Downton and Cerdic 519 AD
Birthplace of King Arthur's Kingdom of Wessex and England

by Michael Alwyn Slade
Copyright 2010 ©

Chapter 4.


     Cerdic, Caradoc, Ceretic, Artor, Artorius, Arthur, Riothamus,
     Father Llyr Merini (Uther Pendragon). Mother Igraine.
     Born in Tintagel around the year 445 AD

Llyr Merini is the probable father of Cerdic. He is recorded as visiting the Gorlois, Duke of Cornouaille and as was not unusual for the times seems to have become acquainted with his wife and thus fathered the child Cerdic. These times of the early sixth century demanded that their warrior leaders needed many children and thereby an assortment of wives to provide for the accession of tried and trusted future noble sons for their kingdom.

Cerdic seems to have grown up under a foster father, Ector a brother of Llyr Merini. At some time early in his life Llyr Merini was in charge Bretwalda King of Kings, at Wenton Ceastre (Winchester). Durotriges. The palace at Dun-Ton (Downton) would have been a base for a trusted noble from Llyr Merini's family. Kay was Ector's son and would have grown up as if a brother to Cerdic. Ector could well have ruled at Dun-Ton which had an adjacent fort and a close by Roman Villa. It would have made a sensible future home for a nearby noble's son, Cerdic?

Cerdic could be expected to be a frequent visitor to adjacent safe burghs, of which there would have been dozens at least, within easy distance from the Avon Valley across to Winchester and the Coast. He would likely often return to Cornwall.

All through his youth he would have been honing his fighting skills. Much training would involve hunting with dogs, falcons and mostly on horseback. He could hardly fail to be proficient in these military friendly skills. He would learn tracking, observance and gain a full understanding of nature. He would gain knowledge of every track across forest, marsh and stream, know every ford and hillock, be aware of almost every dwelling certainly every village and to find them by day and by night.

All of his youth would have prepared him for the future he was destined to inherit. His father Llyr Merini, although daily a close distance away we can be sure Cerdic was at his elbow learning all the skills of diplomacy, trade and communication. Cerdic would be perfectly prepared for his well earned title, The Boy King. As a very young teenager he is recorded as being a Saxon translator for Vortigern who was probably Bretwalda at the time. Chieftain of Britain. This was around the time Vortigern embraced Hengist and Horsa as mercenary Saxons and their army. This indicates how closely Cerdic would have been to his fathers own loyal Saxon guards. Cerdic would continue with mercantile experience and could be expected to become a sailor along the coast and across to his fathers contacts in the continental ports. These visits to foreign shores, to local friction spots and to regular justice and disciplinary meets would have been in tandem with senior nobles and become a university of understanding that all the young men of Cerdic's standing that would be considered natural for the privileged of their time.

Cerdic was soon to become a warrior chief in his own right, no doubt with well experienced colleagues and a proficient force of Saxon mercenaries under his command.

Ambrosius Aureleanus was his uncle who had taken on from Vortigern the duties of peacekeeping across Britain and would be using his nephew's skills as needed anywhere across the whole country. Ambrosius Aureleanus was to be called to Gaul to quell opposition there. This would take years and eventually involve Cerdic who would take troops across as much as to support family over there who were controlling various sectors. Cerdic is reckoned to have seen service in Gaul for many years himself, undoubtedly returning on occasion. While in Gaul he was to learn the skills, tactics and successes of Heavy Cavalry use. The Romans had perfected it centuries before but it had gone out of fashion in Britain. Cerdic learnt that it had great potential in that the cavalry ability to cover vast distances and get into battle immediately confounding and confusing an un-expecting enemy was a sure way to get the early upper hand. Cerdic was to become such a proficient exponent that it would lead to decades where he was to be virtually undefeated. In Gaul he appears to have had setbacks where his allies in the Gallic family were in withdrawal and it seems that he was to become King of Nantes and Vannes. This seems to have been deemed of lesser importance as time progressed and Cerdics return to his homeland was in order. It may have been that Llyr Merini's influence was shrinking and that there was opposition from Saxon and Celtic dimensions. Cerdic certainly came back to a not too friendly homeland although he would surely have more than enough friends on hand to ensure he had some room for manoeuvre.

An early objective would have been to re-consolidate the Venta (Winchester) centre of operations. 495 AD saw his return to Cerdics Ora - Calshot. There appears to have been a later battle that was part of that action at Natanlea (Netley).

A new base would have to be forged and as time progressed Cerdic was to recall more of his mercenaries from Gaul and as he needed to expand his influence or poke his unfriendly Saxon or Celtic neighbours in the eye.

Natan seems to have been the great unfriendly neighbour and recruiting both distant Celts and unfriendly Saxon support confronting Cerdic from the Avon Valley. Cerdic's patience was duly exhausted and his family was in need of new land and Cerdic thus was to expand from his frontier lands of the New Forest. Natan has inherited the title Natan-Leod meaning at least Natan the detested even Natan the traitor. He seems to have inherited some of the traits of Vortigern in becoming an inconsistent and probably very bad elder chieftain.

519AD was certainly the year that Cerdic was to change the face of old Durotriges, the new Wessex of the Gewissae and England forever. Natan and his allies were soundly defeated. It is recorded that 5000 or more died there, there are certainly signs that many Saxon royalty were buried there indicating serious mercenary Saxon losses on both sides.

Cerdic was to be seen as the leader bringing British-Celtic living standards back to a grateful population who seemed to becoming dominated by Saxons from two different fronts.

Cerdic after Cerdic's Ford and this victory then consolidated his kingdom. He set up family in control along the Avon Valley. He set up the Round Table a system that proved successful in quelling disturbances. He realised his responsibilities needed addressing. This was done by setting himself up as Bret Walda effectively King of Kings. This was to give his Chieftains, his sons, grandsons, nephews etc more responsibility and enable them to recruit mercenaries as required and dole out justice themselves in their areas at their own Moots.

Cynric and Caelwyn successfully followed in Cerdic's footsteps.

This was the birth of the Kingdom of Wessex, land of the Gewissae. Wessex was to grow only very slowly over the next few years probably mainly by friendly alliances. Peace was noticeable for over 30 years until the battle at Old Sarum 552AD. From here Wessex then expanded and was to include Sussex, Surrey, Middlesex, and Essex.

Cerdic's descendents can be traced evolving through these generations and these tribal lands to produce the evolution of England.

As time and centuries progressed it is true that they are looked back at as Saxon Times. It would be more correct to look back at them as Celtic Times with not a little assistance and support from Saxons. As time progressed it would be seen as a confederacy of allies working together. Wessex and England evolved through 500 years of this growing confederacy that proved capable of multiple assaults upon it from further Saxon, Dane and Viking to be around until 1066. The Normans under William were only to be successful by using the noble systems Cerdic began to set up 500 years before him. They were able to fill their coffers using the efficient inherited tax system and work with the Celtic core to bring a new success, albeit allied to a new determination, to surround themselves with massive new stone castles and allied cathedrals.

The Birth of England was the birth of Wessex and the commencement of the Kingdom of Cerdic was certainly initiated on that May Day at Downton when Cerdic whole-heartedly defeated Natan the traitor. Durotriges the ancient tribeland area of the Celtic British was now in the process of rebirth as a new and stronger nation one that was to see it take on the world in centuries to come with its own world wide empire.

Cerdic the Warrior is thus Arthur the "Once and Future King!"

Cerdic (Caradog) Vreichvras = Warrior King Strong Arm - in Celtic.


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