Part 3: Lost Kingdoms
Some sub-Roman territories or kingdoms are better attested than others.
Those in the south-west may not have survived longer than some of their
eastern counterparts, but they seem to be mentioned more often.
Caer Gloui (with Caer Baddan and Caer Ceri)
To the south of Pengwern lay the Romano-British cities of Caer Gloui (Roman
Gloucester in Gloucestershire), Caer Ceri (Roman Corinum, modern Cirencester in Gloucestershire) and Caer Baddan
(Roman Aquae Sulis, modern Bath in Somerset). The colonia of Gloucester was founded by Rome
around the start of the second century.
It is known that small kingdoms existed here in the sixth century,
although their names are not known. Ambrosius Aurelianus, strongly linked to the south
west, also seems to be linked to Caer Gloui (and the 'three cities'
territory), so perhaps this was his main base. It seems highly possible that
the later splintered kingdoms were a single political entity in his time, and were
subsequently handed out between descendants (Nennius calls the
In fact, the centre of Ambrosius' power in the mid- to late-fifth
century can only lay in one of two places, and of those,
Celemion seems less likely. The three
cities territory, lying in central Wiltshire, west of the hinterland of the
Saxon Shore, and extending from upper Somerset to Gloucester was an area not
yet remotely threatened by Cerdic and his people in Hampshire.
And here, strategically situated in the Avon valley, almost due south of the central
section of East Wansdyke at Wodnesgeat, some fourteen miles away across the
Vale of Pewsey, is Amesbury, which in a charter of about 880 was spelt
Ambresbyrig, 'the stronghold of Ambrosius'. Nowhere could be better suited
to be the focus of Ambrosius' operations.
According to archaeological evidence, Caer Ceri continued as a centre for
civic life in the 440s; the defences were repaired, flood prevention work was carried out
on one of the gates, and the piazza of the forum was kept clean. But in 443 the whole
Roman world was swept by a plague, the severity of which has been compared to the Black
Death, and this hit Britain in around 446. At the same time as the Anglo-Saxon mercenaries in
the east revolted, unburied bodies were to be found in Caer Ceri's streets, and the town
seems to have contracted to some small wooden huts inside the amphitheatre.
The Romano-British must have recovered from the mid-century plague. The next major event for the territory was Ælle's attack on
Mons Badonicus in circa 496. The
route the Saxon forces took was probably westwards along the upper
Valley and through the Goring Gap.