The Old North

"Selection of carvings from
the Castro de Santa Trega" 
<> 16 March 2019.

I. Yr Hen Ogledd, the Old North

We trace the migration of the Red-Headed Tribe from Gallaecia/ Asturias on the Iberian Peninsula to Ireland, post 1,000 CE. By 650 BCE, archeological evidence indicates our tribe was in northern Wales. And by 80 CE, a remnant of the Ordovices, who survived the Roman extermination campaign, escaped north to the lands beyond Roman control. Were we part of the Caledonian Confederation who harassed the Romans between the Hadrian and Antonine Walls? Of note, Eiden or Edinburgh is located along the Firth of Forth, south of the Antonine Wall.

Though Manaw Gododdin was located within the territory of modern Scotland, as a part of Yr Hen Ogledd (English: The Old North) it is also an intrinsic part of Welsh history, as both the Welsh and the Men of the North (Welsh: Gwyr y Gogledd) were self-perceived as a single people, collectively referred to as Cymry. The arrival in Wales of Cunedda of Manaw Gododdin in c. 450 is traditionally considered to be the beginning of the history of modern Wales.

    "Manaw Gododdin" <> 9 August 2015.

So, we are the Cymry. The pedigree for this Lewis family states that we descend from the Kings of Gwynedd who originally came from Yr Hen Ogledd, the "Old North" of Welsh antiquity. Where does that information come from? Working backwards:

-According to the Lewis family pedigree, Sir John Lewis, Knight, of Abernant Bychan descends from Owain Gwynedd.
-According to the history of Wales, Owain Gwynedd, King of Wales, was a member of the House of Aberffraw, the senior branch of the dynasty of Rhodri "the Great."
-According to the history of Wales, Rhodri "the Great" descends from Cunedda, the first King of Gwynedd.
-According to the history of Wales, Cunedda married Gwawl, the daughter of Coel Hen.
Cunedda and Coel Hen were heads of two branches of the greater Welsh tribe who descends from  Beli Mawr (the Great), the progenitor of all of the Kings of Wales.

We learn that Cunedda came from Yr Hen Ogledd, the "Old North," to Gwynedd c. 450 CE to protect Wales from predation by the Irish and Manx. In the Old North and in Wales, Cunedda would have encountered men who still held ranks and titles which had been bestowed by the Roman overlords. Cunedda would have wanted to form alliances with these titled Dukes. According to established pedigrees, Cunedda married Gwawl, daughter of Coel Hen. Did Coel Hen, the High King, send Cunedda to protect northern Wales?

II. Who was Coel Hen?

Most importantly, Coel Hen is the progenitor of this Lewis family, as stated in the pedigree of Sir John Lewis, Knight, of Abernant Bychan, Penbryn, Wales.

The Coel Hen of History has been referred to as Coel "the Old"/ Coel "the First" and as Cornelius Dux Brittanarum (Cornelius, Duke of the Bretons), a Romano-Breton chieftain. Coel Hen has been named as the "High King" in Northern Britain at the end of Roman occupation.

fl 110 BCE Heli/ Beli Mawr (the Great) Son of Digueillus. Reigned for 40 yrs. m Don ferch Mathonwy.
Beli Mawr is claimed as the founder of the Deisi, later rulers of the kingdom of Dyfed, and also of the Silures. His eldest son, Aballac, is claimed as the ancestor of Coel Hen, of the fourth century 'Kingdom of Northern Britain' which is based at Ebruac. His second child, daughter Lweriadd, marries Llyr Lleddiarth, who is claimed as the founder of Gwent. Another of his children as claimed by tradition is Cassivellaunus, the mid-first century BC high king who fights against Julius Caesar's expeditions. . .

