Hen specifically. Most of this hinges on the idea that his great-grandson Arthwys was in the right time and place to be the Arthur of Badon, The King Arthur, or at least the start of the later composite Arthur, that later absorbed figures from periods before and after Arthwys’ time. With much of the research new connections can be made, and as such new developments and theories have been made with regards to what was going on in the Hen Ogledd (The Old North) in the 5th and 6th centuries AD. As such, I thought it was fitting to update this article, sharing more of these new developments and ideas in a linear manner that is easier to follow. This article is heavy with links and footnotes, and where there are relevant articles discussing particular people and happenings I will link to them.
Through analysis of the scant historical sources, poetry, tradition, geography, and some puzzle-solving conjecture I think it is possible to recreate a fairly satisfying narrative of the Coelings and their dealings in the 5th and 6th centuries AD. I will of course not be touching on everything that possibly could have happened, but I feel the high points are there. Any of this of course could be wrong at the end of the day, but we have to work with what we’ve got, and I find that many others make stretches that are even more incredulous than many of the things I am going to write here. If I stray from what a source has written it is because there is significant evidence to the contrary elsewhere, or it is significantly far fetched (some of the triads are to blame for this.) Hopefully through this careful consideration we can get somewhere approaching, or at least in the same zip-code as the truth, and hopefully a little entertaining to boot. I will be using footnotes to explain reasoning and link to other articles that may provide more insight. Most of the dates here are rough estimates and are likely within ~5 years or so, with the exception of 410ad.
This must start with the beginning of the end for Roman Britain. After Magnus Maximus was proclaimed emperor it is well known that he took the majority of the administrators and soldiers left in Britain with him when he staged his European campaign against Gratian, upon doing so he married Elen ferch Eudaf, and gave Eudaf sovereignty over the island1. This transfer of power, from Roman officials to local leaders was probably likely, even though there was still some amount of Roman presence on the island after this, the seeds of the Brythonic Kingdoms to come were being sown at this time. In northern Britain many of the tribes, while under the yoke of empire maintained many of their own traditions. The Southern kingdoms fared much worse in the wake of Rome’s exit/expulsion, as they were more heavily dependent upon the empire and Roman ways in general. The martial culture of their forefathers largely forgotten, while the Northern People still seemed to cultivate this independence, and as such, initially fared much better against the Angles, than the southerners did against the Jutes and Saxons. Much of this martial tradition was in the form of cavalry based warfare, with nobles fighting mounted, in late-Roman style, leading ultimately to Arthwys’ supremacy in the north.
After this, Britain is left deprived of all her soldiery and armed bands, of her cruel governors, and of the flower of her youth, who went with Maximus, but never again returned
410AD Coel, and the end of Roman Britain
A young Coel ap Tegfan seized an opportunity and filled the vacuum left by Rome around Hadrian’s Wall. Coel is always characterized as being quite old in his reign, thus his typical epithet of Hen (The Old), however I would conjecture that he was probably quite young when he founded his kingdom of Northern Britain, with 25 years old being likely in my opinion, and 40 being the oldest. His descendants do not fit where they need to be otherwise. Many would give Coel a floruit of 390-420, and possibly even being born as early as the 350s or 360s. I would shift this to a more probable floruit of 410-440, and place his death around 440, making him somewhere between 50-70 at the time of his death. Coel ruled the territory that was formerly under the protection of the Dux Britanniarum, and with some speculation may have been the last person conferred that title by Roman Authority. The last man to hold that title was a little known figure named Marcus, who was briefly proclaimed emperor by his men, and shortly after executed by them after being dissatisfied. Coel’s Brythonic epithet, Guotepauc, means Protector. This has been suggested to be part of the Roman practice of giving ‘barbarian’ leaders titles, and as such further strengthening Coel’s place as the last to rule in the North with Roman Authority. Regardless, Coel basically rules as king and warlord in place of the “Dux Britanniarum”. Most of the south had been fairly heavily Romanized, and as such the martial culture they once belonged to had diminished, while their northern cousins still seemed to retain a not insignificant amount. This gave the northerners a distinct advantage, as even without the Comitatenses and Limitanei they still could deploy effective warbands and even project power outwards. The near constant threat of raids from both the Irish and the Picts ensured that some kind of martial culture remained, even under Roman rule. It was with this martial culture that Coel was able to effectively rule his enormous swath of territory, aided by the waning Roman infrastructure, and the memory of how things were done by Roman administration. Trying to maintain this borderline ‘pre-eminent’ position amongst his ruling peers elsewhere he made the decision to put an end to the Irish threat that had settled on the shores of the neighboring territory of Gwynedd.
