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  Vortigern Studies > Faces of Arthur > Arthurian Articles > August Hunt (2) > appendix 1

Guest Author:
August HuntVisit August Hunt's website: The Quest for Arthur's Grave

August Hunt, (1960), published his first short stories in his high school newspaper, THE WILDCAT WIRES. These were followed by stories and poems in THE PHOENIX literary magazine of Clark Community College, where he received a writing scholarship. Transferring to THE EVERGREEN STATE COLLEGE in Olympia, WA, he continued to publish pieces in local publications and was awarded the Edith K. Draham literary prize. A few years after graduating in 1985 with a degree in Celtic and Germanic Studies, he published "The Road of the Sun: Travels of the Zodiac Twins in Near Eastern and European Myth". Magazine contributions include a cover article on the ancient Sinaguan culture of the American Southwest for Arizona Highways. His first novel, "Doomstone", and the anthology "From Within the Mist" are being offered by Double Dragon (ebook and paperback). August, a member of the International Arthurian Society, North American Branch, has most recently had his book "Shadows in the Mist: The Life and Death of King Arthur" accepted for publication by Hayloft Publishing. Now being written are "The Cloak of Caswallon", the first in a series of Arthurian novels that will go under the general heading of "The Thirteen Treasures of Britain", and a work of Celtic Reconstructionism called "The Secrets of Avalon: A Dialogue with Merlin". 

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From Glein to Camlann:
Appendix 1: a Note on the
Pa Gur battle sites

August Hunt

The Arthur presented to us in the early Welsh poem Pa Gur is a very different personage from the one we find in the battle list of Nennius' Historia Brittonum. In Pa Gur Arthur numbers among his men Manawyd(an) son of Llyr, originally a Welsh version of the Irish god Mannanan mac Lir. He and his men fight monsters and witches. We have clearly departed from history and have embraced the realm of myth and folklore.

While the Pa Gur is, alas, a fragmentary poem, the following battles are listed in the order in which they occur:

Din Eidyn
Afarnach's hall
Dwellings of Dissethach
Din Eidyn
Shore of Tryfrwyd
Upland of Ystawingun

I have proposed above that Traeth Tryfrwyd may be Broken Hook near the Avon in what had been Manau Gododdin. 

Din Eidyn, as is well known, is Edinburgh. Arthur’s opponents in this battle are the Cynbyn or "Dog-heads". Arthur may well have been placed at Din Eidyn in Pa Gur because Geoffrey of Monmouth misidentified Edinburgh with Mount Agned.

Afarnach’s hall may be a reference to the Pictish capital of Abernethy. Watson discussed the etymology of Abernethy as follows:

"Thus Abur-nethige of the Pictish Chronicle, now Abernethy near Perth, has as its second part the Genitive of a nominative Nethech or Neitheach (fem.), which is Gaelicized either from Neithon directly, or from a British river name from the same root."

I would add that Neithon comes from an original Nechtan or Neachtan, which appears to be cognate with L. Neptune.

If Afarnach is Abernethy, we may presume that Celli, the "Grove", was to be found somewhere in the region that stretched between Edinburgh and Abernethy.  Unfortunately, there are many Gaelic grove place-names (coille and variants) as well as English place-name elements with similar meanings in this part of central Scotland, so it may well prove impossible to locate the Celli where Cai is said to have fought.  As its being lost is emphasized in the poem (Pan colled kelli, "when lost was Celli"), we must assume it was a place of some importance. 

I would very tentatively put forward a connection between Celli, "Grove", and the Medionemeton or "(place) in the Middle of the Sacred Grove" mentioned in the RAVENNA COSMOGRAPHY.  The RAVENNA COSMOGRAPHY situates the Medionemeton between the entries for the Camelon Roman fort and the Ardoch Roman fort, and this would fit a Celli between Edinburgh and Abernethy.  To date, two proposed identifications for the nemeton have been offered (see Rivet and Smith's _The Place-Names of Roman Britain_): Cairnpapple in West Lothian and the Arthur's Oven shrine which once stood near Larbert, a town across the Carron River from Camelon.  Arthur's Oven is almost certainly the structure mentioned in the HISTORIA BRITTONUM of Nennius:

Chapter 23: "The Emperor Carausius rebuilt it [the Antonine Wall] later, and fortified it with seven forts, between the two estuaries, and a Round House of polished stone, on the banks of the river Carron..."

