Battle of Catraeth, Battle of Catterick
Catraeth is a legendary and possibly historical battle that is mentioned in the Welsh poetry collection known as Y Gododdin. This collection, attributed to the sixth-century poet Aneirin, celebrates the bravery and heroism of warriors from the Gododdin, a Brythonic-speaking people who lived in the area that is now southern Scotland and northern England during the post-Roman period.
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 a central theme of Y Gododdin and is described as a disastrous event for the Gododdin warriors, who fought against the Angles, a Germanic people. According to the poem, three hundred warriors, and their leader Mynyddog Mwynfawr, from the kingdom of Gododdin traveled to Catraeth to fight against 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