After imparting a significant defeat upon the Irish and heading back to his kingdom, Coel found a new enemy waiting, the young warlord Cunedda of Manau Gododdin. Cunedda is remembered as a “relentless raider”, drawing fear from the men of Bryneich2. After a series of conflicts a truce was called. Coel then weds his daughter to Cunedda, cementing the truce. Cunedda eventually with the help of his sons (grandsons of Coel by their Mother as well) expels the Irish from Gwynedd and sets up his new kingdom there.
Coel fearing the rising power of the Irish (Scoti) settling to the west, as well as the ever troublesome Picts, began raiding them both, hoping to sow discord between them and set them against one another. This as many such plans do, fails, and the Scoti and Picts united and attacked Coel’s neighbor Ceredig of Alt Clut. Coel mustered his forces and headed to meet them. After small skirmishes with a fleeting enemy it seemed that Coel and his men would prevail, but a starving and cornered enemy is incredibly dangerous. The Scoti and Picts made a last ditch drive at Coel’s encampment and scattered his surprised warbands. Coel died in the ensuing chaos. Tradition holds that he drowned in a bog, and was found and buried in a mound, then exhumed and buried at the church in Coylton. Upon his death his kingdom was split between his two sons, Ceneu, ruling what became Ebrauc, the Pennines, and Rheged, and Garbanian, who ruled Bryneich.
Ceneu’s early rule seems quite benign, with Garbanian ruling from Bryneich acting as a buffer, shielding him from constant raids from the Irish Sea, and from beyond the Antonine wall, Cynwyd ap Ceredig serves as a buffer for Ceneu’s western territory in what would become Rheged. Garbanian’s son Dyfnwal Moelmud is born around this time. Ceneu’s sons Masguid (Mar), and Gwrwst are born.
Masguid and Gwrwst's younger brother Pabo3 is born around this time. Ceneu did not seem to be the king his father was, unable to secure his borders and lead an effective defense against the Irish and Picts. Much like the southern king Vortigern, he turns to the Germanic settlers from Kent, famed for their effective service. Octa of Kent and his warband take on the role of being Ceneu's standing army, patrolling his borders like the Foederati of the Roman Empire.
The Germanic Revolt
After fighting under Ceneu’s employment for years, Octa begins to act like a king himself, taking more and more liberties, and eventually completely turning on Ceneu, being remembered in later sources as “raiding Scotland”. Masguid, Ceneu’s eldest son, along with his younger brother Gwrwst, raised a warband intent on removing Octa from his kingdom. There was a battle at the city of Ebrauc, leading to Octa’s defeat and flight back south. With trust waning in Ceneu's ability to rule, and Masguid, or Mar as he will later be known, gaining fame for driving Octa back south, Ceneu abdicated, and his kingdom is split between Masguid, and Gwrwst, with Masguid becoming King of Ebrauc in the east, and Gwrwst becoming King of Rheged in the west. Ceneu becomes a churchman, eventually becoming the bishop of Menevia, and known to history as St Ceneu. Masguid has had two sons at this point, Arthwys, born around 470ad, and Llenneac, a little after. Gwrwst’s sons Merchion and Dyfnar are born. Masguid, becomes a competent king, driving away seaborne raids from the Picts, possibly being given the epithet Mar, associating him with the Sea, and cementing him in the Stanzas of the Graves as ‘Mar, the magnificent, immovable sovereign”