Dissethach, where Arthur’s opponent is Pen Palach, looks like Tig Scathach, "House of Scathach", and Beinn na Caillich, "Hill of the Witch". Dunsgiath or Dun Scathach, the "Fort of Scathach", and Beinn na Caillich, are both in the southeast of the Isle of Skye. From Beatrix Faerber, CELT project manager, we learn that

There is a reference in paragraph 66 of Tochmarc Emire, which incorporates the story of Cu Chulainn’s training at arms with Scathach. In this case, Scathach’s house is tig Scathgi (= Schathaigi).

The upland of (Y)stawingun, where nine witches are slain by Cei, is quite possibly Stanton Moor in Derbyshire, where we find the stone circle called the Nine Ladies. The "lord of Emrys" mentioned in the poem just prior to (Y)stawingun is a known periphrasis for Gwynedd, as Ambrosius/Emrys was the traditional lord of that land. Emrys in this context may actually be a reference to the Amber river, which lies just east of Stanton Moor.

The –gun, if from an earlier –cun, could have come about by mistaking in MS. an original t for c. The medial –w- may represent a u, such as is found in Staunton, a known variant of Stanton.

Much later story substitutes the hero Peredur and transplants the witches to Gloucester, presumably because of the presence in Gloucestershire of towns named Stanton and Staunton.

There is no mystery regarding Mon, as this is the common Welsh name for the Isle of Anglesey in northwest Wales.  Welsh tradition insists that Cath Palug or Cath Palug, which Cai battles on Mon, is the cat of a person called Palug.  Modern scholars prefer to view palug as perhaps meaning "scratching" or "clawing", hence Cath Palug as the Clawing Cat. 

Cath Palug is linked in line 82 of the poem to "lleuon", i.e. lions.  The association of lions with Arfon (where the cat is born) and Mon may have to do with the simple confusion of llew, "lion", for lleu, the god who is the Lord of Gwynedd in Welsh tradition.  The letters u and w readily subtitute for each other. 

Cei or Cai, that is, Gaius, was the son of Cynyr the Hound-King, son of Ysfael Gwron "the Hero", son of Cunedda.  Because Cunedda and his sons were said to have come from Manau Gododdin in the North, and later generations made Cei into a saint (called Kea in northwest Wales, southwest England and Brittany), his father was also called Ludun for Leudonus, who gave his name to Lothian.  Lothian is the name of the kingdom that later ruled the territory of the Votadini or Gododdin.  This was the hagiographer's way of saying that Cei traced his ancestry through his father Cynyr to the Gododdin.

That Cei was of the Gododdin-descended  warriors in northwest Wales is further proven by the name of his killer: Gwyddog son of Menestyr.  This is Fidaich of Munster, the father of the 4th century Irish king Crimthain Mar.  Crimthain was associated with the Irish Ui Liathain of Munster, who were said to have settled in southwest England.  According to British records, Cunedda and his sons drove the Liathain out of Dyfed, Gower and Kidwelly.  Arthur is said to have revenged Cei by slaying Fidaich/Gwyddog and his brothers. 

The supposed name of Cei's/Kea's mother, Tagu, may be derived from the second component of St. Kea church names, e.g. Llandegai, Bangor, Wales, Lantokay, Street, Somerset, Landeghe/-degai, Old Kea, Cornwall and Landkey/-dechai, Devon. 

I would mention the reference in the Pa Gur to the "Vultures of Ely" (Elei in the text).  This is a title given to Mabon son of Modron, "Uthr Pendragon's servant", Cys[t]aint son of Banon and Gwyn Goddyfrion. 

I have written elsewhere that the Ely River in Glamorgan is the most likely location of Campus (or Maes?) Elleti of Ambrosius fame. This possibility argues against the conventional notion that the Old French Camelot = Camulodunum. Instead, Camelot would be a reflection of Campus Elleti. 

The "young boy" Ambrosius (a name meaning Divine or Immortal One) of Campus Elleti may here have been associated with Mabon, the Divine Son.  We already know the legendary association of Ambrosius with Uther Pendragon and the latter might account for Mabon the "vulture of Ely" as the servant of Uther Pendragon.

Three additional Arthurian Poems

From Glein to Camlann is Copyright 2006, August Hunt. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Comments to: August Hunt


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