World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Battle of Catraeth

Battle of Catraeth
Date c. 600
Location Perhaps Catterick, North Yorkshire
Result Angles victorious
Gododdin Angles
Commanders and leaders
Mynyddog Mwynfawr Unknown

The Battle of Catraeth was fought around AD 600 between a force raised by the Gododdin, a Brythonic people of the Hen Ogledd or "Old North" of Britain, and the Angles of Bernicia and Deira. It was evidently an assault by the Gododdin party on the Angle stronghold of Catraeth, perhaps Catterick, North Yorkshire. The Gododdin force was said to have consisted of warriors from all over the Hen Ogledd, and even some from as far afield as Gwynedd in North Wales and Pictland. The battle was disastrous for the Britons, who were nearly all killed. The slain warriors were commemorated in the important early poem Y Gododdin, attributed to Aneirin.


  • Battle 1
  • Historical fiction 2
  • Notes 3
  • References 4


In his Canu Aneirin Ifor Williams interpreted mynydawc mwynvawr in the text of Y Gododdin to refer to a person, Mynyddog Mwynfawr in modern Welsh. Mynyddog, in Williams' reading, was the king of the Gododdin, with his chief seat at Din Eidyn (modern Edinburgh). Around the year 600 Mynyddog gathered about 300 selected warriors from across the Brythonic world. He feasted them at Din Eidyn for a year, then launched an attack on Catraeth, which Williams agrees with Thomas Stephens in identifying as Catterick in North Yorkshire, which was in Anglo-Saxon hands. They were opposed by a larger army from the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Deira and Bernicia.[1]

In early historical times, this part of northern England and southern Scotland was the territory of the Votadini, the ancestors of the later Gododdin. By 600 the Angles had formed the important kingdoms of Deira and Bernicia, which were possibly originally ruled by Britons. As such the Battle of Catraeth may have been an attempt to push back Anglo-Saxon expansion. At some time after the battle, the Angles absorbed the Gododdin kingdom and incorporated its territory into the kingdom of Northumbria.

This interpretation has been accepted by most modern scholars. Kenneth H. Jackson accepts the interpretation but suggests that a force of 300 men would be much too small to undertake the task demanded of them. He considers that the 300 mounted warriors would have been accompanied by a larger number of foot soldiers, not considered worthy of mention in the poem.[2] A. O. H. Jarman also follows Williams' interpretation.[3]

Historical fiction

The Battle of Catraeth has appeared in some modern works of fiction. John James used Y Gododdin as the basis for his novel Men went to Cattraeth, originally published 1969. Rosemary Sutcliff's young adult novel The Shining Company (1990) tells the story of the Battle of Catraeth from the viewpoint of Prosper, shieldbearer to one of King Mynydogg's Gododdin warriors. Richard J Denning's 2010 novel, The Amber Treasure tells the story of the Battle of Catraeth from the point of view of a young Anglo Saxon youth, Cerdic.


  1. ^ Williams, pp. xxiii-xlviii.
  2. ^ Jackson, pp. 13-18.
  3. ^ Jarman, pp. xxi-xxiv.


  • Jackson, Kenneth H. 1969. The Gododdin: The Oldest Scottish poem. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 0-85224-049-X
  • Jarman, A. O. H. (ed.) 1988. Y Gododdin. Britain's Oldest Heroic Poem. The Welsh Classics vol. 3. Gomer. ISBN 0-86383-354-3
  • Williams, Ifor. 1938. Canu Aneirin: gyda rhagymadrodd a nodiadau. Aberystwyth: Gwasg Prifysgol Cymru.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.