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Let us not forget that this site is founded on The Seafarer.
Gildas was fanatically evangelical, unlike the seafarer, whose verse had a secular, even quasi-pagan, appeal.

King Olav without bible,
but with axe.


Another angle: from Simon James, The Atlantic Celts, 1999, pp 14 - 15.
It is said the sail didn't develop until about 650 AD. Questionable.

The Sainted. c500 - c570 AD.

At left De Excidio Britanniae, written c 530 AD by St Gildas, translated by J.A.Giles, 1848 or 1891. This is the celebrated passage describing the arrival of the colonists in their three keels or cyuls coming to take over what became Angle-land. See here for Hollander's comical interpretation of the three keels.

At right is an embellished statue of St Gildas in France's Little Britain, after he had fled from the impious seax-waving Saeson in Greater Britain.

There's a fair amount of matter about Gildas on the internet, eg here or here, but not much of it stacks up. Most of what is said by him or about him is recognised as legendary, and largely fiction. Dig those miracles, right and left, oft-repeated.

Two aspects of Gildas seem to me to be of interest.

First, he was evidently of royal birth, as were several of the effective proponents of the Roman variety of Christianity.

Papal infallibility must have held a strong appeal to pagans in power, and enthused them with fervour in favour of this interpretation of Christian devotion.


It didn't seem to have much to do with the genuine Jesus message, although he did evidently say that '''whatever was Caesar's should be rendered unto him". Sainted King Olav, of Norway, an extremely effective proselytiser, is said to have toured his subjects with an axe in one hand and a bible in the other, and offered them a choice. See image above. Their compliance with his proposed wish tended to be consensual.

The second matter of unusual interest, for me, relates to Gildas on the point of death. Almost as though he had taken to the last act of a pagan seafarer.

Wikipedia has it that he was sought out by those who wished to study under him, and was entreated to establish a monastery in Brittany. He built an oratory on the bank of the River Blavet, today known as St. Gildas de Rhuys. He died at Rhuys on 29 January 570 AD, and his body was placed on a boat and allowed to drift, according to his wishes. Three months later, on 11 May, men from Rhuys found the ship in a creek with the body of Gildas still intact. Did he think the ship would take him to some pre-Christian Old Scandinavian heaven ? As a form of reparation for his demented polemics against the keel-men ?

Gildas would not have anticipated the true legacy of the keels from Scandinavia. Flash forward to 1588, and the rejection of the totalitarian authority of Rome, or to the year of victories in 1759. This was the year of Garrick's authorship of Heart of Oak. The technological and navigational skills of the Angle-kin established Britannia's rule over the waves, and spread her lingo as the lingua franca to replace Latin, across the globe, shaping the greatest and most benign empire ever known.

"in fact all languages in the British Isles are imported"

1999: Swedish Sprachgefühl for Anglo-Saxon
2013: More Sprachgefühl for Anglo-Saxon

A Curiosity

Could East Anglia's kinship with Sweden be any closer ?

See also: Wikipedia, East Anglia, or here.   *** ***         *** ***   See also: Kingdom of East Anglia, flags

"That the small neck of land, with few villages, round Angeln [in Denmark], with both its name and the majority of its place-names, should then become unpopulated, seems far-fetched, especially in view of the thousands of places in Sweden which are admirably placed [for Anglian origin]." David Burns.

*** *** ***
under permanent reconstruction.

The Sutton Hoo Sword: a Replica.


essays and papers
ancient scandinavia
d.w.anthony: language
gothonic or old scandinavian
gata and strada    geats
hollander & gradon       frank, mere, sund
saxon shore: one, two, three
sweet, bradbury, emptiness

Olof the Holy


© Charles Harrison-Wallace 2017
All Rights Reserved

A Short Reading List

Stjerna, R.
Chambers, R.W.
Bruce-Mitford. R.L.S.
Sherley-Price, Leo; rev.Latham, R.E.
McClure, J. & Collins, R.
Wallace-Hadrill, J.M.
Engstrom; Lankton; Lesher-Engstrom
James, Simon
James, Simon
Sherley-Price, Leo; rev.Latham, R.E.
Tatyana Solomonik-Pankrashova
Essays on questions in connection with Beowulf
England before the Norman Conquest
The Sutton Hoo Ship Burial
A History of the English Church & People
The Ecclesiastical History of the English People
The Ecclesiastical History of the English People
Sword of Sutton Hoo
Exploring the World of the Celts
The Atlantic Celts: Ancient People or Modern Invention ?
History of the English Church & People
Sense of Emptiness: Chapter Five, pages 72-73.
Translated by J.R.Clark Hall. See Geats.
Cary, M.: Foreword on Roman Britain.
The Swedish Connection; Chapter X.
Bede. Revised edition.
Bede. Bertram Colgrave translation.
A Historical Commentary
A Modern Replication
See second exploration by James; 1999
Ancient People or Modern Invention ?
Folio edition. Intro: Melvyn Bragg.
Comments on The Seafarer.

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