|Born in Jefferson, Texas in 1935
Darrell Wolcott grew up in Ohio. After a career
in banking he took early retirement in 1996, and
returning to his place of birth he created and
endowed the Center for the Study of Ancient Wales.
During the past 8 years, the foundation has
constructed a small castle to house its library
and offices and acquired copies of thousands of
source and secondary works related to the history
of Wales, many of which are otherwise unavailable
outside Britain. At present he is its sole
Vortigern Studies Index
|Vortigern and the
chronology of the various extant pedigrees of Powys has
always been a problem for those who have attempted to
analyze them. One guidepost in time is the virtually
certain knowledge that Vortigern, as overking of the
Britons in 425 and for perhaps a quarter of a century
thereafter, must have been born late in the fourth
century. An estimate of 375/380 should be close. The next
man in the pedigrees whose birthdate can be closely
estimated is Selyf Sarff Cadan, who fell at the Battle of
Chester in 616. Already the king by that date, Selyf
could scarcely been born later than about 590 nor earlier than perhaps 560 or he would
have been too old for the battlefield. Assigning him a
birthdate near 575 would be chronologically consistent
with what is know of his descendants.
should expect to find six, at most seven, generations to
span the 200 years from Vortigern to Selyf. But the
medieval genealogists were faced by pedigrees which list
10 generations from one man to the other. Their solution was to delete 3
names near the top. What had read "Cadell Ddrynllwg
ap Pasgen ap Brydw ap Rhuddfedel Frych ap Cyndeyrn ap
Gwrtheyrn" was emended to "Cadell Ddrynllwg ap
Cyndeyrn ap Gwrtheyrn" with the curious
justification that 3 of the four names which follow
Gwrtheyrn were also names of his sons which must have
been listed vertically. No one would dispute that
Cynderyn (or Cadeyrn or Cattegern, however spelled) and
Brydw and Pasgen were, in fact, names of his sons. But
not exclusively; they were fairly common male names of
that era. They had no idea who Rhuddfedel Frych was, but
decided he had to go as well. Voila! We now have a "chronologically
stable" pedigree which makes Cadell Ddrynllwg the
grandson of Gwrtheyrn (Vortigern).
Or do we? Turning to
other ancient pedigrees, it could be seen that 8
generations were listed from Cadell Ddrynllwg down to
Selyf. If in fact Cadell was two generations
removed from Vortigern, his birthdate should fall
somewhere near 435. Thus, we should expect only
five generations in a "stable" pedigree to
reach Selyf. Once again the medieval shears came out to
right things. What had been "Selyf ap Cynan
Garwyn ap Brochwel Ysgithrog ap Cyngen ap Maucant (or
Mawgan or Manogan) ap Pascent ap Cattegirn ap Cadell"
was recast to omit "Maucant ap Pascent ap Cattigern".
The net result of these emendations can best be seen in a
own inquiry into the matter was prompted primarily by the
assignment of what seemed to be an unreasonably late
flourit for Cadell Ddyrnllwg. The fanciful tale related
by Ninnius, while typical in its assignment of heavenly
powers to men canonized as saints, contains at least some
historical basis. If we accept the chronology of Ninnius,
the story of Cadell was set during the first visit of
Bishop Germanus to Britain in 429. But if Cadell was born
in 435, there must be some mistake; it must have been
during his second visit in 447. This works if we assume
Cadell was about 12 years old at the time or at most a
teenager. But Ninnius tells us Cadell already was the
father of 9 children at the time. Common sense tells us
his age must have been nearer to 40 than to his teens.
And if the setting was, in fact, the 429 visit of St
Germanus, the Cadell in his report must have been
born before the turn of the century, perhaps even as
early as 380. Even the renowned Peter Bartrum
concedes that Cadell was contemporary with Vortigern.
after deleting six generations (about 200 years) from the
various pedigrees of this family, we still have failed to
achieve "chronological stability". Anyone can
make a jigsaw puzzle "fit" by trimming the
pieces, but this method will never reproduce the original
uncut picture. Perhaps it is time to question the
boundries which we have used as absolutes. Is it possible
that one or more of the men have been confused with same-named
men of an earlier era?
known pedigree of the Gwrtheyrn called Vortigern, that
from Ninnius, makes him "son of Vitalis, son of
Vitalinus, son of Gloiu". These Latin names were
rendered by the Welsh as "ap Gwidol ap Gwdoleu ap
Gloyw Gwallt Hir". But the pedigrees cast for the Powysian
dynasty cite the ancestry of their Gwrtheyrn as "ap
Rydeyrn ap Deheuwaint ap Endicant ap Endeyrn ap Enied ap
Endos ap Enddolen and Afallach ap Affleth ap Beli Mawr". That same former Catuvellauni
family appears in the cited pedigrees of Cunedda and Coel
Hen. When birthdate estimates are applied to
the various branches which are consistent with the known
flouit of those two men, the Ryderyn ap Deheuwaint cited
as father to Gwrtheyrn belongs to the middle of the
second century or about 155 AD. If we were to assign a
birthdate near 185 for that Gwrtheyrn, we would find it
consistent with those pedigrees previously considered too
long. With no other changes, Cadell Ddrynllwg would occur
five generations later around 350. But we are
persuaded by the preponderance of citations which say the
father of Cadell was named Cadeyrn, not Pasgen as in the
pedigrees first cited in note.
earliest known pedigrees begin this family with Cadell and say
nothing of his ancestry. They do, however, cite a son
named Cadeyrn as they descend down to Selyf and beyond.
