Thursday, 5 June 2008

THE EXILE

If we try to work our way back into the Celtic Mythology through the 'Historians' of the late Saxon and medieval periods- in order to find the original birth of bath we have to start with the colourful character of Geoffrey of Monmouth and his mythical King Bladud.



-Bladud in Exile-
Benjamin West
(1807)

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The picture that Monmouth paints is of a Young Welsh prince - who during his late education travels to Greece , to the fabled city of Athens and the site of the ancient and fallen troy to learn from the many teachers and philosophers that inhabit the region. During his studies he falls ill but is taken by four men to a path at the bottom of a low mountainside and is told to follow it to it's end. When he reaches the end of the path he drinks from a hidden fountain high in the the Athenian hills and is momentarily cured, he later travels back from Greece to Britain and returns to his kingdom in Wales.

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After setting up a college of learning on his way back to wales in a place now named Stamford with four mysterious 'philosophers' that had returned with him he alone returns to wales to his throne. When he enters the court after riding for days he pulls back his hood to reveal a small red scar below his eye. The court physician diagnoses him with leprosy and he is banished from the kingdom and sent out as a wanderer in exile with only a group of pigs as company.

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As we can see water was definitely a key motif in the story of bladud - whilst walking in the hills across the Mendips in the area now called somerset he turned a corner and saw a valley cut deep into the landscape, this valley was a sight to be seen- it was surrounded by pale sandstone cliffs and was FILLED with hot clouds of thick steam.

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The clouds came from the natural thermal waters that were coming up from under the ground - a collection of natural springs bringing so much water that they flooded the valley floor and made it an area of rich marsh and bog. In the marsh smooth brown clays had formed and the pigs of bladud rolled in the mud and bathed in the murky green bubbling waters that came up from the heated limestone deep under the earth.

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Bladud's pigs while in the company of the banished prince had been his only companions and as such he had tended to them , and so it followed that during their travels the pigs also contracted the illness of the doomed prince. The day after bathing in the waters bladud went to round up his animals and saw that they had been cured of their affliction !! . He then went back to the springs and rolled in the mud and bathed in the warm waters and steam for (according to Monmouth) a few days.

After this it is said that he returned to his kingdom in wales and became king - then in a token of thanks and memory he built the first Celtic settlement in bath or as it was then known in the welsh period of bladud-
- '' Ca'er Badd'on '' -

The Meadows of Bathing...



This was - and is still now to some extent the accepted story of the founding of bath and this is the story that is plastered all over the city. Especially the museums and the Baths themselves.. (as shown below) But what if there is another side to this story that has (up until now) not been told?. A story that includes the 'Fair folk' , The high Irish kings and their Welsh counterparts. Why on earth would a 'Roman catholic' benedictine prior leave the original British kings out of the story?..


(Bladud - At the roman bath's in Bath)


It is a obvious fact that can be proven time and time again - the early christian historians of the (600 ad to 1600 ad ) period completely re-wrote the western European lineage of kings (and) the stories of old after obtaining the original documents and manuscripts - from the earlier roman 'military' campaigns. They wiped out the presence of powerful women in the tales and tarnished the reputations and images of all of the kings and greats of the isle that the bards sang of. This particular history of '' Ca'er badd'on '' is a much later version of an earlier narrative which included many of the greatest characters in British mythology.

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Whilst the above story is attributed to Monmouth - This is just one of the many fallacies that surround Bath's earliest history, This account does not come from Monmouth but is in fact a slowly built up narrative taken from at least Twelve authors . The original was written in Latin as has four majorly different translations to boot- So if this is the accepted history of the founding of the city then we must throw out this idea as a concrete truth that is laid in stone and start to synthesize other earlier authors and OTHER FIGURES in Geoffrey's own text.

In the next post we shall look at another king mentioned by early 'writers' who strangely has alot in common with the man known as bladud...

Daniel J.Tatman

1 comment:

Rik said...

Dan!

Thanks for posting on my blog earlier, and the very kind words :)

I've taken a quick scoot around yours and I can feel a heavy reading session coming on, once i'm outta work that is :D

I'm awaiting the details for the Radio show on Sunday, hopefully i won't go off on a big rant heh.

Keep in touch man! Fancy linking each others blogs?

Drop me a message!
Rik
http://thecosmicmind.blogspot.com