Monday, July 8, 2019

The Foundation of Britain’s Feudal System

By Eifion Wyn Williams

It was believed during my schooldays, that the first wave of so-called ‘Celtic’ settlers to Britain arrived in the Late Bronze Age, roughly between 1500 BC and 1000 BC. These early arrivals were thought to be the precursor for what became a long-established tradition of feudal and tribal Kingship, and which then spread across the country. Recent archeological findings, and the latest DNA analysis of Britain’s inhabitants have overturned these ‘invasion’ or ‘influx’ theories. It seems we aboriginal people of Britain have little connection to the Continental ‘Celts’, and that we have been here since the end of the last ice-age, tens of thousands of years ago!

In recent years chainmail armour was found to be a British invention, and even the iconic, curving and leaf-shaped swords attributed to the Celts, have since been proved to be a British creation. These were subsequently exported to Gaul and elsewhere around the world, along with so much more. Druidry is thought to have followed the same course, and we can only guess at what other concepts, theories and inventions from this period were British/Brythonic, and then mislabeled over following generations as Celtic.

The most obvious and most recent confirmation of this ‘aboriginal’ theory came from DNA analysis of ‘Cheddar Man’, and whose remains date back to the corresponding Mesolithic period, roughly 11,000 years ago. Mitochondrial DNA samples of this stone-age hunter have found to be a close match to a man, currently living in a village not far from the cave in the Cheddar Gorge, and where this ‘oldest-of-all complete skeletons’ was found. So, those ancient, aboriginal Brythons are still here!

These ‘heroic-age’, Brythonic Kingdoms in this ancient period, almost always came to form the ancestral birthright locations of later, post-Roman Brythonic Kings. Their histories and achievements, their land boundaries and family lineages would have been fiercely protected by their Bards and passed down through the generations. The Brythonic warrior class were known to place a great deal of importance on their paternal lineage and being able to recite one's ancestors for many generations’ past would have been a given.

My Welsh history included the writing of Geoffrey of Monmouth, who in his History of the Kings of Britain tapped into this ancient and oral history carried forward by the Druids and then later by the Bards of this country. He greatly extended this earlier ‘word-of-mouth’ knowledge, attempting to list the lineage of all the kings of Britain who had reigned after the somewhat mythical arrival of one Brutus Greenshield from Rome. This long, ruling-line of Proto-Welsh Brythons ‘officially’ remained up to AD 689, when the end of Gwynedd's (Venedotia) attempts to regain Lloygr; the territory lost to the Anglo-Saxons, signaled to many that the time of the Brythons had come to an end.

The following list is far from complete, as there were many blanks and omissions in the surviving lists. It should not then be taken as being historically accurate, but it does form a framework for the known progenitors to these king’s and their descendants. Geoffrey of Monmouth championed the untraceable Brutus Greenshield as progenitor to this line (a political proposal?), but older Welsh sources offer an alternative, and the very namesake of this country; Prydein ap Aedd Mawr.

Aedd Mawr is purported by those ancient Brythonic scholars, to be the first tribal hunter-chieftain to have arrived with the melting ice and to have successfully settled here, naming these new lands he’d discovered for his son and heir; Prydein. Who knows, it may be Aedd Mawr’s remains that were discovered in Gough’s Cave Cheddar Gorge in Somerset, back in 1903, or perhaps it was his son’s; Prydein. That just boggles the mind….

The listed lineage (with exceptions and omissions); ‘ap’ = son of.
Beli ap Manogan ap Eneid ap Cerwyd ap Crydon ap Dyfnarth (285 BC) ap Cherin ap Porrex (II) ap Millus ap Elidyr ap Peredur ap Ingenius ap Archgallo ap Kinarius ap Guithelin ap Gurguit-Barbtruc ap Belenos-Hên/Belinus (387 BC) ap Dyfnwal ap Dunfallo ap Cloten ap Rudaucus ap Staterius ap Pinner ap Ferrex/Porrex ap Corodubic ap Kimarcus ap Iago ap Sisillius ap Gurgastius ap Rifallo ap Cuneglas (750 BC) ap Marganus ap Leir ap Bladud ap Rud-Hud-Hudibras ap (Brutus Geenshield) - or, Prydein ap Aedd Mawr.

