Stolen from Scotland - Merlin
A pagan Druid from Scotland
I have previously written an article on a possible Scottish candidate for the Legend of King Arthur but what is an Arthur story without his mage, Merlin?
Merlin is depicted as a wizard/Druid, or as one with magical powers, in most adaptations we see him today. He is usually an elder in the Arthur stories and uses his abilities to help King Arthur in his quests.
Whether in Disney or fantasy form, Merlin is one of the highest ranking Druids we’ve come across in myths and legends as he is known throughout the world.
In accordance with Arthurian times, our candidate for Merlin, Myrddin Wyllt, is placed within the sixth century. His name can be translated to Myrddin the Wild.
As with all things before Christian rule in Scotland, there is little to no evidence surrounding the culture. In fact, as with my previous candidate for Arthur, the story surrounding Myrddin is likely to have been adapted by Christianity.
Apparently born at the bottom of an old oak near Avon Gorge in Cadzow, Hamilton, Myrddin and his twin sister, Gwendydd, entered the world.
There isn’t much known about his childhood but, it is believed, Myrddin was of royal blood and, in fact, related to the Chief he served.
As a man, Myrddin served as a bard under Gwenddoleu ap Ceidio, one of the last Pagan Kings, who ruled the Scottish Borders surrounding Carlisle. He was thought to be a fierce warrior and accompanied his King in battles.
The last battle of Gwenddoleu was the Battle of Arfderydd against Rhydderch Hael, another King who ruled the Strathclyde Area.
Rhydderch was married to our candidate’s twin sister, Gwendydd, and was an advocate to St Mungo, the patron Saint of Glasgow, joining the Christian takeover.
In a bloody battle, Myrddin is said to have murdered his niece and nephew in blind rage. After realising what he did and witnessing the defeat of his King and his men, Myrddin fled to the nearby Caledonian Forest and was said to have went mad.
Mostly described as naked and wild, he lived among the trees and animals, taking shelter in a cave, for over a decade. It is said he eventually reached a spiritual awakening and received the gift of prophecy.
Threatening the new Christian ways as a Pagan Noble, Myrddin was outlawed and hunted but, as the years passed and most of society was converted to Christianity, he became less wanted.
At this point, Gwendydd, also know as the Queen of Cadzow, secretly arranged a meeting between Myrddin and Kentigern (Saint Mungo), hoping to bring a reconciliation that would welcome Myrddin into the Christian society and allow her to care for him.
Escorted from the forest under restraint, Myrddin travelled to meet with Kentigern, stopping at Dun Meldred, the home of a chief. He is said to have discovered the chief’s wife was having an affair, for which, the punishment was death. Although he did not speak of it, the wife was said to have known he knew.
There is much debate around what happened when Myrddin finally met Kentigern and it is this part of his story that many believe has been falsified.
Meeting at Stobo Kirk, the encounter between Kentigern and Myrddin was not a quiet reconciliation but a loud argument that lasted several days, trying to disprove the other and his ways. Myrddin refused the conversion to Christianity and returned to the woods.
In the Christian retelling, Kentigern claims to have given Myrddin communion and, thus, converting him. This is actually shown on a glass stained window, depicting a baptism near the River Tweed, at Stobo Kirk.
Myrddin had prophesied his own demise of dying a triple death to Kentigern. Thinking this was impossible, Kentigern believed this would show the prophets falseness.
Not long after leaving Stobo, on route to the forest, Myrddin was ambushed and assassinated, believed to keep him silent on the affair he discovered. He was stoned while crossing the River Tweed, falling on to the spear of a local fisherman and, losing consciousness, drowned. Therefore, dying a triple death of stoning, stabbing and drowning as he predicted.
Myrddin is said to be buried at Drumelzier, close to the River Tweed and close to a tiny settlement called Merlindale, but there is no known evidence of his grave above ground.
Considering his stance against the Christian onslaught of what’s now, Scotland, an unmarked grave would seem appropriate.
Unfortunately, Myrddin and the tales of his abilities had already spread through the land and, so, adapting his story to a Christian tale was a simple solution.
Although I do believe Myrddin to be one of the main inspirations for the character of Merlin, his relation to my candidate for Arthur, Artuir, is very improbable considering their differences in belief systems as Artuir’s family were Christian.
Perhaps linking the two candidates helped create the Unionist Christian approach Britain was aiming for as, at this point, the Angles had taken over Wales, parts of Ireland, most of Scotland and areas in Europe, including France.
Myrddin might not have been who he is represented by today but his life and abilities definitely make him a good candidate. What do you think?
About the author
She/Her 💖 Scottish 🏴 Wife 💍 Mum of one human 👨👩👧 3 dogs 🐶 and a cat 🐱 Bisexual 🏳️🌈 Dog Walker 🦮 Borderline Personality Disorder ☮️ Psoriasis Warrior 🧡 Scorpio ♏️ Ravenclaw 💙 Wannabe Fantasy Fiction Writer 🧚♂️