Y Gododdin

Before the battle of Stirling Bridge, William Wallace watched from hiding on a hilltop as the English force began to cross the river below.  That hilltop had been the site of an ancient fort:
A hillfort comprising a single oval bank with another rampart 30m further down the slope, was first recorded on the summit in the 18th century. Originally interpreted as the camp of Wallace’s troops, recent investigations revealed the structure was much older, as charcoal recovered from the inner rampart returned a radiocarbon date of AD 560-730. 
Stirling Council Archaeology Officer Murray Cook, who in September led a community excavation at the site, said this means the fort could have been one of the main centres of the Gododdin, a Britonnic people who lived in northeast England and southern Scotland. Part of this tribe formed the kingdom of Manaw, which local place names such as Clackmannan and Slamannan suggest could have included the area around Abbey Craig. But this high-status settlement also appears to have come to a dramatic end, destroyed by a fire so intense that its stones fused together.
Gododdin was one of the kingdoms of the Old North, now almost forgotten.  There was a time when these kingdoms were the frontier of our civilization, but few now even know their names.  Its companion, Ystrad Clud, is remembered now only as 'Strathclyde,' which used to have administrative functions within Scotland.

As for Gododdin, it is chiefly remembered for a single verse from its surviving poetry:
He fed black ravens on the rampart of a fortress
Though he was no Arthur
Among the powerful ones in battle
In the front rank, Gwawrddur was a palisade.
This is often taken to be the earliest surviving reference to the man we know as King Arthur.  The reference  assumes its audience needs no explanation of why a raven-feeder, a palisade in the front ranks of battle, is not shamed by the comparison.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Wallace likely knew more arcane things about his country. The Isles were indeed a melting pot and a reaction against this. The Dalriadic Scots came from Dalriada in Ireland. Mogonsaetan was extinct before the Conqueror. Nasty vikings led raids and took slaves.