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Gods, Saints and Heroes


   Lundy, Isle of Avalon         Gods, Saints and Heroes

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One of the more-than-coincidences that I came across while researching Lundy, Isle of Avalon was the reoccurrence of names. 

Legends from different sources seemed to have similar(ish) themes and the same cast of characters. These 'usual suspects' include  Bran, Nectan, Elen and Luned

These are some of the manifestations of Bran I came across and as you read thru you'll see that many of them have been recognised, by one expert or another, as equating to another.


The various manifestations of Bran

King Bran of the Silures

Bran as Celtic deity

Bron - The Fisher King Bran of the Irish
Brennus /Brennius St. Brendan St. Brannoc(k) St. Brycha(i)n
St. Brynach Uther Ben Leodegrance St. Barnabas

The various manifestations of Bran in the Grail Legends

Brangemuer Brandus des Illes Brandigan Ban


Brennus /Brennius


In 390 BC the historical leader of the Gauls in the sacking of Rome was Brennus. Brennus is generally accepted as the prototype of Geoffrey of Monmouth's King Brennius. Brennius is a wanderer with a retinue of twelve knights. Brennius was noted for great generosity in his hospitality. The legend tells how Belinus and Brennius fought for mastery of Britain in the 4th.c. BC. Brennius was defeated and fled N. of the Humber. Brennius and Belinus are generally acknowledged to be manifestations of the gods Bran and Beli.


Bran of the Silures

Bran, father of Caractacus  ( Caradoc or Caradawg ) Ruler of the Silures, Arch Druid, captive in Rome and his role in the introduction of Christianity to Britain.

The Rebellion of the Silures


Bran - Celtic Deity 

( aka 'Welsh Bran' )

'Bran the Blessed' - 'Bran Vendigeit,' we are told in the introduction to the story of 'Branwen verch Llyr,' - 'Branwen the daughter of Llyr' - in the welsh 'Mabinogion.' was the grandson of Beli MawrHe was the brother of Manannan Mac(ap) Lir(Llyr). No ordinary house can hold him because of his size. 

"He transports his army on his back across the River Llinon."

Transplanted from his pagan Irish origin, Bran " has become King of the island of Britain, crowned in London and has acquired the Christian epithet bendigeid, 'Blessed'....He led an expedition to a foreign land and was victorious. Nevertheless, he was wounded in the foot with a poisoned javelin, and, though no causal nexus is mentioned, the islands of Ireland and Britain were rendered desolate. Nissyen and Evnissyen. Bran commanded his followers to cut off his head and to travel with it, first to Harlech and then to the island of Grassholm. Obeying his commands, they spent seven years at Harlech, regaling themselves with meat and drink. Then, setting out for Grassholm, they found there a fair royal place, a great hall, overlooking the sea. That night they spent there without stint, and we may infer that they continued to feast, as they had at Harlech, for eighty years, in the company of the uncorrupted head of Bran. This was called the Hospitality of the Wondrous Head." - Roger Sherman Loomis, The Grail, From Celtic Myth to Christian Symbol

If the hospitality of the Noble head took place on Grassholm, as claimed, then when Heilyn opened the door and looked towards Cornwall a look at a map demonstrates that he would be looking at Lundy.

According to Robert Graves in the 'White Goddess' the cult of Bran originated in the Aegean.



* The legends of Bron, 'The Rich Fisher,' and Bran, 'The Blessed,' corespond in more ways than can be allowed for by coincidence. A long list of the most eminent Arthurian scholars including Heinrich, Martin, Nutt, Rhys, Brown, Nitze and Loomis all agree in regarding 'Bran Fendigaid' as the Celtic prototype of 'Bron' - the Rich Fisher or Fisher king



Bron - The Fisher King

 - a companion of Joseph of Arimathea - Nicodemus  Nasciens

'Bron' - the Rich Fisher or Fisher king, who appears first in the late twelfth-century 'Roman de l'Estoire du Graal' of Robert de Boron.

..'Joseph's sister and her husband Bron (or Hebron) are among the followers who accompany Joseph into exile....

a Heavenly voice told Joseph to command Bron to go into the water and catch a fish.... 

(a table like the Last Supper)-

Joseph to sit where Christ sat at the Last Supper, with Bron at his right. 

Bron was to remove one seat to signify Judas' place, and this seat was to be reserved for a child yet to be born to Bron and his wife. 

Bron and his wife had twelve sons. Eleven married, but the twelfth (later called ALAIN) refused to take a wife, and in accordance with advice from heaven was instructed by Joseph in the history of the vessel (Grail), which he was to impart to others. 

