The History of Leith

September 12, 2012


In the ” Myrvyian, or Cambrian Archaeology,” a
work replete with ancient lore, mention is made of
Caer-Eiddyn, or the fort of Edin, wherein dwelt
a famous chief, Mynydoc, leader of the Celtic
Britons in the fatal battle with the Saxons under
Ida, the flame-bearer, at Catraeth, in Lothian, where
the flower of the Ottadeni fell, in 510; and this is
believed to be the burgh subsequently said to be
named after Edwin.
In the list of those who went to the battle of
Catraeth there is record of 300 warriors arrayed in
fine armour, three loricated bands (i.e., plated for
defence), with their commanders, wearing torques
of gold, “three adventurous knights,” with 300 of
equal quality, rushing forth from the summits of
the mighty Caer-Eiddyn, to join their brother
chiefs of the Ottadeni and Gadeni.
In the ” British Triads” both Caer-Eiddyn
(which some have supposed to be Carriden), and
also Dinas-Eiddyn, the city of Eiddyn, are repeatedly
named. But whether this be the city of
Edinburgh it is. exceedingly difficult to say; for,
after all, the alleged Saxon denominative from
Edwin is merely conjectural, and unauthenticated
by remote facts.
From Sharon Turner’s ” Vindication of Ancient
British Poems,” we learn that Aneurin, whose work
contains 920 lines, was taken prisoner at the battle
of Catraeth,* and was afterwards treacherously slain
by one named Eiddyn; another account says he
died an exile among the Silures in 570, and that the
battle was lost because the Ottadeni ” had drunk
of their mead too profusely.”
The memory of Mynydoc Eiddyn is preserved
in a beautiful Welsh poem entitled ” The Drinking
Horn,” by Owain, Prince of Powis. The poeni
is full of energy.
” When the mighty bards of yore
Awoke the tales of ancient lore,
What time resplendent to behold,
Flashed the bright mead in vase of gold!
The royal minstrel proudly sung
Of Cambria’s chiefs when time was young;
How, with the drink of heroes flushed,
Brave Catraeth’s lord to battle rushed,
The lion leader of the strong,
And marshal of Galwyiada’s throng ;
The sun that rose o’er Itun’s bay
Ne’er closed on such disastrous day;
There fell Mynydoc, mighty lord,
Beneath stern Osway’s baneful sword ;
Yet shall thy praise, thy deathless name,
Be woke on harps of bardic fame,
Sung by the Cymri’s tuneful train,
Aneurin of celestial strain.”
Daniel Wilson, one of the ablest writers on Scottish
antiquities, says that he thinks it useless “to follow
the fanciful disquisitions of zealous antiquarians
respecting the origin and etymology of Edinburgh ;
it has successively been derived, both in origin and
in name, from Saxon, Pict, and Gael, and in each
case with sufficient ingenuity to leave the subject
more involved than at first.” But while on this
subject, it should be borne in mind that the unfortunate
destruction of the national records by the
invaders, Edward I. and Oliver Cromwell, leaves
the Scottish historian dependent for much of his
material on tradition, or information that can only
be obtained with infinite labour; though it may
no doubt be taken for granted that even if these
archives had been preserved in their entirety they
could scarcely have thrown much, if any, light upon
the quaestio vexata of the origin of the name of

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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