Mar's sons Einion, Ceredig, and Morydd are born, with Morydd being the youngest. The Irish Dal Riatans emboldened under the rule of Fergus Mor, steadily take more and more territory, raiding Alt Clut and Rheged. Coming to his brother Gwrwst’s aid, Mar of Ebrauc faces down the Irish, and loses his life in the battle.4 With his eldest son Arthwys still quite young a succession crisis begins in Ebrauc. Garbanian, Mar's uncle5 takes the throne of Ebrauc, either acting as temporary regent or as a usurper.6
The Age of Arthur
A teenage Arthwys began his campaign in the late 480s with a battle deep into the territory of Bryneich, where Garbanian’s son Dyfnwal Moelmud was ruling at the time. Dyfnwal ruled effectively, and had a lasting legacy as a law-maker. His standards of measurement were used well into the 13th century. Supporting Dyfnwal at the behest of his great-uncle Garbanian, the young prince defeats a Gododdin warband in a border raid, the old feud between the Coelings and the Gododdin, started between Coel and Cunedda, rearing its head again. Fighting on his uncles command, Arthwys headed south to raid the Angles in Linnuis (Lindsey). Lindsey at this time was a relatively mixed population, with late surviving populations of Brythonic peoples mixed in with Angles as well8. These raids give Arthwys a series of four victorious battles north of the River Witham. Arthwys then pursued his enemies to Bassingbourn, defeating them, and gaining his sixth victory. Arthwys headed back home, and once again was tasked with going north to assist Dyfnwal Moelmud, this time in a skirmish in the Kielder Forest, on the border between Alt Clut and Bryneich, a seventh victory. Arthwys had become a competent commander in his own right, after six victorious battles, and years of fighting his Uncle's battles. He has now amassed enough fame, and by proxy enough spears to take his home of Ebrauc back from his great-uncle Garbanian.
The Battle of Badon, in which Arthur carried the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ on his shoulders for three days and three nights and the Britons were victors.
Arthwys, aided by his brothers and uncle Pabo, engaged Garbanian directly , starting with a targeted attack on Bryneich. Arthwys defeats Garbanian’s son Dyfnwal in an attack on Bryneich itself, at the old roman fort at Binchester (called Vinovium by the Romans, possibly morphing to Gwinnouion by Arthwys ’ day giving us Guinnion). Arthwys then took the fight directly to Garbanian at Ebrauc, the city of the legion, taking his home back by force, his ninth victory. Garbanian fled the city, with Arthwys' forces catching up to him at the Humber estuary, a tenth victory, permanently cementing his position as King of Ebrauc, and establishing the grudge that follows the Kings of Bryneich for nearly ninety years. Arthwys then fights the Gododdin on their own territory at Edinburgh9, a continuation of the feud between the Coelings and the Gododdin alluded to in Y Gododdin. After establishing himself as a capable warlord in his own right through these victories he joins the coalition of kings that puts a combined Saxon and Angle army down at The Wrekin, or Badon. This was the beginning of Arthwys' Pax Arthuriana, with the invader's progress halted for a generation.10 Caw, a petty-chieftain usurps the throne of Alt Clut from a young Tutagual, grandson of Dyfnwal Hen, and great-great-grandson to Ceredig Wledig of Alt Clut.
Llenneac becomes king of Elmet. Pabo becomes king of the Pennines, his first son Sawyl is born, possibly as early as 490. Arthwys’ sons Ellifer, Cynfelyn, Ceidio, and Greidal are born. Morydd’s son Madog is born. Merichion Gul of Rheged’s sons Elidyr and Cynfarch are born. Arthwys comes into conflict with Caw, ultimately leading to his death, and the later death of Caw's son Hueil11. Significant amounts of the Germanic invaders migrate back to the continent, further staying the advancement of Germanic territory.