Britain (Albion), Celtic Kingdoms of the British Isles

The Roman capital of the North was Eboracum (modern York), which was located in territory that had formerly been under the control of the Brigantes. While the city was founded by Rome, an eponymous Celtic founder figure is included in the list of High Kings. From AD 197, Eboracum became the capital of the province of Britannia Inferior, which covered not only the entire north of Roman Britain up to Hadrian's Wall-- essentially the former territory of the Parisi and Brigantes combined-- but also a large swathe of the Midlands.

In the early fourth century, the province was renamed Britannia Secunda and was reduced in size, roughly from the Humber to the Wall. It is this Late Roman province that Coel Hen is traditionally assumed to have inherited at the end of the fourth century. He is thought to have gained the post of dux Britanniarum either thanks to the usurper Magnus Maximus or perhaps shortly after Maximus' death on the Continent. He was effectively its first post-Roman Governor, and apparently came to be styled 'King of Northern Britain'. . .

The Celtic world seems to have taken hold of the North more quickly than the more heavily Romanised south and east, and a militarily aggressive and defensive mindset preserved its independence without many of the problems that beset the south in the fifth century. However, its slow division into separate kingdoms ensured that it was a weaker region in the sixth century. . . . 

    Ebrauc (Eboracum), Celtic Kingdoms of the British Isles <> 27 June 2019.

The Kings of Northern Britain



1. Coel Hen c. 350 - 420 CE
Cornelius Dux Brittanarum
(Duke of the Bretons)

+Gwawl furch Coel Hen

Ebrauc (Eboracum)
-383? - c.420 Dux Britanniarum Coel Hen, effectively High King after Magnus Maximus.
-c.380s - 390s Late in the century, the only known British military unit, the First Cohort of Cornovii (Cohors Primae Cornoviorum) can be found serving at the Pons Aelius (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) garrison on the eastern end of Hadrian's Wall. By this time the five hundred-or-so men of the unit are probably under the command of Coel Hen.
-c.400 As a centre of habitation, Eboracum is probably declining. The city's rivers, the Ouse and the Foss, are known to be flooding at periods during the winter, inundating the wharves and probably even the bridge that connects the military fortress with the main town centre. The civilian population almost certainly declines, with many of its inhabitants migrating into the countryside, while the administrative centre remains in use. Suburban villas also remain occupied into the fifth century, suggesting that only the city centre falls derelict, with people moving to the outskirts.
-c. 420 Bernaccia is passed to Coel's younger son. At the same time Deywr, which is part of the territory belonging to the 'Kingdom of Northern Britain', is settled by a group of Anglian laeti. They inhabit territory along the coast to serve in the defence of that same coastline against raiders. Their leader is possibly one Saebald, son of Sigegeat of Waegdaeg's Folk of Angeln.
2. Ceneu ap Coel2 b. 450 -c.420 - c.450 (St) Ceneu ap Coel Second 'King of Northern Britain'.
-c.450 Ceneu's territory is divided into Rheged which lies to the west of the Pennines and Ebrauc to the east, which continues under the name of the 'Kingdom of Northern Britain'. It could be within about twenty years of this date that Geoffrey of Monmouth has Octa of Kent attack Ebrauc and harry the Britons, a development that is only stopped by the intervention of Ambrosius Aurelianus. However, the story is mentioned in no original sources and appears to be a complete fabrication. Possibly it is a misremembering of similar involvement in regional politics by the settled Angle laeti in Deywr, especially as tradition has Ceneu settling the defeated Octa in Deywr.
3. Maeswig Gloff/ Mar ap Ceneu -fl c.450 Mor ap Ceneu / March / Mark Third and last 'King of Northern Britain'. 'Chief of Dragons'.
-'Mor' as a name is unusual. This Brythonic word means 'great', so its use by an individual would suggest some kind of epithet (as in Alfred the Great) or perhaps a nickname. . .
-It later evolves considerably changed in Welsh as 'mawr', which is applied to several late Welsh kings (notably the ninth century Rhodri Mawr). . .
-c. 470 Upon the death of Mor, 'Chief of Dragons' (Pendragon), the 'Kingdom of Northern Britain' is divided between his sons. Einion gains Ebrauc while Arthuis gains the 'Kingdom of the Pennines'. Around this time, the Guotodin also seem to become fully independent and Elmet is granted to the younger son of Gwrast Lledlwm, king of Rheged, further contributing to the fragmentation of the north.
-The old ways are probably returning faster here than in the south, in regions more often governed by generals than magistrates, but the emerging kingdoms are probably still under the authority of men who are more Roman general than Celtic king. . . .

