Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia


Reged, Regeda, Reget, Rheghed, Roeged

Rheged refers to a post-Roman British kingdom or territory that existed in the Early Medieval period. It is primarily known through Old Welsh poetry and historical sources. Rheged was located in what is now northern England and southern Scotland. The exact extent and borders of Rheged are not precisely known, and there is some debate among scholars about its geographic scope.

It was ruled by Urien and his son Owain during the late fourth and early fifth centuries AD, the traditional Arthurian period. T. Clare, County Archaeologist of Cumbria, has suggested that Urien was the historical original of Arthur, which would therefore mean that Rheged was Arthur’s realm. This association seems to have sprung from Arthur’s connections with Carlisle, which lies within the kingdom.

Sir Walter Scott, in The Bridal of Triermain, says that Arthur promised it to whichever of his knights married Gyneth, his daughter.

Rheged | History

Origins and Early Period
Rheged is believed to have emerged as a post-Roman British kingdom in the Hen Ogledd, which refers to the Old North, a region encompassing parts of what is now northern England and southern Scotland. The establishment of Rheged likely occured in the sixth century or possibly earlier, in the aftermath of the Roman withdrawal from Britain.

Rulership of King Urien and Y Gododdin
The most prominent figure associated with Rheged is King Urien, who appears in Old Welsh poetry as a heroic and powerful leader. Urien is often celebrated for his military prowess and is a central figure in poems such as Y Gododdin. This poem is a primary source for information about Rheged. It describes a group of warriors, including those from Rheged, who fought in a battle against the Angles. The poem reflects the warrior culture of the time.

Decline and Disappearance
The historical records related to Rheged become scarce after the period associated with King Urien. The kingdom faced external pressures, including invasions by Anglo-Saxons and possibly other groups. The reasons for Rheged’s decline and eventual disappearance are not well-documented. The kingdom may have been absorbed by neighboring political entities or faced internal challenges.

Archaeological Investigations
Identifying the precise location and archaeological evidence for Rheged has proven challenging. Scholars and archaeologists have suggested potential sites, but definitive proof linking these sites to Rheged is lacking. Despite the limited historical records, Rheged is of interest to scholars studying the post-Roman period in Britain. It represents one of several small kingdoms that emerged in the vacuum left by the Roman withdrawal and faced challenges from external forces.

See also
Roman Empire | The Legend of King Arthur

Historia Brittonum | Probably Nennius, early 9th century
Culhwch and Olwen | Late 11th century
The Bridal of Triermain | Sir Walter Scott, 1804