King Offa’s tomb

Coin of King Offa

Coin of King Offa

How does one leave a legacy? All leaders care about their legacy. Modern politicians seem preoccupied by both leaving a legacy and what it will be. Medieval kings did not count on historians to keep their legacy or even memory alive. Most early medieval kings are known only as a name in a list, a signatory on a charter, maybe found on a couple of coins if they are lucky. Merican King Offa is a classic case in point. Everything we know about him comes from outside references, coins, charters, and landmarks. These sources suggest a major, long-lived king, but we have no official narrative record of his reign from within England.

“Overall, Matthew’s writings about Offa indicate how, 450 years after his death, even people with the skill and desire to learn about him had little to go on. What St.Alban’s historian wrote about Offa’s tomb is revealing in this regard. Hearsay suggested Offa was buried in 796 in a chapel on the banks of the river Ouse near Bedford, north of St. Alban’s, but the river soon washed the chapel away. Summer time bathers in the Ouse told Matthew  [of Paris] that sometimes one could spy Offa’s sepulcher beneath the river’s clear waters; however, all attempts to retrieve it failed. Like the historical figure about whom Matthew wanted to know, Offa’s tomb was unreachable.” (Squatriti, 2004, p. 51)

 There is at least some basis for Offa’s burial near Bedford. King Offa’s wife Cynthryth became an Abbess at Cookham and has charge over a church at Bedford where her husband was buried. However, was he buried in a church or in a chapel so close to the river that it eventually wound up submerged so deeply that no could get close to it? Or could it be a Roman mausoleum? And why were they trying to reach it? Had St Alban’s or locals really tried to “retrieve it”, or just to confirm that it is Offa? We are left with even more questions that Matthew of Paris.

Reference:

Squatriti, Paolo. “Offa’s Dyke Between Nature and Culture.” Environmental History, 2004, 37–56.

Btw, this is my 400th post on Heavenfield!

Heavenfield Round-up 7: June Links

I’m not sure where June went. I wish I had been more productive, but luckily some of my fellow bloggers have been  much busier.

Bamburgh Research Project has been out in the field for most of June. Various updates have been posted on their blog.

Curt Emanuel, the Medieval History Geek, has posts on late antique panegyrics and mixed feelings on studying human tragedies.

Guy Halsall, the Historian on the Edge, has posted a recent conference paper Feud, Vengeance, Politics and History in Early Medieval Europe.

Kristina Killgrove of Powered by Osteons has put her presentation from the Moving Romans conference in Holland on her blog: Etched in Bone: Uncovering information about immigrants to Rome.

Magistra et Mater writes about why medievalists write cultural history.

Jonathan Jarrett of A Corner of Tenth Century Europe wrote on medieval gender studies and Vandals and archaeology.

Tim Clarkson of Senchus wrote about the Aberlady Cross and Medieval Archaeology goes online. At Heart of the Kingdom, Tim provides some background for a short story on a queen of Strathclyde.

Diane McIlmoyle of Esmeralda’s Cumbrian History and Folklore writes about the 9th century Kingmoor Ring.

Carl Pyrdum of Got Medieval finds reason to call fundamentalists medieval, dragging poor Nessie and St Columba into the fray.

Andy Gaunt of Archaeology and History of Sherwood Forest has posts on the Sherwood Forest Nature Reserve and Bothamsall Castle.

Clas Merdin has a series of posts this month on the foundation legends of London as New Troy, London as Mallory’s Winchester, and the London Stone. A little background for the coming Olympics in London in July.

Karen Jolly of Revealing Words has been scouting her sites for her novel around Oakley and interpreting what a note about an Anglo-Saxon tent means.

Sally Wilde has posts on her research on the importance of male heirs, early Welsh research, on landscape research.

Here at Heavenfield, I have posts on secondary sources for the Britons and a review of Disney/Pixar’s Brave. Medievalist.net also reviewed my Kalamazoo talk Famine and Pestilence in the Irish Sea Region, 500-800 AD.  On Contagions, I also have a post on plague at the siege of Caffa in 1346 that is reported to have started the Black Death in Europe.

The Death of King Diarmait

I’ve been browsing through the Fragmentary Annals of Ireland for you know what, plague, and I came across an interesting entry.

