Bath/Badon

   Bath has long been connected with the historic Arthurian Battle of Badon mentioned in Nennius.
   Tim and Annette Birkitt in ‘The Frontier Zone and the Siege of Mount Badon: a review of the evidence for their location’, Somerset Archaeology and Natural History’, Vol 134, 1990, explain that, The Burghal Hidage documents (C13th copies of C10th originals) use the names Baþan, baderan, badecan, bathe and Badaran. Bathu was used in the C12 copy of the foundation charter of the Bath Cartulary (675AD), and that versions of the Domesday Book record the names Batha, Bathae, Bathoniensis, Bada and Bade. Also, Ecgfrith, a Mercian King issued a charter in 796AD from ‘that celebrated town which is called in Saxon tongue aet Baþun’.
   Rev. Professor Earle, ‘Bath During British Independence’, from ‘Handbook to Bath’, The British Association, 1888, extracts from ‘From the Departure of the Roman Legions to the Desolation of Akeman (1) AD 410 –577’. "The departure of the Legions must have greatly lowered the splendour and the commercial activity of Aquae, and have made it seem to its denizens a dull and miserable place. I assume that Aquae was the usual and colloquial name, and that the full-length designation Aquae Sulis was not employed in speech but only in formal writings, or in lapidary inscriptions. This ‘Aquae’ would in pronunciation have sounded like Ak-e. We are not without data in this matter; in Roman times there were various places called Aquae, and the modern forms which such names now bear afford elements of evidence concerning the pronunciation in the time of the later Roman Empire. The German name Aachen represents Aquae, so do the French names Aix, Ax, and Dax; the latter, the name of a town in the Pyrenees, is for De Aquis. …. … of all the barbarian settlements on our coasts, the most important for the general history of England is the one which also absorbed our city. The earliest date that has been assigned for the landing of the West Saxons under Cerdic is 495. A long time was to elapse before they reached this western country, and the steps of their progress in the interval would have formed no legitimate part of the present narrative, but for the fact that by a grotesque mistake a marked event which happened at an early stage of that interval has imbedded itself in the history of Bath. The memorable siege of Mons Badonicus, where the Walas dealt a severe blow upon the Saxons, has been fixed, by the help of data in the book of Gildas, to the year 520. Dr Guest identified Mons Badonicus with Badbury Rings, near Wimbourne, and the identification is now generally accepted. Previously it had been identified with Bath, and Banner Down was the spot fixed upon for the battlefield, because it seemed to offer a sort of translation of Mons Badonicus, as well as a vague echo in similarity of sound. But it was upon Bath that the word fastened itself etymologically, as if Badonicus, which might pass for an adjective of Bathonia. It did not trouble the old antiquarians that they were elucidating a word from the sixth century by help of another word which had no existence until the tenth."
   John Britton in his ‘The History and Antiquities of Bath Abbey Church’, stated "Before, however, they obtained possession of Bath, the Saxon hordes are stated to have been twice defeated, with immense slaughter, on Mons Badonicus, perhaps Bannerdown (a hill close on the north-east of Bath), in its immediate vicinity, by the British King Arthur, in the years 493 and 520. They proved victorious, however, in 577, when their chiefs, Cuthwin, and Ceawlin King of Wessex, defeated the British kings Commail, Condida, and Farinmail, at Dyrham, about eight miles distant, and took the three cities of Baþan cearcen*, Cirencester, and Gloucester. Under the sway of the Saxons, Bath received the appropriate names of Hat Bathun, or Bathum*, and Acemannes-cestre*, or the Sick Man’s City; by these appellations, and their derivatives, Balnea*, Badonia*, Badonessa*, Bathonia*, Acamanni*, Achamanni*, and Achumanensi*, it is subsequently designated in the Saxon and Monkish chronicles".
   Rodney Casledon in his 'King Arthur; the truth behind the legend', Routledge, 2000, draws upon the arguments of John Morris and the Burkitt's, and states boldly that, "if ever archaeology shouted 'they shall not pass!', it was here in Dark Age Bath'. The positioning of the East Wansdyke, and other Wansdyke-like earthworks on the western approaches to Bath; and the positioning of the West Wansdyke, that suggests that its builders would retreat to the south of Bath if the city fell, demonstrate that the city was strongly defended to the north-east, and that its' defenders had prepared to abandon the city and defend Northern Somerset."