I’ve been thinking today about the claim that Urien is Lord of Catraeth. Wherever Catraeth is doesn’t matter for the moment. What has struck me as strange is that the British attacked Catraeth. The point of the battle of Catraeth was to take it away from its Lord, and the Britons lost. Other references to Catraeth in British poetry make the hero one of the attackers at Catraeth.
The great early Old Welsh poem Y Gododdin is a series of eulogies to the men who died failing to take Catraeth. John Koch in his modern edition of Y Gododdin has hypothesized that Urien, Lord of Catraeth and ally of Deira, was the target of the battle of Catraeth. We know that Urien fell to a coalition of British kings/warlords while besieging Lindisfarne. Poetry claims that many British heroes hunted down Urien’s sons. This speaks of great resentment from Urien’s neighbors and perhaps vassels. What does it really mean that Urien is called Lord of Catraeth?