665 Kl. The death by plague of the son of Áed Sláine, i.e. Blathmac [...], i.e. in Calatruim. Diarmait died in the same place, standing, stretched against a cross, watching the Laigin army approaching to kill him. His soul departed from him. It is found in some books that these two kings, Blathmac and Diarmait, reigned twelve years. In others, however, … years, which we follow. These two kings of Ireland, then, Blathmac and Diarmait, died in that plague, i.e. the Buide Conaill. (FA 28)

The Annals of Ulster has a king Diarmait son of Aed Slaine and a king Blathmac who died of plague. There is nothing about being “stretched against a cross, watching the Laigin army approaching to kill him.” I don’t think that I’ve seen anything quite like this before. This would seem to have a Leinster (Laigin) connection, like some of the other hints in plague lore like the name Buide Conaill itself (Conaill being the dynastic founder of the Leinster). Has anyone seen anything like this before?

St Oswald Hagiography & Literature

This post is a run down of existing hagiography and literature on St Oswald. I’m really concerned here more with literature than history. The works listed on the indented bullet under each work lists the known sources or influences in that work. I may also list a few key translations or secondary works on these pieces.  If diagrams worked better in blogs I would have done one with all the lines connecting the works, but this will have to do. This list is necessarily a work in progress.

As you will see the literature really forks in four directions:

  1. Historical directly from Bede through William of Malmesbury, Simeon of Durham, and others. Only the earliest historical works are listed here.
  2. Hagiographical from Bede and Adomnan through the various hagiographical versions that often derive directly from Bede.
  3. Matter of Britain: Geoffrey of Monmouth really does some interesting things with his last chapter that are usually completely overlooked because they contradict history (as with everything else he writes) and do not include Arthur. Yet this last chapter is key to understanding Geoffrey’s overall purpose.
  4. German Literature: Mostly falls into the bridal quest category. The Munich Oswalt holds an important place in the development of German courtly literature.

Original Sources: Oswald died August 5, 642.

  1. Iona Chronicle (lost) – no longer exists but the Annals of Ulster is usually considered to be the closest. The Iona Chronicle could have been contemporary with Oswald.
  2. Adomnan of Iona, Life of St Columba, Latin, c. 700. (earliest surviving source)
    1. Sources: Adomnan heard his account from his predecessor Failbe who as a child overheard it directly from King Oswald to Abbot Segene.
  3. Willibrord of Frisia, Calendar of Willibrord, Latin,  c. 702-5.
    1. Willibrord was educated at Ripon and had connections to Lindisfarne and Ireland.
  4. Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People, Latin,  c. 731.
    1. Sources: Acca of Hexham collected stories, oral tradition, local calendars and regnal lists.

Hagiography and Literature

  • Old English Martyrology, Mercian, Old English, 8th century, narrative martryology
    • Bede, History
  • Historia Brittonum, Gwynedd, Latin, 825
  • Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Old English. c. 900.
    • Bede, History
    • Historia Brittonum ?
  • Ælfric of Eysham, Life of St Oswald, Latin, c. 1000.
    • Bede, History
  • Bonedd y Sant (Pedigrees of the Saints), Welsh, 12th century (a blog post)
  • Geoffrey of Monmouth, History of the Kings of Britain, historical fiction, Latin, 1130s?
    • Bede, History
  • Wace, Roman de Brut, Old French, Historical fiction
    • Geoffrey of Monmouth, History
  • Layamon, Brut , Middle English, c. 1190, historical fiction
    • Wace, Roman de Brut
    • oral history and local legend
  • Breton version of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain has a particularly touching version of Oswald’s death.
  • Reginald of Durham, Life of St. Oswald, Latin, 1165
    • Bede, History
    • Adomnan, Life of Columba
    • oral history in Northumbria and Mercia
    • perhaps Symeon of Durham

  • Anonymous, Brut y Brenhydd (History of the Kings), Middle Welsh, 13th century. Welsh translation of Geoffrey of Monmouth with modifications including of Oswald material.
  • Munich Oswalt, Old High German, Bridal Quest., 15th century

    • Reginald of Durham, Life of St Oswald
    • Bede, History
    • Translation: JW Thomas. (1989) The ‘Strassburg Alexander’ and the ‘Munich Oswald’: Pre-courtly Adventure of the German Middle Ages.

