History

Was King Arthur A McGovern? - Author: Frank McGovern

McGovern CrestAs depicted in James McGovern’s The McGoverns the early Irish in particular those of Dalriada, which was located in Antrim in Northeast Ireland, were raiders like the Vikings, Danes and Normans.  They were called Scotti. 

Scotti is a bastardization of an Irish word meaning ‘raider’ and this name stuck to the seafaring raiders as seen in the annals and chronicles of the Latin writers of the time. 

The MaGaurans/McGoverns were said to be composed of three Septs and Aedan of Dalriada belonged to one of the Septs, as did his father Gabhran.  You will find within the pages of The McGoverns references to Aedan MacGabhran being a McGauran/McGovern.   

In the early 5th century the Dalriadans were a power in modern day Argyll and the islands nearby.  There were prior to their coming already Irish settlers in the region, as there would continue to be for many, many years – these settlers were a separate group from the Dalriadans.   

Aedan MacGabhran of Dalriada is considered one of the founders of the Scots monarchy, and one of his descendants MacAlpin was actually the first king of a united Scotland (Picts and Irish). 

Saint Columba himself anointed Aedan as King of the Scots.  There are many references to Iona, Alba (Scotland), and payments for mercenaries in Alba and Aedan himself in the Book of the McGoverns.  Aedan was the ruler of the first Christian kingdom in Scotland. 

The Dalriadans came to North Britain in the persons of Loarn, Fergus and Angus, all sons of Erc of Ireland.  They brought with them their religion, Irish ways and allegiances to their lords back in Ireland.  With time the allegiance grew weaker until it no longer existed.  The Dalriadans were in force in Scotland circa 503 to 843 AD. 

At least one author, Sir Lawrence Gardner, has stated that the real historic King Arthur of legend was in fact the son of Aedan MacGabhran – Art or Artur MacAedan.  Stunned I contacted Sir Lawrence and asked him if indeed this were true and could be proven.  He assured me of the legitimacy of the claim and is quite serious about it.   

If in fact this is the case the McGaurans/McGoverns have great reason to be proud to have a family member of such legendary renown. 

Based on ancient tradition the Celtic Kings of Britain were called ‘dragons’.  In the days before there was a central or national monarch, there were many lords or small kings.  The various clans or tribes found it to their benefit to appoint a ‘king of kings’ to preside over all.  He was considered the High King – such as the Ard Ri in Ireland. 

In or around 410 AD Rome withdrew from the British Isles, and the native populace without a strong central government once again resorted to tribal rule.  Vortigern, who was a powerful tribal chieftain and son-in-law of the last Roman governor of Britain, Magnus Maximus, was elected as king of kings or ‘Pendragon’. 

In 464 Cunedda succeeded Vortigern as Pendragon, he also held the separate title of Guletic – or overall/supreme military commander. 

When Cunedda died Vortigern’s son-in-law Brycan of Brecknock became Pendragon and Ceretic of Strathclyde became Guletic. 

Brycans son Brycan II moved to the area of the Firth of Forth and founded Brecknock of the North as compared to the southern Brecknock of his father in Wales.   

The daughter of Brycan II married the Scots Dalriadan Prince Gabhran, who hailed from the western highlands.  Gabhran would through marriage inherit the title of Lord of Firth of Forth. 

Around this time King Cairill and his northern Irish had been defeated in Wales and were pushed into the North.  Cairill wanted his revenge against the Brecknock of the North in approximately 514 AD.  Cairill was triumphant and the entire area came under the influence of his rule. 

Brycan asked his son-in-law Gabhran to come to his aid.  They decided that instead of attacking the strong and entrenched Cairill directly they would mount an invasion of his capital called Badon in Antrim Ireland.  There attack was a great success – they took the fortress of Cairill Baden Hill, this happened circa 516 AD. 

In 537 Gabhran became King of the Scots; at this time the Pendragon was Cuneddas great-grandson Maelgwynn of Gwynedd.  Aedan son of Gabhran succeeded Maelgwynn. 

Aedan in his turn became King of the Scots in 574 and was anointed by his kinsman and relative Saint Columba.   

