1 Owain Ddantgwyn ruled Rhôs and Gwynedd in the last decade of the
fifth century. Arthur is said to have flourished at precisely the same
time (Historia Brittonum).
2 Owain Ddantgwyn was the youngest son of one of the kings of Gwynedd,
Enniaun Yrth, who line were known as the head dragons. Founded by
Cunedda Wledig, Gwynedd was almost certainly the
most important kingdom of the age, and as borders were extremely fluid it is
entirely plausible that the influence of Cunedda's progeny spread into Powys
as well as the Gwyneddian sub-kingdoms. (as witnessed in the name
found at Viroconium). Uther Pendragon - meaning Terrible Head
the father of Arthur. Could Enniaun Yrth have been the Yrthyr-pen-dragon?
3 Owain Ddantgwyn, it is theorised, was king of both Gwynedd and Rhôs,
succeeding to his brother Cadwallon Lawhir's overlordship (Gwynedd proper)
in circa 517 [this theory is not supported by the
History Files, as can be noted in the Gwyneddian lists - Ed]. This line of kings thus provided the most powerful rulers in
Britain at the time of the Battle of Badon. 'Arthur' led the British to
victory in this battle.
4 Owain Ddantgwyn was probably the father of Cuneglasus (Cynglas), whose
predecessor was called the Bear. Gildas refers to Cuneglasus as the
charioteer of the Bear's stronghold (Din Arth). If Cuneglasus himself were
The Bear why does Gildas use the third person? Bear, in its Latin form - Artorius - is almost certainly the origin of the
name 'Arthur'. This is quite in keeping in a land recently under the
dominion of Rome.
5 At the death of Owain Ddantgwyn, the kingdoms of Gwynedd and Rhôs were
again ruled separately by his successors - Maglocunus (Maelgwyn) in Gwynedd
and Cuneglasus in Rhôs. It is a distinct possibility that any final
internecine battle preceding these accessions would have been fought
somewhere on the borderlands between these two kingdoms. In the borderlands
of Meirionydd near Dolgellau lies the valley of
Camlan. Arthur's final battle was fought at a site called
Camlann. Surely it is more
than just mere coincidence that the only locations - three of them - in
Great Britain ever known to have been called Camlan are precisely and
strategically situated in the border area of the kingdoms of Gwynedd,
Meirionydd and Powys, as they existed in the early sixth century?
6 Owain Ddantgwyn was succeeded (overthrown?) in the kingdom of Gwynedd by
his nephew Maelgwyn. David H R Sims presents the case both
lucidly and plausibly on the weaknesses of this proposition. He argues that
since Owain held Rhôs, his removal would have little bearing on the
succession within Gwynedd. However, as stated above the suggestion is that
the ruler of Gwynedd, Cadwallon Lawhir, died in circa 517, thus allowing the
major kingdom to revert to the suzerainty of Rhôs, and leaving Maelgwn
disinherited. Sims argues that if this were the case, there could be no
explanation for Maelgwn's failure to also annexe Rhôs following the death
of Owain. The fact that he made no such move however, actually supports the
Owain theory. One would have expected, in the light of his father's
assassination, that Cuneglasus (Cynglas) of Rhôs would have sought
reprisals against his father's killer, his cousin.
The fact that he didn't,
coupled with the fact he was allowed to keep his kingdom, suggests a certain
amount of complicity in his father's death. Perhaps the cousins planned that
Owain should die and that the kingdom would be split between them (after
all, if Owain was Arthur, High King of Britain, there would have been much
jealousy and a prize worth killing for). This provides an equally plausible
explanation as to why Maelgwn allowed his cousin to keep the throne of Rhôs.
Sims goes on to say "From the dates calculated and the absence of any
known ruler between Cadwallon and Maelgwn, it must be surmised that any
intervening reign was of some brevity. It is more likely the uncle (a
possible unnamed maternal uncle) seized the throne." If control of
Gwynedd passed to Rhôs on the death of Cadwallon, then we need look no
farther than Owain for an uncle whose reign over Gwynedd was no more than
two years. Pretty brief! (Sims bases his theory re: the uncle on Gildas's
use of the word 'avunculus' when referring to the deposed uncle).
According to the legend, Arthur was mortally wounded at the Battle of
Camlann while attempting to quash a revolt led by his nephew, Mordred (Medraut).
It seems likely that Mordred may well have been based on Maelgwyn. (For more
detail, see my rebuttal of August Hunt's theory below).