Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia


Scottish Gaelic: Dùn Èideann
Castellum Puellarum, Din Eidyn, Tenebroc

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland. It is located in the southeastern part of the country, on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth.

John Major, the Scottish chronicler, thought that Edinburgh was Arthur’s capital. The city appears in French romance as Tenebroc. It may be indicated by Agned in Nennius.

It is also the site of Arthur’s Seat, located in Holyrood Park. It is an ancient volcanic hill where Arthur was alleged to have watched his forces defeat the Picts and Scots.

Edinburgh | 0 to the 9th century AD

Early Settlement
The area around Edinburgh has been inhabited since ancient times. Archaeological evidence suggests that there were Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements in the region.

Roman and Celtic Influence
During the Roman period, the area was part of the territory of the Votadini, a Celtic people. The Romans likely had some influence in the region, but there is limited evidence of significant Roman presence in what would become Edinburgh.

Early Medieval Period | 5th – 9th centuries
In the early medieval period, the area that is now Edinburgh was part of the wider region known as the Kingdom of Gododdin, an early medieval Brittonic-speaking kingdom in what is now southern Scotland and northern England. The capital of the Gododdin kingdom was likely Din Eidyn, which is belived to be the ancient name for the settlement that eventually became Edinburgh.

Archaeological evidence suggests that the area around Edinburgh was settled and fortified during this period, indicating a significant population and likely serving as a center of power for the Gododdin.

While there are few written records from this time, the Kingdom of the Gododdin is mentioned in early Welsh poetry, particularly in the Y Gododdin, an epic poem attributed to the Welsh bard Aneirin around the sixth century. The poem recounts the battle of Catraeth, where the warriors of the Gododdin fought valiantly but suffered a devastating defeat against the Anglo-Saxon invaders.

The Kingdom of Gododdin eventually came under pressure from the advancing Angles and other Germanic tribes, as well from the rising power of the Kingdom of Northumbria. Over time, the Gododdin territories were gradually absorbed into the expanding Northumbrian kingdom.

Viking Age | 8th – 11th centuries
The impact of the Vikings on Edinburgh, like many other parts of coastal and riverine Europe, was significant during the Viking Age. The Vikings, known for their sefaring skills, conducted raids along the coastal areas of the British Isles. Edinburgh, located on the eastern coast of Scotland, was vulnerable to Viking raids. The Norsemen targeted monasteries, coastal settlements, and trading centers.

The term Danelaw refers to the areas of England and Scotland where Viking influence and settlement were particularly strong. While much of the Danelaw was in England, parts of eastern Scotland, including the Edinburgh region, also experienced Viking settlements. Viking influence is evident in the place names of many locations in and around Edinburgh. The suffix by, meaning “farm” or “settlement” in Old Norse, is found in several place names in the region.

Early Royal Connections and Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh has early royal connections, and it is believed that King Edwin of Northumbria may have had a fort on Castle Rock, the prominent volcanic hill where Edinburgh Castle stands today. The origins of Edinburgh Castle can be traced back to the early medieval period. The castle has played a central role in the history of the region, serving as a royal residence and military stronghold.

Kingdom of Alba | 9th century
In the late ninth century, as the Kingdom of Alba (the precursor to the Kingdom of Scotland) emerged, Edinburgh became an important royal center. The establishment of the kingdom brought a degree of stability and consolidation of power in the region.

See also
Caledonia | The Legend of King Arthur
Castle of Maidens | The Legend of King Arthur

Historia Majoris Britanniae | John Major, 1521