THE CUP BEARER
In the view of the academic, Sir John Rhys, the name of the Dark Age
warrior the bards referred to as Seithennin, was actually a corrupted
name from the word, Setantii. (Pronounce Setantii as Setanti-eye).
In effect, Rhys is saying that when the later bards took their stories
from oral traditions, they misinterpreted their source material and thought, when the
Setantii tribe was mentioned, a warrior leader was intended and as the years went by the
word was corrupted to Seithennin.
If we now accept the views of Rhys as realistic, then the pre-Roman
Setantii people simply continued as a viable tribal group throughout the Roman period and
into the Dark Ages.
The importance of this, is to recognise that the Setantii were a people
originally identified in the 2nd. century by the Roman geographer Ptolemy as having
possessed a harbour and this was north of the River Ribble in the North West of England.
What we do know, is the bards name a series of sons of Seithennin who
were active about 470 A.D. and that one of his grandsons was Gwenwynwyn, who was
referred to as, "Arthur's First Fighter" in the .
However, it is the fact that one of Seithennin's alleged sons was
called, 'Menestry' , that is of interest, as this is a word that meant, Cup-Bearer
in Brythonic Celt; the common language of the Romano-Britons in the Dark Ages and that
later evolved into the Welsh language. But of equal importance, is that another alleged
son of Seithennin was, 'Senewr', a word that meant, 'Senator'
Together, these two names, suggest the probable existence of a
Setantian Senate that possessed a special cup or drinking vessel. Presumably
this was either a symbol of the Senates authority or part of an
important religious ceremony practised by this Senate.
Hence, as Arthur was in close contact with the Setantians in the guise
of having, Gwenwynwyn, the alleged grandson of Seithennin, as his, First Fighter,
then the existence of a special cup could easily have motivated the 12th. century clerics
to attach their Holy Grail theme to Arthurs court when they concocted their own
stories about Arthur.
But if religion was part of the ritual, the chances are the Cup-Bearer
was a Christian cleric who was alive about the year 470. If so, this priest may have been
represented by, , another of the alleged sons of Seithennin.
Why Gwyddno could have occupied this role, is because the Welsh word
for druid, is, drewydd. Information that led E.O.Gordon
in his book, Prehistoric London, to realistically consider the
element, wydd, in, drewydd, as originally
signified a, priest, rather than an, oak tree,
it later evolved into in Welsh. Hence, in the view of E.O.Gordon, drewydd,
meant, High Priest.
To this we should add that Rachel Bromwich, considered the expert
on the Welsh, 'Triads', believed that the element, no, in
the word, Gwydd-no, as having evolved from the Celtic word, gnou,
meaning, famous. In effect, the word, Gwyddno,
indicated a person alive in the year 470, who was simply, the Priest famed for
A Priest who was 'famed for his knowledge', alive about the
year 470 and who was probably the Cup-Bearer of a Setantian Senate, would certainly be
someone capable of giving such an establishment the Christian authority it deserved.
However, although the history of the British Dark Ages records few 5th. century priests of
this stature, one does emerge and this was St. Germanus of Auxerre, an ex-Roman army
general who visited Britain in 429 and again in 448.
The biography of St. Germanus of Auxerre, written by his contemporary,
Constantius, was used in the 8th. century by Heiric, who also added new information
supplied to him by Bishop Marcus.
This new information tells how a character called Cadell Derynllwg was
assisted by Germanus to extract a wicked king called Benlli from his
city by sending down fire from heaven. As later genealogies reveal
that the descendants of Cadell Derynllwg ruled Powys, Sir John Rhys realistically believes
that the fortress of Benlli was now, Foel Fenlli, on the Powys-Gwynedd border.
The anomaly endemic in the account of Heiric, however, is that St.
Germanus of Auxerre died in the year 449, but the floruit, or, 'active life period'
of Cadell Derynllwg was about the year 470.
From this, one can only conclude that the additional information
supplied by Bishop Marcus to Heiric, was not about Germanus of Auxerre at all but about
St. Germanus of the Isle of Man who died in 474.
Considered the brother-in-law of St. Patrick, Germanus of the Isle of
Man was far from an obscure figure. Famed for his teaching, his star pupil was St. Illtud,
one of the best known Christian clerics of the Dark Ages.
Other than this, St. Illtud was allegedly Arthurs cousin, who
fought alongside Arthur in his youth. Whilst, St. Gildas, the most famous chronicler of
events of that period, was the star pupil of St. Illtud. So collectively the outstanding
Christian clerics of their day could all have been the Cup Bearers of a Setantian Senate.
Therefore, as Gwenwynwyn, Arthur's First Fighter, was a Setantian, the
chances are Arthur's court was attached to a Setantian Senate and if so, this Senate
appears to have had the most influential Christian clerics of the late 5th and early 6th.
century as their Cup- Bearer.
In this context, it would be far from mere coincidence for a 12th.
century Christian Church to decided to attach their Holy Grail story to King Arthur's
court. Unless, that is, the Pharisee who became known as Joseph of Arimathea had come into
the possession of the cup from the Last Supper whilst in Jerusalem and Galilee and in 71
A.D. entered Brigantia with it in the company of Petillius Cerialis, the first Roman
Governor to enter the North of England and annexe it to the Roman Empire.
But whilst we may never know the truth, those who read the work of the
Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, will surely be left with the impression that he would
have made the ideal,