, Volume 83, Issue 3, pp 479-482

The Battle of Brunanburh and Welsh Tradition

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Abstract

In his edition of the Old English poem The Battle of Brunanburh, Alistair Campbell rejected Max Förster's interpretation of cattybrunawc in an early Welsh poem as an allusion to the battle. However, it can be shown here that Förster was right. The form cattybrunawc, in a twelfth-century poem to St David, can be interpreted as cad Tybrunawc ‘the battle of Tybrunawc, the battle of the “Streamy House” (= Brunanburh)’. Here Tybrunawc is a place-name resembling Tig Guocobauc ‘Cavy House’, a Welsh name for Nottingham used by the ninth-century Asser of St Davids. The similar form kattybrudawt, in a tenth-century Welsh poem of political prophecy, must also mean ‘the battle of Brunanburh’. These two poems thus provide evidence for the fame beyond England of the battle of Brunanburh. The earlier Welsh poem may also contain an allusion to Olaf Guthfrithson of Dublin. Although defeated at Brunanburh, he humiliated the English at Leicester in 940. If this Welsh poem does allude to him, it could be dated to 940 or very shortly after.