Alain's heir was to be guardian of the vessel, and Alain himself was to lead his brothers and sisters westward, preaching Christ. 

Through heavenly agency Petrus received a letter, with which he was to set forth for the vales of Avaron and there wait the coming of Alain's son and of the one who would read his letter. 

An angel then announced that the vessel should pass into Bron's possession after Joseph imparted to him the secrets of the Grail, the words of Christ to Joseph in prison. 

Bron thenceforth would be called the Rich Fisher because of the fish he had caught, and he too, was to go westward to await Alain's son, to whom the vessel and the grace must be given. 

The three custodians would signify the Trinity. 

After Joseph told the secrets to Bron, the Good Fisher departed to the land where he was born.

According to Chretien de Troyes, Joseph gave the Grail the 'Holiest af all Holy relics,' to his brother-in-law, Bron, whose mission was to carry it into the far west to the 'Vaus d'Avaron.'


Irish Bran

The Bran of Irish legends is the hero of the 'Immram Brain' or 'Voyage of Bran' an eighth- or ninth- century narrative identified ultimately by most authorities as another manifestation of the welsh Bran

Lured by a beautiful spirit woman bearing a 'branch of the apple-tree.' Bran sets sail with 27 companions and eventually reaches the isle of women ( the paradisical Otherworld ). 

As the ship approaches the shore the leader of the women calls 'Come hither on land O' Bran, son of Febal, welcome is thy coming.'  When Bran doesn't respond the woman throws a ball of twine to him.  Bran catches the ball, the twine sticks to his hand and Bran and his retinue are inevitably drawn to the shore. The company were led across the island to a great hall with a 'bed and wife for every man and unlimited food.' The only inhabitants of the isle are beautiful women. After what seems like twelve months pass, Bran and his companions depart and set sail for home. When the ship draws near the shore people on land enquire of Bran his name. When Bran replies, he is told 'One of our oldest stories is called 'The Voyage of Bran......''  One of the company, Nechtan the son of Collbran, leaps ashore. As soon as his foot touched the land he crumbls into ashes. 

Without setting foot on his native soil, Bran related his adventures to the eager listeners ashore. When he had finished, he turned the ship to sea, and has never been seen again by mortal eyes to this day. 


St Brendan

( The Christian Counterpart of Irish Bran )

A historical early Irish Christian, St. Brendan, was born in Tralee c. 484 or 486 AD. 

He died c. 578 AD.

He is credited with founding monasteries at Clonfert 559 AD, at Annadown ( Galway), Inishadroum ( Clare ) and at Ardfert ( Kerry). 

He had a reputation as a traveler or wanderer and he is reputed to have visited St. Columba at Hinda (Argyle) on which visit he may have founded a Scottish monastery. 

Eventually he became the abbot of Llancarvan in Wales. He is also supposed to have accompanied St. Malo to Brittany.

One of the most proliferate of surviving mediaeval texts is the 'Navigation of St. Brendan.'  

Ostensibly the tale of the historical abbot, St. Brendan, it tells of his adventures with a crew of monks exploring the isle of promise in that mysterious Celtic Otherworld reached over western seas.


St. Brychan

St. Brychan, or Brychain, was a legendary welsh king who ruled the kingdom of 'Brycheiniog' which survived until the tenth century and was succeeded by the old welsh county of Brecknock and whose name still survives in the Brecon Beacons.

According to legend Brychan was the ancestor of a proliferate saintly family. He is said to have fathered between twelve and sixty -three children, most of whom are linked to churches / chapels / wells in North Devon.  The most prominent is St. Nectan at Hartland, N. Devon. Brychan is mentioned in the twelfth-century "Life of St. Cadog.' 

In the eleventh c. manuscript 'De Situ Brecheniauc' Brychan's father is named an Irishman 'Anlac filius Coronac', his mother 'Marchell' was the daughter of a British king called 'Teuderic'. The sixteenth century manuscript 'Cognacio Brychan' and the 'Jesus College genealogies' give slightly varying accounts of the life of Brychan.

