In Search of the Gododdin
Poet Gwyneth Lewis explores the origins and meaning of the Gododdin, a sixth-century Welsh poem elegising the slain British warriors who made a last stand against the Saxons in the famous Battle of Catterick.
Fourteen centuries ago an elite band of three hundred warriors set out from Edinburgh and marched south to Catterick in Yorkshire to meet a force of 10,000 Saxons in a bloody pitched battle. At the end of a week of ferocious combat all but three of the 300 lay dead and, with them, the last hope of the Old North - the original Britons - against the Saxon invaders. But the battle left an enduring literary legacy: one of the three survivors, Aneirin, fled back to Edinburgh and composed the Gododdin, an epic poem to commemorate his fallen comrades.
Gwyneth follows the war band from the Edinburgh stronghold where they spent a year feasting and drinking mead to the landscape of northern England where they met their fate. As she travels she discovers new insights into contemporary Britain from a sixth-century poem written in Welsh about a group of warriors from Scotland who fought a battle in Yorkshire.