They must have been an impressive line of warlords, as their offspring became the uncontested rulers of Cymbri and all Prydein. One of these Kings name’s stands out, and he was Beli Mawr. Marrying Dôn, (the mythical Math ap Mathonwy’s daughter) Beli becomes high king of Cymru and all Britain. They blessed Britain with six impressive children, and who went on to form a cornerstone of Welsh and British history. Beli and Dôn’s five remarkable sons; Lludd Llaw Ereint, Caswallawn Fawr, Rianaw, Nynniaw and Llefelys (heroes of Mabinogion fame) wrote their own glorious history in the annals of Britain, when they banded together for the first time in history to repel the invasion forces of one Julius Caesar.

Caesar’s Invasions in 55 & 54 BC.

The Tusculum portrait. The only known bust of
Gaius Julius Caesar sculpted whilst still alive
Attribution Link
The only surviving texts from of these invasions, were written by Caesar himself and are well known. In later Welsh manuscripts, the age-old oral tradition had been written down, and their contents made contentious and controversial reading to contemporary historians;

The allies’ first, major contact with Caesar following his landing was made on at a flat plain of land, and near a stronghold known as CaerCant, (Canterbury Fort, Kent suggested). During this battle, King Nynniaw was able to bring Caesar to single combat. In this swordfight, Nynniaw was struck a terrible blow to the head and by Caesar himself, part of which was stopped by his shield and his helmet, but Caesar’s legendary Gladius had stuck-fast to Nynniaw’s shield-rim. Nynniaw then threw down his own sword and claimed the Roman gladius from his split shield. This infamous son of Beli Mawr went on to slaughter many Romans with Caesar’s own blade. Rumours were rife at the time that ‘Caesar the Treacherous’ had poisoned his blade, as all who had been injured by it on the field of battle subsequently died, as did Nynniaw himself, many days later and in fevered agony. Caesar’s poisoned gladius was labelled ‘Crocea Mors’ by the Brythons, meaning yellow or ruddy-death and was eternally cursed.  

It seems Caesar just about escaped with his life on that first incursion in 55 BC, and regardless of his later personal reports written in comfort and with the benefit of hindsight, he was given a thorough trouncing on the fields and beaches of Kent by the allied Brythons.

Sadly or happily depending on your viewpoint, Caesar’s second invasion the following year was far more successful. Caswallawn, in his infinite wisdom and his hubris had decided he didn’t need the Northern Triad to help him, even though they were declared eager and ready to make the long journey south again in defence of Britain. Caswallawn in his arrogance had declared that his forces alone could repel the Romans once and for all. This ‘Northern Exclusion’ was a massive insult to the northern tribes after all they had done in the first invasion, and it must have caused uproar and eternal resentment toward the southern states. (It may have even been the ancient inspiration for Britain’s current north-south, cultural divide). Despite Caswallawn’s fortifications of LludsDun, the Thames approaches and many parts of coastal Kent, and regardless of his courage and leadership, the shambles of this second defence, and the internecine and treacherous, shameful backstabbing which ensued remains a sad and pivotal point. 

In this writer’s humble opinion, it marked the ending of the natural development of ancient Brythonic tradition, the culture and even the way-of-life in mainland Britain. Eventually, it changed the form and manner of Britons themselves. Regardless of those southern tribes’ shameful supplication to Rome, Brythonic Britain had almost a century to organise itself prior to the true Roman invasion of 43 AD, but they spent this time mostly adopting the culture, dress and attitudes of Rome, fighting each other and manoeuvring for more personal power, land and wealth. A cynical, technological age had come to replace a mythical, magical era, and nothing in Britain would ever be the same again, but hey; at least the roads got sorted out!

Again this was the prevailing history when I went to school, and which was entirely at odds with my handed-down Welsh history. Current thinking by leading archaeologists and historians on the period have also questioned the age-old and accepted wisdom of Rome’s gifts to ancient Britain. Did Rome bring us civilisation, medicine, education, roads, law and so-much more? In this writer’s humble opinion, they only brought their own versions of these things. We had all these concepts, teachings and advancements in Britain long before the arrival of Caesar. Our traditions and our laws were developed in our own way, and in our own style over countless generations. In-fact our glorious, unmatched culture stretched back tens of thousands of years uninterrupted, long-before the arrival on one Gaius Julius Caesar and centuries before Rome was even founded. The Romans only ever brought us the ‘cross of woe’ and almost four hundred years of brutal oppression, subsuming and destroying our own forms of art, education, construction and all the other things we were brilliant at before the Roman conquest. I think our Brythonic ancestors would have flourished had the Romans not invaded us so brutally and then stayed for so long. For example; an iron-age drover’s road in Britain was equal to anything the Romans built, and these superior roads would have criss-crossed ancient Britain since the onset of farming.