"In Welsh tradition by the 12th century, Brychan or Brechan was an early king of Brycheiniog (later Breconshire), who had a large number ofsons and daughters, some or all of whom became saints (Bartrum, 1966, pp 14—16 17—19, 41—4, 81—2). A related tradition existed in the south-west ofEngland where it is enshrined in the 12th-century Life of St Nectan written at or for Hartland Abbey. This tells how Brychan (there called Broccannus) had 24 sons and daughters, many of whom bear the names of patron saints of churches in north-east Cornwall (Grosjean, 1953, pp 397—8; Doble, 194Oc, p 5). The children’s names and numbers vary in the Welsh and Hartland lists, causing Roscarrock much perplexity; the evidence is discussed in the introduction to the present edition, above, pp 45—51. Brychan was also known in Brittany, where he occurs as Brochan in a medieval Life of St Ninnoc of Quimperle (Maitre & de Berthou, 1895, p 15), but in all the traditions he is a patriarchal figure rather than a saint, and seems to have had no churches dedicated to him." - Nicholas Roscarrock ‘s Lives of the Saints: Cornwall and Devon


"And that he had 12 sons and 12 Daughters, all holie sainctes. I finde alsoe that there was a Feast in memorie of him in an Iland which beareth his name, called [f 102v] ynisbrachan, where his bodie was reserved with due reverence not farr from the lie of Anglesea in Wales; which reportes maie serue for warrant sufficient to regester him as a Sainct in this my Catalogue. But in writing of him I am so perplexed with the differences of these who haue written before me, as I confess freelye I knowe not which opinion I maye moste saifiye followe, for remedye whereof I will truelye laye downe what I finde written of him and so refer it to the iudicious censure of my Reeder that they whoe ar able & can give better sentence then I maie enterpose there opinions & vse there best means & indeavours to pro fitt (if it maie bee) that of which I rest vncertaine. First (besides that which I have before signified) I reed in Geraldus Cambrensis, lib: 1 cap: 2, whoe lived in an[n]o 1210, That Brenockshire in Wales, which before was called Garthmathron, toke name of Brechanus, And that he had 24 Daughters as the Brittish writers (saieth hee) doe testifie, And that they were all from there childehoode given to the service of God & persevered therm the whole course of there lives, which they did end religiously in desert & solitarie places, & that they [sic, for there] were manie churches in Wales dedicated vnto them, and namelie to one of them named Almedha.
Then I learne by Mr Camden, my learned find, that there was a writen booke in the librarie of Martin Colledge in Oxford, at the end whereof the life of Sainct Nectan the Sonn of St Brechanus was written, in which mention was made bothe of Brechanus & his children in these verie wordes: ‘Brechanus regulus Wallie a quo Brechanoc provincia nomen sumsitt ex Gladwisa vxore 24 filios et fihias genuit quorum hec sunt nomina, etc.’ Which I haue thus translated; ‘The Pettie prince of Wales Brechanus (of whom the province of Brechnoc taketh name) begot on his wife Gladwise 24 sonns & Daughters, whose names were these: 1 Nictanus, 2 Joannes, 3 Endelient, 4 Memfre, 5 Dilie, 6 Tedda, 7 Nalem, 8 Wennon, 9 Wensent, 10 Merwenna, 11 Wenna, 12 Juliana, 13 Ise, 14 Morwenna, 15 Wimp, 16 Winheder, 17 Elinder, 18 Ken, 19 lona, 20 Kanans, 21 Kethender, 22 Adwen, 23 Helie, 24 Tamalanc. All these sonns & Daughters were afterwardes made Marters or Confessors, leading the lives of Hermitts in Deuonshire & Cornewall, the coppie of which being imparted vnto mee by the saide Mr Camden, I haue here inserted & made as good means as I coulde to have a sight of the booke, for which vsing the help of my forenamed find, he going to revewe it with a purpose to coppie it out for mee (if he could not borrowe it) founde it cutt out & imbessled, soe as I was therm frustrated of my wished desyre.
The verie names contained therein agree with verie manie churches still remayning in Cornwall & Dedicated to them, whereof som six or seaven are placed on the knopps of Hills, the farthest being not 7 miles from the other, And manie ioining together within little more then a Mile.

