Scotlands History

Britons – Gododdin

In the 6th century the land that would one day be Scotland was inhabited by many different peoples. In the north were the Picts; in Argyll the Dál Riatans; south of the Forth and Clyde lived P-Celtic Brythonic-speaking Britons. In early medieval Wales these Britons were known as ‘Gwyr y Gogledd’ – ‘The Men of the North’.

Among the Britons were the Gododdin or Guotodin; descendants of the Votadini who had traded with the Romans. The Gododdin had strongholds at Din Eidyn - now Edinburgh, and Manaw Gododdin  - around Stirling.  Around AD 600, an army led by 300 warriors set out from Din Eidyn on horseback to face the Angles in battle at Catreath – perhaps Catterick, in Yorkshire.

In the medieval Welsh poem ‘Y Gododdin’ the bard Aneirin recounts the deeds of the heroes of the Gododdin, their feasting before the battle and their terrible defeat.

Three hundred men hastened forth, wearing gold torques, defending the land, and there was slaughter.

The defeat of the Gododdin war-band was total, and in AD 638 the Angles captured Din Eidyn, marking the end of the kingdom of Gododdin, the overlordship of the Angles and the start of a conflict between Angles and Picts.

  • A photograph of text from the 6th-century Welsh poem Y Gododdin

Click on the image to view a larger version.