Cuneglas (Latin: Cuneglasus; Welsh: Cynlas, lit. "Tawny Hound";[1] fl. early 6th century), also known as Cynlas the Red (Cynlas Goch), was a son of Owain Whitetooth (Ddantgwyn) and his successor as king of Rhos, an area of Denbighshire in northern Wales. He was the brother of saints Einion, Seiriol, and Meirion and is sometimes considered to have been the historical basis for King Arthur.[2]

Cuneglas is one of the five "tyrants" of Britain denounced by the contemporary writer, Gildas, in his work On the Ruin of Britain. This indignant monk calls him:

The first phrase is notably obscure.[5] The Latin receptāculum ("container; refuge") would literally describe a bear's lair or cage, which seems unlikely.[2] Those seeking an identification of Arthur with Cuneglas's putative father Owain have seen it as reference to Cuneglas's guiding the chariot containing his father's casket.[5] Some have argued for its identification with a placename, the Din Arth hillfort on Bryn Euryn at Llandrillo in Rhos; excavations undertaken in 1997 by David Longley for the Gwynedd Archaeological Trust revealed an early medieval fortress with a "massive, well-built" wall of quarried limestone standing 3 metres (9.8 ft) high and fronted by a rampart of 3.5 metres (11 ft) of rubble.[6] Anderson argued for an identification of the "guide" as Arcturus, the "driver" of the Great Wain or Bear (i.e., the Big Dipper).[2] The phrase would then serve as a punning reference to the main court of Cuneglas.


  1. In early Welsh, the word for hound was also used as a kenning for warriors, hence Gildas's Latin gloss of his name as lanius fulvus, the "tawny butcher".
  2. 1 2 3 Anderson, Alan Orr (October 1912). Watson, Mrs W.J., ed. "Gildas and Arthur". The Celtic Review. Edinburgh: T. & A. Constable for William Hodge & Co. (published 1913). VIII (May 1912 – May 1913): 149–165.
  3. Latin: ...urse multorum sessor aurigaque currus receptaculi ursi...
  4. Latin: ...Cuneglase Romana lingua lanio fulve...
  5. 1 2 Korrel, Peter (1984). "Arthur, Modred, and Guinevere in the Historical Records and in the Legendary Arthurian Material in the Early Welsh Tradition". An Arthurian Triangle: A Study of the Origin, Development, and Characterization of Arthur, Guinever, and Modred. Leiden: E.J. Brill. p. 8, n. 10. ISBN 9004072721.
  6. "Welsh fort identified as citadel of Dark Age king". British Archaeology, no 29. Council for British Archaeology. November 1997. Retrieved 31 December 2012.

See also

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