The Welsh Evidence
There are several sources previously regarded as evidence of Arthur from Wales. These are:
Nennius was supposedly a monk from Wales who wrote a short history in the 9th century A.D. The work was further edited in the 10th century A.D. by someone called Mark the Anchorite.
There is a short section of the history which mentions a leader called Arthur who fought twelve battles against the Saxons and won them all. A remarkable achievement especially when you consider that Nennius claims nine hundred and forty Saxons were killed by this Arthur alone at the battle of Badon. Why you may ask, did he need an army?
The achievement of this Arthur is even more remarkable when you consider that two of the battles i.e. Badon and the battle of the City of the Legion were separated by one hundred years.
Nennius or Mark the Anchorite or whoever wrote the section on this Arthur were of course writing a legendary account - it could never be regarded as historically accurate or reliable.
However, because this document was written by a monk from Wales, researchers have assumed that the Arthur mentioned must also be from Wales, or at least be a Briton. Why?
Nennius does not say who this Arthur is. There is no indication of who his father might be, so that he can be identified and his time and place in history established. Unlike the Irish/Scottish evidence which clearly states that Arthur was the son of Aidan, a real 6th century king of the Scots.
There is no reason to believe that because someone is mentioned in Nennius, that they must be from Wales. This is merely an assumption. St. Patrick is found here and we know he definitely was not from Wales.
Nennius does not claim that Arthur was a Briton, only that he fought with the kings of the Britons against the Saxons, and that there were many more noble than he. This could well be a description of Arthur son of Aidan who indeed fought with the kings of the Britons of the North against the Saxon, and who as only a prince, would find many more noble than he in his force.
Nennius and his contemporaries always call the people of Bernicia, Saxon. Bernicia was situated in North East England and part of what is now South East Scotland. The people of Bernicia are always referred to in historical documents as being of the Saxon race, except for Bede who explained that they were actually Angles.
Because we know now that the Bernicians were Angles, we wrongly assume that when historical sources tell of Arthur's battles with the Saxons, that they must mean that the battles were fought against the Saxons in the south of England. Not so.
Ancient historians, whether Irish, Scots or Welsh, always refer to the northern people of Bernicia as Saxon. Therefore Nennius' description of Arthur's battles with the Saxon could quite easily be a legendary account of the wars in the North between Arthur son of Aidan and the Britons on one side and the Saxons on the other.
Nennius wrote his account three centuries after the time of Arthur, always assuming that he did write it, and it was not in fact a later addition to the story. Whatever the case, it is clear that: 1. There is no proof in Nennius that the Arthur mentioned was from Wales. 2. There is no proof that the Arthur mentioned was even a Briton. These are merely both assumptions. 3. The Arthur mentioned in Nennius is not called a king.
In fact nothing from Wales which has previously been claimed to be evidence of Arthur can be used to corroborate other evidence because there is not one single instance where Arthur can be identified as a historical figure,in other words they never say who he is. Unlike the evidence of the Irish and Scots which clearly states that Arthur was the son of Aidan the 6th century king of the Scots, the Welsh evidence merely states that: Arthur did this or Arthur did that or Arthur killed 940 Saxons by himself. What they NEVER say,is who Arthur was!
THE VERDICT ON NENNIUS AS EVIDENCE - WORTHLESS
2. The Annals of Wales
Another example of this can be found in another source often quoted as evidence of Arthur - The Annals of Wales, where is a mention of Arthur and Medraut dying in battle.
Always assuming that this is not a later addition to the Annals, after Arthur had become a legend, it must be remembered that these Annals were only copied from Irish Annals, perhaps four centuries after the time of Arthur.
Again it must not be assumed that because Arthur is mentioned in the Annals of Wales, that he must be from Wales or that he is a Briton from another region. Many of the people mentioned in these Annals are Irish and Scots, Columba and king Aidan among others are found here. Again there is no indication who Arthur is. Is it Arthur Smith or Arthur Jones, or Arthur son of Bob? So once again the 'evidence' from Wales proves to be of no value - simply because the Annals do not say who Arthur is.
THE VERDICT ON THE ANNALS OF WALES AS EVIDENCE - WORTHLESS
3. The Gododdin
Another source often quoted as evidence of Arthur, is a poem called The Gododdin. A poem can not be regarded as historical evidence, because although it may describe events of a certain period of time, it could in fact have been written centuries later. However it may be worth taking a look,to see what the poem has to say.
This particular poem, 'The Gododdin', mentions Arthur in one line. Immediately it is assumed that this must be the Arthur of Legend, and since the poem has been preserved in Wales and is written in Welsh, then this must mean a connection between Arthur and Wales. Not so.
A very natural assumption, until you take a closer look.
The Gododdin refers to a warlike expedition against the Saxons by some Britons known as the Gododdin, who lived not in Wales but who lived in the land we now know as Scotland, on the South Bank of the River Forth, around the modern day towns of Stirling, Falkirk and Edinburgh.
According to the Welsh evidence, the poem was composed around 600 A.D. by a Briton called Anuerin from this same region of Scotland. If you choose to believe the date claimed, that is up to you. The important point is that the poem does not come from the country called Wales, butt comes from the country called Scotland, and if the mention of Arthur is genuine and not a later addition, then this connects Arthur not with Wales but rather with the Gododdin and their homeland on the South Bank of the River Forth.
This is the very region where Arthur the son of Aidan, king of the Scots, died in battle against the Picts. The fact that the poem has been written in the Welsh language comes as no surprise, since this language was spoken from Cornwall all the way to the River Forth in Scotland at the time of Arthur. Incidentally Aidan the king of the Scots, and father of Arthur, is also mentioned as being on this expedition with the Gododdin against the Saxons. However once again there is no clear indication who this Arthur is.
THE VERDICT ON THE ANNALS OF WALES AS EVIDENCE - WORTHLESS
4. Geoffrey Of Monmouth And His 'History'
Geoffrey of Monmouth was responsible, in the 12th century, for a ludicrous history which claimed to tell the early history of the Britons. Geoffrey more than anyone was responsible for establishing the Legend of King Arthur. He was the first to claim Arthur was a king, and not just a king, but the king of all Britain.
It seems certain that Geoffrey took the story of Arthur, who was most probably, as son of a powerful king, the 'Dux Bellorum' or Battle Leader of the Scots and Britons, and used him to fill the historical void of the early 6th century.
This period, as far as the Southern Britons are concerned, is still a void today. Although Geoffrey's history has been proved to be a nonsense, his ridiculous claim that Arthur was conceived by magic in Tintagel Castle, still attracts visitors to this site. Indeed it has proved to be a nice little earner for those concerned ever since.
No historical evidence has ever been found of Uther Pendragon, whom Geoffrey claimed was the father of Arthur. So once again the evidence connecting Arthur with Wales and Cornwall is found to be worthless.
THE VERDICT ON GEOFFREY'S HISTORY AS EVIDENCE - WORTHLESS
5. The Mabinogion
These are Welsh folk tales, one or two of which mention an Arthur. They can hardly be regarded as evidence, unless we consider Walt Disney films as evidence too. Again they do not say who this Arthur is.
THE VERDICT ON THE MABINOGION AS EVIDENCE - WORTHLESS
So there we have, briefly, the evidence or lack of evidence from Wales and Cornwall. Against this are the reliable historical sources of the Irish and Scots which clearly give evidence of Arthur, son of Aidan, 6th century king of the Scots.
In fact, there is not one single instance where the evidence from Wales states who in fact Arthur was.