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Celtic Kingdoms of the British Isles

Celts of Britain


Dunoting / Dunaut (North Pennines) (Romano-Britons)

FeatureWith the expulsion of Roman officials in AD 409 (see feature link), Britain again became independent of Rome and was not re-occupied. The fragmentation which had begun to emerge towards the end of the fourth century now appears to have accelerated, with minor princes, newly declared kings, and Roman-style magistrates all vying for power and influence while also facing the threat of extinction at the hands of the various barbarian tribes which were encroaching from all sides.

FeatureAlthough the evidence is largely based on unverifiable tradition, plus bare chronological bones, the late Roman military commander of the north, Coel Hen, became known to tradition as the ruler of the 'Kingdom of Northern Britain' (see feature link). In later decades this territory gradually fractured into multiple states. Coel's great-grandson, Arthuis (Arthwys ap Mor), became the first 'King of the Pennines' upon the death of his father, Mor ap Ceneu. Arthuis' brother gained sole control of Ebrauc at the same time.

Arthuis apparently ruled the entire length of the Pennines, but his inheritance meant further subdivision and weakening of the north of Britain. Upon the abdication of his son, this land was further divided into two kingdoms, Dunoting and The Peak. The former, in the northern half of the territory, appears to have borne the name of its first and apparently only ruler, Dunaut. Note, though, that this Dunoting should not be confused with the Dunoding sub-kingdom of Venedotia which was created circa 445, predating this one by almost a century.

FeatureThe Peak, occupying the modern Peak District, had better land than Dunoting, and was probably the main base of the 'Kings of the Pennines' while the territory remained undivided (see feature link). Dunoting had the windswept and fairly bleak countryside around Dent andCraven, and was likely the lesser of the two kingdoms.

However, the area's British influences may live on in local place names, most noticeably the peak of Pen-y-Ghent. The name 'Pennines' is believed to be derived from the Celtic penno, meaning 'hill' (or more literally 'head'). The earliest written reference to the name dates only from the eighteenth century, unfortunately, so this is impossible to prove.

Dunoting was more probably known as Dunaution or Dynodion (or even Dunotion or Dynotion - spelling was variable, but the use of a 'y' would be a later progression of Welsh pronunciation which is where these stories survived, so the 'u' form is the earliest). The territory is sometimes referred to as the kingdom of Craven, perhaps suggesting that this was its capital, while Dent would have been Lys Dunaut, the court of Dunaut.

Following the division of the kingdom of the Pennines, Dunaut gained the northern section. Given his rough (and very approximate) reignal length, though, he must have been an infant at the time. Both he and his brother were active in the later years of what appears to be two very long reigns, so it seems possible that they did not rule their territory in person from such an early date. If that was the case, perhaps someone else did, possibly a lost generation between Pabo and Dunaut or a line of regents. A speculative lost king is listed with the kings of the Pennines, which makes even more uncertain a potential date for the division of The Pennines.

Roman Canterbury

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Edward Dawson, from History of the Kings of Britain, Geoffrey of Monmouth, from the Annales Cambriae, James Ingram (taken from the Harleian manuscript, the earliest surviving version, London, Everyman Press, 1912), from The Oxford History of England: The English Settlements, J N L Meyers, from the Historia Brittonum (The History of the Britons), Nennius (J A Giles, Ed & Trans, 1841, published as part of Six Old English Chronicles (Henry G Bohn, London, 1848)), from The Oxford History of England: Anglo-Saxon England, Sir Frank Stenton, from The Anglo-Saxon Age c.400-1042, D J V Fisher, from The Ethnology of Germany Part 3: The Migration of the Saxons, Henry H Howorth (Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol 7, 1878), from The Cambridge Historical Encyclopaedia of Great Britain and Ireland, Christopher Haigh (Ed), from The Oxford History of England: Roman Britain, Peter Salway, from The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, Anne Savage (translator and collator, Guild Publishing, 1983), from A History of the English Church and People, The Venerable Bede (Leo Sherley-Price translation - revised by R E Latham).)


c.525? - 595

Dunaut / Dynod Bwr / Dunod Fawr (St)

King of Dunoting (North Pennines). 'Dunaut the Stout / Great'.

c.535 - 584

St Deiniol Gwyn 'the Blessed'

Son. Bishop of Bangor. Died 584.


The Daniel of the British Church who is given by Geoffrey of Monmouth is actually St Deiniol, traditionally thought of as being the first bishop of Bangor, which lies within the kingdom of Venedotia.

South Craven
The rugged territory of Dunoting, which included Craven, was a relatively tough area in which to survive, and the population figures for Dunoting were probably quite low

According to the Latin Life of St Deiniol, he is the son of Dunod Fawr, and grandson of Pabo Post Prydein of the Pennines. He is apparently consecrated in 545 by St David, and dies in 584. The present Bangor Cathedral is said to stand on the site of Deiniol's first monastery.

fl c.597

St Aneirin Gwodryd 'of Flowering Verse'

Brother. Killed.

Aneirin is one of post-Roman Britain's best known bards. Sometimes referred to as Prince Aneirin 'of the Flowering Verse', and sometimes as Aneirin Awenyd ('the Inspired'), he is apparently present at the Battle of Catreath to witness the fall of the Guotodin.

He is claimed as the author of the core text of Y Gododdin, the elegiac poem which records the heroic defeat. In later years he becomes a monk at Llancarfan Abbey in southern Wales and is killed by a blow to the head which is delivered by Heidyn ap Enygan.

Map of Britain AD 450-600
This map of Britain concentrates on British territories and kingdoms which were established during the fourth and fifth centuries AD, as the Saxons and Angles began their settlement of the east coast (click or tap on map to view full sized)

fl c.560

St Deiniolen Fab 'the Younger'

Son of St Deiniol.


Dunaut allies himself with the joint kings of Ebrauc and with Rhiderch Hael of Alt Clut to stake a claim against Caer Guendoleu for territory in the north. As Caer Guendoleu apparently passes to Urien Rheged upon the death of its king, this could explain Dunaut's later invasion of North Rheged, fighting against King Owein.

The kings of The Peak and Ebrauc both have a valid claim to this territory through their joint descent from 'High King' Coel Hen, but their internecine battling is destroying the previously impregnable security of the north.

c.570 - 580

FeatureThe Deirans continue to gain ground in neighbouring Ebrauc. Although by now they seem to have already captured the coast, the city of Ebrauc (York) is known to fall at a later point than this, between about 570-580, so it seems likely, given their dates of death (via the Annales Cambriae - see feature link), that the sons of Eliffer fight on from their capital until they are overrun. The loss of Ebrauc to the Deirans leaves exposed Dunoting's long eastern border.

Map of Elmet
A map showing Elmet's probable borders during its greatest extent, with the grey areas being lost first, and the deep pink area last, in 617 (click or tap on map to view full size)


The Annales Cambriae records Dunaut's death in battle against the Bernicians during a general expansion of this Anglian kingdom which also sees the fall of The Peak around the same time. He is probably the last British ruler of the Pennines (unless the remnants of the territory are absorbed into North Rheged).

His family are forced to flee to Powys, including his second son, the famous bard, Aneirin, while another son, Deiniol, is already in Gwynedd as the British Church's first bishop of Bangor.

By this time the Deiran and Bernician Angles are pushing far into British territory, and the Iclingas are expanding from the south, with only Elmet and Cynwidion holding out as enclaves until 616-617, and South Rheged until about 613. Taken by Bernicia, Dunoting is eventually absorbed into the kingdom of Northumbria until the ninth century, when the Scandinavian kingdom of York claims the north.

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