    Ebrauc (Eboracum), Celtic Kingdoms of the British Isles <> 27 June 2019.

4. Arthwys ap Mar b. 529 The Pennines
-Evidence gathered from the lives of the Northern British kings says that, upon the death of Mor ap Cenau, grandson of Coel Hen, his 'Kingdom of Northern Britain' was divided between his sons. While the eldest of them gained the capital city of the North, Ebrauc, the next in line was Arthuis. He was the first 'King of the Pennines'. . .He ruled the whole length of the Pennines, but his inheritance meant the further subdivision and weakening of the north of Britain. Upon the abdication of his son, this land was further divided into two kingdoms, Dunoting and The Peak.
-Fl c. 470 Arthuis/ Arthwys ap Mor 'King of the Pennines'. Son of Mor of Northern Britain.
Probably in power at the same time as the more famous Arthur Pendragon of Britain, Arthuis is often claimed as the historical basis for many of the exploits that are later ascribed to 'King Arthur'. Many of Nennius' Arthurian battles are often said to have taken place in Northern Britain. These and other northern stories associated with 'King Arthur' may, in reality, be relating the achievements of this near contemporary monarch.

    The Pennines, Celtic Kingdoms of the British Isles <> 27 June 2019.

5. Cynfelyn ap Arthwys fl c. 480 Cynfelyn ap Arthwys. Moved south into the Midlands and founded Cynwidion.
-Brother, Pabo Post Prydein (St) (Pillar of Britain) Died as a monk in Gwynedd in 530.

Cynwidion (Calchwynedd)
-Although the British kingdoms of the north and west of the country were established by the end of the fifth century, the structure of the south and east is much less certain, and the area could have been ripe for territorial gains. Some of the descendants of Coel Hen of the 'Kingdom of Northern Britain' appear to have moved south into this potential vacuum and made their mark on the British Midlands, probably once British central administration had collapsed (perhaps with the death of Arthur?).
-The youngest son of King Arthuis of the Pennines, Cynfelyn is claimed as one of these possible northerners who headed southwards. He apparently controlled an area of the Midlands below Elmet, probably covering elements of what became eastern Pengwern and perhaps Cynwidion itself. His son, Cynwyd, found willing followers in the Chiltern Hills where he set up the eponymous kingdom, perhaps claiming territory that was still under some kind of central control, however tenuously. The appellation later changed to Calchwynedd / Calchfynedd ('chalk hills') during his son's reign. These surviving names for the kingdom are ninth century Welsh adaptations of a Northern British oral tradition that was itself cut off from the kingdom midway through the sixth century.
-Though the exact borders of Cynwidion are not known at all, the territory certainly lay to the south of Powys (which at the time also encompassed Pengwern and extended well into the Midlands), and tradition ascribes to it the towns of Northampton and Dunstable. It may well have occupied the heartland of the former tribe of the Catuvellauni, especially in its later days, when it appears to have been compressed towards the south by Angle invaders. By this time it may well have been allied to the British enclave of Caer Mincip to the north of Londinium. Archaeological evidence indicates that the British held out here well into the seventh century, which seems highly likely as, not far to the north, Elmet also survived until 616-617, and Caer Celemion to the south lasted until circa 600-610.
- fl c. 480 Cynfelyn ap Arthwys King of Middle Britain. Son of the king of the Pennines.
-c. 480 - 500 The region comes under pressure from Saxons to the south who are infiltrating from the Thames Valley and settling as the Ciltern Saetan (Chiltern settlers). Separate Saxon groups from the advancing Middil Engle quickly push in the territory's northern borders, finding a way through the Vale of Aylesbury and compressing Cynwidion into the more defendable Chilterns and Buckinghamshire.