Thus yow see what I finde, thoughe I my selfe cannot saye what to conclude, the names being such of som as I can <hardly reed or pronounce>. Capgrave & Father Whitford maketh him to have 12 sonns & 12 Daughters; Geraldus Cambrensis 24 Daughters; the Booke of Landaff ten sonns & 25 Daughters; the Welsh Peddegre 32 sonns & 31 Daughters; Sainct Nectans life 24 sonns & Daughters, which opinion is confirmed by a Song which (as I am creadablie informed) was song at the Dedication of a church to one of Brechanus Daughters named Saint <Malen or> Maben in Cornwall <which in St Nectans life is called Melem> when about the yere of our lord 1500 that church was reedified, as yow may read in her life.
This Diuersitie maketh mee somtimes proane to think That there were more named Brechanus then one, & somtimes <that> the children’s children of Sainct Brechanus were named his, for that they came of him, And that the Brittish names maye Differ from our English, And yet haue som agrement perhaps in sense thoughe not in sound. Howsoever it bee, it is the best not to conceive the worst of mens vnvoluntarie errors if there be anie, and to labour to discover the truthe, that God maie <be> glorified in his Sainctes. The life of Sainct Nectan, The song of St Maben, Capgrave & Father Whitford doe all agree In that they make him to haue 24 sonns & Daughters, for that writing he had so many the[y] doe not also write he had noe more, And the Booke of Landaff & the Welsh Pedegree maye be both true, thoughe the latter haue more sonns then the former and the former more Daughters then the latter, especiallie if by his children they ment his Posteritie, for nether of them doe absolutelie laye downe a certaine Number, but onely signifleing they had soe manic, not contradicting anie that shoulde finde out more.
I finde in a Manuscript that althoughe there be verie manic churches in Southwales, Northwales & Cornwall dedicated to our owne countrey or Brittaine Sainctes, yet yow shall finde none of <name>—St Albone, St Aaron, St Julius, St Amphibalus & St Heraclius excepted—before St Brechanus time, which seamed to bee about or before the year of our lord 500, for Tiduael his fift Daughter is noted in a Welsh Peddegree to be the Mother of Brochmael which was put to flight by Edilfride king of the Northumbers when he kild the Monckes of Bangor & made good the Prophesie of Sainct Austine as concerning the punishment of them for disobaying him, about the yere of our lord 604. More­over Melery his 9th Daughter in the booke of Landaff is that reported to bee the Mother of St Dauids Father, whoe must needs florishe before the yere 500, for that Sainct Dauid is noted to dye about the year 588 being then of the Age of one hundreth yeres, as yow maye reed in his life." -
Nicholas Roscarrock ‘s Lives of the Saints: Cornwall and Devon


St. Brannoc

The remains of St. Brannoc are said to be buried at the church dedicated to him at Braunton, North Devon, where his name is also associated with a holy well.  He has been identified with St. Brynach.  There is also an old tradition that he was a 'Man of Italy.' St. Brannock is identified as the 5th C. brother in law of St. Nectan.


"The earliest mention of St Brannoc is in 855—60 when King Aethelbald of Wessex granted 10 hides of land at Brannocminster to Glastonbury Abbey, showing that a church dedicated to Brannoc existed at what is nowadays calledBraunton (Finberg, 1954, p 9; Sawyer, 1968, no 95, who prefers an attribution to King Aethelwulf, 839—55). ‘Minster’ was the Anglo-Saxon term for a major church served by a number of clergy, and the reference shows that Brannoc’s church was or had been important; it was one of the few places in Devon where a Celtic saint-cult continued in being after the Saxon Conquest. Later, the minster at Braunton dwindled to be a parish church and came into the possession of Exeter Cathedral, bring appropri­ated in the 1220s as an endowment for the dean.
The earliest information about the saint occurs in the 14th-century calendar of the cathedral, which calls him ‘abbot and confessor’ and specifies 7 January as his feast (Dalton & Doble, 1909—40, i, pp xxviii-ix). William Worcester, visiting Devon in 1478, was told in addition that he was the son of a king of Calabria (Worcestre, 1969, pp 114—15). This infor­Iflation is confirmed by Roscarrock, and by Thomas Westcote the Devon antiquary in 1630. According to Westcote, who gives us the fullest account, he was the king’s son of Calabria... who arrived here in the time of KingMalgo, Conanus’s son, 581 after the time of our Redemption; here he landed, was seated, builded a church and preached God’s word, and taught the people to manure their land (which was then in manner of a wilderness) by yoking harts who mildly obeyed him, and milking the hinds; and with this plough brought timber to the place where the church now stands to build it. But to proceed no further and to forbear to speak of his cow (which being killed, chopped in pieces and boiling in his kettle, came out whole and sound at his call), his staff, his oak and his man Abel, which would seem wonders. Yet all these you may see at large, lively represented unto you, in a fair glass window at this present, as I think, if you desire it’ (Westcote, 1845, p 309). Similar remarks are made by Westcote’s friend and contempo rary Tristram Risdon, one of whom copied from the other. Risdon refers as well to ‘the book of his commemoration of the place’, suggesting that the information came not only from the windows but from a written Life (Risdon, 1811, p 337).
Some of these details resemble incidents in the Life of St Brynach (Latin Bernachus) preserved in a 12th-century manuscript from Wales. Brynach’s place of origin is not given, but he is first mentioned at Rome (which may have suggested an Italian origin), he comes to south Wales by ship, he harnesses stags, has his cow stolen and cut up for food (but restores it), and plucks down loaves for food from an oak tree. He is not mentioned going to Cornwall, however; his body was said to be buried at Llanfrynach in Wales, and his feast was held on 7 April (with translation on 26June), not 7January (Wade-Evans, 1944, pp 2—15; BL, Cotton MS Vespasian A xiv ff 2v, 3v, printed in Harris, 1953, pp 19, 48—9). Several churches were dedicated to Brynach in Wales (Evans, 1910, pp 39, 47, 51, 56, 58, 71). This makes it look as though the two saints were originally different people, but that Brannoc came to be identified with the better-known Brynach and had the incidents in the latter’s Life attributed to him.
Worcester heard that Brannoc’s body lay at Braunton, but some of his bones were presented to Exeter Cathedral by Bartholomew of St Laurence, dean of the cathedral 1310—26 and therefore rector of Braunton; they appear in a cathedral inventory of 1327 (Oliver, 1861, p 311). The liturgical material for Brannoc’s feast has also survived in Bishop Grandisson’s Legenda Sanctorum, but unfortunately provides no details about the saint’s life (Dalton & Doble, 1909—40, iii, 16, 92, 308). The name Brannoc is an element of Branscombe, a parish in south Devon which belonged to the cathedral, but no cult of the saint is recorded there. As for St Brannoc’s ale on Easter Monday, mentioned by Roscarrock, this looks like a general feast of the parishioners of Braunton rather than a specific commemoration of the saint, unless the Welsh festival of St Brynach on 7 April led to some reorganisation of Brannoc’s festival to that time of the year. Brannock (SO spelt) was sometimes given as a baptismal name to boys in Braunton parish,
e.g. Brannock Gilbart, Brannock Walter and Brannock Downe, christened in 1544, 1554 and 1559 respectively (DRO, Braunton, PR 1).
" - Nicholas Roscarrock ‘s Lives of the Saints: Cornwall and Devon


