In Arthurian legends, Catraeth is the site of a significant and tragic battle known as the Battle of Catraeth or Y Gododdin. The story of Catraeth is featured in the medieval Welsh poem Y Gododdin, attributed to the sixth-century poet Aneirin. The poem celebrates the bravery and valor of the warriors of the Gododdin, a Celtic people who lived in what is now Scotland.
Catraeth is believed to be located near modern-day Catterick in North Yorkshire, England. While the battle’s historical context is uncertain, the location is significant in the poem’s narrative.
The Battle of Catraeth is the central theme of Y Gododdin. According to the poem, three hundred warriors from the kingdom of Gododdin travel to Catraeth to fight against an enemy force. The warriors gather to engage in an epic and heroic battle. Y Gododdin describes the bravery and feats of the Gododdin warriors, but it also laments their tragic fate. Despite their courage, the majority of the warriors are killed in the battle, and only a small number survive.
In some versions of Arthurian lore, Catraeth and the Battle of Catraeth are mentioned in relation to King Arthur. While the poem Y Gododdin does not explicitly mention King Arthur, later Arthurian traditions and interpretations have sometimes linked the Battle of Catraeth to Arthur’s era, depicting him as a contemporary or as a ruler with connections to the Gododdin warriors.
The Battle of Catraeth and Y Gododdin embody several heroic themes typical of Arthurian legends and medieval literature. These themes include bravery, loyalty, honor, and the idea of sacrifice for a higher cause.
Y Gododdin | Aneirin, c. 600