Pabo’s son Dunod is born. Llennauc’s son Gwallog is born in the 520s. Morcant son of Cyngar of Bryneich is born. Arthwys, after dealing with Caw of Alt Clut sets up buffer states between Alt Clut and Gododdin, exercising considerable power annexing much territory from their land, likely in a role similar to a high-king of the North, and Arthwys' Pax Arthuriana begins. It is possible that these two buffer states were first controlled in the early period by his brothers Morydd12, Ceredig, and Einion, but then passing to Arthwys’ children. Urien and his sister Efrddyl are born to Cynfarch Oer
Pabo abdicates and his kingdom of the Pennines is split between Dunod and Sawyl13. He becomes a churchman and founds the church at Llanbabo in Anglesey. Ellifer’s triplets, Peredur, Gwrgi (birthname probably Owain)14, and Ceindrech are born. Cynfelyn’s son Cynwyd Cynwydion is born. Ceidio’s son Gwenddoleu is born. Greidal’s daughter Peren is born15. Madog ap Morydd's son Myrddin is born. Llywarch Hen is born to Elidyr.
A series of Volcanic eruptions are the catalyst behind the extreme weather events of 536, causing crop failure, darkness, and allowing plague to propagate across the northern hemisphere; the wasteland of later Arthurian legend is made reality here, often dubbed “the worst time to be alive”. The peace and security won by Arthwys is once again thrown into doubt.
The Sun, first of stars, seems to have lost his wonted light, and appears of a bluish colour. We marvel to see no shadows of our bodies at noon, to feel the mighty vigour of his heat wasted into feebleness, and the phenomena which accompany a transitory eclipse prolonged through a whole year.
Arthwys’ victories have secured peace from the Germanic invaders for almost 40 years. Crop failure and plague caused the old agreements between the Coelings and the kingdoms of Alt Clut and Gododdin to fracture. A raid was planned, not out of greed but desperation, and Alt Clut and the men of Gododdin plan a raid south, against the rich kingdom of Rheged. Their only obstacle would be the buffer kingdom of Morydd ap Mar. An elderly Arthwys, closer to seventy than sixty, joins with his brother Morydd to help defend his kinsmen, Meirchion and Cynfarch of Rheged, meeting the invading northern warband at Camboglanna. Arthwys and Morydd die in the battle, Arthwys laid low by a man of Gododdin named Cydywal16, and immortalized in the Annales Cambriae in it’s entry for 537
The Strife of Camlann in which Arthur and Medraut (Mordred) fell and there was death in Britain and in Ireland.
Ellifer becomes king of Ebrauc upon his father’s death and seems to fill the role of the pre-eminent warlord of the North with his 'Great Host' (The Gosgorddfawr of his epithet) somewhat maintaining order over the next decade. Calchfynydd one of the buffer kingdoms established by Arthwys (possibly initally controlled by Einion ap Mar, Arthwys' brother) becomes Cynfelyn's realm in what is today Kelso17, maintaining the buffer against Alt Clut, the Gododdin, and the Picts. Morydd's buffer kingdom passes to Ceidio who establishes what will become his son's kingdom of Caer Wenddoleu. Gwallog becomes king of Elmet. The Angles begin strengthening in Deira and Bernicia. Urien's sons Owain, Rhun, Elffin, Cadell, Rhiwallon and Pasgen are born in the 540s and 550s.
The Crumbling North
Ellifer of Ebrauc dies, very likely in battle, possibly though from the Yellow Plague similar to Maelgwn Gwynedd in the same year. Peredur, Gwrgi and Ceindrech are left fatherless at the age of roughly seven, Ebrauc may have been under Urien’s watch at the time considering Ellifer’s wife was Urien’s sister Efrddyl. Ida of Bernicia (the first Fflamddwyn), seizes the opportunity laid before him with Ellifer’s death, and moves to take Din Guarie (Bamburgh Castle) from Cyngar ap Dyfnwal, killing him in the process. The young Morcant is now king of a waning Bryneich.
After coming of age in the late 550s, Peredur and Gwrgi hold a joint kingship in Ebrauc. Ceidio dies and Gwenddoleu becomes King of Caer Wenddoleu. Cynfelyn ap Arthwys’ son Cynwyd marries Peren ferch Greidal, who is both his cousin and a granddaughter of Arthwys. Their son Cadrod is born shortly after. Around this time, Aneirin is born to Dunod.
