516: The Siege of Mount Badon


From that time, the {Britons} were sometimes victorious, sometimes the {Saxons}… This continued up to the year of the siege of Badon Hill (obsessionis Badonici montis), and of almost the last great slaughter inflicted upon the rascally crew. Gildas

516: The Battle of Badon, in which Arthur carried the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ for three days and three nights on his shoulders and the Britons were the victors. Annales Cambraie

The twelfth was a most severe contest, when Arthur penetrated to the hill of Badon in which there fell in one day 960 men from one charge by Arthur NEN

  • With Arthur’s battles coming primarily in campaign-clusters, if Agnet & Badon were fought in the same period, their sites should be relatively close to each other. According to the LG, during the same campaign as was fought the Battle of Agnet/Edinburgh, the Saxons & the Scots-Irish were laying siege to another Scottish castle called Aresbeth. Hardening the ‘th’ of the ‘beth’ element, as was common linguistic practice in the Dark Ages, gives us ‘bed,’ from where Badon is only a philochisp away.

At that point news reached the court that the Saxons & the Irish had entered Scotland & were destroying all the land & killing all the people & laying siege to the castle of Aresbeth. The king was dismayed at this news & summoned all his troops, near & far, to assemble in two weeks in the fields below {Carlisle}, equipped in full armour in order to make a show of force. LG

  • The Hill of Badon is sited in the county of East Lothian, to the East of Edinburgh. Its modern day name is Lammer Law, after which the Lammermuir Hills are named. It lies only a few miles from Traprain Law, which has been firmly connected to King Loth, one of Arthur’s kindred in the older traditions.


  • On the lower slopes of Lammer Law there are three hillforts; The Witches Knowe, Kidlaw & The Castles. Flowing around the latter goes the Dambadam Burn, which transchispers into Dun Badon, & also the ‘the siege of Mount Badamor’ variant of the battle’s name as given by the medieval Scottish chronicler, John of Fordun. The mor element of Badamor completely reflects Lammer Law’s location on the edge of the Lammemuir system of moorland (muir = moor). The aforemention’d series of defences guarding Lammer Law does come alive in the mind when reading the phrase, ‘Arthur penetrated to the hill of Badon.’
  • Between Aresbeth & Badon comes Bothan, the ancient name of the parish of Yester, which the Lammer Law forms a part. In the Transactions of the Antiquarian & Field Naturalists’ Society (1963/v.IX), James Bulloch writes of Yester church’s chispering dedication to Saint Bathan;

In the course of the centuries this church acquired a spurious dedication because of the similarity of its name to St. Bathans on the southern slope of the Lammermuirs. Even in the late Middle Ages the name Bothans became transformed into St Bothans but there is clear evidence that the original dedication was to Saint Cuthbert. It is told in the Lanercost Chronicle that in 1282 the woodwork of the choir of the church of Bothans in Lothian was being carved at the expense of the rector, ‘in honour of Saint Cuthbert, whose church it is.’

  • From Bothon/Bodon we come to Boderia (also Bodotria), which is the name given by Ptolemy for the Forth estuary. With Lammer Law being the largest ‘mountain’ in East Lothian, & that it overlooks the Forth, then it should well have been called Mount Boderia in the 2nd century AD, transchispering to Badon by the Arthurian era. Also relevant is the name ‘Mur nGuidan’ given to the Forth by the ‘Irish Tractate on the Mothers of Saints.’ So just as the Gododdin derided from an earlier Bodotria, so the name Guidan would have evolved out of Buidan.
  • It is possible to conject a hyperfact that when Big Geoff was assembling his history, he came across the reference to Bothon, or Bathan even, but erroneously sited the battle in Bath when writing, ‘marching forth from thence they made for the country about Bath and besieged that city.’ 
  • Half a mile from the Dumbadam Stream, in the area of Brookside farm, there are the remnants of two small Gododdin fortifications & also two very tumulus looking mounds, which could well house the bodies of the near thousand slain by an Arthur-led charge.
  • The Annales Cambraie mention a second battle of Badon being fought in 665. According to the Annales of Ulster, in 664 there was fought, ‘The battle of Luith Feirn i.e. in Fortrenn.’ Luith is clearly Lothian (‘feirn’ means land), while Fortenn (sometimes Fortriu) is essentially the Pictish world south of the Great Glen including the breadbasket plains that stretch up the east coast to Moray. The Roman writer, Ammianus Marcellinus, describes, ‘the Picts, divided into two tribes, called Dicalydones and Verturiones,’ from which passage we see the foundation of Fortrui in Verturiones. Fortrenn, naturally, is the etymylogical root of Forth.
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