EBK Activity Sheets

 



Little Known British Kingdom in Middle Britain



Click the Map to see Calchfynedd's place in Britain
 
  • Calchfynedd is a very mysterious British kingdom mentioned in a few old Welsh poems. Historians don't know much about it.
  • The poems say it was south of Powys in Wales. There is also a faint tradition that Dunstable & Northampton were its most important towns.
  • So it is thought that it roughly covered Northamptonshire, Huntingdonshire, Bedfordshire, North Buckinghamshire and South Oxfordshire.
  • The name is pronounced 'Calk-vineth'. It means 'Chalk Mountains' which refers to the Chiltern Hills.
  • There was a cathedral at Norton (in Northamptonshire) where the great Welsh saint, Cadog, was bishop.
  • The area may have been ruled by the people of London after the Romans left Britain. It was on the edge of many Saxon regions though and may have been left leaderless.
  • In the early 6th century, the region was probably taken over by a prince named Cynwyd and his band of warriors. His cousins had thrown him out of his homeland in the Pennine Hills up North.
  • The Saxons of East Anglia may have built the Devil's Dyke in order to keep him out of their kingdom.
  • However, Calchfynedd only lasted about 50 years! Cynwyd's family was wiped out when his son, Cadrod, was defeated in battle by King Cuthwulf of the Gewissae (Wessex) in AD 571.
  • The Mercians moved south to take over Calchfynedd. They called the southern part of the kingdom 'Chilternset'.
  • In Victorian times, an historian called William Skene suggested that Calchfynedd was really around Kelso in Scotland, which means 'chalky-place'.
  • This was because he knew the kings came from the North. But the idea does not match the traditions from old Welsh poetry. Where do you think it was?

 

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