Peredur and Gwrgi, along with their cousins Dunod and Cynfelyn, joined forces with Rhydderch Hael of Alt Clut to invade Gwenddoleu's kingdom18. A large battle ensued, and Gwenddoleu was ultimately defeated and killed by his own kinsmen. Despite his death, Gwenddoleu's warband continued to fight on in an insurgency for several weeks. Myrddin ap Madog ap Morydd, Gwenddoleu's advisor and cousin, was driven mad by the death of his lord and fled into the forest to live as a wildman. These events are recorded in the Annales Cambriae as The Battle of Arfderydd (Arthuret).
Where was killed Gwendoleu, the son of Ceidaw, the pillar of songs, where the ravens screamed over blood.
Urien gradually filled the power vacuum left by Arthwys’ death and emerged as one of the most prominent kings of his time. He conducted raids and instilled fear and respect among several northern Brythonic kings. At the Battle of Argoed Llwyfain, Urien and his son Owain faced the Angles, and Owain killed Theodoric, son of Ida, also known as Fflamddwyn. The Angles defeated Peredur and Gwrgi at Caer Greu, and they both died in the battle. Aella of Deira and his son Athelric led the Angles, driving Gwrgant, Peredur’s son, out of Ebrauc.
Urien fought many battles against the Angles, winning each one and killing another son of Ida, Ulph. He led a coalition of kings against the growing power of the Angles in the east, bringing together Gwallog of Elmet, Morcant of Bryneich, and Rhydderch of Alt Clut. The Angles took many losses and were driven to Ynys Metcaut (Lindisfarne), where they were besieged. However, Morcant, out of jealousy for Urien’s power and prowess, had him assassinated by a foreigner called Llofan Llaf Difo (Severing Hand). With this, the alliance that Urien had forged fractured, and the Bernician Angles would have a chance to gain power once again. Owain ap Urien became the king of North Rheged, and Cadrod ruled Calchfynydd.
Dunod ap Pabo then invaded North Rheged, seizing an opportunity after the death of Urien. Owain and his brother Pasgen were able to stop Dunod’s invasion. Morcant of Bryneich invaded shortly after, killing Owain in battle. Rheged waned in power from that point. The Angles were steadily becoming more and more powerful, while many of the Brythonic kingdoms were waning. Ceredig of Elmet, Gwallog’s son, was the last Brythonic holdout in the east. The men of the Gododdin planned a raid on the now Angle stronghold of Catraeth.. After feasting and planning for a year, they rode. Aneirin, one of the last major descendants of Coel, joined them. The Angles solidly defeated the Gododdin, paving the way for Anglian supremacy in the north under Aethelfrith. Aneirin survived and wrote the core of Y Gododdin, combining elegies for many famous figures from the time, adding them to the roster of the many warriors who fought bravely at Catraeth.
I have written before on the theory that Catraeth may in fact not just be a battle of the Gododdin and Picts fighting the Angles, but instead a borderline apocalyptic battle for the Old North, involving pretty much every kingdom except Alt Clut. My chronology above is not based on this, but on the more traditional view that Catraeth happened ~600ad. My friend p5ych0p0mp’s work has made this alternate view a little more interesting in my opinion, and as such I have decided to include an alternate chronology, this time considering Catraeth, Caer Greu, and Gwen Ystrad are all in fact the same event.
Urien had become the closest thing to a High-King since Arthwys and exercised a certain amount of power over his cousins and fellow kings, Gwallog of Elmet, Peredur, and Gwrgi of Ebrauc, Dunod of the Pennines, and Morcant of Bryneich. Peredur and Gwrgi, seeing what they viewed as theirs by right as grandsons of Arthwys, allied themselves with their family’s former enemies, The Gododdin and the Picts to drive Urien from Catraeth19. In an unlikely alliance, Urien employed the Angles of Deira to fight alongside him against retaliatory raids from The Gododdin. Upon the eve of the battle, Peredur and Gwrgi were abandoned by their warband, as accounted for in the triads, who possibly even defected to Urien. Peredur and Gwrgi died in battle, and it is remembered as "Caer Greu" (Possibly meaning Fort of Blood). The Angles benefited in the wake of this, taking Ebrauc for themselves, with a weakened son of Peredur, Gwrgant, their only obstacle. The first major cracks in the Old North had started.
