'Ardrey delivers a bombshell... fascinating stuff'
- Los Angeles Times

'A brilliant piece of detective work... enthralling'
- Scots Magazine


28th December 2016

Katie's Question and the Arderydd Campaign
On 27th December 2016 Katie referred to an earlier Blog I had written and asked how I knew Arthur was only in England for a few weeks.
I replied:

Thank you for your kind words of appreciation. I… appreciate them.

You ask how I know that Arthur, Arthur Mac Aedan, was in ‘England’ for only few weeks. (Of course, there was no England at the time in issue. Strictly, I should say ‘what is now England’.)

I don’t ‘know’ that Arthur was in England, any more than I ‘know’ that Julius Caesar visited Britain on only two occasions, but, I say, both these statements may be accepted because the evidence points to them both being true.

I take it, for these present purposes, that it is accepted that Arthur was Arthur Mac Aedan. Given this, he was a man of Manau (the area about Stirling, in Central Scotland) and, to a lesser extent, Dalriada (Argyll, Western Scotland).

How come I say he was in England? In the criminal law we would look for means, motive and opportunity. Arthur Mac Aedan had the means and the opportunities to go to England, but, why would he? What motive might he have had?

Arthur’s father Aedan allied his Scots and Men of Manau with the Kingdom of Strathclyde when Strathclyde and its allies defeated the people of the Pendragon, Gwenddolau, in the Arderydd campaign. (The earliest reference to ‘Merlin’, in the 573CE Welsh Annals entry, has him at the Battle of Arderydd.) Arthur is not referred to directly in this connection but then he was only about15 years old at the time and so this is not surprising.

The following year, 574CE, Arthur, Arthur Mac Aedan, was given his first independent command, a relatively minor mopping-up operation that culminated in the first Nennius’ Arthur-battle, the Battle of the River Glein. This was fought on West Loch Tarbert, Argyll, following Aedan’s victory at the battle of Delgon. The actual site of Arthur’s first battle as an independent commander is two miles from Delgon, at Abhainn (River) Gillean.

(There is more evidence that Arthur Mac Aedan was Arthur in the preceding paragraph, than England and Wales have for any other historical Arthur, not that they have a possible historical ‘Arthur’.)

I only mention Glein/Gillean because, the fact that Arthur Mac Aedan had his own command in 574, even thought he was very relatively young, suggests he had some experience of battle, which suggests he was at Arderydd. In the whole circumstances, pertaining at the time, it would be counter-intuitive to suppose he was not at Arderydd.)

Therefore, if Arthur, Arthur Mac Aedan, was at Arderydd, what does this tell us?

In Finding Merlin I detailed the events leading up to the fall of Gwenddolau’s fort (Carwinley, Caer Gwenddolau). Strathclyde and its allies crossed the River Esk, the modern border, between what is now Scotland and what is now England, and attacked Gwenndolau’s fort from the south. Gwenddolau’s fort was on the south bank of the Esk.

Just south of Gwenddolau’s fort is the small hill, Arthur [sic] Seat. Not to be confused with Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh. Local tradition clearly associated Arthur with this place, not doubt decades later, after Arthur, Arthur Mac Aedan, had become famous.

The above and other Arthur-connected names also suggest Arthur, Arthur Mac Aedan, was at Arderydd, and, not only that, on the ‘English’ side of the River Esk.

For how long? I say ‘a few weeks.’ Maintaining an army in the field was expensive. There was no siege at Arderydd. It is possible the allies crossed the Esk swept round to the south and met the people of the Pendragon all in the space of one day. But, this strikes me as unlikely. Why did Arthur Seat, some few miles away, get that name and not somewhere else, and, why was it called after Arthur if he simply swept through. I suppose the cavalry, with Arthur in the van, arrived first, and waited for the infantry to come up, and then waited and then fought. A few weeks? I suppose I could have said a few days.

There is no known reason Arthur should ever have gone to England again. There is no acceptable evidence relevant to an ‘Arthur’ in England at all, not all that Glastonbury nonsense, not all that Tintagel nonsense, not one piece.

VisitScotland have asked me to outline two Arthurian Tourist Trails. If you think this is a good idea… and you wanted to tell VisitScotland…

In any event, I was pleased to hear from you. Always feel free to ask questions, it is the only way I learn.

Best wishes



Trump and Arthur and me being grumpy

It looks like Trump will be elected President of the United States; and so there is a fair chance that we will all be blown to bits; and so there is something I want to say. 

There are people, usually Christians, that have taken some historical event and added some supernatural elements, and who profess to believe the resultant mix.

It annoys me when they roll their eyes at the possibility that I might, just might have identified the historical Arthur that lies behind the legendary Arthur.

All I have done is taken a legend that has had supernatural elements added to it; deleted the supernatural elements and identified the history that lies behind the legend.

And they roll their eyes.

Now I feel better. I wouldn’t have wanted to be incinerated in the Trump Wars and not have got that off my chest.


I must be getting thin skinned.

Like Trump!?