The Welsh Clyde


Researched and compiled by
Hugh D.P. McArthur, FSA Scot
Clan Arthur Seannachie
High Commissioner for Clan Arthur in Britain
© 2020 Hugh DP McArthur

Five written sources state that Clan Arthur and Clan Campbell are descended from Smervie or Mervin the son of King Arthur who was born in the Red Hall at Dumbarton on the River Clyde. It is further reported from ancient manuscripts that Mervin never came to the throne as he was a wild man of the woods - Could this mean that he was still a pagan and no longer acceptable to lead a newly Christianised society? I shall return to Mervin in due course.

Dumbarton Rock
Dumbarton Rock
The Fortress of the Britons - With Ben Lomond in the Background
Photograph by Hugh DP McArthur

The legendary Arthur was a leader of the Britons, a Welsh-speaking tribe who inhabited Strathclyde and Cumbria during the 6th century. Welsh remained the first language of Strathclyde until around the 11th century. Clyde is a Welsh or Cymric name and further place name evidence can be found in Little Cumbrae and Great Cumbrae, the islands that form the gateway to the Inner Clyde. Caer is Welsh for fort, found in names like Cardiff, Carmarthon and Carlisle, yet also in the Clyde valley names of Cardonald, Carmunnock, Carmylie, Caerpentulloch (Kirkintilloch), Carluke, Carstairs and many more. Lanark is the central ancient market town high up in the Clyde Valley that is mentioned in The Welsh Mabinigion as Llannerch.

Dun is the Gaelic for fort and Dumbarton, the northern capital of 6th century Strathclyde, means quite literally “The Fortress of The Britons”. About 2km to the west of Dumbarton Rock is Castle Hill and a site known as Arthur’s Castle, and about 200m to the west again is another rock outcrop known as King Arthur’s Seat - One of many to be found in Scotland. Local knowledge still maintains that Loch Lomond used to be known as The Lake and the Lady can be found on Inch Cailleach (The Island of the Veiled One) one of Loch Lomond’s larger isles, which has very ancient female religious associations.

To the north of The Lake, about halfway up the west flank of Glen Falloch is a huge raised boulder called Clach na Britain (The Rock of Britain) reckoned to be where the ancient boundaries of Britain (Strathclyde), Dalriada (Argyll) and Alba (Pictland) converged. In short, the North of Britain, the northern regions of the 6th century Welsh language and the region from whence came Arthur and Gwyr y gogledd (The Men of the North) is none other than The Clyde Valley in the Scotland we know today.


Select Bibliography:
Mason, Gordon W. "The Castles of Glasgow & The Clyde" ISBN 1899874186
Alastair Campbell of Airds "A History of Clan Campbell Volume 1" ISBN 1-902930-17-7