If we were to simply transpose the two names, it would
both move the birth of Cadell to near 380 and give him a
father named Caderyn. The resulting pedigree would look
simply repeating a common error found in many pedigrees,
that of rolling two men named Caderyn into one and
omitting the intervening names, we would effectively
repeat the medieval emendation that removed all the
"sons of Vortigern" (except Caderyn) plus
brings us to the evidence gleaned from the Pillar of
Eliseg. Whatever may have been carved there early in the
ninth century, we only know what was legible when
transcribed by Edward Lluyd in 1696. That transcription
contains no connected pedigree beyond Eliseg of the late
seventh to mid-eighth centuries. It appears to conclude
with the names Cyngen, Pasgen, Maun and Annan, then Brydw
son of Vortigern. Whatever relationship existed between
Annan and Brydw is left to conjecture.
We know a young
lady named Annun was a member of the household of Madrun,
daughter of Vortimer the Blessed, and is cited as her
handmaiden. If the Annan of the Pillar were a female, she
may have been the wife of Maun and a daughter of Brydw.
Those pedigrees which include "Cyngen ap Maucann" in the Powys dynasty might be no more
than a scribal attempt at rendering "Cyngen, son of
Maun and Annan". Certainly there is no Maucann or
Mawgan in Lluyd's list of Pillar names. It is not
necessary to conjecture whether the Pillar Annan was
identical to the handmaiden of Modren vz Vortimer, nor even whether Vortimer was identical
to Brydw. But no one would argue that the Powys
dynasty proudly proclaimed it descended from a mere
handmaiden of a granddaughter of Vortigern.
possibility that Annun was female and formed the
connection between Vortigern and the Powys dynasty would
place virtually all the ancient pedigrees into
chronological alignment, something none of the other
emendations have done. The chart would look like
Gloyw Gwallt Hir 280
Gwrtheyrn (Vortigern) 375
Selyf, obit 616
the Powys Dynasty is
Copyright ©2004, Darrell Wolcott, President, Center for
the Study of Ancient Wales (a non-profit foundation with
a library of some 3200 volumes) located in Jefferson,
Texas. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Comments to: Darrell Wolcott
Visit Darrell Wolcott's website with more articles about
Wales and Medieval genealogy, at: http://www.ancientwalesstudies.org/index.html
 Annales Cambriae lists the date as 613;
the actual year is debatable.
 Celtic tradition never included child-kings.
Selyf must be presumed to have been in his 20's or older
at the Battle of Chester.
 Six generations after Selyf's brother,
Eiludd, we find Cyngen ap Cadell who was born c. 775;
this would be the expected generational span for 200
 ABT 20 and HLG 2 from Bartrum, P.C. (1966):
Early Welsh Genealogical Tracts, (Cardiff).
 Harleian Ms 3859, 22 & 27.
 The year 447 for the second visit has
received wide popularity, but it may have been as early
as 435. See http://www.vortigernstudies.org.uk/artsou/constant.htm.
 ABT 20 and HLG 2, the portion beginning
with Cadell Ddrynllwg.
 Bartrum, P.C. (1966): Early Welsh
Genealogical Tracts, (Cardiff), pp. 129 but
inexplicicably suggests that Cadell could have been born
c. 404 and still be a grandson of Vortigern
 No earlier pedigree of Gloyw is extant
but modern genealogists make him a son of the Rhodri (Rydeyrn?)
ap Euddigan (Endigant) who occurs in the pedigrees of
Coel Hen, and whose birth early in the second century
makes such a connection untenable.
 ABT 9 and Jesus College Ms 119 "Buchedd
Bueno" in Bartrum, P.C. (1966): Early Welsh
Genealogical Tracts, (Cardiff).
 Harleian Ms 3859, 22 and 27.
 ibid and Jesus College Ms 20, 18 which
render variant spellings "Maucant" and "Manogan".
 The handmaiden was an offical member of
the court, not a mere servant. Nothing in known
customs would preclude a young girl from serving in that
capacity for an older sister.
 Ninnius does not list Brydw among the
sons of Vortigern but does name Vortimer. They may
refer to the same person.
 ABT 1; ABT 9; and JC 20,5
extend this line back to Beli Mawr.