Coel Hen (Coelesius)

The legends of the Northern British were preserved by Rhodri Mawr, when he became King of Gwynedd. One of those legends concerned Coel Hen's (old King Coel of nursery rhyme fame) last campaign. Riaders and settlers from northeastern Ireland began to settle the western coast of Pictland, around Argyle. Coel, worried that these dal Riada Scots would unite with the Pictish tribes, sent raiding parties across his northern border to stir up discord between them. The plan failed as the Picts and Scots began to attack the British Kingdom of Strathclyde. Coel moved north to defend Strathclyde. The Picts and Scots fled into the hills ahead of Coel's army, and Coel eventually set up camp at what became Coylton, alongside the Water of Coyle in modern Ayrshire. For a long time, the Coeling forces successfully held their ground, while the Scots and Picts suffered and starved. In a desperate state, the enemy attacked in a last-ditch effort, catching Coel and his forces by surprise, and overrun and scattered them. Tradition states that Coel wandered through the countryside until he was trapped in a bog at Coilsfield (Tarbolton) and drowned. Coel's body was first buried in a traditional mound at Coilsfield before being removed to the church at Coylton at a later unknown date. The year of this campaign and his death was circa 420CE.

Afterwards, Coel's Northern Kingdom was divided between two of his sons.