Celidon Wood

Attestedbellum in silva Celidonis, the 7th battle attributed to Arthur by the Historia Brittonum.

Where:  Uncertain, most likely about 4km NNE of Lincoln, around SK963760, on a Roman road newly recognised on Lidar maps as a short cut to the main road towards York, close to the Lincoln Cliff escarpment, where the South Carlton airfield briefly existed and there is now Cliff Farm and the Hallifirs plantation.  One can reasonably guess that woodland around that slope was formerly more extensive than modern patches.

Name Origin:  Old English helde ‘slope’ contributed to many place names, but there seems to be no consensus on how best to trace that back to the many PIE roots of form *kel-, *kelə-, *klad-,, etc, as illustrated by English hill, to heel, hilt, gladiator, Celt, Hilda, etc.  This may have been confused with forms of holy and churl in the place names suggested here.  Germanic H often shows up where earlier (or Celtic) names have K/C/CH, for example in Cheltenham and Chiltern.

Notes:  Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote that in AD 518 Arthurís army slaughtered 6000 Saxons at “Kaerlindcoit, which is now called Lincoln”.  The remnant were pursued to “nemus Colidonis”, bottled up with a wall of trees and starved into surrender, then sent back to Germany.  Anything Geoffrey wrote is to be taken with a big pinch of salt, but the more reliable Roger of Wendover believed him and expanded the story enough to hint that there was another source then available.  The author of the Historia Brittonum appears to be at least as unreliable, adding “id est Cat Coit Celidon”, which obvious refers to the personal name Celyddon mentioned in Welsh poems that would later be set down as Kat Godeu ‘battle of the forest’ and as the tale of Culhwch and Olwen.  Post-Roman battles often occurred close to Roman roads, and there was even a topologically similar battle at Halidon Hill.

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Last edited: 12 June 2019
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