580-590ad (largely the same)
Urien fought many battles against the Angles, winning each one, killing another son of Ida, Ulph. Urien then led a coalition of Kings against the growing power of the Angles in the east, bringing together Gwallog of Elmet, Morcant of Bryneich, and Rhydderch of Alt Clut. The Angles took extreme losses, and were eventually besieged at Ynys Metcaut (Lindisfarne). Morcant, out of jealousy for Urien’s power and prowess, has him assassinated by a foreigner called Llofan Llaf Difo (Severing Hand). The alliance Urien had forged fractured, and the Bernician Angles would have a chance to gain power once again. Owain ap Urien becomes king of North Rheged. Cadrod rules Calchfynydd.
Dunod and Gwallog, holding a ten year grudge against Rheged for the death of their cousins Peredur and Gwrgi see an opportunity upon the death of Urien. Dunod and Gwallog invade Rheged. Owain and his brother Pasgen are able to stop Dunod’s invasion, while Elphin seemingly fights off Gwallog. Morcant of Bryneich invades shortly after, killing Owain in battle. Rheged’s fortunes take an interesting turn, that I will leave to my friend p5ych0p0mp. The Angles steadily became more and more powerful, and many of the Brythonic kingdoms waned, with only Ceredig of Elmet, Gwallog’s son holding out. Aneirin wrote Y Gododdin, not only writing Elegies for the Warriors of Gododdin, but also including references to the Coelings, regardless of their side or association with the battle.
Shield-Shattered fighters slew and were slain
Not one of them came home again.
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This is the source of the often cited myth that “Constantine’s mother was British”. This was probably started by a conflation of Elen ferch Eudaf with Helena of Bithynia, transforming Helena into Helen of Britain, daughter of Coel. I speak about this here
Coel’s son Garbanian is King of Bryneich, likely taking the throne sometime around 440, when his father died. There is a possibility that Garbanian was actually a mercenary leader adopted into the family. I discuss this here
Working from the Genealogies, Pabo has to be born quite late in his father’s life, as his descendants don’t quite work out, even with a longer floruit of 30-35 years given to him. This may explain why he was given the lesser Kingdom of the Pennines as a younger son coming of age not in his father’s reign, but his brother, Mar’s.
This comes from the excerpt of Morvidus from DgB, who is a faint memory of Mar of Ebrauc. You can read more about this here.
There are a few possibilities for Garbanian, the first is that he is genuinely Coel Hen’s son, possibly by a wife of Germanic stock, thus his name Germanianus, or he acquired that name later in life leading a group of Germanic mercenaries. There is always the possibility that he was a former Roman commander of Germanic origin, thus being named Germanianus as well. I treat him throughout this article as a genuine son of Coel Hen, and refer to him by the Brythonic version of his name Garbanian.
It is reasonable to make the conclusion that Garbanian of Bryneich briefly ruled Ebrauc after Mar’s death. Working from the idea that Geoffrey of Monmouth was using a lost Northern Chronicle to compile some of his dubious work DgB, we can see that the probable line of succession in Ebrauc does not follow the oldest genealogies, with Garbanion being interpolated between Mar and Arthwys. This is not the only bit of evidence for this theory, and I discuss it more in footnote 10. Plotting the twelve battles of Arthur from Nennius, many of the most likely sites are all in the north, specifically centered around York. This battle list as John Koch reckons is quite old, and may even have been originally composed during Arthur’s reign. When taken into account as possibly being Arthwys of Ebrauc’s battles a very likely scenario of border defense, with eventual civil war, and then a southern fight at Badon against a Saxon coalition becomes apparent.