St. Brynach

Not much is known of St. Brynach the 6th. century Welsh missionary. He is usually identified with St. Brannoc (see above). In the 'Lives of Brit. Saints,' the author quotes a reference in a welsh text to St. Brynach being a 'Son of Israel.' He is said to have talked to animals and to birds. He is also credited with having often met and conversed with angels.



One episode of the romance of 'Erec' by Chretien de Troyes  describes how the central characters, Erec and Enid, journey to a 'fair and rich' castle called Brandigan. 

The castle, sited on an isle, is the home of King Evrain of Brandigan.



Brangemuer makes an appearance in the 'Conte del Graal' . A Saxon king in the 'Vulgate Merlin' is called Brandemague. 

Brandemagu or Braudemagu appears in 'Claris and Laris' . 

In the story of 'Charrete' by Chretien de Troyes the name appears as Baudemaguz or Bondemaguz


Brandus des Illes


Although the name sometimes appears as Brandelis, the divided form Brandus de(s) (Il)les is justified by the names of his relatives, Morr de Lis and Melian de Lis)

As told in the 'Vulgate Lancelot' Brandus des Illes ( Brandus des Illes = Bran, Duke of the Isles) is lord of both a castle on an island 'La Dolorouse Chastre,' and of a castle by a river 'La Dolorous Garde'. 

After Lancelot breaks the enchantments on 'La Dolorous Garde' the castle is renamed 'La Joyous Gard'.

The islands of all three, Baudemaguz, Brandus des Illes and the King of Brandigan, are the settings for imprisonment stories. 

The captivity of Mabonagrain on the isle of Brandigan and his release by 'Erec' is related to the story in 'Kilhwch and Olwen' of Mabon's imprisonment in a stone fortress accessible only by water.



The father of Lancelot is variously given as King Ban, or Bauz, or Brauz.



St. Barnabas

see Joseph of Arimathea



Two manifestations of Bran are identified by Robert Graves in 'The White Goddess,' firstly as Leodegrance (welsh 'Ogyr Van') he is the father of Guinevere


Uther Ben

The second manifestations of Bran  identified by Robert Graves in 'The White Goddess,'  is as 'Uther Ben' -'the wonderful head,' which is a reference to the singing head of Bran buried on the white mound, he is Arthur's father - Uther (Ben) PenDragon.


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