    Wiener Oswald, 15th century, Bridal Quest

  • Dat Passionael “Oswald”Van Sunte Oswaldo, Deme Konninghe (About St. Oswald, King),  Low German, 1478
    • Translation and disucssion: Marianne Kalinke, St Oswald of Northumbria: Continental Metamorphosis, Arizona Center for Medieval and Renassiance Studies, 2005.
  • Osvald’s Saga, Middle Icelandic, Bridal Quest/Conversion/Martyr legends/miracles, c 1530
    • Translation and disucssion: Marianne Kalinke, St Oswald of Northumbria: Continental Metamorphosis, Arizona Center for Medieval and Renassiance Studies, 2005.
  • John Dryden,  ‘King Arthur, or The British Worthy’, English opera, 1691. (“Oswald of Kent” is Arthur’s English opponent!)

LKM: The Realm of Rheged

Finally getting back to my lost kingdoms series of posts, I’ve been putting off Rheged for some time now. Looking for Rheged is always risky. It is the epitome of the lost kingdoms. It appears just as it is about to be blotted out by a growing regional power, Bernicia. Not unlike Beowulf being the story of his kingdom’s demise and the end of the Geats, stories of Rheged’s demise and it’s heroes have survived among others longer than the original kingdom lasted. More than any other lost kingdom, Rheged excited the imagination of poets and it became a frequent site for heroic adventures, and some of its historic heroes became mythic superheroes; Arthurian worthies and perhaps equals as in the Dream of Rhonabwy. It is quite possible that at one time Owain ap Urien was a more popular hero and king than Arthur himself.

Finding Rheged

As near as we can tell, Rheged (or Reget) was actually fairly close to Heavenfield, somewhere in the Border Country (around Hadrian’s Wall and south of Scotland). It has been localized to the Carlisle area, Rhinns of Galloway, middle area of the Border Country (general region of Melrose) immediately to the west of the core of Bernicia, and in the middle of the Pennines (old Brigantia). In other words, it existed somewhere that Northumbria swallowed up, north more likely than south. The best clues we have are that Urien Rheged is said to be Lord of Catraeth, usually taken to be Catterick. Yet, Catraeth is the location of one of the most famous and most legendary battles in Old British history, so saying Urien in Lord of Catraeth may be metaphorical. Other locations in the Urien cycle of poetry seem to be just south of Carlisle in the Lake district and the mountains just to the east, which would indeed be just west of Catterick. The Carlisle region also fits with the Mabon imagery associated with Urien’s son Owain, given that the area just north of Carisle has the most placename and archaeological evidence for a cult of the Celtic god Mabon.

Urien Rheged and his dynasty

There really isn’t any evidence that the realm of Rheged existed separate from the dynasty of Urien Rheged. There are no placenames, or literary references to the land of Rheged.

Urien’s claim to historicity comes from the Historia Brittonum:

63. Adda, son of Ida, reigned eight years; Ethelric, son of Adda, reigned four years. Theodoric, son of Ida, reigned seven years. Freothwulf reigned six years. In whose time the kingdom of Kent, by the mission of Gregory, received baptism. Hussa reigned seven years. Against him fought four kings, Urien, and Ryderthen, and Guallauc, and Morcant. Theodoric fought bravely, together with his sons, against that Urien. But at that time sometimes the enemy and sometimes our countrymen were defeated, and he shut them up three days and three nights in the island of Metcaut [Lindisfarne]; and whilst he was on an expedition he was murdered, at the instance of Morcant, out of envy, because he possessed so much superiority over all the kings in military science. Eadfered Flesaurs reigned twelve years in Bernicia, and twelve others in Deira, and gave to his wife Bebba, the town of Dynguoaroy, which from her is called Bebbanburg [Bamburgh].96 Edwin, son of Alla, reigned seventeen years, seized on Elmete, and expelled Cerdic, its king. Eanfled, his daughter, received baptism, on the twelfth day after Pentecost, with all her followers, both men and women. The following Easter Edwin himself received baptism, and twelve thousand of his subjects with him. If any one wishes to know who baptized them, it was Rum Map Urbgen [Rhun son of Urien]:97 he was engaged forty days in baptizing all classes of the Saxons, and by his preaching many believed on Christ. (Historia Brittonum)

Rhun son of Urien is mentioned once more in some prefaces of the Historia Brittonum as a source for material in it. Oswiu of Bernicia’s first wife Rhianmellt daughter of Royth son of Rhun is usually accepted to be a great-grandaughter of Urien Rheged, equating her grandfather Rhun with Rhun ap Urien. After this brief historical mention in the Historia Brittonum, Rheged is not mentioned again. In fact, Rheged is not mentioned in the Historia Britonnum. Rheged must be inferred by consulting Old Welsh poetry. The mention of Rhianmellt’s marriage to Oswiu is the last mention of Rheged in the historical record, all other outcomes are spectulation.