From: A Bronze Age road in Shropshire (Copyright © 2015 Edward Watson)

‘Excavation of ancient trackways is relatively rare but one event recently produced some interesting finds that have a significant bearing on the argument of the origin of Roman roads in Britain.

Archaeological evidence shows that well planned structures were being built from Neolithic times, through wet areas at least, such as the Sweet Track in the Somerset levels, itself laid over an earlier track. Increasingly sophisticated structures of timber and imported stone are found during the Bronze Age, as at Eton Rowing Lake (Berkshire), Fiskerton (Lincolnshire), Fengate/Flag Fen (Cambridgeshire), and several examples in the Thames estuary. Even gridded and metalled (gravelled) streets have been found in the later Iron Age tribal centres at Danebury and Silchester (Hampshire), from around 400 BC. The Romans certainly used these pre-historic trackways that followed escarpments, banks and ditches, which they straightened and engineered, combining short sections as necessary to provide direct routes as instruments of conquest. However, archaeological excavation has revealed that carefully surveyed and engineered, all-weather rural roads were not exclusive to Roman technology.’

From: The Institute for Creation Research: ‘Archaeologists uncovered the remains of a well-maintained and well-built British road beneath an ancient Roman road in 2011. This evidence contrasts what modern texts teach about primitive-pagan peoples inhabiting the land before Caesar conquered it, and even draws into question the long ages of human development suggested by evolution.

The ancient road, just south of Shrewsbury, was cobbled and even engineered with a camber for draining off water. The Daily Mail reported, "[It] even has a kerb fence system to hold the edge in place."1 Researchers used carbon-dating to determine its pre-Roman status.’


So, we are not the mongrel offspring of stone-age Caucasian or Gael invaders after all, nor are we Roman, Saxon or Norman equivalents. We are Brythonic/British aboriginal people. We always have been, and it’s high time we adopted the term Brythonic in our history teachings regarding ancient Britain and consigned the word Celt back over the channel to Gaul where it belongs, once and for all.


Eifion Wyn Williams was brought-up in Snowdonia by a family of teachers, historians and poets. His Taid (Grandfather) was an orator and a storyteller of note, and the whole family would listen to his historical tales of dark Druids, and magic, glimmering warriors like Lludd Llaw Ereint (silver hand) and Lleu Llaw Gyffes (agile handed), both of whom feature in Eifion’s recent writing. A common character in one of Taid’s tales was a huge and terrifying giant called Yspaddaden Pencawr, who incidentally lived locally and actually ate naughty children! Eifion recently turned his focus to his Taid’s stories, the result of which is a historical trilogy entitled Iron Blood & Sacrifice, He hopes that they will appeal to a broad readership, as they are novels of adventure, love and bloody conquest at the end of the day, and with a large slice of romanticism throughout from a hopelessly romantic Brython.
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  1. Very interesting, thank you for posting. I have always described myself as 'British-born' (Brythonic) NOT English (confirmed by DNA analysis) ... only one (personal belief) quibble though: I've always believed that pre-Roman - when the male started dominating over the female - that the ancestry came down through the maternal, not paternal line: the maternal taking precedence over the paternal. This was because the only certainty was who the mother was, the father could always be in doubt.

  2. I agree, in that the maternal line was equally honoured and remembered, but the Brut y Brenhinoedd a Tywysogion (The Royal Lists) are almost exclusively male. I think we were more of a 'Trophy' than 'Pair-Bonding' species back then. Thanks for your interest.

  3. Really fascinating article. Thank you. I have read articles for some years now that the British were not the same as the continental Celts, I didn’t know about chainmail ( actually should be referred to as plain mail/ maille) and the swords though. Very enjoyable read.

  4. Informative post on our real Brythonic roots - and mine are mixed up. I may write about present day Snowdonia but the historical background is important. Anyway, what have the Romans done for us?


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