From a historic perspective what has been attributed to “Arthur” in the Historia Brittonum’s battlelist must be emended to Ambrosius Aurelianus and Lucius Artorius Castus.
The battle at monte Badonis (Baddon)–the last in the battlelist recorded in The Historia Brittonum–is verified by Gildas Badonicus and Bede and should therefore be ascribed to Ambrosius Aurelianus, NOT King Arthur.
Most of the other battlesites are in the vicinity of Hadrian’s Wall, which is Lucius Artorius’s milieu.
Based on eight contextual clues recorded in other available manuscripts, the Battle on Badon Hill was more plausibly fought at The Wrekin near Wroxeter.
KING ARTHUR’S BATTLE ON
BADON HILL (WROXETER)
Arthur’s Battle of Badon remains an enigma; no revelations in archaeology or discovery of manuscripts heretofore hidden have provided fresh information. A chronology for the Badon date has been well-established by historians, researchers, and scholars as having been fought between 490 and 500 A.D., but no geographic location has yet been definitively established. A number of individuals from varying professions have theorized about locales of this enigmatic battle, but no convincing consensus has been established. Although many have claimed that Aquae Sulis (Bath) is the logical locus, close analysis of the evidence seems weak (See BadonHill (Bath)). Other speculations range from Mount Badon in Berkshire to Badbury Hill in Dorset, to Mount Baedan just south of Maestag, to Breidden Hill near Baschurch, to Liddington Hill, to Chisbury, to Badbury Rings, and to a number of others.
The Historic King Arthur and Historic Figures of the Arthurian Era propose a theory that Wroxeter (Viroconium) is the most likely site where the Battle of Badon was fought. It must be remembered that this is based on the premise that there was no Arthur of the fifth century, and that this battle was fought by Ambrosius Aurelianus, five decades after the plea to Aetius failed (based upon dates calibrated by Bede, Arthur Wade-Evans, E.K. Chambers, John Morris, Leslie Alcock, and Geoffrey Ashe, to name a few), and three decades after Ambrosius Aurelianus made his debut as Riothamus on the continent. Ambrosius Aurelianus was part Roman and part Welsh, inferring that battles which he fought would be on Welsh soil.
Unlike the baths at Aquae Sulis which remain largely intact–mainly because additions to the baths came much later than the fifth century–the only remaining part of the baths here at Wroxeter are the tiles. Yet these baths would have been more impressive in Ambrosius Aurelianus’s day than the ones which existed at Aquae Sulis. The only standing wall here is known as the Old Work.
Ivan Lapper’s reconstruction of the baths indicate their size. To the upper left of the baths is the piscena, a shallow wading or bathing pool, not really a “fishpond.” Along the right wall are the massive stacks of wood; for some reason, the Romans did not use coal to heat the caldarii.
During the Roman occupation of Britain, the island was divided into five segments, called the Five Britains. The map to the left shows three of the five: the lavender section was known as Britannia Prima, the green labeled as Britannia Secunda, and the red as Britannia Flavia. To the north, the two others were Britannia Maxima and Britannia Valentia.
The focus here, Britannia Prima, shows how far Wales extended into the midlands. Shropshire, where Wroxeter was located, was part of Wales, and the Shropshire-Hereford area was a Roman territory named Cornovii, and Wroxeter was its tribal city. The confusion of Cornovii and Cornwall in the southwest peninsula has created chaos and headaches for Arthurian buffs, because Arthur has been linked with Cornwall, but in the fifth century, Cornwall was named Dumnonii. That confusion could be re-interpreted as Ambrosius Aurelianus having his home base in Cornovii rather than Arthur being born in Cornwall and thus “Cornish.”
The baths–caldarium, tepidarium and frigidarium–were to the right of the Old Work. The huge sandy area to the left was the exercise room which was the size of a basilica in an English cathedral. The dark circles indicate where the columns stood. The Wrekin, the highest hillfort in Britain, looms in the background. It would have been Badon Hill, the site of the actual battle.
This replication depicts the legionary fortress of Wroxeter/Viroconium.
1. Baths are center frame.
2. Wroxeter, in the Roman and early post-Roman period, was listed as the fourth-largest city in Britain. Once the Romans moved their legions to Chester-upon-Dee, Wroxeter became an administrative post and tribal city of the Cornovii territory.
3. Unlike Little Solsbury Hill and Aquae Sulis, Wroxeter at the base of the Wrekin, has been extensively excavated.
4. The River Severn plays a crucial role in determining Badon’s geography. Whereby Aquae Sulis lies fifteen miles east of the river, the walls of Wroxeter nearly touched its banks.
5. Carrying this rationale even further, the Mouth of the Severn near Aquae Sulis would be impossible to ford, because it is approximately four miles wide as it empties into Bridgwater Bay and eventually the Bristol Channel.