Of Urien’s children, Rhun is the only one mentioned in historical texts (Historia Brittonum). The others sons, Owain, Pasgen, Rhiwallawn, and a daughter Morfudd are mentioned in literature and legend. The story of King Urien and Modron daughter of Avallach tells of the mythical origins of Urien’s family. Modron is the conversion of the celtic goddess Modron, the divine mother, into history. Avallach is the King of the Otherworld who produces daughters who are linked with British heroes as consorts or mothers.  Modron’s divine son Mabon is sometimes equated with Urien’s son Owain.

Urien is best known because his chief bard was Taliesin, known as the Chief Bard of Britain (of all time). Urien is the focus of several of his surviving songs, including: (unfortunately not the best translations)

The Superhero of Rheged

Owain son of Urien, the equal of Mabon ap Modron, left no mark on the ‘historical sources’ of Rheged. He is not listed with his father in the Historia Brittonum or in the Annals Cambriae. The opponent of Urien’s forces in ‘The Battle of Argoed Llwyfain’ is an Englishman nick-named Flamdwyn (the Flame-bearer) and he is claimed to the slayer of Owain in his Death Song of Owain. Who is Flamdwyn? What a good question! No one knows for sure. He fought a battle against Urien and killed his son Owain, but Owain is inferred in his death song as a king in his own right. If so, then he probably died after his father, perhaps soon after. If that is so, then it must be Theodoric of Bernicia, the only northern English king who faced Urien and his successors. If Owain died before his father, then it could be Æthelric, brother of Theodoric and father of Æthelfrith (r. 592-616), who had a very short 4 year reign. Poetry does seem to give Owain a very short reign as king after his father, beset by all the British kings who viciously fall upon the princes of Rheged after Urien’s death, which suggests Urien may have created his realm amongst great British opposition. Its interesting that in some Welsh triads (and elsewhere) British men are claimed to be Owain’s killer. It really infers an ethnically mixed northern zone. Rheged is clearly said to oppose the Saxons (Bernicians) but they fight as many or more Britons. Its quite possible that early Bernicia was an Anglo-British kingdom in the 6th century. Y Gododdin may imply that as well.

Owain made the real leap into superherodom when he became incorporated in Arthur’s realm of heroes. He is the focus of two Welsh Arthurian stories: Dream of Rhonabwy and Owain, or the Lady at the Fountain. The Dream features Owain’s famous ravens in otherworldly, supernatural size. Owain’s ravens (war ravens) are often mentioned in short references in Welsh poetry as a reference to a successful warband or army. The story of the Lady at the Fountain may have some ties to the hagiographical legend that Owain is the father of St Kentigern, by the daughter of King Lot of Lothian. St Kentigern is the patron saint of Glasgow and the kingdom of Strathclyde. Owain is also the source behind Yvain in French Arthurian literature. He is sometimes said to be son of Morgan le Fay in Arthurian literature, which may be a late medieval version of the otherworldly Modron.

Futuristic Folklore Friday: The Once and Future Kings…Cadwaladr and Cynan

Thinking of yesterday’s post on Hengest and Horsa and the Armes Prydain Fawr (The Great Prophecy of Britain), it reminded me that up through the writing of the prophecy/poem the once and future king, the savior of the Britons was not Arthur but a little known pair of hero kings, Cadwaladr and Cynan. How many of you have ever heard of Cadwaladr and Cynan?

We can be reasonably sure that Cadwaladr was King of Gwynedd and reputed to be the son of Cadwallon (d. 634) who was slain by Oswald at Denisesburna (the morning after the Heavenfield events). You can see the fullest surviving development of his legend in the last chapter of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain. Indeed, Geoffrey ends with Cadwaladr being the once and future king who must return to return Britain to the Britons!

