Appendix 2. Dumbarton
Until it is recognized that Geoffrey of Monmouth was a nom de plume used by
Henry Blois, commentators will find it difficult to understand the
inconsistencies found in Merlin’s predictions. We should understand that
Henry conflates his source material with the sole purpose of anchoring his
supposed prophecies as if they were made in Merlin’s era, providing
contemporaneity for them by events which records show transpired in the
sixth century.
This gambit is also used in association with a location and its history. For
‘Geoffrey of Monmouth’ Dumbarton represented the Brythonic Britons which
was the Kingdom of Strathclyde and its northern half occupied by the
Damnonii, belonging to the Cornish variety of the British race, but its first
King Rhydderch Hael, (Columba's and Kentigern's friend) is the real reason it
is mentioned because Henry has set VM in the court Rhydderch
Dumbarton (from Dùn Breatann or Dùn Breatainn means "fort of the
Britons and therefore links for ‘Geoffrey’ the Britons of Wales to the
Strathclyde area and therefore merits attention in his prophecies. The
inhabitants, (as he indicates not being rebuilt) are the wretched souls taken
into slavery to Ireland we witness later on in the Vita where wretched people
cross the water. In 869 AD, when Olaf the White, the Norse King of Dublin,
brought a raiding army to plunder Scotland, Olaf and his brother Ivarr laid
siege to the formidable rock fortress of Dumbarton. For four months starving
the Britons out, until the fortress’ well dried up.
They ferried a ‘great host’ of Britons to Ireland as slaves on a fleet of 200
ships. The real reason that Henry concerns himself with Dumbarton is to
place Merlin Caledonius in the North and predict occurrences about the
north to establish the new northern Merlin. Merlin was of course
corroborated as hailing from the north also through Blaise and Merlin being
in Northumberland…. as presented in Robert de Boron’s work.
Geoffrey, unconcerned with exactitude in his concoction of the VM, has
Rhydderch and Merlin with Taliesin and so indicates Taliesin as a partial
source. Taliesin’s poem is a first-person eyewitness account (as Merlin’s
presence on the battlefield pretends to be) and glorifies a victory by Urien,
prince of Rheged, in which he led his warriors in defence against a host of
invaders at a site in Gwen Ystrad.
The Battle of Argoed Llwyfain, details of which Henry Blois also conflates
as witnessed at the end of the Vitacomes from the early Welsh poem Gwaith
Argoed Llwyfain also by Taliesin. The main purpose of the inclusion of a
prophecy regarding Dumbarton is to make his audience believe that unlike
the Merlin Ambrosius of HRB, this Merlin actually did make predictions
concerning the north…. in the area he is seemingly being portrayed to have
lived in.
My guess is that many commented and were suspicious of the high
relevance of the previous prophecies to Norman aspects and Henry’s family
and to Winchester and concerns with the numbering of Kings up to Stephen
originally suddenly being expanded up to six. To avoid suspicion, Henry
relocates Merlin in VM, while at the same time linking him to Taliesin and
Rhydderch…. because people have asked questions about the prophecies.
They must have enquired how it was that none had heard of Merlin before or
in what area he lived. It is for this reason the northern Merlin persona is
created in VM.