King Arthur

Building the legend

In circa 830, the Welsh monk Nennius completed his Historia Britonum, a compilation of historical events adapted from various sources. The text refers to Arthur as a "leader of battles" rather than a king.

Indeed, Nennius' work became the source of a number of Arthurian tales which were built upon by successive authors, notably that of 12 battles won by Arthur, including his slaying of 940 men at the battle of Badon.

In the 12th century many lives of 6th century saints were written about at the monastery of Llancarfan, near Cowbridge in South Wales. Arthur appears in a number of these, including those of saints Illtud, Gildas and Cadoc, where he is typically portrayed as a brave warrior.

The Welsh Triads, or Trioedd Ynys Prydein, were texts in medieval manuscripts which reflected Welsh history, folklore and mythology, organising its subjects into groups of three.

They include various mentions of Arthur, including reference to his royal palace: "Medrod came to Arthur's Court at Celliwig in Cerniw; he left neither food nor drink in the court that he did not consume."

It is unclear precisely where Celliwig corresponds to, though many place it in Cornwall. The Welsh Triads go on to list it as one of the three tribal thrones of Britain:

"Arthur as Chief Prince in Celliwig in Cerniw, and Bishop Bytwini as Chief Bishop, and Caradog Freichfras as Chief Elder."

It is believed that Bishop Bytwini was a Bishop of Llandaff. Caradog Freichfras refers to the Gwent king. Because of this, some believe that Celliwig was not in Cerniw (Cornwall) but Cernyw (Glamorgan), and possibly instead refers to the hill fort of Llanmelin near Caerwent.


Chwedlau Myrddin

Ynys Gudd Morgana

Stori Ynys Gudd Morgana

Ewch ar anturiaethau gyda'r cymeriadau yn ein straeon a gemau.

Wales arts

Catrin Dafydd (Image © Catrin Howells)

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