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Lundy, Isle of Avalon by Les Still ePublished by Mystic Realms
 

Lundy, Isle of Avalon

Artavia

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In his 'Geography' or 'Itinerary and Commentary de Situ Britanniae' Richard of Cirencester describes the different tribes who inhabited Britain and names their principal cities. 

He mentions Artavia, a city of the Cimbri in North Devon. 

He adds 'From hence, according to the ancients, are seen the Pillars of Hercules, and the island of Herculea not far distant.'

However this work is a forgery, details here.  It was printed with the works of Gildas and Nennius, under the editorship of Charles Julius Bertram, professor of English in the academy of Copenhagen in the middle of the 18th century.

Unfortunately many, many historians, scholars and antiquarians since have taken it to be true and it becomes difficult to disentangle, who is quoting this and who has an alternative source.

"Polwhele says, that undoubtedly these places are to be considered as flourishing towns before the Romans arrived .... There are some towns in the North of Devon, which doubtless existed in very early times, connected by Roman ways, such as Hartland, the Artavia of Richard, where the high northern road is supposed to terminate." (Devonshire Trans #2).

Some of the information in 'Itinerary and Commentary de Situ Britanniae' was borrowed from earlier sources and some of it was just plain made up. To give you some idea of the scale of this fraud, this book is the only source for the name of a range of hills in the North of England being the 'Pennines' and they've been called that ever since. It's uncertain how many names on the Ordnance Survey maps owe their origin to the fertile mind of this forger, but there's a lot.

So the name 'Artavia' may be from antiquity, or it may have been made up in 1747.

 In 'Anonymi Ravennatis Cosmographia' the geographer Ravennas names Mostevia as a town in the western peninsula. [The Ravenna Cosmographia, in its description of Britain, has a very accurate section on Hadrian's Wall, providing an acceptable list of the forts, with their names, in the correct order.]

The identification of 'Artavia' or 'Mostavia' with Hartland is accepted by most modern scholars. 

But if, among others, (Hoskins) in 'Devon and its People' is correct in surmising that the modern Hartland village has all the typical signs of being one of the nucleated villages founded by the Saxons as a means of defensive protection in a hostile countryside, others in North Devon include Braunton, Pilton, Bideford and Northam, then we have to look elsewhere for a possible site for a Celtic 'city.'

Just four miles inland from Hartland Point stands the imposing earthwork of Clovelly Dykes, one of the largest fortifications in the south-west of England. It stands on a watershed at the junction of four Ridgeways. Iron Age hillforts were not merely military fortifications, they were defensive settlements. People lived in the huts within the ramparts. Clovelly Dykes is the most likely site of Artavia.

 

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Clovelly Dykes

 

 

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