6. Cynwyd King of Cynwydion Cynwidion
-fl 510 Cynwyd ap Cynfelyn King of Cynwidion.
-A comment by Wendy Davies at a conference on Mercia which had been held in Leicester in 1975 is collated with others in a book called Mercian Studies. Amongst other comments, Ms Davies mentions from the analysis of various early documents that there is an invasion from East Anglia into what becomes Mercia in the early sixth century - exactly at the time proposed here for the Iclingas. There is no indication of precisely where this invasion takes place or how far it penetrates to the west. Does it reach as far as Watling Street and also feed the creation of the Ciltern Saetan in Northamptonshire, on the borders of Cynwidion?
7. Cadrod (of) Calchfynydd Calchwynedd
-fl 540 Cadrod/ Cadrawd King of Calchwynedd.
-c. 540 The change of the kingdom's name under Cadrod suggests that territory to the north may already have been lost, probably to the Middil Engle. The new name could be a more realistic reflection of the territory retained. Welsh sources refer to Cadrod using the later form of his name, Cadrawd, and calling him one of the Gwyr y Gogledd or 'Men of the North', a reference to his family background (although some have taken it to mean a northern location for his kingdom)
Judging by the movements of the Middil Engle to the north-west, the Middel Seaxe to the south, the arrival and settlement of the first of the Ciltern Saetan to the west, and the perceived shrinkage of Middle Britain to Cynwidion to Calchwynedd, the kingdom is probably now cut off and isolated. Its presumed separation from Caer Ceri to the west also leaves that territory exposed to possible attack.
-c. 570 Unknown son, King of Calchwynedd
The Britons in the area of Biedcanford (possibly Bedford, near Luton) are defeated by Cuthwulf of the West Seaxe. Four towns - Lygeanburg (Limbury), Ęgelesburg (Aylesbury), Benesington (Benson), and Egonesham (Eynsham) - are captured. The valleys of the Thame and Cherwell are ruled by the West Seaxe, as is the upper valley of the Ouse. Cuthwulf dies in the same year.
-c. 590 It seems likely that the names of at least two kings have been lost. If Cadrod truly does flourish in the middle of the century, it is unlikely that he lives a long and peaceful reign, so perhaps a son takes over, descending with the kingdom into darkness as contact with relatives in the north is lost and the noose of Angle and Saxon pressure continues to tighten.
-fl c. 600 Unknown grandson, King of Calchwynedd
Possible last king, lost to history when the kingdom was extinguished.
Pressure from the Ciltern Saetan to the south and the Middil Engle to the north forces the kingdom into collapse around this time. The territory is subjugated by the rapidly growing power of the kingdom of Mercia, which in this period often shows signs of being partially British itself, either in its early ancestry in Britain or in its choice of allies and the people who probably form a good percentage of the population.

    Cynwidion (Calchwynedd), Celtic Kingdoms of the British Isles <> 27 June 2019.

8. Yspwys of Moel Ysbiddon
7th century evacuee to Wales
-According to tradition/ mythology, Yspwys came from Spain with Aurelius Ambrosius and Uther Pendragon, King Arthur's father, c. 466 CE. Nice story; but, not probable.
-With the failure of the Breton kingdoms in the Old North, someone from this family relocated to Wales.
- Moel Ysbiddon, "The stranger's mount." There are towns in the County of Ceredigion (Cardiganshire) named Ystradmeurig and Ysbyty Ystwyth. Those lands belonged to the Vaughn family who descends from Grono Goch.

According to Scottish history, Coel Hen was the progenitor of the Scottish kings of Rheged, Elmet, and Eiden, and the progenitor of the kings of Wales who descend from Cunedda's marriage with Coel Hen's daughter, Gwawl.

