Oor Arthur

The River Bassas
"super flumen quod vocatur Bassas" 

Battle six sees Arthur move east into the lands of the Goddodin or Lothian on the edge of Bannog. The first name that comes to mind for the Bassas on a river is the Bass Rock on the Firth of Forth, perhaps the scene of a naval battle, possibly the Goddodin repelled a sea invasion of Sassenachs from Northumbria or further south. However, there is another location not far up stream which warrants deeper investigation.

Two natural mounds stand where the River Bonny meets the River Carron at Dunipace and these mounds are from whence the name originates. Duni pacis – The Hills of Peace. They are also known as Basses - sacred mounds and indeed, an ancient chapel and cemetery still lie between them. Local legend maintains that this is where the Romans signed the peace treaty with the Votadini tribe who were to become the famous Gododdin.

There is also a tale that the Romans built a temple just to the east of Dunipace as a peace offering to the local tribes. The beehive structure later became known as Arthur’s O’on (Oven) and is one contender for the location of Arthur’s Round Table, although use as a crematorium seems more likely from the name alone. Unfortunately the local land owner had this unique structure demolished in 1743 to make way for the Carron dams and the remains are now believed to be lying in a back garden in Stenhousemuir. Sir John Clerk of Penicuik (a Welsh place name in Lothian meaning Cuckoo Head) was so dismayed at the destruction, that he commissioned a replica to be built on his own estate for use as a dovecot.

The Basses lie roughly at the meeting of three ancient and natural land divides. Lothian (reputedly from King Loth, another Arthurian character), the Manau of Goddodin (the lands around Stirling and the Forth) and Bannog (the Campsie Fells and Gargunnock Heights encircling the Carron Valley) the latter being from whence the famous Bannockburn takes its name. Not far south of Dunipace, Antonine’s (briefly occupied) Roman wall spanned the Forth Clyde isthmus, boasting Camelon as the major local fortress. The link in name to Camelot is obvious.

Most importantly, the Basses stand at a major river confluence on the shortest land route across the whole of mainland Britain. The mounds sit like a gateway at the eastern end of what was the busiest trade route between the North and Irish Seas, or the east and the west coasts of Britain. This was a route which was also frequently used for invasion as we shall see later at the Arthurian Battle of Ardinning in 570. For the time being I’m going to suggest that this battle was fought against marauding southerners, and if Artur MacAeden was there, then it may well have been fought in the spring or summer of 568.

ugh McArthur 2006


William F. Skene
The Four Early Books of Wales

Stuart McHardy
The Quest For Arthur
ISBN 1874012229


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