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Genealogy Places of Interest


Many more theories on the identity and origins of King Arthur have appeared in numerous publications and even television programs, so here is a summary of but a few that may be of interest. From the proliferation of these documents about the deeds of King Arthur or the doubt about his very existence has been published at great length. Common sense suggests that he did exist or the probable exaggerated stories of his deeds would not have lasted for the past 1500 years or so.

A.T. Blackett and A. Wilson.

In the 1950’s, early 1960’s, publications appeared by the above two, who had set out to prove that they had cracked the case as to the identity and origins of King Arthur. To finance this they had to re-mortgage their houses to cover their costs, meaning that they were confident that they knew what they were doing and it wasn’t long before their theories and subsequent work was appearing in publications.

The main area of their work took place in south-east Wales over a period of about eight years, trying to establish evidence gleaned from books and manuscripts of miscellaneous information, including Geoffrey of Monmouths “History of Great Britain”, a large part of which has now been proved to be unreliable.

Our two historians believed that Arthur was the historical mixture of Anwn or Arthun, a British king who ruled a lot of south Wales and was a son of the British Emperor Magnus Maximus (late 4th Century) and a Athrwys or Arthwys, the king of Gwent and Glywyssing. Unfortunately the first of the above two died well before the time of Arthur and the second lived from 500 to 575, a little too late. I do so hope that Wilson and Blackett did not become homeless.

Roman King Arthur.

Many people have tried to prove that King Arthur was a descendant of Lucius Artorius Castus. A certain P.J.F. Turner is the most recent. This Castus was, according to the history books, a 2nd century Dalmation general, who, whilst in Britain, commanded the Samations, a Roman auxiliary troop, on an expedition to crush an uprising in Armorica.

This is thought to be very dubious.

The Breton King Arthur.

Once again with the rather unreliable Geoffrey of Monmouth we are told that Arthur is a High King of Britain, the son of Uther Pendragon and the nephew of King Ambrosius. As a descendant of High King Eudaf Hen’s nephew, Conan Meriadoc, Arthur’s grandfather had crossed the Channel from Brittany at the beginning of the 5th century.

The Bretan king Aldrien had been asked to help the British from the invasions that were threatening its shoreline after the Romans had left in 426 and later. He sent his brother Constantine, who appears to be the same man who had lured the Romans from Britain in the first place by asserting his unsuccessful claims to the European Continent in 407 and later.

This Bretan ancestry for King Arthur was the brainchild of one Gallet.

Riothamus as King Arthur.

A certain Geoffrey Ashe argues that King Arthur came from Brittany better known to history as Riothamus, a title meaning Great King. His army is recorded as crossing the channel to fight the Visigoths in the Loire Valley in 468, but betrayed by the Prefect of Gaul he seems to have disappeared from history.

Riothamus appears in the ancestry and pedigree of the Kings of DommonZe, despite attempts to equate him with a Prince of Cornouaille by the name of Iaun Rieth.

Riothamus was more likely exiled to Britain during one of the many civil wars that erupted in Brittany at that time. He later returned in triumph to reclaim his inheritance only to be killed in an attempt to expel the Germanic invaders.

The main fault with this argument of Arthur’s life and lineage is that it pushes him back some 50 years from his traditional period at the beginning of the 6th century.

The Pennine King Arthur.

A northern Briish king named Arthwys lived in the previous generation to the traditional King Arthur. He was a relatively recent descendant of Coel Hen (the old - known to children as Old King Cole) and probably ruled over a large Kingdom in the Pennines.

With many of the Arthurian battles recorded by Nennius said to have taken place in northern Britain it is even possible that some battles fought by Arthwys have been subsequently attributed to Arthur.

The Dumnonian King Arthur

In Wales the Mostyn family hold a Lordship in Flintshire in which a small township carries their name. They have a very long family tree, which is worth reading. According to their Manuscript 117 and the Bonedd yr Arwr, both show Arthur as a High King and the Grandson of Constantine Corneu, the King of Dumnonia.

Legends record three Kings of Dumnonia during Arthur’s reign; Constantine’s son Erbin, grandson Gereint and great grandson Cado. Nowhere is there any indication that these three were closely related to Arthur or that he had any claim on the throne of this region. Nor can any reason be found as to why, even if he was a Dumnonian prince, he should be raised to a High Kingship of Britain.

Arthur’s only connection with this part of Britain would be that he was supposedly conceived at Tintagel and his father was buried at Glastonbury, the most ancient and famous christian site in the country.

An Elmet King Arthur.

From northern Britain we find Arthwys, the son of Masgwid Gloff, probably a king of the Elmet region of modern West Yorkshire. Very little is known of this Prince except that he lived at exactly the right time, coinciding with the life of King Arthur.