The medieval Welsh may have known exactly who Cynan was but he is a bit of a mystery to us because Cynan is just such a popular Welsh name. There are probably a dozen kings named Cynan before the time of Aethelstan. It is generally believed that he is Cynan Garwen of Powys. He is the father of Selyf Battle Serpent who was the person of the week a while back.

It would also fit that these two great kings would each represent a major Welsh kingdom; some of the rare medieval unity that the Armes Prydain Fawr is trying to generate against the English.

So what does the Prophecy actually say about them?

The armies of Cadwaladr, gloriously they will come, the Welsh will arise, they will do battle. They have sought out inevitable death. At the end of their taxes they will know death. Others, who were wise enough to bide their time, have struck. For ever and ever, they will not raise their taxes. (lines 81-86)

In the forest, in the field, in the vale, on the hill, a candle in the darkness walks with us. Cynan is at the head of the troop in every attack, the English sing a song of woe before the Britons. Cadwaladr is a spear at the side of his men, having picked them with wisdom. … (lines 87-92)

As for Cynan and Cadwaladr, glorious in their armies, the fate of which is destined for their part to be celebrated forever. Two steadfast rulers, whose counsel is wise. Two tramplers on the English in God’s name. Two generous men, two gift-giving cattle-raiders. Two brave, ready men, of one fate, of one faith. Two guardians of Britain, splendid armies. Two bears, daily battle does not put them to shame. (lines 163-170)

The men of Wessex in every fleet, there will be conflict, and an alliance of Cynan with his comrades. The heathens will not be called warriors, but rather slaves of Cadwaladr and his traders. (lines 181-184)

And you thought you hated the taxman! It occurs to me that we know so little of seventh century Wales history, it is possible that Cynan was a contemporary ruler of Powys. He seems subordinate to Cadwaladr, doing Cadwaladr’s bidding in alliance. According to the Historia Brittonum (admittedly a product of Gwynedd), Cadwaladr was an overking of Wales, as his father had been. There may have been a remembrance that under Cynan Garwen and his son Selyf, and then in the next generation under Cadwallon and his son Cadwaladr, the kingdoms of Powys and Gwynedd were in alliance against the English and did great things. No matter what you think of Cadwallon, killing three Northumbrian kings and driving as far north as Hadrian’s wall was quite an accomplishment. It is also possible that Powys under Cynan and Selyf had been major power brokers in the sixth century until that power was broken by Aethelfrith at Chester. It may also explain why Aethelfrith struck at out-of-the-way Chester.

I am focusing more on Cadwaladr because in time Cynan drops away as one who will return. This narrowing to one great king occurs elsewhere also, most notably in Arthur himself. It is interesting to note that as with other hero stories, indeed with Hengest and Horsa, that the once and future kings were also a duo — Cynan and Cadwaladr. In this case, brother kings, bound in alliance and not blood.

As late as Geoffrey of Monmouth, Cadwaladr’s legend was quite strong. It makes up the last half of the last book of the History of the Kings of Britain. One of the innovations that survives best in Geoffrey’s work (though I’m not convinced that he originated it) is the conflation of Cadwaladr’s exile with the pilgrimage of Caedwalla of Wessex to Rome. They both were exact contemporaries and their obits sometimes get mixed up. Geoffrey has an angel tell Cadwaladr that he is destined to die in Rome and be numbered among the blessed (hence his name Cadwaladr the Blessed) and that the Britons will not rule in Britain again until his relics and those of the other saints (of Brittany?) are discovered and brought back to their homeland.

The influence of the poem the Armes Prydain Fawr was greater than you might imagine. Even at the end of Geoffrey’s History of the Kings of Britain, reference again is made to Aethelstan. It may have also supported the notion of St David as the patron saint of Wales, but that is a topic for another day.

References:

G.R. Issac. “Armes Prydain Fawr and St David” p. 161-181 (including translation) in St David of Wales: Cult, Church, and Nation. Edited by JW Evans and JM Wooding. Boydell, 2007.

Goeffrey of Monmouth. History of the Kings of Britain.

