Old King Coel was a merry old soul,
Every fiddler, he had a fine fiddle,
Coel Hen or Coel the Old is best remembered by the nursery rhyme, but the pipe would have been of the musical kind, and the bowl a drinking bowl. The fiddlers would have been harpists and not violinists as pictured above. Roman writings comment on the hospitality of Britons who would invite a visitor in for a feast and music before talking business.
Coel Hen was most likely the last of the Roman Duces Brittanniarum with his headquarters at York, and he did his best to carry on as the first King of Northern Britain when the Roman officials returned to Italy, leaving Britain and her people to fend for themselves. King Coel soon found himself fighting with a coalition of Picts and Scots who overran his forces about 420. Coel himself wandered in the unknown countryside until he eventually got caught in a bog at Coilsfield (in Tarbolton, Ayrshire) and drowned. After his death, Coel's Northern Kingdom was divided between two of his sons, Ceneu and Gorbanian.
Coel Hen mentioned here is not to be confused with another “Old King Cole” who is said to have lived in Colchester, Essex during the third century. According to legend, King Cole of Colchester’s daughter Helen married the Roman senator Contantius who later became the Emperor of Rome. Their son was Constantine the Great . . . or so the story goes.
To learn more about Coel Hen, click on Britannia: Gateway to the British Isles
Most Celtic British monarchs claimed descent from Old
King Coel because he was the first post-Roman King of Northern Britain.
Coel Hen himself was an historical figure. However, there is a good possibility
that later monarchs set up the line shown next in much the same manner
as some overly enthusiatic modern genealogists piece together a line while
attempting to find a link to a famous ancestor. The genealogy shown next
must be considered at least partly legendary.
Coel Hen who was also known by the Latinised name of Caelius Votepacus, was a son of Tehvant and a grandson of Urban. Coel Hen was King of North Britain.
Born circa 350
Died circa 420
Coel Hen married Ystrafael or Ystradwel Ferch Cadfan and they had the following children:
Born circa 382
Ceneu had two sons:
Remains of a Roman Fort
Elidir ap Sandde had a son:
Gwriad of Man, King of Gwynedd
Gwriad married Ethyllt of Gwynedd, Queen of Gwynedd and they had a son:
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