Living on the west coast of Yorkshire he was in a prime location for the Saxon invasion, was from a brave fighting part of the country and some of his battles could have been attributed to Arthur, but it is very unlikely that he held his own Kingship. Perhaps he merits more investigation.

The Scottish King Arthur.

It seems the Scots also used the name Arthur, and one such Artur was the son of King Aidan of Dalriada, born about 550. A Dr. D.F. Carroll argues that this man is the real King Arthur who ruled part of his fathers kingdom at Manau Gododdin from Camelon (possibly Camelot) in present day Stirlingshire. This Arthur was certainly a warrior as were many of the Gododdin race.

Carroll bases his argument on a list of eight identical points in the lives of both Artur and Arthur as follows :-

1.The names Artur (or Aturius) are the 6th century version of the name Arthur.

2. He was the son of a very powerful king.

3. He was a christian when much of the country was still pagan.

4. He lived in the correct period of time.

5. He was a contemporary and ally of the northern King Urien, a real historical figure mentioned in the legends of King Arthur.

6. He allied himself to the Kings of Britain, especially fighting in the north against the Saxons, Angles and Picts.

7. He died in a battle with the Picts (Mordred’s mother was the wife of Lot, King of the Picts).

8. Artur or Arturius had a sister or half sister called Morgan, as did the King Arthur of legend.

Looked at closely the arguments made in the eight points above seem to be not only convincing but valid.

The Cumbrian King Arthur.

Clan Campbell trace their tribal pedigree back to Arthur ic Uibar, or the Arthur, son of Uther, of tradition. Norma Lorre Goodrich therefore argues that this makes Arthur come from Cumbria as originally claimed by the Victorian historian W.F. Skene.

Evidence to support the above comes from Nennius’ twelve battles in the north and Goodrich placing Camelot at Carlisle the capital of the northern British Kingdom of Rhegad. This seems unlikely.

A Powysian King Arthur.

Graham Phillips and Martin Keatman claim Arthur as being Owain Ddantwyn (White-Tooth), who was a late 5th century Prince of the House of Cunedda in Gwynedd. This date was, of course, much too early for Arthur but, however, a certain Cuneglasus (the Welsh Cynlas) they claimed to be Owain’s son was among the five Celtic kings condemned by Gildas.

They further claim that Cuneglasus was the son of Arth (Arthur) and that therefore Owain must be Arthur. This would mean that Owain was the ruler of Powys, the only Kingdom unreconciled by Gildas. It is known that Cynlas (Cuneglsus) lived at Din and Arth in Rhos, yet it is known that Owain (Arths father) ruled Eastern Gwynedd - containing Rhos.

A Dyfed King Arthur.

There was a King Arthwyr ruling in Dyfed in the late 6th century. He was the son of King Pedr ap Cyngar and may have been one of the confusions of Wilson and Blackett. He could indeed be named after the great man as very little else is known of him.

St. Arthmael as King Arthur.

Chris Barber and David Pykitt identify King Arthur with King Arthwys ap Meurig of Glywyssing and Gwent, but he reigned in the 7th century and is very late for our traditional Arthur. They further maintain that King Arthwys, after fighting the battle of Camlann, abdicated and went to Brittany where he preached and eventually became St. Arthmael or Armel.

Arthur King of Rhos.

Finally we come to a publication by Mark Devere Davies which is much more convincing and brings together Kings Arthur and Cuneglasus.

He argues that the only real record of 6th century Britain was Gildas’ “De Excidio Britonum” which is written more as a sermon and has little verifiable history. He also refers to Geoffrey of Monmouth’s “History of the Kings of Britain”, again thought unreliable. However the two agree on four main points leading toward Arthur, being, Constantine, Vortipor, Aurelius Caninus (Conan) and Maglocunus (Malgo). After this they refer to a person under many aliases, Cuneglasus being called Arth or Arth-Gwyr meaning bear or bear-man, with Gildas using Urse as a translation for Arthur (Urse or Ursa being used for Ursa Major - the Great Bear.

Gildas says Cuneglasus was a wicked youth who took the throne at a very early age as a ‘Boy King’, whilst Geoffrey says he became king at 15 years. A great sin of Cuneglasus, according to Gildas, was that he rejected his own wife and cast his lustful eyes on her sister, even though she had taken holy vows. Legend tells us that the ’false Guinevere’ is sent to a convent for the attempted abduction of her sister.

Like all languages the Latin language was changing and a name by which Cuneglasus was known, Arcturus, became Arturus. Gildas used this name but did not directly identify Arthur, but it does seem a strong hint.

Where I have followed the line taken by Mark Devere Davies in the translations from Gildas above, to fully appreciate the conclusions drawn by Davies it is necessary to read what he has published in full. In my opinion this is as near as you are going to get to the identity of King Arthur.