FF: Sant’s Vision for St David

Every good medieval saint must have some kind of interesting vision or birth miracle associated with his or her birth, and St David of Wales is no exception. Today, we return to folklore Friday with a curious tale that begins the Life of St. David:

“One time, his father Sanctus (by merits and by name), who enjoyed sovereignty over the people of Ceredig … heard the voice of angelic prophecy in a dream: “When you wake up tomorrow, you will go hunting; having killed a stag near the river, you will find there beside the river Teifi three gifts: namely, the stag that you will pursue, a fish, and a swarm of bees situated in a tree, in a place called Llyn Henllan. You should set aside, out of these tree, the honeycomb, and a portion of the fish and the stag; and you should deliver them to the monastery of Meugan, keeping them for the son who is going to be born to you.” (To this day called the Monastery of the Deposit.) These gifts foretell his life. The honeycomb proclaims his wisdom, for just as honey is in the wax, so he he has understood the spiritual meaning of a literal statement. The fish signifies his watery life, for as the fish lives by water, so does he; rejecting wine and liquor and everything that can inebriate, he has led a blessed life for God on just bread and water; because of this he is surnamed David ‘of the watery life’. The stag signifies dominion over the ancient serpent, for just as the stag desires a spring of water when it has grazed on despoiled snakes, and having gained strength is renewed as if with youth, so he is established on the heights with stags’ feet, despoiling the human race’s ancient serpent of his power to harm him. Choosing the font of life by the constant flow of tears, renewed from day to day, he made progress, so that in the name of the Holy Trinity, he would have the knowledge of salvation <and> by the purer food the power of holding dominion against demons.” (Sharpe and Davies, p. 109, 111 “Rhygyfarch’s Life of St David” in St David of Wales: Cult, Church, and Nation, Ed. JW Evans and JM Wooding, Boydell, 2007)

Here we see the beginnings of St David’s association with water. His symbol the leek only grows in every watery areas. Contrary to what the life says, David is usually said to have lived on leeks, bread and water only. The leek is a member of the onion family. I grew up calling them ‘green onions’, and they grew wild in my area of the Mississippi River floodplain. The leek has long been a symbol of Welsh nationality and the wearing of a leek associated with St David. So if you wondered why Prince Charles was wearing an onion on his lapel in interviews last week about Prince Harry’s early return from Afghanistan, now you know; it was St David’s day and of course, as the Prince of Wales, Charles was wearing his leek.

There is also the interesting use of psalm 41/42 and 17/18 on stags. I don’t quite understand Sharpe and Davies note 9 that “the English, Psalm 42.1 ‘As a hart longs for flowing streams’, is not present in the Latin, sicut areola praeparata ad inrigationes aquarum“. No Rhydyfarch doesn’t use these words because they are from Jerome’s Hebraicum, not the more popular Gallican psalter. Rhygyfarch uses “sicut enim ceruus, exploiatis serpentibus pastus, fontem aque desiderans…”, which I still think is a reference but not quote of psalm 42.1. I’ve discussed snake eating deer before here and the early medieval psalter version of Ps. 41/42 here. This is the first place I have seen though where the snakes (or the water?) are supposed to renew the life of the deer.

The folklore element in the story is given away by the claim that the monastery that received Sant’s items is still called the “Monastery of the Deposit” to this day. It is really kind of a strange piece of folklore, but note that it is again preserved in triad form. Sant leaves not one thing but three items for his son that prophecy his life.

Ironically, David’s father “Sanctus” goes on to beget David by raping a nun named Nonnita (St Non). Of course, this is the only way that anyone as saintly as Nonnita/Non would ever have sex.

“And the king came across a nun named Nonnita, who was a virgin, and exceedingly beautiful girl and modest. Lusting after her, he raped her, and she conceived his son, the holy David. Neither before nor after did she know a man, but continuing steadfastly in chastity of mind and body, she led her life most devoutly; for, from the very time she conceived, she lived only on bread and water. In the place where she had been raped and conceived, there lies a small meadow, pleasant to behold, and filled with the gift of heavenly dew. In that field, at the moment she conceived, there appeared two large stones that had not been there before, one at her head and the other at her feet; for the land, rejoicing at his conception, opened its bosom, that it might both preserve the modesty of the girl and declare the significance of her offspring.” (Sharpe and Davies, p. 113)

Apart from the oddity of Welsh saints often being conceived by rape (also St Cadoc and if I recall correctly St Kentigern), there is a folklore element here in the stones that are known to people in the writers time (about the 11th century). Rhygyfarch is probably doing his best to put a positive spin on some ancient stones that the people associated with David but may have been pre-Christian.

These two stories are all of not the miracles and prophecies that surround David’s birth, but the others will have to wait for another post.