490-537 are of course going to be dominated by Arthur/Arthwys. I have a bigger article upcoming bringing a decent amount of evidence to the table that Arthwys is probably the start of the Arthurian legend. This portion is largely copied from my article here, I have adjusted some of the narrative from a few more recent conclusions I have drawn. You can find my three different articles discussing the possible sites of Nennius’ battle list here, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
There is even an interpolation of a partially Brythonic name in a Genealogy of the Kings of Lindsey, Caedbaed.
Also known as Mount Agned, as it is found in Nennius’ battle list.
Liddington Castle is also a strong contender for Badon, although the more central location of The Wrekin makes a little more sense for a pan-island struggle, with such large ramifications.
The ramifications of this may be extremely far reaching as far as historical documents on Arthur are concerned. Gerald of Wales says, “The Britons maintain that, when Gildas criticized his own people so bitterly, he wrote as he did because he was so infuriated by the fact that King Arthur had killed his own brother, who was a Scottish chieftain. When he heard of his brother's death, also the Britons say, he threw into the sea a number of outstanding books which he had written in their praise and about Arthur's achievements. As a result you will find no book which gives an authentic account of that great prince.”
There may be some evidence in connecting Morydd to the buffer state that became Caer Wenddoleu, as his grandson Myrddin was associated with the area, being Gwenddoleu ap Ceidio’s bard and advisor, indicating that Morydd’s son Madog (Myrddin’s father) may not have been of age and power passed from Morydd to Ceidio, possibly indicating that Ceidio may have been fostered by Morydd (a common practice at the time) Similarly in the buffer kingdom that becomes Calchfynydd may have been Arthwys’ brother Einion’s initially, and as such Cynfelyn may have been warded with Einion.
Pabo and his descendants are the most problematic of the Coeling branches. As discussed in footnote 3 Pabo was probably born quite late to his father Ceneu, but even then his ‘children’ are often considered contemporaries of Arthwys’ grandchildren and Urien. This may hint that we have a missing generation amongst Pabo, or that the genealogy placing Pabo as Arthwys’ son may in fact be correct.
Peredur appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s De Gestis Brittonum as Peredurus, one would expect Gwrgi to appear here as well, however instead of Gwrgi Geoffrey gives Peredurus’ brother as Ingenius or Eugenius. Geoffrey drew the majority of this section from a northern chronicle/ kings list fragment that is now lost. Perhaps Gwrgi and Igenius are one and the same. Owain or Ewein is often latinized as Eugenius, thus giving us a possible name of Owain for Gwrgi. Gwrgi itself is an unusual name, and only appears historically as the name of one of Ellifer’s triplets. Gwrgi is the name of other figures found in the realm of legend, that are more overtly mythical, such as Gwrgi Garwlwyd, a ‘werewolf’ like figure.
Peren and by proxy Greidal, appear in a genealogy attributing Greidal’s parentage to Arthwys ap Garmon. This is likely a result of a pedigree being corrupted by a regnal list including Garbanian (Garmon) as Arthwys’ father, as he preceded him as King of Ebrauc. This is then interpreted by the copyist to be a different Arthwys than Arthwys ap Mar, when in fact it’s described the name man.
Cydywal’s elegy appears in the poem Y Gododdin. It is mentioned that he slew Athrwys (Arthwys). If this is not a later interpolation, this is too early to be Athrwys ap Meurig, and not likely to be Artuir mac Aedan either, so is likely a reference to Arthwys ap Mar.
Calchfynydd is often placed in the Chiltern hills to the south, however I find this implausible, and think that the likelihood of Kelso becoming the domain of one of Arthwys ' children is much more likely than Cynfelyn heading south and carving a fairly large kingdom out in contested territory.
There is a tradition of Gwenddoleu being one of the last Pagan holdouts within the Brythonic kingdoms, and this conflict supposedly arose from that, although there is another tradition that this was a battle fought after Aedan ran afoul of Rhydderch and sought help from Gwenddoleu.
If Catraeth is indeed modern day Catterick this was very likely within Ebrauc’s territory at 580, as well as being very close to the border of Rheged and Bryneich. Considering this, Urien may have used it as a power base to control the other Coelings as ‘sub-kings’ This is evidenced by him being described as “Lord of Catraeth”.