Summing up … and other thoughts

When did WordPress change the way of editing? I don’t like it and would prefer to have it back as it was.

Cynwyd Cynwydion was a king of Strathclyde – perhaps a ‘warrior king’ – in the Brittonic Old North, the Cumbric region centred on Dumbarton. Two of his sons were associated with the north – Clydno Eiddyn with Edinburgh and Cynfelyn Drwsgl with the Battle of Arfderydd, possibly Arthuret just north of Carlisle. A third son was Cadrod Calchfynydd: the area of Calchfynydd or Chalk Hill is tentatively identified with Kelso. No evidence associates this Cynwyd with the south west of England, nor with Wales or Brittany. This casts doubt on Llangynwyd having anything to do with him.

So the ‘St Conet’ of the Brittonic regions of the south seems to have been a different person. Cunetus (Conet/Conoit and presumably Cynuit) would just have been the shared first name.

St Congar

Sculpture identified as St Congar of Congresbury

As for arx Cynuit, this doesn’t seem necessarily to be a precise toponym but simply ‘the stronghold of Cunetus’ (wherever it was), and if it seems strange for a saint to have had a ‘stronghold’ there is the better known example of Congresbury, St Congar’s burh (arx Cyngar?), where the ‘burh’ would appear to have been the nearby Iron Age fort.

When Asser wrote of arx Cynuit (and he is the only source for the name), was he just referring to a place with which St Cunetus was known to have been associated? Asser was a Welsh churchman so would have been likely to have known of a local Brittonic ‘saint’ – Llandigwinnett, or Lantigonet, is about 30 miles from St David’s where Asser was born. Asser also said that the Danes landed ad Domnaniam whereas the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle specifies on Defenascire. But Dumnonia was then referring to that part of the South West peninsula which is now Devon and Cornwall, and not then yet under Saxon control – though the Saxons were gradually moving west. It was not just ‘Devon’ as we know it.

This suggests another possibility: in the 6th century one of the most important trading ports was – Tintagel. Easy to land there and there was reputed wealth from the tin trade. Would that fit at all as a possible site of the 878 ‘Battle of Cynuit’ – a later title which assumes that Cynuit was a place or a participant – both of which seem unlikely: Asser simply said that the Danish leader had been killed ante arcem Cynuit.

Tintagel

Tintagel – *din + *tagell – perhaps ‘fort by the neck of land.

Could Tintagel be the stronghold which was ‘tutissimus’ on three sides and vulnerable only to the east – ille locus situ terrarum tutissimus est ab omni parte, nisi ab orientali? Is it near any of the places to which St Cunetus appears to have given his name? The closest one identified so far is the possible Lesnewth reference (or in Welsh llys newydd – new court) which is about 5 miles away as the crow flies. This is where the church was dedicated at one time to an obscure ‘St Knett’. St Cunetus? Was Tintagel a sort of hermitage where he had a chapel? Archæologically, the small peninsula has been found to have been occupied in the sub-Roman era, with pottery from Byzantium with Christian symbols. And it’s thought to have been a power centre of the old Kingdom of Dumnonia.

But isn’t this much too far west, too far into the territory of the West Welsh for there to have been a band of thegns – ministri regis – of King Alfred? I don’t know. It has been suggested that the eastern limit of Dumnonia was well into Somerset – at one time as far as the River Parrett, but perhaps by this date it was further to the west, to the point where the West Welsh had been pushed back by the time of Asser. I’ll go away and look into this.

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