Not long after Aedans coronation the ‘seer’ also known as ‘merlin’ of King Gwenddolau, one Emry of Powys fled to Aedan on the death in battle of his lord.  Emry is purported to have been the Merlin of Arthurian legend and was a cousin to Aedan. 

In Cumbria, south of Carlisle (near Kirkby Stephen) is the ruin of what once was Pendragon Castle.  In the times of Arthur the castle was called ‘Cardiol’ or ‘Careule’.  The High History of the Holy Grail specifically says that the castle of Arthur was called Cardiol. 

Gardner goes on to point out that the title of Pendragon existed for over 650 years – yet there was never once a person named Uther Pendragon – the name was a fabrication of later manufacture.  In fact he says that the name Uther(Uithir) is an adjective meaning ‘terrible’. 

Artur, Art or Arthur was the oldest son of Aedan MacGabhran and was born in 559.  In the Life of Saint Columba it is related that it was prophesized that Artur would die before his father, he would never be King of the Scots.  In 575 Artur became Guletic, at the coronation of his father Aedan as King of Scots he was anointed as King of the Britons. 

Artur fought a battle at Camelan, which was near Falkirk, it is reported in the Chronicles of the Picts and Scots as the Battle of Camelyn.  He also at a later date fought at the Battle of Camlanna or Camboglianna (though it was actually two battles) – located near Hadrians wall.  It was here that he was killed. 

In The Annals of Saint Columba King Aedan asks Saint Columba which of his three sons will succeed him:  Artur, Eochaid Find or Domingart?  Columba replies that none of those three would survive him – all three would be killed in battle – but that his fourth son would be the one to succeed him. 

Arthur and Eochaid Find were killed at the Battle with the Miathi – also known as Dawston.  Domingart was killed fighting the Saxons. 

The Miathi were a tribe of northern Britons who had joined forces with the Irish invaders/settlers of King Ciarill.    Even after the Battle of Badon Hill the Irish of King Cairill were still a force to be reckoned with.  In retaliation once again an invasion and attack in Antrim was planned and executed – except this time the Dalriadans lost and were forced to pay homage to Cairill.  When Cairill died in 581 AD Aedan was able to chase the Irish out of his kingdom. 

Sometime around the year 600AD the Picts and Miathi had joined against the Dalriadan Scots and fought them at the Battle of Camelon, which was by the Antonine Wall.  The Scots were victorious.   

Three years later the Miathi had joined with the Angles from Northumbria.  It was actually a series of two battles and the Scots were defeated. 

According to Gardner, Aedan was a Christian of the Celtic Church, whereas his son Artur was obsessed with Latin or Roman Christianity, he was said to have considered his cavalry a holy army. 

Supposedly the elders of the Celtic Church and the appointing druids (the Druids appointed the Pendragon), were concerned with Arturs leanings, they were afraid he would cause a Romanization of their Church and forever change the old ways. 

Further, this is said to be the reason why Artur made a fierce enemy of his own son, Modred, who was devoted to the Celtic Church, and was reputedly an Archpriest of the Church. 

At Camlamma in 603 Aedan and his son Artur fought the Miathi, Angles and Modred and his faction.  The Celts under Artur bested the Angles and chased them from the field at the first battle.  While pursuing them they came upon the second force at Dawston, which contained Modred.  Modreds appearance caused dissension and unease in the ranks of Arturs men. Nonetheless, the battle commenced and if one believes the chronicles of the times – a third of the men of Scotland were killed upon that field. 

Among those killed were Artur, his brother Eochaid Find and his son Modred.  Aedan seeing all was lost was able to retreat  - he died 5 years later.  Artur was 44 years old at the time of his death.  The title of Pendragon was passed onto the last holder of the title Cadwaladr of Wales.  The outcome of this battle was that the Dalriadan Scots were now separated from their allies in Wales and they realized the only way to survive and save their land of Alba was to ally themselves to the Picts of Caledonia.  This was realized by Aedans descendant McAlpin – first king of the united Scots. 

And there you have the story of Aedan MacGabhran King of the Scots his son Art King of the Britains, the true King Arthur and his father  - McGoverns both!  Believe it or not!