Coel Hen appears in the Harleian genealogies and the later pedigrees known as the Bonedd Gwŷr y Gogledd (The Descent of the Men of the North) at the head of several post-Roman royal families of the Hen Ogledd. His line [was] collectively called the Coeling. . . He [Coel Hen] was also considered to be the father-in-law of Cunedda, founder of Gwynedd in North Wales, by his daughter Gwawl.

    "Coel Hen" <> 27 June 2019.

III. Where did our tribe go next?

We know that our kinsman began their migration from the Old North to Wales in the early 5th century. And, their migration continued through the 7th century. The question is "Where did they settle?"

Men descended from Coel Hen were called "The Men of The North" and they did not migrate to Wales until the Saxons forced them from their lands in the 7th century.  A man of that line [Merfyn Frych ap Gwriad, who descended from Coel Hen through Llywarch Hen] founded the Second Royal Dynasty of Gwynedd in the 9th century.

    Ancient Wales Studies, "Beli Mawr and Llyr Llediath in Welsh Pedigrees" <> 8 July 2019.

Yspwys of Moel Ysbiddon (682 - 740) migrated to Wales after the collapse of the British kingdoms of the "Old North." The question is "Where did he settle?" Yspwys was of Moel Ysbiddon, the "Stranger's Mount." The Lewis family was of Meirionnydd.  How far south did the Kingdom of Meirionnydd extend into what we know as Cardiganshire/ Ceredigion?

Corbalengus the Ordovician

The Corbalengi Stone is a Monolith, 1.4 m high, bearing the inscription:

"Here Lies Corbalengi of the Ordovices."

DYFFRN BERN STONE <> 21 May 2019.

Any possible history of the Ordovices is lost. We could accept the idea that the tribe died out. But. . .
-In southern Wales just north of Cardigan, there is a menhir which marks the grave of "Corbalengi of the Ordovices."
-The monument is believed to be Early Medieval, which puts it within the historical time of the Lewis family.
-The monument is found meters from Penbryn Iscoed parish church, Cardiganshire.
-This is the parish where Abernant Bychan Manor is found.
-Thus, there is proof that at least one Ordovice family survived.
-And, this family returned from exile, erecting a monument to spite the memory of the Romans occupiers, proudly proclaiming their tribe's survival long after the end of Roman civilization in Britain.

The Ancient History of Penbryn, Cardiganshire

The church of St. Michael is located on a promontory above the sea. The promontory is said to be from where Penbryn, meaning "Hill Head," derives its name. 6 The church stands in a circular churchyard, suggesting its construction on a previous Druidical site, tradition being that this would leave nowhere for the devil to hide. 7 The church, built of local stone, has a medieval stone roof, a 13th-century nave, a 14th-century chancel, and a 17th-century porch.

6. Lewis, Samuel (1833). A Topographical Dictionary of Wales. S. Lewis, London
7. Jenkins, J. Geraint (1983). "Penbryn Beach". Ceredigion: Journal of the Ceredigion Historical Society

    Penbryn <Penbryn> 26 May 2019.

1. Originally settled by the Bretons, perhaps the Silures, after 850 BCE.
2. Conquered by the Romans after 43 CE.
3. 5th Century, conquered by _________ of Gwynedd
4. 1063 Saxon Invasion of Wales.
5. 1066 Norman Invasion of England removes the threat of further Saxon invasions.
6. 1081 Norman Invasion of Wales under William II.
7. 1165 Battle of Crogan beneath Castell Crogan (Chirk Castle)
8. 1277 Treaty of Aberconway: Llewelyn ap Gruffydd, Llewelyn "the Last" & Norman-English King Edward I.
-Gwynedd, the last independent kingdom in Wales was subsumed into the Kingdom of Wales as a part of the Kingdom of Great Britain.
-The Normans program was to replace the native Welsh with English, ie. ethnic cleansing.

The Lewis Family of Ancient Wales


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