Cerneu was Coel
Hen's oldest son, and his main inheritor. His name in Welsh is Cenyw, Latin Ceneus and
His kingdom comprised most of the north and midlands or Britain, and he
continued to claim the title King of Northern Britain.
He must have been very Romanised in his operations, upholding Roman Christian beliefs in
the face of intense pressure from invading Picts and Scotti from the north and Angles on
the east coast, all of them pagan in their beliefs.
For this, he appears to have been
In the south, High King Vortigern's policy of employing Saxon laeti
(mercenaries in the Roman tradition) to defeat British enemies meant that, for most of his
reign, Ceneu was obliged to accept the help of the Saxons, Octha (grandson of Hengist, and
later King of Kent) and Ebissa (who
could be the same person as Cissa, possible King of the South Saxons), in pushing back invading
Picts from his kingdom.
The perceived interference of the foederati was widely resented
and it was not until after the large scale rebellion of the mercenaries based in Kent
under Hengist and Horsa that they were finally brought under control. Magnanimous in
victory, Ceneu apparently allowed the Saxons to settle in Deywr (later Deira in the East Yorkshire/Humberside
region). Upon his death, Ceneu's kingdom was divided between his two sons, Gwrgant and
Gwrgant took the western lands stretching from below the Salway to the Mersey, Rheged.
Mor inherited the central kingdom around the capital of the North,
Ebrauc, and land to the north of the
Following generations sub-divided the kingdoms still further until the North consisted
of a plethora of small kingdoms in four distinct areas:
Ebrauc (the British Kingdom of
York), centred on that city and covered most of North Yorkshire including Deywr (Humberside).
The Pennines covered an area that became divided as two kingdoms (names uncertain). One
is listed here as Dunoting,
on Dent in West Yorkshire, while the other was probably based on the Southern Pennines, in
the Peak District (northern
Elmet, a West Yorkshire-based
Kingdom which was centred on Campodunom (Leeds), and survives today as a suffix to places
in the area, such as Sherburne-in-Elmet.
Rheged comprised of North Rheged (modern
Cumbria) based around Caer-Ligualid (Carlisle), and South Rheged (Lancashire
& Manchester) based around Ribchester or Lancaster. It also gained the North Salway
All of this is better illustrated in the table below, showing the break-up of a single
kingdom into the patchwork that was conquered piecemeal by the Angles.