Arthurian References In The Annales Cambriae (Annals Of Wales)

516. LXXII. Annus. Bellum Badonis, in quo Arthur portavit crucem Domini nostri Jesu Christi tribus diebus et tribus noctibus in humeros suos et Britones victores fuerunt. (The Battle of Badon, in which Arthur carried the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ for three days and three nights on his shoulders and the Britons were victors.)
537. XCIII. Annus. Gueith Camlann, in qua Arthur et Medraut corruere; et mortalitas in Brittania et in Hibernia fuit. (The Battle of Camlann in which Arthur and Medraut fell, and there was devastation in Britain and in Ireland.)
(Translated by ACL)
   Molly Miller (in Proceedings of the British Academy 61, 1973) speculates that the entries before 613CE in the Annales Cambriae derive from an early medieval set of Irish annals that underlie the later Annals of Tigernach, Annals of Ulster and Annals of Inisfallen. The chronology of the Irish annals is confused, and it can be shown that the compiler of the Annales Cambriae took discrete blocks of annals, maintaining the chronological relationships within each block, but not setting each block in correct relation to other blocks. The Irish annals seem to have had access to a northern British chronicle, from which some of the eleven early entries relating to Britain probably derive. There is some evidence that the entries are not contemporary with the events that they describe. First, there are the births of saints, which by their very nature must be retro-calculations. Second, there is the spelling of names, none of which seems to be earlier than the late eighth century in the Harleian text of the Annales.
   The difficulty lies in precisely how the original compiler of the Annales Cambriae assigned dates to his British material. For instance, bellum armterid, the Battle of Arthuret, occurs three years after the death of Gildas and one year before the death of Brendan of Birr. Both of the death notices are in the Irish annals. But Gildas dies in 569 and Brendan in 571. The date for the Battle of Arthuret should then be either 572 or 570 not the customarily assigned date of 573CE.
   When we look at Badon, the situation is worse. It's five years before the retro-calculated birth of Columba and the death of St Brigit; the Irish annals give us the date 522/3 for this, allowing us to calculate Badon in 517/18. However, it's sixteen years (or fifteen years, as one of the relevant decades contains eleven years in the Harleian manuscript) after the death of Bishop Ibar, placed in 499 by the Irish annals. This gives us a date of 515 for Badon. The 'traditional' date of 516 comes from a straight counting from the assumed start in 444 (although the data given by the early entries, the change in the dating of Easter and the birth of St Brigit, suggests that the compiler intended 443).
   With the traditional dating of Badon from Gildas, the problem then occurs that we have Gildas writing in the forty-fourth year after the battle i.e. 560, and have Maglocunus still alive. Yet the Annales place his death in 548 or 550 (the date of the plague in the Irish annals); which is consistent with the two succeeding entries, the death of Gabran mc Domangairt in 559 and the departure of Columba for Britain in 563. This means that we can suspect that the compiler really did intend the year to be understood as 548. What this leaves us is an inconsistency that can not lead to a consensus about the 'true' date of Badon.
   More study needs to be conducted to understand how the compiler used his source material.

Annales Cambriae Page