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duced to shape until within the first sixty years of the seventh century. The Black Book of Caermarthen was written in the time of Henry II. (1154-1189).

The Book of Aneurin is a MS. of the latter part of the thirteenth century.

Taliessin is a MS. of the beginning of the fourteenth century. The Red Book of Hergest appears to belong to the fourteenth or fifteenth century.

There has been a question as to the authenticity of the Ossianic poems, on the ground of want of MSS., though I think the importance of this has been greatly exaggerated. But there can be no question that these Welsh poems were certainly reduced to writing many centuries ago.

I cannot go into the question of the proof of the genuineness and authenticity of the poems. I think this has been fairly established, in regard at least to the greater number of them, especially the historical poems. But I may mention one thing which weighs greatly with me in their favour, and that is the circumstance that, though reduced to writing at a time when the romantic element had grown so completely around the British Arthur as to transfigure him into a mediaval Christian hero, there is no trace of this in these Welsh poems. On the contrary, he appears simply as the Guledig, as the deliverer of the northern Cymri from their Pictish and Anglian oppressors. He seems to be exactly that personage whom the exigencies of the time at which he is supposed to live would demand. Had Arthur been the creation of that twelfth century, he

1 The Four Ancient Books of Wales, by William F. Skene, 1868, Introduction, c. i., ii.

would certainly have been glorified as “the Flower of Chivalry and of Kings,” and as that irrespectively altogether of epoch or locality.

Then there are the Historia and Epistola of Gildas. Gildas, born in 516, seems to have been a son of a princeling in the area of Strathclyde. He wrote his history, as we find from independent sources, in 560— that is, forty-four years after what is regarded as the last victorious battle of Arthur, that of Badon Hill (Caer Badon), in 516, and only twenty-three years after Camelon, where Arthur fell. Gildas died in 570.

Then, thirdly, there is the Historia Britonum of Nennius. The Historia Britonum seems to be fairly regarded as a work of the seventh or eighth century. The original was in Welsh; it was then translated into Latin. It refers chiefly to Northumbria, and terminates with the foundation of the Anglian kingdom of Northumbria by Ida in 547. This Historia Britonum is obviously the original work of Nennius, or of the writer whom he succeeded and continued. The Genealogia of the Saxon kings was added in 738. In 838, Marc the Anchorite added the life of Germanus and the Legend of St Patrick. In 858 the whole bears the name of Nennius.

The historic epoch of Arthur, if he be more than mythical, was doubtless the first half of the sixth century, and the notices of him in the works now referred to, point to him as living during that period. This was the critical period of the Cymric race in Britain, especially in Y Gogledd or the North. Picts, Scots, and Angles pressed upon the colony abandoned by Rome.

1 See Skene, Four Ancient Books of Wales, Introduction, c. ii.

Those tribes, at least the Picts and Angles, broke into the province from the north and east, and obtained a footing there. The Angles who assailed the province from the east are tolerably well known as to character and origin ; for some time in Britain they had held the Litus Saxonicum, or Saxon shore. The Scots were of course the Gaels of Dalriada. The contraverted Picts came from the north of the Northern Wall, from the other side of what was known as the Mare Frenessicum, the Frisian Sea, afterwards named the Scots' Water, now the Firth of Forth. The Picts seemed to have obtained a hold of a strip of country along the shore of the Firth of Forth south of the wall. This extended southwards to the Pentlands (Pehtlands), and westwards as far probably as the Avon in Linlithgowshire. This district of the Picts was called Manau Gododin. From this they pressed onwards until they obtained some kind of settlement in the country to the east and south as far probably as the Tweed, and now divided into the counties of East Lothian, Berwick, and Roxburgh. This occupation, at least in a permanent form, does not seem to have taken place until the beginning of the sixth century; for we find that after Hengist arrived in Kent, in 449, he was followed by a body of Saxons, headed by his son Octa and his nephew Ebissa, or Eossa, as the Welsh called him. According to Nennius, Vortigern, the weak and indulgent king of the southern Cymri, allowed Hengist to send for this body that they might fight against the Scots of Dalriada, who had apparently overrun the province beyond the Northern Wall. The two Saxon adventurers were to be rewarded with the districts in the north, near

the wall which is called Guaul. This band, Nennius tells us, had forty ships (ciuli). They sailed round the Picts, laid waste the Orkneys, and came and occupied several districts beyond the Mare Frenessicum up to the confines of the Picts.? If the Mare Frenessicum be, as is supposed, the Firth of Forth, the Picts are here represented as possessing the country to the north of it. Their real boundary at this time was, however, in all probability, the Firth of Forth. It is clear at any rate from this that the Angles under Octa and Eossa got possession of the country of the Cymri, at least along the east coast and the shores of the Firth as far as the southern boundary of the Picts. Now the Welsh traditions are at one in regarding Octa and Eossa as the opponents with whom the British Arthur carried on his campaign in this region of the Northern Wall. These traditions, taken in connection with the narrative of Nennius, go far to settle the question, both as to the probable historic date of Arthur and the locality of his campaign or famous Twelve Battles.

Thus harassed and left to their own resources, there was a revival of public spirit among the Cymri. Driven, apparently, beyond the Tweed, they were anxious to regain the part of the country between the two walls which had been wrested from them. It seems to have been customary among them, in emergencies, to appoint

1 Historia Britonum, 38.

? Ibid., 38. “Regiones plurimas ultra Mare Frenessicumusque ad confinium Pictorum,” ed. Stevenson. The phrase "ultra Mare Frenessicum” occurs only in one MS., the Harleian, and is probably an unwarranted addition to the original text.

3 Skene, Four Ancient Books of Wales, i. 52.

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a head over all the clans of a province. It was likely, in this crisis of their fate, that they would nominate one common head over all the tribes. Ambrosius Aurelianus, a man of Roman descent, had been their common leader, their Guledig or Pendragon. Guledig is the equivalent of Aurelianus, and is from gulad, country. Now this character of Guledig is exactly that under which the British chief, Arthur, is described in the earliest existing documents regarding him. Nennius calls him Duc Bellorum. He is described, too, as coming into notice immediately after the Guledig Ambrosius-as, in fact, taking up his function. Taliessin, in The Chair of the Sovereign, thus sings :

“ From the loricated Legion

Arose the Guledig,

Around the old renowned boundary." For the details of Arthur's doings during this period, however slightly sketched, we are indebted to Nennius. He tells us that · Arthur, the Dux Bellorum succeeding Ambrosius, fought twelve battles, the result of which was the freedom of the northern Cymri from their oppressors, for his lifetime at least thereafter, twenty-one years. "At that time,” says Nennius, referring to the period after the arrival of Hengist, “the Saxons grew strong in numbers, and throve in Britain. Hengist, however, being dead, Octha, his son, passed over from the western part of Britain to the kingdom of the Cantii (Kent), and from him are sprung the kings of the Cantii. Then Arthur fought against them in those days with the kings of the Brittones, but he himself was leader of the fights (dux

1 Skene, Four Ancient Books of Wales, i. 261.

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